Little Chicago Clothing Co. is providing style to the Canton area one graphic tee at a time. Amy Eibel is the creative genius behind this movement, giving the people of Northeast Ohio a means to show off their area pride and support the growing community they love so much. Amy and her husband have a passion for their city and a faith in its future; Little Chicago Clothing is a heartfelt expression of this. Amy’s creative spirit is an energizing force and she is certainly making Canton proud.
I'm originally from Akron, but moved to Canton five years ago when I married my husband, Greg, who's a Canton native. I'm a middle school art teacher by day, which I love, and my husband Greg teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies. I am also a practicing artist, and my art studio is East Spartan Art (Instagram- @eastspartan). We live in the country adjacent to Greg's family's farm (which is a BIG change from my distinctly suburban and urban youth and young adulthood, but I love it).
I've watched Akron undergo a recent big rebirth, and there's this huge push to revitalize the Rust Belt cities in our region. It's happening for Canton now, too, and given that this is my new home, I want to contribute to making this an awesome place to live and work. The arts district is booming, a new comprehensive plan for the city is in the works, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village is under development. There are so many great things happening for this city and region, and I'm thrilled.
I'm also a big fan of t-shirts and graphic tees. I loved all of the cool designs that were coming out of Columbus and Cleveland, but there was nothing for Canton or any of the little communities in this region, nor were there many designs that had a feminine vibe. I always found myself searching and longing for cute things to show my Canton pride.
How did you start Little Chicago Clothing? Where did you get the idea?
I'm a creative. I always have to be trying something new, avoiding boredom, making things. My husband and I always talk about different ideas and ventures that we think would be great for our community, and this one just hung on us. We kept coming back to it. So, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, we decided to do it ourselves.
Where do you find inspiration?
I draw inspiration from a number of different sources. Sometimes I'm fueled by things that are happening in my personal life or my community. My husband and I love to travel, so I gain tons of ideas from our trips. I'm also a huge follower of art, design, fashion, interiors, etc. And, I'm an avid collector-of-ideas. Whether it's tearing pages out of magazines and saving scraps of beautiful fabric or papers in my "research box," or hoarding visual inspiration through Pinterest, I'm always gathering fodder for future projects. Every so often, I dig back through my research, make a new list of priorities for projects, and create new things.
What products do you offer?
Little Chicago Clothing Co. designs graphics inspired by Ohio and local community pride and hand-prints them onto apparel with flattering fits and styles for men and women.
In my art studio, East Spartan Art, I create drawings and paintings. I also design note cards and decorative posters with Ohio and local community themes.
Is there anything new you would like to add to your line?
I would like to add more options in sizes and designs for baby and children. We hope to have those available by October. We will also be adding more long sleeve designs for men and women.
Where would you like the business to go in the future?
In the short-term, I would like to continue build our brand, and to update and expand our line of designs and apparel styles.
My long-term goal is to open a storefront and studio in the Canton area, and curate an awesome shopable collection of goods from other local and regional makers.
What do you love about creating?
Gosh this is hard... there are so many different things that I LOVE about creating. I think the most rewarding aspect of creating is making a product that I'm really proud of with my own two hands. But, I love seeing people wear, enjoy and show off our shirts, too. It's always so cool when customers send me photos of themselves wearing our shirts, and it's the neatest thing to read their little stories about how others asked them about their shirts.
Do you have a favorite design?
This is ANOTHER really hard one! What I like about many of our designs is that they're conversation starters. The goal is to create designs that cause the viewer to call upon a memory, a story from childhood, a source of pride. That being said, there are two designs that really light that spark. Our Mother Gooseland design probably creates the most smiles and exclamations when people see it. Mother Gooseland is a well-known local children's park that has gone into disrepair (but, is now undergoing a gradual renovation). The other design that gets a great, positive reaction is our Victorian Ohio. I love hearing customers make comments like, "Oh, look how pretty Ohio looks!" or "What a cool way to represent vintage Ohio."
Any advice for aspiring designers?
Choose something that you're truly passionate about, because you're going to be working with it A LOT. You don't want to get bored.
Make it high quality. Hold high standards.
Do your research. Find out what's going to set you apart. What will make your creations unique and compelling?
Don't give up. It's hard work. It takes time. It's worth it.
What do you hope to gain from your membership to OCC?
I hope to broaden my network of Ohio artists and makers. The Canton makers and artists community is a small, fairly tight-knit group, and I love being a part if it. But, I would love to gain new ideas and share with more small businesses across the state. I love to collaborate and learn from others, and I hope to do both through OCC.
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Written by Sarah Picciuto
Ohio Creative Collective Leadership Committee