“I grew up experimenting with every type of art you can imagine,” Gwinnett artist/entrepreneur Suzanne Holtkamp said. “But I always came back to my sewing machine.”
Holtkamp and her husband Matthew have been supporters of the arts in Gwinnett for many years. Because of their largesse, the Hudgens Center for the Arts does not require an admission fee. Their business, Holtkamp Heating and Air, is a visible symbol of their artistic support with its dynamic painted building which faces Interstate 85 in Suwanee.
It is no wonder that Holtkamp would embark on her own art-related business, CostumeSouth.com.
“I learned to sew around age 8,” Holtkamp said. “My mother bought me whatever fabrics and patterns I wanted, and I began sewing my own clothes, even making my own patterns. My favorites were the tennis skirts I patterned after watching Chris Evert, my idol.”
Fast forward to motherhood and raising a 9-year-old ballerina.
“I attended the obligatory parents’ meeting,” she said. “This led to studying ballet tutu construction, attending workshops in North Carolina, and eventually designing a whole show.”
Those experiences led to theatre work and private commissions.
“One day I got a call from a movie being filmed here in Atlanta who needed tailors. Since then I have worked on several dozen films and TV projects, and photo shoots,” she said.
CostumeSouth.com is in the process of being built out, which is a huge undertaking “in order to sell the 1,800 square feet of costume pieces and vintage clothing I have accumulated,” Holtkamp said. “My goal is to see these creations off to new homes where they can be used and appreciated.”
Holtkamp has also started planning and creating new costume projects.
“I’ve started designing and stitching liturgical vestments, delving into a bit of band styling, and studied how to digitize original drawings into machine embroidery,” she said.
“And then there’s the line of retro tennis wear and overalls that have lived inside my head for over a year. We’ll see what projects rise to the top in 2021!”
One thought Holtkamp entertains is that “costuming” and clothing are very fluid. Where does one stop and the other start?
“We can all point to periods in time where clothing prevented its wearer from performing certain tasks. Today we have the opposite,” she said. “We have become so demanding of constant comfort that casual dress reigns supreme, with yoga pants, sweats, and athletic shoes the norm for everyday wear.
“The exciting place for me as a designer and stitcher is in the ‘in-between,’ where form and function merge.
“I still greatly enjoy costuming for theatre and film, but I find myself attracted more and more to growing a business that provides clothing for the individual who appreciates this symbolic relationship.”
As Holtkamp so aptly says, “Don’t we all live on our own stage?”
Visit and enjoy Suzanne Holtkamp’s collections and creations at CostumeSouth.com.