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LAist Interview: Doris Oswald-Burrell

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One thing we've noticed about little kids in LA is how well-dressed they are. We've seen babies sporting adorable customized onesies that don't look like they all came from Baby Gap and we're awfully glad to see that not all LA kids wear teeny, tiny Uggs. Curious about the variety of kid clothing choices, we've been looking around the LA kid clothing scene and discovered LA artist Doris Oswald-Burrell's line of children's clothing while surfing her website,
Oswald-Burrell's colorful designs are eye-catching and fun. You can order items from the line from the website or visit the "all kids can fly" booth at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Ivar on Sundays.

Doris now sells T-Shirts in Mom sizes, too... This week, our favorite design is Tricycle Girl.

Age and Occupation:

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40. Mom, artist, business owner in changing order.

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?

I first came to the States and to LA in December ¹92, though moving around a lot, I¹ve always stayed in the Los Feliz/Silverlake area.

Why did you establish your kid's clothing line?

That¹s a tough one. It kind of happened without plan, but yet everything pointed that way. I was 37 when I got pregnant. I was told I was a high risk pregnancy and accordingly spent many, many sleepless nights worrying about my child.

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Losing everything in my life was nothing new to me. I grew up in fostercare and had been on the road alone since I was 16. Too many times I had heard "you can¹t", "just be average", "make money and get out". Well, I did get out. I put myself thru highschool, got a BA in Art Education, managed to get a scholarship to USC and graduated from there with an MA in ¹98.

Though I always thought I had everything under control in my life, now being pregnant freaked me out. So one day I sat down at my computer with the intention to draw for my daughter what I wished for her most in life‹and out came a girl, jumping on her bed, head and arms way up, screaming "I can fly."

From there everything fell into place. "The Girl jumping on the Bed" became a T-shirt design, and now there are 11 other "I can fly." kids. They are black and white, Hispanic, Asian or biracial like my daughter. They love life but most of all they all can fly!

After having gone thru a phase of wild and punky animal designs I now have a new group of "I can fly¹s" called "Circus, Circus, Circus". They are a twenties looking, fun homage on the travelling small town circus spectacular--where ordinary people do extraordinary things.

How do you operate it in LA-what are the perks or obstacles of manufacturing clothes in Los Angeles?

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For one year now I¹ve been selling my shirts every Sunday at the Hollywood Farmer¹s Market. I love that market!! I love the vendors and the customers, too. Though I¹m the worst salesperson because I can not remember faces whatsoever (I¹m so sorry!!) people at the Hollywood Market are very supportive of my little business. They love my shirts but most importantly the kids love my shirts. It is so rewarding to me when a two year old kid calls me "Pumpkin Woman" because she got one of my Halloween shirts with a pumpkin at
home. Or I got an email the other day from a mom saying she bought a shirt for her son from me but when she tried it on she realized it was too small.

Unfortunately her son loved the shirt so much that he wouldn¹t take it off until the next day. She couldn¹t exchange it but she got a bigger one anyway.

I also wholesale to stores and so far "I can fly." can be found in about 50 stores throughout the United States. In March I¹ll head east to show my new Circus collection at the ENK, the east coast kids apparel show in New York.

Manufacturing in LA is terrible. When you don¹t know what you are doing, like me, it is almost impossible to bypass the American Apparel shirts that everyone is using. I was fortunate to find an apparel producer who¹s teaching me the trade and who manufactures my shirts, pant and hats in LA for me.

Is there an LA color palette?

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I don¹t think so. I would say there is a LA baby shirt, which is the
American Apparel kids line. Which is great, because it allows new comers to the t-shirt business to use good quality shirts. I¹m glad though that I have my own shirts now, my own styles, colors etc. You need to graduate from American Apparel at some point.

What are your opinion of schools in Los Angeles?

I¹m terrified by the thought to have to find a school for my daughter. I went to school in Germany, where schools and universities are great and free!!

Where's your favorite kid-friendly spot in LA?

I go at least once a week to the LA zoo. It¹s safe, my daughter can run, run, run and run. Cross fingers she¹ll take a nap after that.

Where are you from?

I¹m from Germany, grew up all over but went to College in Frankfurt.

What's your preferred mode of transportation?

Walking, but I never walk.

How often do you ride the MTA subway or light rail?

Whenever a new section opens I look at all the stations.

What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?

Terminator II.

Best LA-themed book(s)?

White Oleander.

It's 9:30 pm on Thursday. Where are you coming from and where are you going?

I'm probably walking from the kitchen to the sofa, with a beer in my hand. I have a two year old and no sitter.

If you could live in LA during any era, when would it be?

Prohibition. I probably idealize the underworld aspect of it.

What's your beach of choice?

Matador Beach.

What is the "center" of LA to you?

Trader Joe¹s on Hyperion.

If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/which would you choose?

I like where I am in Los Feliz. Can someone buy me house here?

Los Angeles is often stereotyped as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?

Yes, it¹s hard especially when you work on your own at home like me without the "office".

What is the city's greatest secret (that you can share)?

Check out the wholesale stores and manufacturing district Downtown and in East LA. I love it there.

What do you have to say to East Coast supremacists?

I¹m European, what can I say, I¹m worse.

Do you find the threat of earthquakes preferable to the threat of hurricanes and long winters?

Yes, they don¹t happen every year.

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?

I would have said in a boat but that doesn¹t seem to be safe any more
either. Either way I hope my daughter and my husband will be with me
wherever we¹ll be.