Monday, October 27, 2008

Meet Jenny from Evlove Intimates. Review by Sarah Radford, Chic Gems, etc.

Interview with Jenny Dombroski of Evlove Intimates
I have had the pleasure of knowing Jenny D for over a year. She is an inspiration to all women who desire to own their own business.
Here's her story:

How did you get into underwear design? And at what age did you encounter your interest in designing underwear?

I’ve always been in love with lingerie. Every woman has their indulgence whether its handbags, shoes, jewelry…mine was always pretty little underthings. I never imagined myself designing and in fact initially wanted to open my own store selling other designers wares. After researching the market here in Chicago, I discovered that there were many fantastic boutiques already, so it seemed pretty risky to open up shop in a traditional manner. The custom design aspect was an opportunity for me to have fun with lingerie in an innovative way, to offer a creative and intimate experience along with a great quality product. Giving my customers the ability to design their own lingerie is truly what differentiates Evlove from everything else in the marketplace.

Let’s talk about your design. What do you think is the most important element?

There are really two very important elements in my design – comfort and beauty. As a consumer of lingerie and intimate apparel, I found that there was this underserved niche of product lines that offered something luxurious in addition to being pretty. When I became the designer I knew I didn’t want women to have to choose between being comfortable and feeling sexy, so the fabrics I use are soft-against-your-skin and stretchy to hug your body and the embellishments allow you to add that touch of elegance. The best part is that because you can design it yourself, you can choose the look that’s most unique to your personal style.

What was your best experience as a designer?

My best experience as a designer has been getting to watch my product come to life at the lingerie parties. I’ve been invited into the homes of women who are celebrating a bride, a girlfriend, or just their friendships and have been amazed at the combinations of color and style these gals have come up with. There’s nothing more rewarding than people having fun with your brand and loving your product.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the incredible demand for the custom lingerie parties all over the country, so I’m feverishly working on getting training in place for hiring lingerie stylists. Women are looking for unique ideas for the bachelorette parties, bridal showers and birthday parties they’re in charge of planning and I’m always disappointed when geography gets in the way of helping them. I’m expanding locally right now and will soon be working on other cities where I’ve received the most requests.

Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?

My family has collectively been a source of inspiration – they truly are my biggest cheerleaders and from the very start have always believed I could accomplish anything I set my heart and mind to. I also get constant inspiration from numerous women entrepreneurs in my network. Their stories, challenges and triumphs keep me motivated and focused.

Could you tell us what does your average day entail?

An average day for me usually starts with a 6am workout and then I create a to-do list for the day starting with the things that require the most brain power first. Alongside those items are my goals or intentions I have for accomplishing those things, sort of like a “what” and a “why” list. It’s really important that I have this list so I can start out my day in a positive way. The rest of my day is usually shuffled between answering emails, assembling online orders, taking lingerie party requests, picking up/dropping off orders, responding to press/marketing inquiries….. I’m still a one-woman show so I wear many hats!!

Do you have any current fashion obsessions?

I’m really in love with many of the fashion designers I’m seeing develop here in Chicago.
Chic Gems for jewelry, Kate Boggiano has great shirts…and a great find for multiple designers is a sample/overstock boutique here called Beta Boutique.

Who is your customer and how do they find you?

My customer is typically between the ages of 20 – 40, but I’ve definitely deviated from that. Age is not so much what defines my customer, it’s more her sophistication and desire for something unique or exclusive. She’s someone who’s looking for a great shopping experience in addition to a great product. They’ve found me mostly through word-of-mouth, but also searching online.

Favorite place to see art?

Chicago has so many great art galleries and museums, but my favorite destination spot is the Around the Coyote Gallery. I’ve seen some of the best emerging artists there and it includes not only visual arts but theatre, dance, and poetry.

Would you like to add anything for the Japanese fans?

Evlove has an interactive, online design studio where you can experience the fun of designing your own lingerie right from your computer! I haven’t yet expanded internationally but if I knew I had some Japanese fans, I’d be very excited to make Japan the very first offering!

Thanks Jenny!
We look forward to designing our own pretty lingerie!

All the very best!
Sarah Radford
Chic Gems, etc.
Designer Jewelry for Professional Women

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shop Chic Gems, etc. at the Jewelry, Fashion, and Accessories Show in Chicago this Thursday-Sunday

Jewelry, Fashion, & Accessories Show
Donald E Stephens Convention Center
9301 W Bryn Mawr Rosemont, IL
Thursday October 23rd-Sunday October 26th from 930am-5pm
Shop Chic Gems, etc. at the Jewelry, Fashion, & Accessories Show
Meet the designer, Sarah Radford.
Meet Rami Kashou-finalist from Project Runway!
There will be over 300 exhibitors.
Onsite registration is $5 cash only.
Must be 16 to attend. Photo ID required.
All the very best!
Sarah Radford
Designer Jewelry for Professional Women

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chic Gems, etc. Pearls Now Available in 4 Fashionable Lengths!

NEW!!! from Chic Gems
Choose your Pearl Length
Princess, Matinee, Opera, or Rope

Through the years the most stylish of women have been seen wearing amazing strands of large pearls~ Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, & Grace Kelly to name a few.
This season large pearls, big baubles, and statement jewelry are the key elements for a stylish season.
Chic Gems, etc. is pleased to offer 4 choices of Pearl Lengths.
Choose from Princess (18"), Matinee (24"), Opera (34"),
or Rope (40").
A modern twist on your classic pearls. From jeans to black tie, these glass pearls from Chic Gems, etc. are sure to be an excellent addition to your wardrobe this season. The Princess length (18") is the most common length of pearl necklaces. It complements crew necks as well as plunging neck lines.

Don't forget about our new referral program! Simply go online and click to tell some friends about Chic Gems Jewelry. You can choose to receive any pair of earrings, FREE.
No limit to how many FREE earrings you can receive.
(Refer 30 friends, get 3 pairs of FREE earrings)
You are sure to be the envy of your friends with Chic Gems Jewelry.
Click here to check out our events page for upcoming shows in your area.
Let us know if you would like to host your own Chic Gems Jewelry Party.
What could be a better Girl's Night Out?
Click Here to Apply.

All the very best!
Sarah Radford

Chic Gems, etc.
Designer Jewelry for Professional Women

Shop online and save 25% on the entire
Chic Gems Collection.
Use Coupon Code Pearls during checkout to receive your discount.
Shop online at or call to place your order by phone 888.801.8265.
Offer Expires: October 24th at midnight.
Cannot be used at stores that carry Chic Gems, cannot be applied to previous purchases, no cash value.

Chic Gems's Facebook profile

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meet Allyson from Bess and Loie, Being an Entrepreneur is her Bag. Review by Sarah Radford, Chic Gems, etc.

(A view of the beatuiful Bess & Loie Boutique)

I had the chance to meet Allyson Holleb, a charming Entrepreneur, over one year ago.
Since then I stop by to see the latest bags anytime I am in the area.
You will find my line, Chic Gems, etc. sold there at certain special occasions.
What could be better than handbags and jewelry?
You can count on a relaxing experience at Bess & Loie. Ally is the absolute best hostess. She has all sorts of snacks and cushy chairs to watch tv. You almost forget that you're in a store.
It is simply a nice experience to shop at Bess & Loie. No high pressured sales people here-it's delightful and anyone visting Chicago should come see for themselves.
The store is named after Allyson's grandmothers, Bess and Loie.
A little bit about this Entrepreneur-
Allyson grew up in Chicago, went to Paris for her junior year of college (at UW Madison), and moved to NYC (She needed a City!) after college.
So what did she do in NYC?
Allyson worked as an event planner and then changed her focus, where she became a part of the retail buying team at Eileen Fisher, buying for the Eileen Fisher retail stores.
"I was there for four years, learned a ton about the industry, as I worked with all aspects of the business.... design, merchandising, warehouse, factory, etc. And then I decided to come back home to Chicago and open the shop."
What inspired you to start a business of owning a handbag boutique?
"While living in New York, I spent most of my shopping time searching for bags that were different, not your typical "labels", and that didn't cost me a complete arm and a leg. When I decided to move back to Chicago, it was to open a store focusing on these amazing, independent designers, whose work, I felt, was not being showcased yet in Chicago.
What challenges have you faced?
"Being an entrepreneur means that you're having to take care of every single aspect of your business, from cleaning the windows and floors to determining the product assortment to marketing the business to making sure that there's enough toilet paper in the bathroom. It's really been a learning experience. Also, just getting the business' name out and driving traffic into my boutique, which is definitely in a location that's a destination.
How are you overcoming those challenges?
" Just keep on working, and not letting the enormity of everything get me down. And taking the little victories and really enjoying them- helping a customer find the exact right handbag or piece of jewelry, and seeing how happy that it can make someone- it means that I've done my job. And all of the amazing people who I've met along the way."
A final note from Allyson
Bess & Loie is packed with beautiful bags, and I’ve tried to make it an inviting place where customers feel welcome and relaxed. On any given day, you’re likely to find people hanging out on the comfy chairs, kicking back with a glass of wine, some chocolate and licorice, watching a Bears game or an old episode of Beverly Hills, 90210.
So that's her bag. Shop in the store or online.
All the very best!
Sarah Radford
Designer Jewelry for Professional Women

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Meet Amy of Ciao Bella Chicago, a True Entrepreneur. Review by Sarah Radford, Chic Gems, etc.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Amy Lechelt Basta for almost 2 years. She has an upbeat and charming personality. She has been an entrepreneur all her life, so I thought it would be fun and inspiring to hear her story and her perspective on owning a business, dealing with challenges at work
and in life, etc.!

So why did you start your business, Ciao Bella Chicago?
I started my biz, cuz I could! Ha-ha! Actually, Jerry, my husband and I, had always thought that I should own a boutique because I was very enthusiastic when leaving my other boutique sales jobs, telling stories every day for hours (really!). And, not only did I have 25 years of experience in retail, but I also became very good at "styling"! Who knew? Finally, I have been an entrepreneur all my life! I took all of my background and joined it together into one location! Event Stylist/coordinator, model/actress/singer/performer, artist, sales manager/sales/bookeeper, flight attendant! I love the challenge of business!

What are the challenges you're facing?
The economy! It couldn't be a worse time to open a biz than when we did! However, the fact that we are still here shows we're doing something right! But, it inihibits "taking it to the next level". And, secondly, to my surprise- employees. Everyone told me this, but I didn't believe it. Even if you have the best employees possible, you still need to deal with all employees "issues", whether work related or personal- on a daily basis.

How are you overcoming those challenges?
Remember to keep a positive attitude, even if it means you need to "adjust it" from time to time. "Everything happens as it should...." It's a business, not your health or life! And, if you run a good, honest life/business, you will have always know you did the best you could- by all!
What brands will shoppers find at Ciao Bella Chicago?
For Women:
Gant, b. chyll, Body, Lucky Brand, Tommy Bahama, Billy Blues,
Majestic Bernadette Conte, Panda Snack, City Lights, Spanx,
JWLA , Johnny Was, Be present, Adea, Bailey 44, Victorinox Swiss Army,
Daftbird, Vintage Glam, Iodice, Sarah Pacini, Lauren Vidal
Hard Tail, R jean, Pursuit of Harmony, Cino, Oramomi
Uncle Frank, Level 99, Tag Jeans, and more.
For Men:
James Perse, Rosasen, Splendid Mills, Victorinox Swiss Army
Lucky Brand, Indigo Palms, Jet Lag, Gant
Generra, Modern Amusement, Bugatchi, J Brand, and more.
Hobo, Matt & Nat, John Wind, Baggallini
Love Quotes, Karen Weiss Belts, eye bobs, Seril
Nundies, Sassy nips, Chic Gems, etc., and more.
Pure Style Girlfriends-Stay Put, Gather the Girls, Haute Stuff, Smooth 'em
Women's Wear Daily, Daily Candy, Time Out Chicago,
Chicago, and Chicago Scene.
Thanks Amy for your insight!
Check out Ciao Bella Chicago online!
Be sure to stop by the store if you're in Chicago.
They are located at 3829 N Southport, one of Chicago's hottest shopping blocks.
The store is steps away from the historic Music Box Theatre!
All the very best,
Sarah Radford
Designer Jewelry for Professional Women

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chic Gems, etc. at Ravenswood Art Walk, featured by Daily Candy Chicago

A tour of arts and industry in the Ravenswood Corridor-
October 4th and 5th from 11am-6pm.
(Ravenswood Avenue Between Cornelia-Lawrence Ave Chicago, IL)
The signature event of ArtWalkRavenswood is our October Tour of Arts & Industry in honor of Chicago Artists' Month. ArtWalk is two days dedicated to honoring and celebrating artists in the Ravenswood Corridor. The event, held this year on October 4th and 5th will include 50 venues highlighting over 200 local artists! This year will prove to be the most successful and creative yet! We have plans for a new child friendly area, venue visuals, limited edition art posters for sale, food, and entertainment!
Shop the latest Fall Collection from Chic Gems, etc. Jewelry at the Art Walk this year!
It's a busy weekend! You will also find Chic Gems, etc. Jewelry at
GenArt's SHOP Chicago!
Here's the scoop:
Saturday October 4th from 2pm-6pm.
Millennium Park Chase Promenade North Randolph Street
Between Michigan Avenue & Columbus Drive
Shop. Drink. Chic.
A day long extravaganza of shopping, selling and pampering
to benefit Gen Art’s Chicago Fashion Program.
Saturday, October 4th, 2008 1:00 – 2:00pm: VIP Preview Shopping Reception (Advance Tickets Only-register online free) 2:00 – 6:00pm:
Main doors open to all ticket holders
Join Gen Art for this official Chicago Fashion Focus Week Event!
Shop Chicago will feature more than 40 emerging accessory and clothing designers-including Chic Gems, etc Jewelry.
At Shop Chicago you can shop the latest trends, enjoy complimentary cocktails and even receive a little pampering at the Shop Chicago Beauty Lounge.
VIPs will enjoy champagne, early admission to get first dibs on items, Shop Chicago gift bags and a break from the busy Shop Chicago floor in the VIP Lounge.
Shop the latest Jewelry from Chic Gems, etc.
We will be featured with Lucky Day Boutique
VIP Tickets:(Includes VIP Shop Preview, access to VIP lounge, hors d’oeuvres & Shop Chicago gift bag) * Associate Producer & higher level Gen Art members: 2 complimentary VIP tickets* Silver & Platinum Members: $30/ticket* Non-members: $40/ticket
General Admission:* Complimentary Admission from 2:00pm-6:00pm
* Registration required in advance for each attendee.
* To become a Gen Art Member, click on the link below or call
RSVP/Purchase Tickets Now!
We hope to see you there if you're in Chicago.
All the very best,
Sarah Radford
Designer Jewelry for Professional Women

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sugar Bliss Cakes are out of this World! A Review by Sarah Radford, Chic Gems, etc.

I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa Ging of Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique.
She has an amazing story. She tossed the big salary in Corporate America and struck out on her own. I have had several of her cupcakes, (well maybe a lot of her cupcakes)
and they are top notch!
From Banker to Baker...
Teresa graduated from University of Chicago, Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Statistics.
You ask, what encouraged her to open this business? I have always wanted to start my own business and have always been an entrepreneur. While I was in finance and working in Downtown Chicago Loop, there was no place to purchase a cupcake or birthday cake. With so many businesses, hotels, tourist attractions nearby, I felt that there was a need to open a cake shop. In late 2006, I decided to leave 6 years of finance to attend Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie Program in Paris, then in October 2007, I launched the catering and delivery side of the business and this year we I will open our first retail location in the Downtown Chicago Loop in December 2008!

You're dying to know, how did she come up with the name Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique? I really liked the two words “Sugar” and “Bliss” and since we are a premium cake/cupcake shop, I decided to name the company Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique.

So what does a typical day look like for you? In the morning we are baking all the cupcakes for that days order; we bake every cupcake fresh each day. Once the cupcakes are baked we let them cool and then frost each cupcake with our signature blossom design and top the cupcake with our signature dot. Then they are ready to be packaged into our custom boxes. Once the orders are completed they are ready to be delivered to our customers and are picked up from the courier. In the afternoon we are planning the next day of cupcake orders and preparing cake batters and frostings.
Teresa caters to Corporate, hotels, event/wedding planners, catering companies
You're wondering what bakery products does she make? We have over 20 flavors of regular and mini cupcakes, breakfast cupcakes (which are fruit muffins), frosting shots, and cakes. We also sell beverages such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bottled water, juice, and milk.
How many different kinds of cupcakes does she sell? We have over 20 flavors on our menu and additional seasonal flavors throughout the year.
Minis are $1.25 and Regular Size are $3.25
So, what kind of ingredients do you use in your cupcakes? We use the highest quality, natural ingredients, such as European Cocoa, Nielsen Massey pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, and real fruits. Our extra moist cupcakes are decorated with our signature Sugar Bliss bloom, a rich and creamy frosting topped with our signature dot. We do not add preservatives or use corn syrup or shortening and all of our cupcakes are made from scratch (no cake mixes) and are baked fresh each day.
Who is Teresa's inspiration? My parents, they always supported and encouraged me in whatever I did and inspired me to pursue my dreams, which was owning
my own business one day.

Congrats Teresa on your great success in only 1 year! I can't wait to see the Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique in the Chicago Loop. Keep up the good work!
All the very best,
Sarah Radford
Designer Jewelry for the Professional Woman