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

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