Meet Alexz of Bird Trouble.
Sally Ann: How and why did you start Bird Trouble?
Bird Trouble: When I was living in San Francisco a few years back, I was really tight on money and didn't know many people since I was new. I did it as a creative outlet and another source of income. I don't know why I didn't think about starting a business before then! I made a wallet for myself and figured, "Hey, I can make a bunch of these." So I did.
SA: Tell us one quirky thing you do when you sew?
BT: Try sewing in your underwear! It's liberating and it's so easy to try on what you're making. haha! Other than that, I like to blast music or movies in the background from another room. That way, I get the noise I need but I don't get the visual distraction in my studio.
SA: What kind of sewing machine do you have and where did you get it?
BT: I have a vintage, heavy, piece of Kenmore metal that I call my beloved sewing machine. It was given to me as a gift by a friend's mom a few years back and I've been hauling it everywhere I go. We have a pretty great relationship. With tune-ups and gentle cleaning, you'd be surprised how long sewing machines can last!
SA: When did you start sewing and what was the first thing you made?
BT: I started sewing as a hobby at the beginning of high school. I would cut up my band shirts and sew them into something different (a shirt, a skirt, a patch). I just wanted to be as different as I could from everyone at my school and in my town. I joined fashion class and quickly advanced to open class, so I could sew whatever I wanted. My amazing and easy-going teacher taught me how to work and draft patterns.
SA: Who is your favorite fashion designer?
BT: I recently discovered a local Chicago designer, Jennifer Beeman, who I've gained inspiration from: HOUND. Her blog and her clothing lines are so great! I can't wait to see what she comes up with for the fall. As for big names, I've always been a sucker for Marc Jacobs and, of course, Alexander McQueen.
SA: Where is your favorite place in Chicago?
BT: Ah! There's so many great places here and many that I haven't even been to. I'm more of a homebody, I like to adventure out to parts that don't feel like a big city deal. There are these old train tracks that run across my part of the city that I love to ride my bike on. I love Montrose beach and Wilson dog park. Bleeding Heart Bakery just opened up a HUGE location near my house that looks like a giant 50's diner. You know the kind where you can go on a date and sip on a root beer float? I know for a fact I will be a regular there.
SA: You certainly have many tattoos. Which one is your favorite?
BT: This one is so hard. I love all of my tattoos but my favorite one is probably my sewing machine on my forearm. I know, it's cliche, being that I sew, but my tattoo artist is the fricken' best. The way he shaded it and added pops of color, and all the small attention to detail, makes it my favorite. He made it fit to my personality perfectly.
SA: What is your favorite thing to sew?
BT: Bags, definitely. My collection is all one of a kind items, and making a bag from start to finish is the most creative outlet I can get from one item. I normally start with a shape I want, but my fabric and accessories to it all come with the process of just pulling things from my drawers and going "OH! That would look awesome."
SA: What do you do when you are not sewing?
BT: I work full-time at a hair salon as a receptionist. So if I'm not mingling with clients or doing little "graphic design" work for my boss, I'm out in the world. I like to go thrifting. I like to explore new parts of the city on my bicycle with my lover man, James. We take our dog for walks around our neighborhood and walk through every alley way... you never know what you can find in an alley way!
SA: Any advice for aspiring artists?
BT: MAKE STUFF. Anything! Even if you're stuck on inspiration, just get in front of some tools and show us what you got. You can't get anywhere if you don't make anything. Also, patience is very good and will save your sanity. I tell myself that and to just :::breathe::: so many times!
Links to Bird Trouble: