New Member Spotlight: Rooted Self Expression Center

Jack Wangelin - Friday, July 25, 2014
Rooted Self Expression Center Logo 
Shruti Sekhri, founder of Rooted Self Expression Center has concocted a wondrous idea that people need a break from the rigmarole of their busy city life to take a look & explore themselves from a completely new angle. Rooted provides a space for that exploration, focused on centering one's self & retreating from the daily grind.

We had a bit of difficulty understanding it fully before reading about how Shruti decided to step out of the usual 9-5 and found comfort and a better quality of life in self-expression. Read her story for yourself and help Shruti put the finishing touches on her vision by giving to the Rooted Self Expression Kickstarter.

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 
Rooted is a Self Expression Center  that offers experiential classes and workshops using various creative activities and art forms (art, music, dance/movement, acting/improvisation, speaking, and writing) to allow people to connect to themselves and others in a non-judgment, free-to-be-yourself environment.


Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 
Rooted came about during a personal, dig-deep journey for Shruti Sekhri, its founder. In her own words:
‘Even though I’m a perfection-seeking businesswoman, I took the risk to venture into acting and fell in love with it. It made me feel whole and emotionally connected in a way that was woefully missing in my life. A few months after falling for acting, I had an awful performance and my perfection demons started roaring! I beat myself up and couldn’t sleep all night. It was such a tough experience, that I knew I didn’t want to repeat it again. So I immediately signed up for a week long ‘Living Centered’ program in Nashville.

This program deeply affected me. It was full of experiential activities that helped me see myself. I didn’t get lectured at or have to learn any new philosophy; I just had to trust the process – however it unfolded for me. I was really able to go deep into myself and start to listen to myself like I never had before. I also began connecting to a real desire to help people go deeper in life – honestly, a little selfishly because I want to connect to those people.
All of a sudden, every self-help book, every retreat, every workshop, had a double meaning to me: what it held for me and what it could be for other people. I became fully connected to my pursuit, but had no idea how to put all of this new information into creating something meaningful. Until, one morning when I was very frustrated, I got attached to the idea of blasting techno music. I don’t normally listen to techno, but I went with my instinct, blasted it and started to do yoga. Immediately, I felt relief. I didn’t learn ‘techno yoga’ anywhere; I created it from instinct. I expressed my frustration with music and my physicality and I did it without any expectations of what I should be doing or feeling. It set me free and it immediately made me think of how creative work can do this for others too. The more I thought about it, the more Rooted began to take shape.

I’m telling you this story in the first person because I want you to know that I’m putting my heart and soul out there to be seen through this Center. It won’t be perfect, but I hope that it’s a place where a community of people comes together and lets self-discoveries and self- nurturing run amok.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
So far, it’s all about having a clear vision and ensuring that it can be communicated clearly. 


What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 
Right now, I’m looking for advice.


What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
I’m really excited about offering the Rooted Series.  It’s a class that allows participants to form a bond over a 6-week period doing a variety of artistic activities like art, movement, music, writing, and acting/improv.  No one has to know how to do any of it and they will be in the same boat trying to experience the process without judgment and expectations.  


What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?
Wicker Park/Bucktown is full of open-minded people who are open to taking care of themselves.  This neighborhood has a vibe of acceptance of all different types of folks – artists, business people, stay at home parents.  I’ve lived here for over 12 years and truly feel connected to the diversity.


What kind of people are your customers?
Rooted is focused on serving adults of any age, any gender, any background. Let’s be clear – you do not have to be an artist or experienced at any art form to feel the richness at Rooted.
This place is for you if you are…
Struggling under the weight of everyone else’s expectations and need some space to be free
Feeling stressed out
Seeking genuine connection
Wanting to be part of a community
Creatively stuck
Feeling stuck in a daily rut and need a change
Looking to explore new ways to get more out of life
Looking to find your path in life – to figure out what you are passionate about
Willing to push yourself out of the comfort zone
Just feeling curious about this place
Wanting to take care of your soul


What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
To be accepted as they are… there are no expectations of any skill or putting up any image for the benefit of others. 

Thank you Shruti for taking time to let us learn a bit more about you & your business. We are looking forward to working with you & seeing  you at our upcoming Chamber Events.

Member Spotlight: Canine Crews

Jack Wangelin - Monday, March 31, 2014
Canine Crews Logo

Canine Crews is a perfect fit for the dog-loving WPB Negihborhdood. They offer over 3,500 square paws (or 7,000 square feet for you humans) of indoor play space, a separate small dog playroom, outside yard and over 50 boarding suites of various sizes. Catherine Crews is the owner & founder of Canine Crews; You're a dog lover, you want a dog lover taking care of your pup, even after this short introduction, you will know that Catherine & Canine Crews is dedicated to the dogs.


Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 

Catherine Crews

Hi, I'm Catherine Crews and I graduated from the University of Arkansas with BA in History and in Art with a minor in Biology. I have lived in Chicago since 1999 and I bring a passion for animals along with the knowledge of running a small business. In my former life, I worked over 12 years in the metal industry. The last 10 years were with a company under 15 employees; building the work ethic and patience required in working with dogs - oh, and people! 


Canine Crews offers four rooms, 12,000 square feet of total indoor space, as well as a large, fenced outdoor space. Daycare is broken into groups by size, temperament and age; allowing dogs to exercise and socialize in a way that is natural to their pack mentality. Your furry friend will come home relaxed and happy and you will experience a better behaved dog.  Canine Crews offers all you could need in pet care: daycare, boarding, dog walks, pet sitting, dog bus, grooming and retail!

 

You must have a huge heart for dogs!   

Growing up, I was that kid who brought every animal home to save. I had dogs, fish, cats, birds, snakes and a white mouse I unsuccessfully tried to hide from my mother. In college, while on a trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, I fell head over heels for a little fluff-ball that was the runt of a litter. I adopted my dog, Barney, from the local humane society that day. It was possibly the most transient point of my life, but we somehow survived my college years (thanks to a lot of dog-sitting from my parents). Barney came with me to St. Louis and then to Chicago where he lived to be almost 16 years old! He would have loved to come to Canine Crews but I lost him in February 2009!  In the spring of 2011, a new dog decided to waltz into my life and has trained me very well. Carlos (Fu Man) has become an integral part of my world as well as buddy to the staff of Canine Crews. He's a 12 pound mess of Schipperke & Poodle with a bit of Pomeranian thrown in for some fancy prancing. I call him a Schipper-Doodle but others call him Fancy Pants or Fu Man!


What made you decide to turn your love of dogs into a business? 

The opportunity!  I was toying around with ways I could use my knowledge outside of non-profit rescue work and when a friend mentioned this building, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to give it a try.  I spent every waking moment educating myself on the industry and studying my target demographic in WPB to find out how I could make this business a success.  It was a whirlwind of time spent between the library, online and utilizing the SBA SCORE program for my business plan and financials but it all boiled down to the fact that I just KNEW I could do this and that I would be providing a great service to our neighborhoods while facilitating my love for happy, healthy animals.

What new products and services are you most excited about offering? 

Our pet boutique has grown from a small corner in the facility's lobby to a thriving retail resource for pets and pet owners!  We've put together a carefully curated selection of food, treats, toys, and event clothing, all with an eye toward healthy and happy pets.  

Speaking of happy and healthy pets, I am also super jazzed for our debut Pet Health Expo taking place on Sunday April 27th 2014 in the large upstairs space at Canine Crews, with over 6,000 square feet of space for attendees and vendors.The event is being sponsored and co-promoted by Canine Crews, Chicago Canine Concierge, One Tail at a Time and Alive Rescue, and we plan to showcase a slew of services and products related to the health and well-being of today's pets. Companies offering healthy food, vitamins and supplements, dog training, and veterinary care will be on premise to answer questions, hand out samples, and help pet owners make the best choices for their pet's care.  

During all my free time, I am also creating and launching a puppy program which launches in spring 2014.  It's definitely busy at Canine Crews!

What advice you you give anyone looking to go into the pet care industry?

Do your research and invest in training for you and your staff.  I spend hours every week studying animal behavior, natural foods and supplements and reviewing video of my staff to ensure we are providing the best care for our pups. Working with animals brings a ton of surprises and emergency situations and the better educated you are, the better you are able to handle. We use many professional training programs and I also am a certified instructor through PetTech for Pet First Aid and CPR; these are just a few of the large investments I have made over the years in me and my staff.  

Pet Care is a service industry and your biggest challenge is not the pets, it's your staff.  My secret?  Monthly staff meetings. One of my favorite parts of being the BOSS is that I get to help train and mold young adults into great employees and caring souls.  Nothing is better than an engaged staff that is excited about the progress a dog has made or a new program we are rolling out.  You should see them get excited about their new Pet First Aid/CPR patches - they can't wait to put them on their company sweatshirts!

What are your favorite dog-friendly spots in WPB?

Wow...there are so many!  WPB is such a dog-friendly place that I truly enjoy meeting friends and walking our pups around.  There are tons of restaurants where you can stop and get a drink or a bite to eat on the patio and lots of retail stores have water and treats (and Carlos knows them all)!  I like the shade of Penny's Noodles and Club Lucky for a great Friday afternoon sip. There are excellent dog parks that are well-maintained and tons of dog-friendly stores all around. WPB is truly one of the best places in the city for our four-legged babies.


New Member Spotlight: Inkway Printing

Jack Wangelin - Monday, March 03, 2014
Inkway Printing
Inkway Printing & Promotional Products has recently joined the WPB Chamber. As one of WPBs growing numbers of digital storefronts, let's give Inkways Printing a warm welcome to the Chamber, & get to know a bit more about Inkway & its founder, Matt Northam.

Matt Northam - Inkway Printing Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself.
Hello! My name is Matt Northam and I started Inkway Printing & Promotional Products LLC in March of 2013. I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago & have been living in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood for the past 5 years.

Inkway Printing & Promotional Products specializes in business printing & personalized promotional products. We distribute items like business cards, calendars, banners, pens, drinkware, custom apparel & thousands of other products!


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
To not fall behind with the accounting.  I’ve never been interested in the numbers side of the business so it was something I would procrastinate doing.  By putting it off, I ended up wasting more time & money when I could have been out trying to earn more business.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago
Do your research and ask a lot of questions. If you have a well thought out idea and business strategy, go for it! You don’t have to reinvent to wheel to have a successful business in Chicago. 

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
There are a lot of cool IT products that we offer for your mobile, tablet & computer devices that you can personalize with your brand or business logo.  Items like custom gel skins for your cell phones/tablets or mini power banks/portable chargers which make great gifts to clients.

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 
I love the atmosphere of Bucktown/Wicker Park. You don’t have to worry about the hustle and bustle of downtown & the neighborhood isn’t condensed to where you feel like you’re living on top of one another.  The bars/restaurants are excellent too!

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 
Since I don’t have an actual store front, I find myself getting a lot of work done at Filter Café. I could probably stay there for 24 hours straight if they allowed me.  Lucia’s on North Ave. has the best meatball subs in Chicago. Delicious!


Member Spotlight: Sparkfactor

Jack Wangelin - Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sparkfactor

Sparkfactor is one of the newest Members of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber. Let's get to know President and Co-Owner George Lowe and the Sparkfactor team a bit better in this Member Spotlight. If you would like to meet George and the Sparkfactor team in person, swing by Tonight's Mixer at Jane's.



 George Lowe, President
George Lowe, President

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself.   

 Sparkfactor is a boutique digital agency in Wicker Park Bucktown. We love what we do! From a simple print ad, to an attention grabbing video or a complicated interactive website, our designers, storytellers, idea-makers, shooters, programmers, artisans, and thinkers work together to make your message and your brand the utmost memorable. We want to do it for you!



Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

The inspiration came over flaming saganaki at Santorini restaurant in Chicago.



What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner? 

Communication on all levels is the key.


What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
We’re super stoked to offer our clients highly designed responsive websites built in WordPress that they can manage themselves and they are optimized for whatever device you may be viewing it on (desktop, tablet or mobile).



What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 

It's great to have clients come down to our offices because it’s a neighborhood where you get to know people and there are so many choices of places to eat and things to do.









What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 

Club Lucky, Lottie’s, Gallery Café & Big Star


What kind of people are your customers? 
We love all people at Sparkfactor



What can people expect when they walk in your front door? 

Unbelievable creativity and design, execution of our plans and great service.



Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share? 

Were excited about our recent work for Howard Street in Rogers Park – hellohoward.org a grassroots campaign to promote the businesses and diversity of Howard Street.


Meet the Spark Fa

Member Spotlight: Contacts and Specs

Jack Wangelin - Monday, July 22, 2013
Igor Preman is the owner of Contacts and Specs at 1616 N Damen. Based in Bucktown, where they have been located for the last 31 years, Contacts and Specs offers an exquisite selection of fine eyewear from around the globe, as well as experienced optomitrists to provide you with some of the most comprehensive eye care available. 

Visit them for your next eye wear or eye care needs. They update their selection regularly, so even if you got your last pair of glasses from them, they likely have a brand new selection for you.



1.Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself.

Contacts and Specs is a family owned luxury optical retailer in Chicago since 1982.  We have helped people all over the world in the selection of their eye wear needs in our store and through our website. We have helped clients find the look they are looking for and we have many tools and expert customer support.

2.Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

After providing people from all over the world in selecting their eyewear for 32 years, we decided to expand and offer the same unparalleled customer service to a new Chicago neighborhood. 

3.What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 

Be passionate about the business that you plan to start.

4.What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 

We are excited about showing the best in eye wear fashion from all over the globe eyewear lines that we truly believe in, as well as putting you in the latest lenses that are suited for you. We are excited about making you feel the best. 

5.What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 

The diverse clientele that shop in the neighborhood, from age to races and cultures. As well as the boutique and artistic feel that Wicker Park Bucktown offers. 

6.What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 
Goddess & the Grocer; for good food and snacks and the Wormhole for the perfect coffee drink. 

7.What kind of people are your customers? 
Our customers are clients that understand style and quality, and are looking for unique eyewear and not the familiar name brands that are available in many locations. 

8.What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
You will be welcome to try our style of frames, our opticians are committed to provide unparalleled customer service and help you find the best in eyewear fashion. But most important they will find the best fitting that suites you, and make you feel like you. 
 

Contacts and Specs is a premier Bucktown - Wicker Park eyewear specialist, for more information click on their logo:

Contacts and Specs

1616 N. Damen Ave

Chicago, IL

60647



 

Member Spotlight: WanderBikes

Jack Wangelin - Monday, June 24, 2013

WanderBikes is an electric bike (e-bike) store that has just opened its doors in the Wicker Park Bucktown Neighborhood. They are located at 2350 N. Damen Ave., and have the only shop in Chicago dedicated exclusively to e-bikes.  They carry e-bikes that are equal parts fun and function while catered to the Chicagoan.  Through rentals, sales and service, we hope to displace as many car trips as possible.


WanderBikes is the partnership of brothers Brady and Damon Doerschuk.  Since childhood we have had a fascination with 2-wheel movement and recently decided to parlay that into a new business venture.    

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?

Brady:  I’ve lived and worked in Chicago for a few years.  I’ve always been agitated and perplexed with how traffic moves (or doesn’t move).  I like to bike, but sometimes it’s not feasible.  E-bikes are the answer, they’ve evolved from being a novelty for some to being the answer for many.  Your not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic. 

Damon:  I love riding on 2-wheels.  Pedal propulsion is fun but so is mechanical.  E-bikes are very dynamic in that they are able to merge muscle and mechanical input, old and new; I think it’s great as well as promising.  I believe e-bikes have a place in our transportation cache, as they are a capable and efficient means of traversing a city.  

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

Brady: Still learning.  Maybe learn to be more patient.  I’ll rush something or push what I feel is a priority – only it turns out to be a molehill I’m sweating over.

Damon:  Yep, nothing happens as quickly as you want it to.  Plan ahead and pay attention to the details.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?

Brady: Don’t seek feedback from just your friend’s - listen to random people.

Damon:  Similar to Brady’s answer, talk to as many people as you can, seek mentorship.  The SBA’s SCORE program has been really helpful; they have a great team of advisors.  Know your product, learn your market try and have a little fun.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

Brady: The idea that you can get to anywhere in the city noticeable quicker than it takes in a car.

Damon:  I’m really looking forward to developing our rental product.  I think it has a lot of potential to provide a service that can be both entertaining and purposeful. 

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

Brady: It’s a vibrant, diverse and bicycle friendly community.  I have everything I want and need right here.

Damon:  Bike lanes and blue line.  I like the location within Chicago, if you want to explore or get around, seems to be a great starting point. 

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?

Brady: Have you seen the new bikes lane on Milwaukee Ave?  

Damon:  Toast on Damen.

What kind of people are your customers?

Brady: All walks of life.  That’s the beauty and challenge of selling e-bikes, they appeal to a broad market.  Young riders looking for a more cost effective means of transport, long commuters, families with kids and cargo, tourists looking to explore the city, riders with mobility issues.  The customer base is certainly varied, but tends to be non-traditional cyclists.

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

Brady: I know “family owned” might be a bit cliché but that’s exactly what you’re getting, hence the reason we’ve been coined the WanderBoys.   You’re getting the family package, two brothers who are two-wheel enthusiast sharing their passion. WanderBikes is our baby and I think the customers will experience that quickly.  Weather you’re just curious or have done some serious e-bike research, we invite you in and are welcome to stay as long as you’d like.  Also, a 3rd WanderBoy (Tyler) will be joining us as soon as he returns from Afghanistan.  For some reason, the 4th WanderBoy is content living on the West Coast.    

High customer satisfaction is an ambition for most industries and we’re no different.  However, this is our main objective and WanderBikes aspires to this virtue.  We’re confident the e-bikes will speak for themselves but know the next e-bike you rent or buy is going to be handled or maintained by a family that prides itself on offering a true, tangible value for the neighbor.  

Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share?

Brady: Don’t get carried away about your new business when you’ve had more than a few too many drinks.

Do you have any stories of successful cross-promotions that you have done with other local businesses?

Brady: Not yet but it’s in the works.  Anyone reading this?   

What ways has the Chamber been helpful to building your business?

Brady: Since we’re so new it’s too early to say.  They have a good reputation and are very active.  From what I can tell, I think they really care about the community and want to see/help you succeed. 

Member Spotlight:Park Schreck Gallery

Jack Wangelin - Thursday, June 13, 2013

John Park and Dan Schreck are both artists and art collectors who enjoy discovering new gifted artists.

They share a distinct passion for abstract art, minimalist design, and architecture. John and Dan come together in a sophisticated and forward-looking partnership, as Park Schreck Gallery.

Park Schreck Gallery finds talented artists and connects them with buyers who are looking for original artwork. Amazing art, great value.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

John Park: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to trust my gut.

Dan Schreck: I realized that every sale truly matters for small businesses. Every sale helps keeps our doors open longer and gives us the opportunity to do what we do.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?

JP: Starting any business can be complicated. The best advice I can give is to talk to as many successful people as you can. Also, know your audience/potential clientele.

DS: Take a risk, think big.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

JP: We are on an encaustic kick right now... love the iridescence!

DS: Totally agree. Encaustic painting has been a lot of fun.

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

DS: Wicker Park Bucktown is great. The creative history of this part of the city is amazing. We’re thrilled to be located where both art buyers and art makers live. That is unusual.

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?

JP: Lucia’s.

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

DS: People can expect to see emerging talent from Chicago and beyond.

Do you have any stories of successful cross-promotions that you have done with other local businesses?

JP: Our neighbors have been really supportive. We have artwork hanging next door at Milano. Their clientele has responded extremely well to our work and we have made several sales to their customers.

Member Spotlight: Francis Kestler, BlueJacket Financial

Jack Wangelin - Monday, June 03, 2013


Francis Kestler is the President and CEO of BlueJacket Financial 

BlueJacket Financial provides financing and capital to small, medium and large business. 

Francis will also be writing a monthly, small business finance blog for the WPB Chamber. His first post, " Accounts Receivable Factoring: The working capital a business needs," will be posted next Monday, the 10th of June. Be sure to keep following for more invaulable tips, resources, and insight into the murky waters of small business finance.


Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

Seeing how hard it was for business owners to get the funding they need from traditional banking sources.  There are many businesses that lack the necessary capital to sustain or grow their business.  BlueJacket Financial was created to give business owners funding options for their business whether they’re a startup, an existing business looking to expand, or a turnaround story.  


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

Never waste time.


What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?

Consider all your funding options, I see a lot of business owners willing to give away pieces of their business in the form of equity ownership without going through all their financing options.


What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

The ability to loom at a business and assess their financing needs and either provide them with the financing they need or offer advice as to how they can obtain it.  Business owners have more options for financing then they really know exist.  BlueJacket Financial is here to let them know their options.


What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

Sadly, I don’t work in Wicker Park/Bucktown yet, but I live there and I love the neighborhood.  Especially, the diversity of the restaurants and bars, and the people.


What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?

Too many to name, start with the bars and restaurants on Division Avenue and work your way west of Damen.


What kind of people are your customers?

Business owners, from smaller restaurants to larger corporations, they really run the gamut.


What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

Most of my contact is by phone or email, but I try and make the financing process as easy as possible for them, I explain all their options and make sure there are no surprises.


Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share?

I have many, but the one I like the most was helping a hard working immigrant family from Mexico realize their dream of opening a restaurant and bar.  I have a few stories of helping business owners stave off bankruptcy or help them add on to their business, but nothing compares to helping someone achieve the American Dream. 


What ways has the Chamber been helpful to building your business?

The Chamber is outstanding for networking and getting to know your neighbors.  Also, giving feedback to the business owners as well, and in most cases, thanking them for what they have done for the neighborhood and community.  

Member Spotlight: Peter Greenbaum, Tea Lake Productions

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself            

My name is Peter Greenbaum and my business is called Tea Lake Productions.  We specialize in video scriptwriting and video and media production for all types of businesses – large and small.


Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?

I’ve worked extensively in film and video production and also have a background in copywriting for websites. I wanted to combine these two areas into one business that celebrates creativity, clarity and communication.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner? 

Assumption is the mother of all #%@& -ups.


What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?

Go for it. The business community in Chicago is very supportive. There are all kinds of great networking opportunities and resources for business owners.


What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

Tea Lake Productions offers “impact movies” which are short, powerful profiles of businesses and their services, products and personnel.  We blend intimate on-camera interviews with graphics, footage and effects to create an irresistible story.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: An interview with Jane Pakis, owner of Valentia

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hi – my name is Jane.  I am the owner of VALENTIA studio/boutique, 2042 N Damen Avenue.

I am an A.S.I.D. interior designer – but I have always wanted a shop.  We moved to Chicago a little over a year ago and this just fell into place so I decided to go with it! 

The shop is laid out like an actual apartment: the front room has ladies wear, accessories and a few specialty items for the men.  The kitchen has kitchen stuff, the bedroom has custom headboards and “bedroom” things.  The bathroom has bath items.  There is also a little nook with baby items [mostly all handmade]. 

My goal is to keep PRICES MODERATE!

 

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?  

I’ve been playing “store” since I was 4 years old! 

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 

Go with your gut. 

 

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 

I really enjoy carrying local artist’s work and Fair Trade items.  I am designing a line of summer dresses that are locally made!  This is the first I’ve mentioned this to anyone!  It is very exciting! 

 

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?  

I am so thankful for the day I happened upon this location!  Being new to Chicago I really didn’t know the depth of WPB!  It has such a great vibe – I feel so lucky to be here!  I love the neighborhood feel in an urban setting and the mix of apartments, homes, parks, churches and shops all working together to make up this great area. 

 

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?  

I haven’t had much time to explore now that I am in retail… But every restaurant we’ve tried has been super – both the florists are great – salons, barber shops….seems we can find pretty much everything here!  It’s hard to beat TOAST for breakfast/lunch. 

 

What kind of people are your customers?  

I am starting to get repeat business from the locals which I SO appreciate! …THANK YOU, LOCALS!  

But very surprisingly [to me] is the amount of out of towners  I am seeing!  Not only U.S. but also Europe and Asia!  One day I had over 7 countries represented in the shop! 

 

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?  

A COLORFUL AND HAPPY VIBE!

 

Do you have any stories of successful cross-promotions that you have done with other local businesses? 

The Christmas SHOP LOCAL and the SHOP for your LOCAL SCHOOL Event was super!!  I also did a ladies night out with a Mary Kay cosmetic rep.  We had such a nice turn out and such a good time!  I would definitely team up with others for promotions!  Last summer’s sidewalk sale was also a good event! 

 

What ways has the Chamber been helpful to building your business? 

I think the Chamber reaches so many more people than I have access to.  I like the events and promotions they have.  I will participate in whatever they offer! 

 

These weekly member business spotlights are a benefit of Chamber membership. If you're a member and would like to be featured on our blog, please contact us at info@wickerparkbucktown.com.

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