To celebrate our 10 year anniversary, we’re celebrating the tastemakers, collaborators and like-minded business women who have championed & cherished the Lizzie Fortunato brand for over a decade. Friends for 10 is a series of short interviews that introduces you to these very women. They are our supporters and muses. Just like you, they are the people who’ve shaped our brand and made Lizzie Fortunato, well … Lizzie Fortunato. #LF10
Few designers embody creativity and originality, genuine graciousness and support, and straight-up fun like Gigi Burris. You might not expect to feel so at ease around someone whose millinery has graced the Brandon Maxwell runways, the cover of T Magazine and windows of Bergdorf Goodman, but Gigi is the unlikely combination of talent and approachability. She makes kind look cool. And she is a cheerleader for her peers: not only for the Lizzie Fortunato brand but for plenty of others. We met Gigi years ago in the neighborhood – our Lower East Side studio was around the corner from her then live/work space. What started as planned get-togethers (talking business over a coffee) eventually relaxed into an after-work glass of wine in the neighborhood or during one memorable holiday season – cookie decorating for all of our vendors (for being professional designers we are certainly not professional bakers!). In the year since we’ve met we have collaborated together (Gigi created amazing hats that we had the joy of embellishing with jewelry accents), traveled to Paris market together (even sharing a suite and social calendar while in France) and supported each other through our respective weddings and life events (Gigi designed Kathryn’s veil for her 2017 wedding). Thank you Gigi for being a true and original talent, an incredibly supportive friend and collaborator, and an LF Friend for 10.
Q & A:
1. What is your first (or favorite!) memory of Lizzie / Kathryn / the brand?:
GB: I had always been an admirer of the brand and I knew that the twins had an office a few buildings away from mine in the Lower East Side. One afternoon in the garment center, I overheard a young girl sharing her contact information as an employee for Lizzie Fortunato and I pulled a total stalker move and gave her my card saying I needed to meet these cool girls on the same block! A long story short, we did meet and they proved to be the most inspiring neighbors I’ve ever had.
2. Are you a Lizzie (creative) or a Kathryn (business)?:
GB: I’m a Lizzie! And as a startup owner, I often play the Kathryn too. Luckily for me, I have both girls in my life to ask advice and receive guidance from.
3. What is your favorite way to style statement jewelry?:
GB: I love cool earrings with a little hat or cap! I add them to make my look more “evening.”
4. What is your favorite accessory (this could be a belt / a watch / a pet / whatever!); Why?:
GB: Hats of course! They are so emotional.
5. What is the most random thing in your purse right now?:
GB: I absolutely adore Byredo hand sanitizer! It has a lotion-like quality. I’m always running errands and meeting people and I use this all the time to stay germ-free.
6. I’M A ____ AND I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT ____:
GB: I am a “milliner ” and I am passionate about my “craft.”
7. Small but impactful advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?:
GB: Don’t forget the joy in humble beginnings.
8. What gets you out of bed in the AM?:
9. In my next life I want to be a _____:
GB: A milliner! I love what I do and it would be phenomenal to bring a lifetime of wisdom to my second chance as a hatmaker.
Worlds Collide: Gigi Burris & Lizzie Fortunato Collaboration
During a creative coffee meet-up at El Rey, Lizzie was complaining about needing a summer hat and the girls decided to do a trade… After seeing necklaces piled up next to Gigi’s creations they knew a collaboration had to happen…
10. Any secret talents?
I’m a national champion synchronized swimmer!
11. What are you doing tomorrow?
Going to the Halloween dog parade with our Wheaton Terrier, Bo.
12. Beach or Mountains?
13. Favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
Cuba for my honeymoon.
14. If I were a NY neighborhood I would be_____.
The Lower East Side.