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The CHIRP Blog

SKaiser writesSolo Artists Create Local Business in Chicago

by Shawna Kaiser

How much passion comes to mind when you think “local business?" Not too much, really? All of us pass countless storefronts as we go about the day, but then there are those loving business owners working their craft from inside a living room, all while (more than likely) keeping day jobs intact.

Take Sarah deHebreard for example. She is the owner of bonnie, a naturally nourishing skin and body care business in Chicago. She moved here in 2007, started bonnie in 2010, and a couple years ago needed to find a larger apartment for the growing amount of product coming out of her kitchen.

“The local business owners I’m most familiar with are ones in similar situations; they work from home, along with   another full- or part-time day job, and they  don’t get out much, unless they’re participating in a festival or craft market,” she said  in an interview after participating in Coterie at Pitchfork.

With a product line ranging from facial and skin care to body balm candles (which are delightful, check them out to the right) deHebreard is looking forward to accomplishing a new connection with the community – consumer education on cosmetic ingredients.

“A lot of people are scared of certain types of ingredients based on industry buzzwords (sulfates, parabens, etc.) but not many people can explain why,” Sarah said. “It's my hope to help educate consumers about the safety of all  types of ingredients and further understand what they're putting on their skin.  For example, not being able to pronounce an ingredient should not make one assume that it’s not safe or naturally-derived; instead it should inspire the consumer to look it up, and learn a new word!”

"I'd love to have a learning library in my store (someday) where people could learn about individual ingredients; how they're made, where they come from, why they're used, and include published research,” Sarah deHebreard, owner of Bonnie, said.


"You can dip your fingers in bonnie’s body balm candle and rub the soy, shea and cocoa butters directly on your skin!"

There is a great return on investment for communities that support local artists/business. Alysse Dalessandro, owner of Ready To Stare jewelry, returns to Chicago several times a year for shows.

“Currently, my business is based in Atlanta, but I lived in Chicago for seven years and I started my business here 2.5 years ago – so the heart of my business is still very much alive in Chicago,” she said. “ There are so many people here who helped me get started and who still support and believe in   me! There's no city that shows me love like Chicago.”

Dalessandro’s entrepreneurial spirit came to life when she ran a small business selling vintage clothes as a student at Loyola University.  It was at that time she took her first metalsmithing class. Then in 2012, she made her move and ventured on her own with a jewelry line.

Her first Pitchfork appearance was in 2012. She came back again in 2013. And this year too. “I learned a lot from that first show and I connected with a lot of cool people," she said. "Since my business is mainly online-based, it was the first time I was ever able to interact with the public about my products.” 

For Dalessandro, getting a chance to interact with people about Ready To Stare – a brand based on confidence and empowerment – gives her a chance to encourage women of all sizes to love their body.

“I discuss my personal experience and journey to self love and I feature myself in the photos wearing the pieces,” Dalessandro said. “The response from the community is really overwhelmingly positive. It’s an indescribable feeling to be told that you are someone's inspiration or because of you, someone might be a little nicer to themselves.”

“I love designing and making clothing and jewely, but I really love being able to help build a community of self-acceptance and love,” jewelry and clothing designer, Alysse Dalessandro said.

The name Raedy To Stare implies what Alysse Dalessandro’s brand mission is all about – confidence and empowerment.

The moral of the story: be sure to take advantage of the rest of this summer’s festivals, markets and shows – and spend freely with local business!


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