Tell us about your business.I design children’s clothes. Easy shapes, beautiful fabrics, artful touches, and a refined sense of style define the Lindsey Berns brand. Whether it is an ethereal white embroidered dress, a bohemian blouson tunic, a floral pleated pinafore, or a slouchy sweatshirt dress, my designs are timeless, relaxed, wearable, and oozing with style. My customers appreciate my line for both special occasion and everyday life. In this way, my collection is as much at home with delicate ballet slippers as it is with tomboy trainers. I can appreciate this kind of mix-and-match approach to dressing because after all…I design the way I dress, and I dress the way I design.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.I love my loft—it functions as my home, workspace, and showroom. It is located in Chicago’s River North gallery district. Originally a printing factory, the century old building is situated along the Chicago River and is a landmark on the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour. There is an authenticity to the space, with it’s original timber beams and exposed brick walls, as well as an airiness from the high ceilings and oversized windows that overlook the river. I do all of my cutting, sketching, and design work at my antique farmhouse table. Apart from the exposed brick, my walls are painted white and act as a clean backdrop for my website photography. Adjacent to the loft is a storage space that I use to house my fabric bolts, organize outgoing store orders, and handle packing and shipping. A true vintage loft, my workspace is functional, stylish, and happy--attributes that I value in design and in life.
What inspires you?The heart and soul of my collection is simple basic denim, the quintessential American textile. Regardless of season and trend, I always desire a perfectly broken-in pair of vintage Levi's and a soft white tee. My love for blue jean stems from the clothing of my childhood. My mother, a continuing source of inspiration, dressed me in artisan patchwork jackets handmade from vintage quilts, well worn blue jean jumpers, Oshkosh overalls, and delicately embroidered linen pinafores. This Franco-bohemian style has stayed with me ever since. In designing my children’s clothing collection, I am inspired to combine high style with ease, comfort, and wearability. It is a look that speaks to my past, my present, and my future.
What makes your business stand out?I view my creations as individual pieces of art, informed by my own sensibilities and imagination. My designs are inherently artistic and labor-intensive. While my garment construction remains simple, the design details can be intricate and elaborate. My Fall Winter 2014 collection, inspired by Alexander Calder, features bold black and white appliqué shapes reminiscent of his abstract sculptures. My Spring Summer 2015 collection, inspired by the outdoor markets in Provence, features oversized appliqué sunflowers and rosettes. By combining the practical with the beautiful, I inject a piece of myself into each garment. It is my greatest hope that my designs will be enjoyed today, then carefully put away to be passed down to the next generation.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?It is imperative to have confidence. If you do not feel good about your product, no one else will either. I believe that confidence comes from discipline. You must study and master your craft, establish a brand strategy, develop a signature, and listen to the marketplace. I have immersed myself in all aspects of my business, from creative director to production manager, and from sales representative to photographer, publicist, and distributor. Learning how to manage each and every aspect of a business has provided me with a deep understanding of the company that I am running.
What does American Made mean to you?Being born and raised in Chicago, I have an innately optimistic can-do point of view. In choosing a career in fashion design, it seemed only logical to take advantage of the resources close to home. This afforded me the opportunity to work with local fabric vendors, pattern makers, and manufacturers. These are the people that add value to my company and product. By keeping the entire process local, I can ensure the quality, consistency, and integrity of my designs. In this way, my entire team participates in bringing my designs to life from sketchpad to finished garment. I am proud that this process gives back to the Chicago community and represents a true American Made philosophy.
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 9, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.Vote now
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.Buy tickets now