Sept. 10, 2014
Written by Margaret Tate for gatech.edu
Video by Maxwell Guberman
Not long after Kathy Spetz graduated from Florida State University in 1971 with a degree in fashion design, she was flown up to Atlanta to interview for a stewardess job with Delta Air Lines. She never did get those wings, but she eventually wound up making some – for Georgia Tech’s beloved mascot, Buzz.
It all started when Spetz, staying with a friend while interviewing, decided to flip through the classifieds. She spied a want ad for a costume designer at Six Flags Over Georgia.
“Well, I was ready!” she recalls with her characteristic enthusiasm. “The first costume I had to make was a replacement of H.R. Puffinstuff [of Sid and Marty Krofft fame]. It looked great, except I made it with no helmet inside. They came back the next day and said, ‘We can’t wear this!’”
That’s when Spetz learned that you don’t so much “sew” a mascot costume as “engineer” it. This amalgamated professional challenge turned out to be tailor-made for Spetz, especially given her parentage.
“With a rocket scientist for a father and a fashion designer for a mother, you learn how to make things that look good and will last,” she says. “I tell people, if you want a chicken costume that you can blast into outer space, I’m your man!”
In 1978, Spetz left Six Flags and founded Spetz Productions, which has designed and made countless costumes for sports teams and corporations. Her college mascots have earned top honors from the Universal Cheerleaders Association eight times since the 1980s.