Meet the Makers: Lara Kessler, Demon on Two Wheels and PDX Bag Maker
September 23, 2013
NAME: Lara Kessler
BIRTHPLACE: Outside Philadelphia, PA
BIKES IN QUIVER:
Track: Blue TR250
Road: Veloforma F1R
Commuter/ rain/ training: Giant OCR A1
DAY JOB: Chrome Custom bag maker/ seamstress/ designer
HOBBY: Riding or racing bikes and sewing at home. I never get tired of it.
5 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST AT RANDOM:
Daft Punk: Get Lucky
Black Sabbath: Changes
Lana Del Rey: Born to Die
Beastie Boys: An Open Letter to NYC
How did you get started sewing and making things?
I'm all leg with a short torso. I wanted to start designing clothes that fit my body shape and were ahead of the times. It's also an under-appreciated skill that is taken for granted until a person actually knows someone that posses the ability and then all of a sudden, everyone has 500 things that need altering or repair. I like being that resource and making a little extra money in the process.
What was your favorite thing you’ve ever made?
My wedding dress. And the Misfits Crimson Ghost Citizen Messenger Bag for Halloween 2012.
You’ve been making custom bags at the Chrome HUB in Portland since it opened, what bags have you made that’ve been your favorite?
Definitely that Crimson Ghost bag, the Chicago Bulls Hip pouch, and the Shark Attack and Pendleton fabric Citizens, too.
Have you encountered any odd #ChromeCustoms requests?
I get asked regularly if I make custom knife rolls.
What attracted you to work at Chrome?
It's pretty amazing that I can say I'm one of four people in the world that holds the position of Chrome Bag Maker. It's like running my own tailoring shop in the heart of the Chrome Portland store. I've met a lot of cool people in the time I've been here.
What’s your favorite off-the-shelf Chrome product and why?
The Yalta Night Backpack and the Sotnik Duffel Bag. Yalta Night because I'm not normally comfortable wearing a lot of black on my bike, especially as PDX moves into the greyer months, and I know I'm very visible using this bag from that 3M reflective pocket on the front. Even better is that it's a subtle reflective coating and only extremely visible when light hits. If a car tags me from behind, I know it's entirely their fault. And the Sotnik because it's an amazing travel bag! You can carry it in so many different ways and no matter how much you pack in it, it will always fit in the plane overhead compartments.
You’re a Cat 2 track cyclist, been crushing it in time trials at Alpenrose Velodrome for the past three years. How's the season going for you?
2013 was a transition from track to road for me. I wanted a different challenge on the bike and I had never focused on road racing - I had only used it as leg speed work for the track. Road requires a lot more miles in your legs and it's also different muscle memory. My race season started really early this year and I went hard trying to get at least top 3 right off the gun. I was successful until about July and then my legs were pretty gassed, but I wouldn't quit. Harsh reality: I still have a lot of work to do with my development.
What are your future racing plans?
I will most likely return to the track in 2014, but still work hard racing road. My cycling team is road racing focused and it's a solid team that has developed pro riders. That is not my aspiration, but I'm going to try my hardest to be of that caliber.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Stumptown?
After living in Chicago for 6 years where the only hills are overpasses, I'm extremely thankful to have so much varying elevation here. I love climbing hills on my bike and the views are gorgeous once you reach the top.
What’s your favorite recovery meal?
After all those hill climbs, I usually blend up some Chocolate almond milk, yogurt, peanut butter, banana, honey and some post-workout powder. And sometimes a shower beer.
Great sushi is in abundance here so I prefer to treat myself to that when I can.
Any shout outs?
Meet the Makers: Caroline Borucki talks bags, music and inspirational decay.
September 5, 2013
NAME: Caroline Borucki
BIRTHPLACE: Hinsdale, Illinois
BIKE: Biria Citibike step-through in olive; her name is Laverne.
DAY JOB: Chrome Chicago bag maker/seamstress
SIDE PROJECT: My apparel & craft brand, self titled 'caroline borucki'
5 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST AT RANDOM:
Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & the Pharaoh
Can't Hardly Wait - the Replacements
Age of Consent - New Order
Glass Figurine - Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire
Yekermo Sew - Mulatu Astatke
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get started making things?
I was an avid thrift store shopper in high-school, so eventually I decided to alter clothing to my liking. After getting a good response from classmates, I decided to study apparel design in college.
What was your first sewing project?
I was captivated by fabrics with rad prints, so the fit and sizing of thrift items didn't impact my purchase. I know my first projects revolved around transforming long skirts into bubble skirts, and muumuu's into fitted dresses.
You’ve been making custom Chrome bags in Chicago for a long time, can you tell us about some of the favorite bags you’ve made?
My favorite bags have most definitely been the holiday bags I've done. I draft/cut out special patches that have resembled a reindeer, snowman, color string-lights, Frankenstein and jack-o-lanterns. The time it takes to create them is well worth it when it comes to Chrome Chicago visitors commenting on them. I get really excited about the holidays, so I'm pretty into perking everyone else up about them too.
Have you encountered any odd #ChromeCustoms bag requests? Has there ever been anything really crazy?
My favorite requests are from dedicated fans; I've done a few bags inspired by Zelda and sports teams. I assist with choosing the right color scheme and patch placement to make the bag perfect. From the day I began I have been asked by a multitude of people about firearm and rifle scope bags/accessory attachments. I give my input on how to go about it, but still waiting to see images of their final results.
If you could have one stock Chrome bag which would you choose?
My favorite bag is my Metropolis, but if we are talking about a bag I've been eying I would say the Sotnik. WHY? Only because I like wearing/using bags that I can fit into. Plus they are great in packing all my merchandise to events & fashion shows.
Besides making custom bags at the Chrome HUB in Chicago, you also have your own line clothing, cards and frills, how do you create balance in your life?
It's pretty tough, I'm lucky if I remember to eat throughout the day. I try to map out a weekly schedule of to-do lists, while making a habit of waking up at 6am to go to my workspace before Chrome. Never skipping my morning bagel & cream cheese is most important.
Your clothing line takes inspiration from nature’s seamy underbelly – a decaying peach, intertidal sealife – what qualities inspire you? What is your process of getting inspired?
I'm inspired by botany, mostly rooted in mycology and plants. The textures and colors associated within these topics is extremely inspiring for me, and I love to use new techniques to mimic the appearances. I try to classify each collection with a specific biological taxonomy, the goal is to learn as much as I can about science along the way of creating collections each season.
Your clothes are very sculptural, how did your education as a sculptor effect your design decisions?
After getting experience in sculpture I realized how similar it could be translated into fashion. While in college I did a lot more sculptural fashion pieces, but when trying to branch into the industry I've had to tone down my ideas for wearability. I appreciate the one-of-a-kind mentality for art, so everything I produce is hand-crafted to be different. I've branched into a lot of 'craft' because having a variety of outlets allows for me to continually develop new skills.
You got started out in fashion, what drew you to work at Chrome?
Having life-time warranty products is a pretty rare occurrence, so knowing Chrome had such high standards for their products made me really want to be part of the team. I have always been a 'bag-lady,' carrying around a bunch of cheaply-made thrift-found luggage bags while making daily commutes. It wasn't until I made my own first Chrome bag that I realized I didn't need to invest in a new bag every couple months.
Can we pick your brain a bit about Chicago? What’s your favorite thing about living in the Windy City?
I've been in the Chicagoland area my entire life, so for me walking down the street and running into people I know on a regular basis is probably my favorite part. Witnessing Chicago's crazy weather is always exciting. Plus the food out here is fabulous!
If you some have time off, but only enough for a bike ride where do you go?
I ride around the forest preserve, specifically the Salt Creek Trail. I've been riding that trail since my brother led the way when I was in elementary school. Plus, hanging out with deer in the forest is one of my favorite things to do when I have the time.
What's the best music venue in Chicago?
It's not exactly a venue, but my favorite Chicago performance was at the Fourth Presbyterian church downtown. I saw Andrew Bird's holiday show there in 2009, and it was simply fantastic.
March 7, 2013
Custom Military Salvage Program
March 21, 2012
CHROME ACTIVATES CUSTOM MILITARY SALVAGE PROGRAM FOR VETERANS DAY
Since 1995, Chrome has made bags from reclaimed or salvage materials. When we started making our iconic messenger bag with salvage military duffels and tents the response was amazing, particularly from US Military Personnel who wanted us to make bags using their personal duffels and fatigues. These items carry significant meaning, but can’t be used frequently in civilian life.
Last year US Army Vehicle Commander Jared Morford of Watertown, South Dakota reached out to Chrome to make a Custom Salvage bag with the duffel he carried to Iraq. Chrome’s Custom Military Salvage Citizen was born.
The Chrome Custom Military Salvage Program invites Veterans and military families to bring their military duffels or fatigues to one of Chrome’s four HUB locations in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Portland. Chrome bag makers will use this material to create a custom Citizen Messenger bag.
This program is extremely successful. People have shared their stories with us and we are moved. It reminds us how fortunate we are and how bags carry memories and meaning. One story affected us so much we made a short documentary. (link)
Meet The Makers - NYC
September 26, 2011This month, we're rolling out with a three-part series, "Meet the Makers," profiling our in-house sewing personalities at Chrome NYC, SF, & CHICAGO. Check back each week to read about the Maker closest to you.We begin with the mastermind behind Chrome NYC's Custom Bag program, Briana Thomas.Tell us about the city in which you live & why it’s the best.I live in NYC. Originally, I wrote about a page then decided no one would read all that, so I edited it down: 24 hour bodegas.You could probably be knee-deep with other design gigs, considering your skillset. What drew you to Chrome, in particular?My background is in fashion design and something I couldn’t stand about the industry was the self-importance and overall crazy egos. Chrome is the total opposite of that. Plus, it’s upfront about where and how it’s products are made which I find really refreshing.There might be those unfamiliar with our Custom Bag program. Care to explain it?Simply and quickly you can choose every color of every panel of our small or medium messenger bags. Buckle color, velcro color, tape, the possibilities are basically endless - come talk to me!What makes a Chrome bag so tough? What’s the secret?Well, for starters: material. Super strong, resilient fabric, hardware, even tough nylon-coated thread. And love, of courseFixed or freewheel?Freewheel. I’ve had a heavy, clunky, old Schwinn Crusier for forever. What can I say? I love coasting.Encountered any ridiculous Custom Bag requests in your time? Anything you’ve ever taken someone up on?Dog bags. People really, really, want bags they can put their animals in...maybe on a really slow day...I don’t want the death of anyone’s poodle on my hands...You offer an assortment of patches as a final touch to someone’s custom bag, if they so desire. Which ones are the most popular?I got my hands on some vintage skateboarding patches, those were cool and went really fast. I liked those.Best place to see a show in NYC?The best place to see a show WAS Market Hotel but they got closed down, so I’ll go with Death by Audio.Favorite bar? Best Jukebox?Even though I won’t go on weekends now, The Levee is still a favorite. Free candy, free cheeseballs, and cheap drinks will always bring me out there. (Gatorita!)Any final remarks?Just a thanks to all the awesome customers who come by to hangout! And those who bring us treats like cookies and fresh baked bread! And a shout out to all my buddies: Jason, Kris, Tijon and Dana who I get to spend so much time at work with, I LOVE YOU GUYS!