Friday, April 4

Behind the Brand: Bird Trouble


Today we are kicking off a new series that we think you guys are going to love!  Behind the Brand will feature creators, designers, artists, musicians, makers, movers and shakers and give a glimpse in to their world as independent entrepreneurs and small business owners.

We're starting this series with one of our favorites!  Alexz is the darling and adventurous lady behind Bird Trouble, a line of sustainable handbags and accessories made mostly from reused and repurposed vintage textiles and materials.  She sews each and every bag herself in her studio in Guadalajara, Mexico.  The Bird Trouble brand has a wild child free spirit boho vibe that we just can't get enough of.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand.
Bird Trouble and I:::
Hi there everyone. I grew up as Alexandra, though somehow my name changed to Alexz in the middle of my youth. Every day, I am working at growing the other part of me: Bird Trouble. It’s this creative being in me that is carefree; an artistic wild child that just wants to live in this moment and experience life every single day in the way that it wants to. Bird Trouble started in 2009 (I call this time my personal-searching-California-days) when I opened an Etsy shop. It all started so I could sew again and I decided it’d be fun to sell handmade wallets, pouches, and reusable fabric coffee sleeves.

Bird Trouble has now grown into so much more, and is on a great wide path! I carry a limited selection of one of a kind custom made bags and accessories. Our pieces are small dedications to sustainability, using vintage and repurposed materials such as textiles, belts, and vintage jewelry. I have customers and friends who donate material which is amaaaazing. There are hundreds of pieces with new homes and accessorizee’s all around the world sold through our online shop, and through craft shows in Chicago and Pennsylvania. Bird Trouble is carried at a few select special boutiques in Chicago and California. You can see the Stockist list here!

Background:::
Art has always been my go-to ever since childhood. My brother, who passed when I was 2 years old, used to draw with me all the time. My mother says that he knew it made me happy. Looking back now, I think those moments in my life established art as a trigger of “happiness” or “calm”...I haven’t really figured out the right word for how I feel about it, but anyway… Since elementary school, I knew if I was doing something creative, I felt full. In high school, we could pick our own elective classes and I decided to take Fashion Design. Vivienne Westwood and early Marc Jacobs were a huge inspiration for me when I was 17 years old – that and the DIY punk scene I was in. I was always sewing on my jeans, cutting up and sewing band shirts, making my own weird glam-rock skirts, sewing in things from thrift stores. I went to community college and finished one year of Fashion Design but dropped out at the beginning of my second year. I was 19 years old then. I had no patience for school, only for adventure.

When I first moved out, I stayed on countless couches in Chicago until I met a boy who wanted to move to California, to the Philly-area, and back to Chicago with me. I started Bird Trouble in California, mainly out of a craving to make something. I just wanted to experience the real world in my own rambler sort of way, sometimes with a sidekick. Those full-time job/part-time Bird Trouble/high rent/party days were an on-going lifestyle until last August when I decided to jump ship and leave Chicago. I was all kinds of messy, mainly putting my energy into other people and not into myself. The happy ending to this story is that my family was there for me, even if they were here in Mexico (they've been here for almost 5 years). My Dad moved me, some of my things, and my dog Tyler to Mexico. I am in Guadalajara now, in a really cool neighborhood that is quite the hipster area. It's called Colonia Americana. In ways, it's very similar to Chicago, which might be why I want to try out a different part of Mexico. Maybe the beach!



What does a typical day look like for you?
My days actually start off pretty much the same. I chill in bed with Tylerdude and my iPhone for a bit after I wake up (roughly 8:30am). I wash up, leave the house, grab a dirty chai latte from Legacy Coffee (my go-to spot), and go for a morning walk with Tyler. During this time, we kill any post office errands or will pick up packaging supplies. Both places love it when Tyler visits. Some days I’ll go to the fabric store, to the leather shop, or to Tlaquepaque for supplies.

I live at my Mom’s, currently, so we'll go out to breakfast together and I’ll bring my laptop so I can answer emails and do social media thangs. Or we’ll stay in and make food and I’ll work from home. I’m trying to cut this time shorter because it seems like I do it for too long but I understand that I need to do work like this to grow Bird Trouble. My studio time starts in the early afternoon. I put on music, because music (and art) is always there, some times I’ll watch old 60’s horror flicks or John Waters movies on Youtube, or I get sucked into Netflix. The Bird Trouble products all have patterns I have drafted so I’ll work on those for new inventory. Sometimes I play around with the existing patterns or I'll start something completely new from scratch–especially for custom orders. Sometimes I remember to eat dinner. At least Ma is around to help me remember that! Monday - Saturday, I end up working from the afternoon until somewhere between 12am to 3am.

Now that I do BT full-time, I have time to connect with an organization that has a mission I love. There’s a not-to-profit here in Guadalajara called Prospera. They have helped, so far, 2,000 Mexican women become micro-entrepreneurs to better their lives and the lives of their families. I am going to start volunteering there this week. I’m excited for all of us to teach each other new ideas and skills!


What is inspiring you right now?
Everything. It’s crazy. I think anyone can find inspiration in anything… it’s all about perception. Living a totally different life opposed to last year is inspiring. It makes me feel small. The chill sense of style a lot of people have here is inspiring. I love chatting with friends, new and old, about what they’re up to. I owe a lot to all the creativity that I’m surrounded by and the people I am connected to every day. As for Guadalajara - the colors splashed onto the buildings, the monster trees, and ants the size of my thumbnail, and though this sounds super clich√©, even the blooming flowers. 1960s and 70s fashion is most inspiring to me and has been for most of my “Fashion Love Life”. I watch a lot of YouTube. Rock and roll music inspires me. Last night, I watched so many Debbie Harry interviews… I now am going to be channeling my inner Debbie Harry. Must be more like Debbie!

How has your personal style, and the style of Bird Trouble, changed/shifted since your move to Mexico?
Style-wise, I don’t think much is different with the Bird Trouble pieces. It’s still colorful, it’s still fun but chill, it’s still limited, and still packed with personality. I’m now working with two new textiles that I’ve found here. Everyone in Mexico has a funny reaction to the new textiles because they’re mostly used here as kitchen rags. I just love the colors and textures! I decided to branch out and design two staple tote bags for the Spring/Summer 2014 collection. See one here and the other one here. I'm also collaborating more. Currently with a Bay Area based online-store. The founder is my friend and she is so, so artistic and inspiring. I'll talk more about that project when it's closer to the launch!

I think the biggest difference shows in my slogan “Bird Trouble, for everything wild and free”. The brand has grown into a little home for people to come to and be inspired. Birdtrouble.com has a blog that has flourished with the help of so many. It features my personal Mexico travel photos, artist interviews by my favorite creatives, rock and roll music and interviews, healthy eating recipes, style/home inspiration and, my favorite, studio photos where you can see the process of a Bird Trouble piece being made. I'm hoping to expand the shop in the future and I toy with the idea of carrying handmade goods made by a selection of artists/designers.

My personal style is sooooo much more relaxed than ever. I’m either in a pair of comfy printed airy pants and a band shirt with Vans, or jeans/jean shorts and a band shirt with Vans. I mean, I don’t even wear wire bras anymore… just these little tube things. Hahah! I’m so low-maintenance now but I still love nights where I get dressed up in my vintage dress collection, my eyebrows, and some red lipstick.

What do you do outside of Bird Trouble?
I make it a point to do the little things that I enjoy. I like to walk downtown to look at the pretty architecture and street art along my way. Through a new friend, I’ve found a way into the music scene here and go to shows or DJ sets on the weekends. I’m lucky I was introduced to a rad group of creative, musician and artistic friends that are always up to something. Every Wednesday I have a yoga class with my mom and friend. I love what yoga has done for me, mentally and psychically. I do it in the middle of my studio time too. OH yeah, there’s this amazing record store called La Roma. It also has used books, coffee, and munchies. It’s my new favorite place, next to the antique market that happens in my neighborhood every Sunday.

I haven’t done much exploring in other parts of Mexico yet, but I am going to the beach this month. I like spending time alone so I am saving up for a weekend solo trip. I can’t wait! My friend Alicia, one of the founders of Vert Chicago, is coming to visit me next month and I bet we’ll go fun places too. This is just the beginning to a bunch of adventures.


What is your advice for artists and designers that are thinking of starting their own business?
Running your own business, you have control over what pressures you put on yourself and when you give yourself some peace and quiet. You can live every day how you want to live. You’re in complete control. I just love making things, seeing people happy, and knowing that I am getting by on my own path, not on anyone else’s path.

My advice is to drop your fears, open your mind, and just do it. We only live once. We should do what makes us happy. Everything you will learn will come with the experience. Remember, this is 2014. We have the internet. It is so easy to start a shop and tell your friends. You will find that there are so many people who will want to help you in your self-started business journey. All you have to do is:
1) Make things.
2) Tell people.
3) Keep making things.
I am always available through email and am more than willing to give my advice. I know how unreachable things can seem. Others shared ways to make it easier with me. I’d like to be able to offer the same for others.

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” -Bob Dylan, my man.



Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Alexz! So are you in love with Bird Trouble's beautifully bohemian bags? Dying to get your hands on one? You're in luck! Next week we'll be partnering with Alexz to bring you a very (very!) awesome GIVEAWAY. Stay tuned for details. And happy weekend!

Shop Bird Trouble here.
Follow Bird Trouble on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

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