Letters

Letters 09-08-2014

Try This Real Advice

The Advice Goddess? More like the “say confusing analogies and never answer the question,” mere mortal. Take the first reader’s question last week about breaking up with his iPod-purchasing GF: “MP3’S A CROWD”: Break up with her, iClod...

Nine-Year-Olds With Guns Not OK

I have been thinking about this awful situation in Arizona where a 9-year-old blew a shooting instructor away with an Uzi machine gun. I was looking for any consistency with other aspects of life...

Respect Our President

I recently read a Canadian’s view on our lack of respect for our President. It made me think about a time when, once elected, most Americans rallied around our new leader. We became united in moving forward and leading the world...

Northport Sewer A Bungle

The Northport sewer cost is $15.669 million not $12 million as recently stated in the Express. It is the most expensive sewer per household the Michigan SRF ever funded. Today the sewer is only processing 51,000 gpd on average...

Y Members Deserve Answers

Three weeks after Tom Van Deinse was fired from his position as Executive Director and Tennis Pro of the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA, I am still trying to understand the motives of the YMCA Board of Directors for their decision to remove him after 14 years of service...

Reflections on Order

Old men make lists. My father did it, and now that burden seems to be imposing itself on me. It wells up inside me with a vengeance and I must give vent to it. Here is my list:


Home · Articles · News · Features · Creme Brulee
. . . .

Creme Brulee

Carol South - April 28th, 2008
An ambitious vision packed into a small space, Créme Brulee melds simple living with radical politics, grounding economic responsibility in funky creativity.
The micro boutique run by self-described revolutionary clothiers Ben Ruggles and Jen Liedel features everything from wallets made from National Geographic maps to clothing and accessories fashioned from rescued fabrics.
Créme Brulee also sells works on consignment by young artists as well as vintage and new clothing. The overall mix is about 60 percent vintage, including many pieces of locally-made recycled clothing, and 40 percent new items.
Opened two years ago in May at the Front Street Commons in downtown Traverse City, Créme Brulee is grounded in a philosophy that combines simple living with human empowerment –- of the owners, other young artists and their customers.
This commitment extends to refusing credit cards (if someone wants something badly enough, they are encouraged to visit a nearby ATM) and painting the formerly grim walls with broad primary-colored stripes only after multiple sources of paint came into their lives.

BEING RESOURCEFUL
“I don’t believe we should be doing anything that isn’t empowering someone else, the empowerment of the individual,” said Ruggles. “Just being resourceful is a way for me to make my politics real in a relevant manner.”
Calling Traverse City an incubator for sustainable living in Michigan, Ruggles believes that clothing -- one of four basic human needs that include food, shelter and energy -- can also be sustainable. The store swims against the tide of consumerism, determined to spread a way of life as much as sell clothes and art.
“You have to separate need from want,” he said.
Ruggles and Liedel both note a momentum building for self-sufficiency, both on an individual and a community level.
“I just see more people wanting to know how to make clothing for themselves,” said Liedel, who also works at Mackinaw Brewing Company. “People being more aware of and interested in where clothing comes from and that supports local artisans.”
In keeping with do-it-yourself and re-use-it mandates, even 1970s polyesters get a new lease on life in Liedel’s hands as she transforms them into skirts. Their kicky designs and fun accessories are firmly 21st century.
“I draft some patterns on my own and some are vintage patterns that I update to make my own,” said Liedel, who along with Ruggles loves harvesting treasures at garage sales, trash days or used stores.

RESCUED MATERIAL
Liedel’s grandmothers provided the genesis for the business. No family member wanted the extensive collection of fabric, notions and sewing implements when the two women died. Liedel did not want everything going to Goodwill – wasting the passion pursued by each woman over her lifetime – so she took the material in for reuse.
“From that it just kind of came to the point where I sewed a little bit, it really picked up, and I found myself doing it more and more,” she said of a collection that included art deco sewing boxes full of old buttons. “[They had] nice little aesthetic things that make sewing fun and all of a sudden I had it.”
Ruggles fashions collages from rescued material for use as decorations on a range of items. The resulting shirts, pillows and bags encapsulate his philosophy as an artist.
“When you simply don’t have any money to spend, you turn to any sources you can – it makes you use your creative faculties more,” said Ruggles, who also works at Oryana. “It kind of winds in with the whole ethos of the store: the art and the thrill of the hunt.”

Situated upstairs in the Front Street Commons, Créme Brulee is open Monday through Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. See myspace.com/cremebruleemakingtcfreaky or email makintcfreaky@hotmail.com.
 
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