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Fashion entrepreneur Emma Bottari

Emma Bottari

Emma Bottari

Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Innocent World are just some of Emma Bottari’s inspirations in the fashion world. But the budding designer wanted to do more than just create beautiful clothing. And so, immediately after graduating with a BFA in fashion from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she launched her own internet-based enterprise, www.industrialkitty.com.

Dedicated to showcasing “Fancifully quaint fashions for those looking to drift through a metamorphosis of dreamy elegance,” her website features designs that spring directly from the mind, hand and heart of Bottari. With whimsical names like Little Bear, Piano Keys, Cream Bow and Ribbon and Seven Seas, her fashion lines are aimed directly at a younger demographic and reflect a Far Eastern influence. “The fashion I create is rooted in Japanese style,” she states.

Items include dresses, jump skirts, jackets, bloomers and bows that are handmade and professionally crafted out of imported fabrics and organic cottons. “I want to keep a couture standard of quality,” she assures.

Bottari’s eye-catching website has attracted a fan base from around the world, including Brazil and the U.K. in addition to across the United States. “All of the graphic design is done by Tori Sturm. She has been the life blood of our online presence!” she enthuses.

Life as an artist and entrepreneur is a constant juggling act for Bottari. To keep all the balls in the air at the same time, she designs on Mondays and Friday and sends the rest of her time creating patterns, producing clothes, organizing photo shoots, scouting models for fashion shows and social media marketing.

What’s so fascinating about Bottari is the way her logical left brain works so very well with her creative right brain. “I actually thought for some time that I wanted to go to medical school,” she reveals.

A lifelong resident of the Pilsen neighborhood and graduate of Whitney Young Magnet High School, Bottari augmented the education she received at the School of the Art Institute with a pair of local internships. Working for eco-friendly designer Annie Novotny as well as a latex clothing manufacturer, she gained crucial real-life experience she was able to build on in launching her own business.

This spring, Bottari will step away from the computer to expand her reach. “It’s important to make face-to-face connections with art-minded people outside of the internet,” she says.

On March 23, her work will be featured at a fashion show at Mysterious & Reassuring in Franklin Park. The daylong event is free and open to the public, with more than 25 models walking the runway in Bottari’s apparel.

And in mid-May, Bottari’s will showcase her designs at Anime Central at the Hyatt Regency. The Midwest’s largest convention dedicated to Japanese pop culture, Anime Central offers Bottari a huge stage upon which to strut her stuff. Thousands of potential customers will learn about Bottari’s work for the first time through a fashion show, as well as a booth that she will personally man. “I want to continue to build brand knowledge at my booth,” she explains.

Bottari’s fans can expect to see her collection evolve as she gradually branches out from her Japanese style. “I design things that I am inspired by,” she says. Her goal is to launch a new line every May, and she is brainstorming ideas for a coat line. Like any artist, Bottari has fielded her share of negative feedback. But, that’s all part of the business, and she has learned to handle all types of criticism.

Bottari’s vision is to one day open a boutique restaurant. “The servers would wear clothing exclusively from my boutique next door,” says Bottari, who is also inspired by the tea culture and finds that pastries and cakes make a lovely complement to her whimsical designs.

Bottari has been immersed throughout her life in Italian culture thanks to her father, Lionel Bottari, a longtime Fra Noi columnist who is also a renowned zampognaro (bagpipe player) and practitioner of Commedia dell’Arte. A dual citizen of Italy, she hopes to visit the land of her ancestors this summer to experience its art, architecture and fashion up close and personal. “My father’s cousin in Italy makes shoes and I would love to incorporate that into my work one day!” Bottari exclaims.

For now, Bottari plans on continuing to build her business with her loyal fan base while reaching out to new audiences. Perhaps one day she will inspire future fashion students as her unique brand evolves and makes a mark on the fashion world.

For details, visit www.industrialkitty.com. (Several different websites pop up when you Google Industrial Kitty, so either type www.industrialkitty.com directly into the browser, or Google Ick by Industrial Kitty.)

About Alanna Chiefari

Alanna Chiefari is a 2007 graduate of Saint Mary's college-Notre Dame. She has been writing for Fra Noi since the winter of 2011 and is absolutely thrilled to feature young Italian-American adults who are off to a great start. Alanna has been working as a client associate on a wealth management team for Merrill Lynch since May of 2007. In her spare time, she loves exploring Italian culture by reading books, trying new restaurants and meeting Italian Americans who are benefiting the community. Follow her on Twitter at @LannaDionne.