Meet a Mom: Meet Genna Friedman, Founder of Fashion and Friends! | Chicago North Shore Moms

Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new Chicago North Shore Moms spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law.

Meet Genna Friedman, the crafty force behind not one, but two bustling businesses, Gents Custom Clothiers and Fashion and Friends. Originally from from Buffalo Grove, now happily settled in Highland Park, Genna is a proud mom of two boys who cherishes family time and finds inspiration in her children’s boundless creativity. With a background in fashion design and a passion for nurturing young talent, Genna’s journey from custom clothing designer to children’s fashion workshops reflects her commitment to fostering imagination and individuality in every stitch. Get to know Genna, her entrepreneurial spirit, her love for crafting, and her vision to inspire the next generation of fashion enthusiasts. Welcome, Genna!


Photo credit: lucy hewett

Hi Genna! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?

Hi, I’m Genna Friedman, originally hailing from Buffalo Grove, IL. My family and I have found our happy home in Highland Park, IL. Both my husband and I share roots in Buffalo Grove, and what drew us to Highland Park was the charming allure of its two vibrant downtown areas – downtown Highland Park and Ravinia, complemented by the nearby town of Highwood. This dynamic urban setup resonated with us, having come from the city and cherishing an urban lifestyle. The close proximity to Rosewood Beach and the enchanting Ravinia Festival only added to our delight! In the summer, we love nothing more than hopping on our bikes and pedaling our way to the Festival to listen to music of our favorite artists.


You’re a mama! Tell us about your children.

I am a proud mama of two wonderful boys, aged 5 and 2.5 years old. Despite the close age gap, my younger son, at just 2.5 years old, already matches his older brother in size! They play very well together and rarely fight over toys. As my older son approaches the milestone of entering kindergarten next year, I am filled with a bittersweet mix of emotions – excitement for the new chapter that awaits him and a touch of sadness as I reflect on how quickly time passes.


What are one or two interesting facts to know about you?

I spent 8 summers at Camp Marimeta and would still be a camper there if they let me.
My husband’s and my birthday are just one day apart. We discovered this fun coincidence on our very first date when the server checked our IDs.


What are your favorite North Shore places, spaces and eats to frequent?

I love Hometown in Glencoe for lunch with friends, Pomeroy in Winnetka for date night, Pixca in Highland Park for a night out with other couples, Bright Bowls in Highland Park for a quick pick me up, That Little French Guy in Highland Park for coffee and macarons (our kids love the blue one), The Bar Method in Highland Park for a good work out and Maddie’s Market in Ravinia for a good salad.


What gets you through a tough day?

What gets me through a bad day is good friends, my own mama and my aunt. They help me talk out the situation and give me good advice, whether I like it or not!


Your mantra?

“Progress, not perfection.”


Let’s get down to business. Your background is that of a custom clothing designer and you founded Gents Custom Clothiers. How did you become involved in this line of work? 


Photo credit: Jesus Garcia

After studying Fashion Design at Columbia College in Chicago, I gained valuable experience working for a men’s custom clothing company following graduation. After several years honing my skills there, I decided to embark on my own entrepreneurial journey and started Gents Custom Clothiers. I have my own studio at my home where customers can come look at fabrics, styling details and take measurements. My specialty is weddings and getting grooms prepared for the big day!


Photo credit: Jesus Garcia

You’ve turned your passion for clothing design into a business running fun fashion workshops for young children. Tell us about your business Fashion and Friends.

Fashion and Friends is a unique business dedicated to nurturing creativity and individuality in young children through engaging workshops focused on various fashion techniques in fiber arts. From the intricate art of weaving and crocheting to the delicate craftsmanship of embroidery and tie-dye, our workshops offer a hands-on experience that allows children to explore their creative potential in a supportive and fun environment. In addition to honing their crafting skills, participants are introduced to the fundamental aspects of the business of design, such as sketching, exploring fashion history, and understanding the practicalities of the fashion industry. Fashion and Friends aims to inspire and empower young girls and boys to express themselves authentically and develop a love for fashion and design that goes beyond the surface, fostering a passion for creativity that can last a lifetime.



What was the impetus behind starting Fashion and Friends and what year did you launch your business?

As a young girl, my dreams of becoming a fashion designer ignited a passion within me. Sketching designs in my notebook and cutting up my clothes fueled my creativity, despite the lack of formal fashion design classes in my upbringing. There were no classes available prior to high school, and the only class offered at that time was taught by a dispassionate instructor. Upon relocating back to the suburbs, I noticed a void in the availability of fashion classes, prompting me to establish Fashion and Friends. Reflecting on my own journey of seeking creative outlets, I envisioned a space where young minds could freely explore their artistic talents within the fashion realm. My mission is to empower and encourage children to express their unique selves through the captivating world of fashion, while learning skills that they can use at their disposal. This year, I decided to start my business in hopes of inspiring children to be creative in fashion!


What business savvy advice can you share for other moms who are thinking of launching their own small business?

In the world of business, one piece of invaluable advice stands out above the rest: if you have an idea, go for it. Taking that leap of faith and bringing your idea to life is often the first step towards fulfilling your entrepreneurial dreams. Whether your idea is big or small, revolutionary or simple, the act of pursuing it with determination and passion can lead to unexpected opportunities and growth. Embracing the spirit of innovation and courage to explore new possibilities can pave the way for success and fulfillment in the dynamic landscape of business. Trust in your vision, take that leap, and watch as your idea blossoms into a reality that propels you towards a brighter future.


Any workshops coming up?

Yes! Here is the exclusive!


Is there anything else you’d like us to know about yourself or your business?

I am excited to share that in the Fall of 2024, I will be introducing a weekly 1-hour enrichment program for preschoolers at Beth El Preschool, focusing on an introduction to fashion design. This program will provide young children with a fun and interactive learning experience, fostering their creativity and sparking an early interest in the world of fashion. Additionally, I am hoping to launch a new initiative—private lessons in my home studio! Lessons would include skills such as embroidering a personalized jacket or crocheting a cozy scarf. These bespoke creations will serve as tangible symbols of the children’s creativity and skill, something that they can truly be proud of!

Furthermore, Fashion and Friends continues to cater to special occasions by hosting unforgettable birthday parties, with a variety of innovative ideas waiting to be explored on our website. This commitment to nurturing creativity and empowering young minds underscores Fashion and Friends’ dedication to making a meaningful impact in the world of children’s fashion and design.


And finally, give us your dets!

Follow me on Instagram @fashionnfriends for the latest on projects and @gentscustom to see the latest in my men’s fashion creations!

About our Meet of Mom Sponsor

A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].


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