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?  



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

Mother's Day in Bucktown, a Suite in Three Parts.

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Julie Horowitz Jackson happily calls Bucktown her home now for fifteen years. Virtu, 2034 North Damen Ave, celebrated 11 years in business earlier this year. Her husband owns Color Wheel Studio, another Bucktown business, and their son attends Pulaski International School of Chicago, one of Bucktown’s four neighborhood CPS schools. Go goat or go home!

Putting my money where my mouth is, this working mom spent a joyous Mother's Day out and about in the neighborhood on a glorious sunny Sunday. 

The day began with the inaugural brunch at newly opened Red Door located at the corner of Charleston and Damen. Perhaps you've heard? Chef Troy Graves and his scrumptious ways are back in Bucktown once again. You may remember Troy from his days at Meritage or even Tallulah up North. Tastebuds rejoice in savoring gastro pub fare offered in an enlightened elegance. 

The space is cool and cozy with wood grained tables and banquettes. An elongated bar reaches across the dining room where you can sip hand crafted cocktails of añejo and ginger rhubarb or choose one of many brews from an extensive list. Jeremiah Krickhahn, Red Door's mixologist, simmers his own syrups in house.

Today we sat outside on the impressive patio and dined on traditional fare executed with Troy's twists. Known for his tasteful juxtapositions of both savory and sweet, I had the soy salmon with cucumber and asian pear on a bagel. Mr. Me had the Applewood smoked bacon and eggs and the kid snarfed the asparagus and gruyere quiche with mixed greens. A flight of mimosas was had in mango, ruby grapefruit, and that yummy rhubarb ginger I told you about before. 

As if the meal wasn't enough, the best part was the company. Seated, community style, in this outdoor room, were so many of our neighbors, friends and customers each enjoying the day with family. 

Dinner is served all week long, with the place turning more bar friendly after 10pm. On the menu you'll find small plates to share. Our favorites (so far) have been the fava bean toast with burrata and strawberries in a balsamic glaze, gnocchi or mussels, and the fantastic burger with onion marmalade.  

I can't tell you how happy I am to have this corner bistro spot open once again. Just in time for some summer sun, that patio will be packed all season long.

From Red Door, we crossed the street to visit our friend Beth at the lovely Larkspur

Painting with flowers doesn't quite come close to what we found on Sunday morning. Brilliant bouquets full of anemone and ranunculus were on hand amidst a field full of flowers fresh for you to choose. I can now say that I've seen the biggest hydrangea blossom I have ever laid eyes on, a heart shaped one that was bigger than a not so small child. 

One of my favorite things about this neighbor of mine is the fact that she grows much of her stock on her own farm in Michigan. It doesn't get much more local than that.

After our visit, we headed a few blocks North to Logan skate park, one of the neighborhood's best kept secrets.

Hidden under 90/94 at Logan and Western you will find an enclosed stretch of concrete, metal and wood alive with the sound of rolling skate trucks and the distinct clink of a grind.

On that sunny Sunday the ramps were filled with kids of all ages, a skater chick here and there (woo hoo!), all waiting their turn to go with the flow. I got to sit and watch the kid master three new feats, fearless as ever, and completely mortified by my mere existence. 

It's not so often that I get to enjoy a day free from Virtu, but when I have a spare moment, I try to spend some time (and some money) in our local independents.

Throughout the Six Corners and the streets beyond, we have many an option as to where to dine, play or shop. Think about your actions and consider this: each time you spend money locally, you are keeping more of those funds closer to home. 

For a really neat way to spell this out clearly, check out the handy economic distribution calculator over on the Independent We Stand website.

I just entered the stats for Chicago and it told me that if every family spent just $10 a month in locally owned independent businesses, more than $277 million dollars would stay in our city. That's quite a lot of food for thought.

Check me next time when I blahg about the Wicker Park Farmer's Market. I can't wait for opening day on Sunday, June 3rd. See you there.

Trend of the ages: The Tassel

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Moira Kelley is a sales associate at STITCH and a vintage clothing seller on Etsy. You can find her at the store or write her a line at

If you want a history lesson on the subject of fashion and accessories, tassels are a perfect example of a trend that has been around forever...literally.

There is a Biblical commandment that tells the Hebrew people to add “tassels” to their garments - which we now know as a “tallit”, or Jewish prayer shawl. Talk about history!

Fast forward a couple thousand years and the French had perfected the art. In the 16th century they created the Guild of Passementiers (“Passementerie” means the art of making elaborate trimmings). To become one of the masters of the art you needed an apprenticeship of seven years! You can’t find that kind of craftsmanship and expertise anymore. (Reference)

The more recent tassel trends of the 20th century are primarily seen in the styles of the 20s and 70s such as flapper dresses and fringed leather jackets.

However, in the past couple of seasons, tassels have been making a comeback and we’ve been noticing a lot of them on leather products. Designers like Carla Mancini and Rebecca Minkoff have incorporated fringes into their leather purses. We are also seeing a lot of zipper pulls with tassels attached on both purses and wallets. Accessories such as keychains by Russell + Hazel bring us back to the more traditional tassel look and scarves are shifting toward tallit-style embellishments.

So jump on the tassel train! You’ll be wearing a part of history with this whimsical trend.

Wicker Park Bucktown News - May 2 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, May 03, 2012

Only a Few More Days Left to Enter to Win a Beautiful Bucktown Poster

Answer questions on what kinds of businesses you'd like to see in Wicker Park Bucktown and where you'd like to spend your dollars and you're entered to win this beautiful screen-printed Bucktown poster by StudioChris. Make sure to include your email address for a chance to win! Take our survey now

May Chamber Mixer at The Anthem

When: Wed, May 16th, 6-8pm
Where: The Anthem, 1725 W. Division
Cost: Free for Chamber Members, $5 for Non-Members
Grow your network or just casually meet your neighbors at the Chamber's May Networking Event at The Anthem! Click here for more information and to RSVP. 

Summer Sidewalk Sales

When: Jul 21st-22nd & Aug 25th-26th, 2012
Where: Wicker Park Bucktown
Our two signature summer sidewalk sales exclusively for Wicker Park Bucktown merchants are back again this summer! Participation in both weekends' sales are free to WPB Chamber Members and $100 for non-members. For more information and to sign your business up to participate, click here.

Wicker Park Fest 2012

When: Sat & Sun, July 28th-29th, 2012
Where: Milwaukee Avenue between North & Paulina
Cost: $5 donation
Described as Chicago's "best street festival of the summer" by the Chicago Tribune, Wicker Park Fest 2012 is sure to top what was an amazing slate of performances, food and vendors at Wicker Park Fest '11. Check our website to find out more about the upcoming line-up and apply as a vendor! Also, "LIKE" the official fan page on Facebook!

Pulling Off the Hat Thanks to Goorin Bros

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Monday, April 23, 2012

This blog was contributed by: Stephanie Sack, owner of vive la femme, Chicago's only independent boutique for curvaceous cutie pies between sizes 12-24; and violette, Bucktown's only cheap-n-cheerful shoe store that features street chic footwear up to a size 11.

There are really two types of people when it comes to street chic fashion: those who wear hats, and those who do not.

There is even a subset of the first type, which is: those who were hats with aplomb.  Goorin Bros, small storefront tucked away on the 1500 block of Milwaukee, is a dream come true for the folks who naturally look smashing while behatted.

A Chicago outpost since 2009 of a California-based company, the Goorin Bros store in Wicker Park is a charmingly curated space full of millinery goodness.  Their hat designs draw on inspiration from various eras to evoke fashion trends and social mores from the past while remaining wonderfully current and contemporary. Classic hat shapes such as fedoras and cloches are modernized with on-trend colors and luxe fabrics for a hat that is both nostalgic and now.  This is a pretty good trick for a brand that has been around since 1895, BTW. Yes, that's right...EIGHTEEN NINETY FIVE.

Spring and summer styles abound at the Wicker Park shop. Straw hats in various colors were in abundance, as were hats of all shapes and stripes in lighter, more seasonal colors.  This cream fedora festooned with the feather detailing could totally live at my house and we would totally be BFFs.  Hats come in a range of sizes, and are available for men, women, and children. When you shop at Goorin Bros, be prepared to try on a slew of styles and shapes. The staff is super friendly and very honest; no one wants a customer sporting a lame lid.

So tHAT's the Goorin Bros story!  Get it?  tHAT'S!?  Happy hat shopping at Goorin Bros!

Goorin Bros

1533 N. Milwaukee 
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 384-4287

A Family's Community: Wicker Park Bucktown

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Julie Horowitz Jackson happily calls Bucktown her home now for fifteen years. Virtu, 2034 North Damen Ave, celebrated 11 years in business earlier this year. Her husband owns Color Wheel Studio, another Bucktown business, and their son attends Pulaski International School of Chicago, one of Bucktown’s four neighborhood CPS schools. Go goat or go home!

Now that I've got two blog posts under my belt, I find myself being asked "Why do you do it?" The blog posts?

That's easy. Because I've lived and worked in this neighborhood for so long that I've found tons of stuff about Bucktown and Wicker Park to share with my customers.

For me, I think the question goes deeper than all of that. It speaks to the warmth and generosity of this community in which my husband and I have each chosen to open up shop and raise our son.

image courtesy of Color Wheel Art Studio

The best part of my week is Monday, my one day off. Back in the day, I used take my son on a long walk through our streets hitting as many parks as we could before he crashed. There's Ehrler Park on Cortland that's great for kids of the smaller scale. In it, you'll find a sand box, wee swings, and a tiny train to play in, hence the park became known to us as "train park". 

Just down the street from the train park sits Pulaski International School of Chicago.

It used to be called Pulaksi Fine Arts Academy, but over the past few years, it has blossomed through community involvement to house one of the city's IB (International Baccalaureate) programs. Here, the focus is on developing balanced, lifelong learners who will grow into compassionate global citizens. 

As an open invitation to all of the businesses of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of Pulaski welcome you to join them at a business meet and greet on Tuesday, April 24th at 9:30 am.

The hour long tour will start out in the auditorium of the main building and move on throughout the school. As a business owner interested in investing deeply in my own community, I welcome you to join me, I will certainly be there. RSVPs are requested at

On the other side of Bucktown is Walsh Park on Marshfield between Wabansia and Cortland.

Open, airy and room enough to run, we called this "school park" as it is across from Burr Elementary, where our son went to pre-school. Burr is a wonderful magnet cluster program featuring world language as their specialty. It's a great group of kids who have the opportunity to learn, of all things, Japanese, even at the Pre-K level. Incidentally, Burr is hosting their Gala this weekend. You can bid online for lots of goodies from some of our neighborhood greats like Club Lucky, Virtu, Color Wheel Studio, Building Blocks Toys, and the The T-Shirt Deli.

Half way in between is the Drummond play lot.

It quick, it's convenient, you can bounce a ball around all while getting to see the community garden created by the kids at Drummond Montessori. From what I understand, one of the LSC Community members offers a lot of TLC to the raised beds of the blacktop. Speaking of the LSC, it stands for Local School Council. Elections happen to be today, April 18th. You can walk into any of your neighborhood schools and vote as a community member. Remember, it takes a village to raise that child.

Our favorite park in the 'hood happens to be Wicker Park.

So many of us are familiar with the fountain, the playing field, the fact that it houses some serious awesomeness like the Wicker Park Farmer's Market, the Green Music Fest, Movies in the Park, etc. My son and I know and love it, though, for the bears. The bears? Yes, the bear fountain where kids of small stature can stand underneath their playful spray any time after Memorial Day. We are waiting for the fountains to be turned on at "Bear Park".

At Wicker Park you will be amazed by the sheer number of kids that come through after school from A.N. Pritzker School. Pritzker houses the local gifted program. Keep an eye out come May, as you will see Pritzer's 4th Annual Community Arts Project entitled "Playthings" hosted by many of our local neighborhood businesses.

So, why the long chat about our local schools? Because it is important to so many of us, business owners and families, alike, that we each invest in our community on both sides of the dialog.

So often, I am asked by a PTO to give something to their upcoming event. The next time a parent walks in your door with a letter asking for your help, I urge you to consider donating to one of the many schools within our community. There's always a benefit that needs bruschetta, a team in search of jerseys, even a classroom that ran out of simple construction paper. So many resources have been cut from our curricula that there are opportunities for each of us, all throughout the year. Help out one of those schools, and I guarantee the kids will love you for it. The giant pile of hand drawn thank you notes will totally melt your heart.

Wicker Park Bucktown News-April 11 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, April 12, 2012

Summer Event Vendor Applications

We are NOW accepting vendor applications for the following exciting upcoming Chamber events and festivals. 

For artists, retail, restaurants and non-profits:
Wicker Park Fest 
July 28-29

Polish Triangle Marketplace
June 7-Sept. 27 

For Wicker Park Bucktown Businesses:
Summer Sidewalk Sales
July 21-22 and/or Aug. 25-26 

Space is limited, so please send in your application today!


Your Input Needed!

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce and WPB SSA #33, 1414 N. Ashland, need your input! We have hired Business Districts, Inc, to conduct a market study to identify our neighborhood's unique strengths and opportunities. Please take the survey now and pass it on to your customers, partners, neighbors, and fellow business owners. Your help completing and circulating the survey will be invaluable to the market study results and help our local economy thrive. Thank you!


The 3/50 Project: Saving the Brick and Mortars Our Nation is Built On, One Local Store at a Time

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, March 22, 2012
This blog entry was contributed by: Julie Horowitz Jackson, happily calling Bucktown her home now for fifteen years. Her store, Virtu, celebrated 11 years in business last month. Her husband owns Color Wheel Studio, another Bucktown business, and their son attends Pulaski International Academy, one of Bucktown’s four neighborhood CPS schools. Go goat or go home!

Last we met on this here local blog, I mentioned a bit about The 3/50 Project. It's a simple concept based on the idea of "saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on" one local store at a time.

Easy, right?

Well, tickle me pink, but who should walk through my door on Friday, but the incredibly talented and focused Cinda Baxter, fearless leader of The 3/50 Project. Armed with a fancy new update to The 3/50 Project's Look Local app, we chatted at the store and then embarked upon a petite tour of the neighborhood while on our way to lunch at Hot Chocolate, 1747 N. Damen. 

Shop local, eat local, and where better to do it than a repeatedly nominated James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef? (Woo-hoo Mindy!) And, oh, by the way while Cinda and I dined on wedge salad with shrimp, there were five other local business women dining at the same time, two who happened to own boutiques right here in Bucktown. Shop and dine independently local in your neighborhood, and the neighborhood stays flavorfully alive.

After a requisite 64% cacao Chocolate #1 dessert, we headed back to Virtu and said our goodbyes. There was no time to waste as Ms. Cinda was on her way throughout the city on a virtual tour of local retailers as provided by said Look Local app. It's even in the App Store! (Don't worry, the Droid version is on the way...)

So, why the story? 

Just a reminder to consider your purchases when possible. I know it's tough. You're picking up the kid and you forgot something that goes in tonight's dinner. Head on over to Olivia's Market, I bet they have it. 

Sure, it's easier to do your major buys elsewhere sometimes, hey, even I head to Target now and again. All I'm asking is that before you get in your car to go into the dreaded Clybourn Corridor or, worse, sign online to (Eeek!) Amazon, pop your head into your locally owned kid's store, floral market, book store (holler to Myopic!) or boutique and you will surely find a real live, friendly person just waiting to show you what's in store on your very own Main Street.

If you take a moment to check out The 3/50 Project's website, you'll find the following local businesses:

Building Blocks Toy Store
Goddess and Grocer
Radiance Fine Jewelry
Store B Vintage
and, of course, my own store Virtu.

A note to my fellow business owners, sign on up through the project if you'd like. It costs you absolutely nothing to be part of an esteemed group of crazy entrepreneurs who decided to make their dreams happen close to home.  As an added bonus, you'll get a bunch of information you can share with your customers about why shopping with you matters. 

Shop small, shop ethically and save the community in which you live. Your neighbors will love you for it!

Spring Forward In Style

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Monday, March 12, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Moira Kelley, a sales associate at STITCH and a vintage clothing seller on Etsy. You can find her at the store or write her a line at

With some amazing spring weather already behind us and more soaring temperatures in the forecast, it barely feels like we’ve had a winter at all here in Chicago.

In retail, winter sales and the appearance of fashion’s spring/summer collections confirm that we are ready for a changing of seasons. And that means some new pieces to add to our wardrobes! 

Sunglasses are an accessory that can be a bit difficult to navigate but when you find the right shape and style they can completely enhance your appearance. Now is a perfect time to update your look with a new pair for the sunny days ahead. One company in particular has caught our attention here at STITCH: KBL. As a vintage lover I gravitate toward styles from earlier eras, but whether you tend toward contemporary or more classic shapes they have a great variety to choose from. 

Part of KBL’s mission is to strive to merge design and artistry with quality. They identify urban architecture as inspiration for their product which makes their glasses a great fit for Chicagoans. While they focus on producing timeless designs they also try to create fresh takes on classics, such as the Wayfarer. It seems that almost everyone is sporting this flattering shape when I walk down Damen Avenue in the afternoon. Why not try to make the look your own with a small tweak to the traditional frame? Their “Wild Promises” style for example makes the Wayfarer shape look new and modern. There is a significant amount of color options for frames and lenses so you can make your sunglasses even more personal. 

KBL also comes up with fun expressive names for their frame designs - this year’s were named after race horses. For the musicians and music fans in the area, the hues of their aviators are inspired by vintage electric guitar colors. All KBL sunglasses are optical ready and feature 100% UV protection. Our Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood is chock full of fashion forward thinkers and a new pair of sunglasses can be just the thing to pull the look together. 

Wicker Park's Passion for Vintage Fashion: Store B

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, February 24, 2012

This blog was contributed by: Stephanie Sack, not your typical, well, anything. She is a Chicago native, your friendly neighborhood Wicker Park and Bucktown Chamber Vice-President, small business owner, plus-size fashion expert, Bikram Yoga addict, and rabid Kraftwerk fan.  She rarely reads fiction, because she far prefers the unbelievability of reality. You can come see her or her awesome staff at her two shops: vive la femme, which is Chicago's only independent boutique for curvaceous cutie pies between sizes 12-24; or violette, Bucktown's only cheap-n-cheerful shoe store that features street chic footwear up to a size 11.

Clinking cocktail glasses. Suburban homes. A bowl of gin for dinner.

The American lifestyle from the fifties and sixties has been brought back from the sidelines to the limelight thanks to the glamorous gals in television programs such as Mad Men and Pan Am, as well as other cultural touchstones in independent film and high fashion.  Happily for the broads who like to show off their gams, Wicker Park boasts an welcoming oasis of ladylike vintage style, Store B.

Open now for nine years, Store B is packed with carefully curated fashion treasures thanks to the studied eye of its owner, David James Ginople.  A student of costume design with a degree in textiles and clothing, Mr. Ginople has been a resident of Wicker Park for seventeen years and came into the concept basically by accident when the previous shop in the space began consigning a handful of his vintage pieces and suddenly asked if he wanted to take over the business.  Having sold labels in the past such as Pucci, Leonard of Paris, and Zandra Rhoodes, Mr. Ginople knew he had a practiced eye for retro clothing and, luckily for Wicker Park, Store B was born.

Mr. Ginople says that discerning shoppers appreciate his upscale inventory, especially the beautifully preserved details such as buttons and threadwork.  Due to the Hollywood-level exposure of silhouettes from the fifties and sixties in popular culture, he sees younger shoppers mixing in retro blouses with skinny jeans and combat boots for a street chic ensemble, whereas a more mature buyer wants an entire ensemble to wear "as is" or with minor remixing and restructuring.  "Everyone's style is personal," he explains, "and trend is prehistoric." He notes that more aggressive style-a-holics mix pieces from all decades to achieve their fashion bliss; vintage cashmere sweaters, cocktail dresses, and skirt suits from the forties and fifties are his most popular sellers, undoubtedly because these types of power pieces transcend time and can be worn in any number of ways.

With more major designers such as Marc Jacobs re-interpreting looks from decades of yore, Store B stands to reap the benefits of a welcome return to classy and classic style.  Housewares, accessories, and gifts also abound in this Wicker Park bastion of good taste and crooked pinkies.

Store B Vintage

1472 N. Milwaukee 
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 772-4296
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