Catholic Creative: A Clothing Designer
An interview with Lauren Winter of Brick House in the City
“The Church deeply needs the unique and creative gifts of each one of us. If we can get past the mindset that art needs to be perfect or that it can only be found in a limited number of pallets or mediums, then we will be able to stretch art to reach into the crevasses and cobwebs of the Church and bring new glory there.”
Katie Warner interviews Catholic artists and artisans about their crafts, asking how their art impacts the Church and their faith impacts their work.
Tell me a little about who you are and about your craft.
My name is Lauren. First and foremost, I am daughter of Christ. I desire to know God and to serve God and that is the driving force behind everything that I do. I am currently nestled in the great city of Pittsburgh with my incredible husband and our three adorable kiddos (4 and under!). I am the one woman show behind Brick House in the City, where I design and sell Catholic apparel for the authentic Catholic woman.
When did you start designing apparel? What inspired you to do this as a career, part-time work, ministry or hobby?
I started designing apparel a little over two years ago. I saw a desire in my own life to have Catholic apparel that was trendy and stylish, but also practical as a young and busy mom. I wanted to wear something that would uplift and encourage me through the day, as well as give me opportunities to spread the message and love of Christ to the people I encounter each day. Through that desire, the Fiat tee was created, which I see now retrospectively as a very fitting first design. Since that first shirt, the business really took off and I just feel grateful and humbled to use my gifts to be a co-creator with the same God who made the stars.
How does your faith influence your art? How does your art impact your faith?
My art and my faith have been building blocks for each other. Before I create each new product, I take time to just sit and pray, and I ask God to show me where the need is and what message He wants to be heard. I try to see each new project as an opportunity to be a vessel and through that process He faithfully shows me the need or the message He would like to be out there. This process of being a co-creator with God has led me to fall in love with the saints and our Faith over and over and over again. Through the creative process my eyes have been opened to different elements of our faith that I don’t know if I would have found otherwise.
Can you pick a favorite work you’ve done recently? Tell me a little about it.
Our Strong Women Make Waves tee is a personal favorite and has quickly become one of our best-sellers. This shirt features Stella Maris with waves beneath her feet and the caption “Strong Women Make Waves.’ I have had a lifelong devotion to Our Lady and have been praying the Rosary since my hands had the dexterity. When I look to Our Lady, I see I see a woman who was both tender and powerful. I see a woman who was profoundly humble and the epitome of strength. Mary is the most influential woman that our Earth will ever know, and the effect of her “Yes” made a tidal wave so strong that its ripple effect will be felt for all of eternity. I put on this shirt whenever I know I am going to have a challenging day ahead of me and ask for her intercession and guidance.
Why do you think Catholic art has such an important role to play in the Church?
I think Catholic art has such an important role to play in the Church because God is an artist. Because God is the ultimate Creator, creativity is woven into each one of us. The same thread of creativity that intertwines us together is the same thread that makes each of us unique. To me, that uniqueness is the most important part. The Church deeply needs the unique and creative gifts of each one of us. If we can get past the mindset that art needs to be perfect or that it can only be found in a limited number of pallets or mediums, then we will be able to stretch art to reach into the crevasses and cobwebs of the Church and bring new glory there. When we view our art, through the eyes of a co-creator, then I think we will find art everywhere, not just in obvious places, but extending into all fields and vocations.
To whom do you turn for inspiration?
My personal litany includes Stella Maris, the Divine Mercy, Saint Faustina, Saint Francis, Dorothy Day, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and Saint Zélie. These are my Heavenly intercessors to whom I look to for inspiration. For my earthly inspiration, I look to the hearts of each woman I have connected with through my business. These are women who deeply desire holiness and sainthood and are always willing to link arms to make it to His Kingdom together. These women are living out their faith and their vocations in inspiring ways and getting know their hearts has inspired me time after time to keep living out mine.
Name one piece of advice/wisdom that has had a great influence on your work.
There is a quote by Mother Angelica that I love: “Let us not be confused by the talents and missions of other saints. Let us be the kind of saints we were created to be.” God doesn’t question if we are called. He doesn’t question if we were made to be saints. I pray that I can keep my eyes fixed on Him and that this fixation will be reflected not only in my work but in the way I live my life.
If people want to explore your work in more detail, where can they look?