I was so thrilled that Barak Obama was elected president, that I felted a puppet of him. This is an historic day, and I see that some of those around me don’t understand why. I see attitudes pertaining to race changing for the better in America and I feel that this is an important and progressive movement in the lives of the American people. I grew up in the Midwestern United States in the 1960’s and I’ve heard and seen the racial attitudes of many of my family and friends and I know we are now moving forward. Good luck, Mr. President!
Costumesare the most popular items in my store. People buy them for the dress-up holidays like Purim, Halloween, Carnival and Mardi Gras; they’re also great birthday presents. Some people have costume collections for their children, buying beautiful costumes and accessories when they find them. Costumes are educational “‘toys” that allow a child to use their imagination and to be someone else. Costumes and puppets are basic tools of the anthroposophic teaching ideology. I have many customers that send their children to anthroposophic kindergartens and schools; they invest a lot in costumes and in my felted puppets. They believe that the excellent quality of the items and the use of a child’s imagination in play makes these costumes and puppets valuable educational tools. But besides all this, they’re fun to play with!
My daughter Lili wore a tutu constantly from the age of 2 years till around 5 years old; my kids still dress up a lot and they’re 6,9 and 12. Their newest dress up game is Dance Idol.
(Below) Lili in the Degas ballerina dress
Here in Israel, the big dress-up holiday is Purim. Purim s a fun holiday for kids; the emphasis isn’t on scary costumes like in Halloween, but the kids dress up as everything else. The classic costumes are always popular: princesses, fairies, ballerinas,knights, Robin Hood, super heroes,mermaids and animals. We try to stay with the classic costumes in the store; we don’t make popular t.v. cartoon characters. We have been asked over and over again to make some cartoon characters that I consider classics. With this exception we’ve made Snow White, Batman and Superman. It is really rewarding to see the looks on the kids’ faces when they “turn into someone else or something else” while in costume. Sometimes the kids and even the parents are SO happy with their costumes that they call to thank me and send me photos of their kids. I put these pictures and e-mails in an album that I keep of my store. I would like to give one bit of advise: let your child choose his/her costume; don’t make him/her wear what YOU want him/her to be. I’m not talking about the child that wants a princess dress, but she already has a princess dress or it’s too small for the child etc. I’m talking about the girl who wanted to dress up as a dinosaur and her mother really wants her to be a princess or the child who doesn’t want a costume at all and the mother insists he should get a knight costume because it’s so cute. I see mothers buying what they want for their children and ignoring their crying children’s plies for a different costume on a regular basis. Many times I tell the mother, Ï think your child really wants the A, not the B costume and she ignores me too. I don’t see this problem with fathers who come into the store with their children. Fathers almost always tell their kids to choose what they want, with very few comments about their choices, except maybe, “let’s ask your mother.” Sometimes mothers come in looking for something that I think is inappropriate. One mother looked around and asked me, do you have anything sexy? For your child, I asked. I told her we don’t do sexy for kids. One other mother ordered a princess costume for her 5 year old girl. She was “designing” the costume as we were making it, she wanted breasts and hips added to the dress so the little girl would have curves like the pictures of Snow White. We dissuaded her from making this alteration. Another mother had us make the gladiator costume exactly as it appeared in the movie 300. The costume was a cape, helmet, spear and a leather diaper; the kid was basically half naked. She paid A LOT of money for that costume and her 6 year old son was so embarrassed to wear it. She insisted that he wear it and I felt so awful for him; I wished we hadn’t made it. It seems that these customers were using the costumes plus the children as show pieces for all those around them to gaze upon.
Well, here goes… My name is Laura Burch; my husand Doron Levitas and I have three daughters: Lili, Elli and Emili. I opened a store, it’s a children’s gallery; we design and sew everything in the store. I gave it the name Burch and daughters as a feminist twist to the more traditional naming of businesses such as Smith and sons. My daughters are young, so they don’t actually work at the store yet, but they are my inspiration, models and test subjects for everything we make. I’ve never owned a store before and I don’t consider myself business-minded, I’m an artist. My husband Doron has been guiding me, he is a business man; I’m learning.
The interesting thing and the most challenging aspect of my store is that it is in Tel Aviv, Israel. I’m a girl from the Heartland, living in the Holyland! Serving this culture and my Israeli customers isn’t the same as if my store was in my town, Chicago, Illinois. My tastes and that of many Israeli’s are very different; I have a very conservative style, their’s is much more flamboyant. Many people come into the store and ask me from where do we import. They think that my creations are from England or France, they don’t realize that everything is handmade in the store (upstairs in our studio). But never the less, everyone seems to love the store. They walk in and tell me it seem magical, like they’re in another time and place and they feel that my creation is a fairyland for children.
It really all started after we moved here about 9 years ago. I was a graphic designer and illustrator in Chicago and opening a store was never a goal of mine. I came to this strange land, the big city really, but there was nothing to buy here. Everything was made in China or India, cheap, plastic, poor quality and ugly. I started making the girls clothes, toys and gifts for birthday parties they attended. Now, I never really wanted to move here, so I used to sit around in my own little world and make things, many things. I made cute teddy bears, rag dolls, costumes, ornaments, fabric books, stuffed animals, bags….The things started to fill up the house. Doron said to me we’ll have to open a store just to have somewhere to put this stuff, and that’s what we did.