Meet the Maker: Chrome Chicago’s Bag Maker, Caroline Borucki
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.