On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about building a handmade clothing brand with my guest, Courtney Chu, of the handmade clothing brand CourtneyCourtney.

CourtneyCourtney upcycle of t-shirt into dress.

Courtney Chu was trained as an industrial designer and worked as a children’s fashion designer.  She’s obsessed with transforming and saving clothing from landfills through children’s and pet clothing.  Currently, she’s creating memorable, lasting pieces that enhance any adventure through her brand, Courtney Courtney!

I’ve been a fan and customer of CourtneyCourtney for a long time. My daughters have worn and treasured CourtneyCourtney dresses for many years, including on their birthdays.

Wearing a CourtneyCourtney dress

My daughter oldest daughter, Roxanne, wearing a CourtneyCourtney dress at her 5th birthday in 2009.

It was so awesome to be able to interview Courtney and learn more about her business. She’s given very few interviews, despite being in business for more than a decade so this truly was a treat.

According to Courtney, every color goes together, or she makes them go together. I love this mantra!

CourtneyCourtney in her studio

Courtney Chu in her studio.

We talk about how Courtney first began silk screening t-shirts during a summer pre-college textiles program at RISD, got a sewing machine soon after, and began creating unique upcycled clothing before she even began college. She majored in Industrial Design at Carnegie Mellon mostly because she just loved to make things, and continued to create upcycled clothing for her friends throughout school.

CourtneyCourtney August 2018 inventoryCourtneyCourtney’s August 2018 inventory. 

Courtney talks about her first job after college designing for a children’s clothing brand and how she transitioned slowly to pursuing her own business full-time. Today, she goes thrift shopping about twice a month and her parents, who are both retired, also go thrift shopping for her.

CourtneyCourtney before and after

A men’s extra-large shirt becomes six CourtneyCourtney girls dresses.

Courtney has done an excellent job at cultivating a community of customers who share pictures of their children and pets wearing her garments (see a gallery of customer photos here). We talk about how she went about doing this. We also talk about her newsletter and Instagram strategy, and about the challenges of hiring help when you’re a one-person business. We also talk about her typical day and how much time she spends sewing vs. in front of the computer.


Courtney surrounded by thrifted shirts.

Collaborations have been important for co-marketing and Courtney talks about collaborating with Bamboletta Bolls as well as Blackbird Tees.

We refer to:

And, of course, I ask Courtney to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Courtney recommends:

Keep up with Courtney on her blog and on Instagram and treat a child in your life to a CourtneyCourtney dress! They’ll love you forever.


Today’s episode is sponsored by Amy Barickman founder of Indygo Junction. IndygoJunction.com is your source for books & patterns in both print & PDF format. Indygo Junction produces designs for home & fashion as well as an extensive selection of apparel patterns including their popular Indygo Essentials line. Be sure to visit Indygo Junction’s blog for fabric & notions giveaways celebrating as well as inspiring projects, videos, and tutorials! Join the Indygo Junction Sewing Pattern Facebook Group community of creative spirits sewing and sharing Indygo Junction patterns! Sign up for Indygo Junction’s newsletter to receive a 20% off coupon code.


You can listen to this episode by clicking on the green arrow below, or subscribe to the Craft Industry Alliance podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher so you never miss an episode. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it! Thank you so much.

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