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Bears, Ellen Ma launch Women's History Month merchandise collab

Chicago-based art director Ellen Ma models a crewneck from her Women's History Month merch collab with the Bears in front of Soldier Field.
Chicago-based art director Ellen Ma models a crewneck from her Women's History Month merch collab with the Bears in front of Soldier Field.

Growing up in Hyde Park — a South side neighborhood in Chicago — local art director Ellen Ma was familiar with the Bears. Her dad and his side of the family loved watching football on Sundays and her cousin played all the way through college. Her uncle immigrated from China to Chicago around the same time the Bears won Super Bowl XX in 1986; he always equated his American Dream with the Bears.

Now as a 28-year-old, Ma is collaborating with the team she and her family always admired from a distance, helping bring a merchandise line to the Bears inspired by Women's History Month. The exclusive collection featuring a hoodie and a crewneck with unique designs can now be purchased here.

"To be honest, this is my American Dream," Ma said. "When you hear football and the NFL and the Bears, that is the all-American symbol. I am a child of Chinese immigrants, so as a kid growing up in Chicago those things were symbols, but they just felt so far away. They were almost out of reach. So this is an honor to be able to work with the Bears and be able to be in the same room with the amazing Bears team."

The Bears and Chicago-based art director Ellen Ma have collaborated on a limited-edition fashion line to celebrate Women's History Month. Take a look at the exclusive merch, which is available now at the Chicago Bears Pro Shop. (Photos courtesy of Rachel Perry)

The merchandise collab was created, marketed and launched by an all-female team. The opportunity to create a line designed and produced by women, for women was exciting for both Ma and the Bears.

"This collection is truly powered by women," Bears marketing coordinator Kelsey Meisenzahl said. "Not only from a design and production standpoint, but we were also intentional about making sure that every element that went into launching the collection was put together by female talent, including photography and videography, plus my fellow Bears colleagues who assisted with graphic design and our marketing, social media and digital plan to tell this story. It was a really inspiring and unique project to spearhead and work on as a female collective."

Ma studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned her B.F.A in Visual Communications and is currently an art director for Leaders 1354 — a Chicago streetwear brand — teaches art students of various ages and manages her own freelance business. Her connection with the Bears began in 2021 when the club collaborated with Leaders and Ma on a hat collection. Ma has also helped design streetwear and art for the Chicago Blackhawks, record producer/singer Pharrell's brand Billionaire Boys Club, Adidas, Chance the Rapper and more.

Throughout her career, Ma has typically worked with men's streetwear, so creating clothes for women was an exciting change of pace for the Chicago native. For the designs, Ma wanted to combine feminine forward art with the feeling of female empowerment. The crewneck features a floral design that fits inside the Bear head silhouette while the hoodie features a woman wearing a helmet shaped like a Bear.

The opportunity to combine her passion for Chicago and art while empowering people just like her "means the world" to Ma.

"I always say I'm one of three things in every space — I'm the youngest person in the room, I'm the only minority in the room or I'm the only female in the room," Ma said. "So being able to do this collaboration means so much to me because it gives other people a chance to see how far they can go with a career like design or art. I want to make sure that anyone who comes after me has an equal chance to do something like this.

"I don't want to say this is only for me — this is for all women. This is for everyone else. I want to put something cool out there so you can shine, so some other lady can shine, so they wear something like this and they feel empowered. That's really what my goal is here."