Big cities mean tons of options, which unfortunately can also mean too many options when you’re pressed to find the best. So to share the best local makers in Chicago, we’ve assembled the A-team of insiders: some of our favorite Krrb members and resident influencers with knowledge on where to go and what to pick up. Let’s meet the team!
Becky Schultz is the communications coordinator for KOVAL Distillery—the city’s first distillery since the 1800’s—that makes organic and artisan spirits. Follow their temptation-inducing Instagram and check out their website for fun classes and tours. (BS)
Shaheen Khan is the dentist-meets-lifestyle-blogger behind Lows to Luxe, a fashion and food blog based in Chicago. Check out the blog for restaurant reviews and fashion tutorials, and follow Shaheen on Instagram for more inspiration! (SK)
Claire Hurwitz Staszak runs Centered By Design, an interior design blog where she shares her professional tips, tricks and personal designs. Check out her blog and be sure to follow Claire on Instagram. (CS)
1. What locally made products do you use?
BS: It’s less of what I use than what I eat and drink. KOVAL is located in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, which is a little haven for restaurants, breweries, and independent stores. You can often find some of the KOVAL staff at Begyle Brewery and Half Acre Brewery. A number of us have also recently fallen in love with breakfast at Baker Miller.
SK: I love finding new local businesses to support and Chicago is such a great inclusive environment where everyone is really supportive of each other. I use a ton of local goods, ranging from lip balm from Scratch Goods to bath soaks from Bonnie!
CS: Shopping local is a big priority at our house. Something I can’t live without is the delicious honey produced by Chicago Honey Co-op. I also love shopping the farmer’s markets in spring and summer. There are so many good ones, but a great one for visitors is the green city market.
2. If you want to give someone a gift that truly says “Chicago” what do you get them?
BS: A box of Vosges chocolates.
SK: Well, besides a deep dish pizza I love giving friends and family pieces from my favorite jewelry designer Michelle Starbuck. I wear her jewelry almost exclusively and love the designs!
CS: I take them sightseeing for the day! Nothing says Chicago like the amazing architecture and city scape.
3. Where do you go to discover local makers?
BS: Lill Street Art Center is just down the street from the distillery, and while stopping in for lunch or coffee in their cafe we often browse their shop, which showcases artists-in-residence as well as locally made jewelry, pottery, prints, and other handmade goods. The Renegade Craft Fair, which happens a few times a year, is another great Chicago event featuring all kinds of local makers.
SK: Either by word of mouth from other local boutiques I frequent or at events like the Renegade Craft Fair when it comes to town.
CS: Renegade Craft Fair and Dose Market do a great job of curating local talent. Nationally, Design*Sponge is my go-to. Neighborly Shop and Milk Handmade also curate lots of wonderful local and midwest creators.
4. We tend to find out about new local makers via social media; are there any feeds you follow that showcase local makers? Let us know so we can follow along!
BS: We like following various neighborhood accounts—like the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, and the Rogers Park Business Alliance.
SK: I love following Alapash on Instagram! It’s an amazing local home decor store and the owner Marco makes shopping there such an amazing experience, and their feed is so well curated.
CS: My Instagram feed features a new creative woman maker and entrepreneur each month, many of them from Chicago. I feature them on social media with the help of beautiful photography from Carolina Mariana. You can read the interviews and learn about the women here.
5. Living in a major city can leave you overwhelmed with shopping options- are there any mom and pop stores you’ve become loyal to rather than sticking to “the big guys?”
BS: Absolutely. One of my favorites for gift-giving is Enjoy (the “Urban General Store”) in Lincoln Square—it’s full of art, books, house wear, jewelry, and novelties. Women and Children First Bookstore, as well as Milk Handmade (both in Andersonville) are great for Saturday afternoon browsing. Modern Cooperative in Pilsen and Hyde Park has the most beautiful vintage furniture and glassware.
SK: I love to stop in a ton of local boutiques like Alapash, Modern Cooperative & Art Effect.
CS: I could write an entire blog post on this topic! As an interior stylist, part of my job is to seek out unique treasures for my clients. Some of my favorite local shopping options include: MegMade, Alapash New Home, South Loop Loft and Jayson Home.
6. Every city tends to have a different style in terms of design or style – what local designer would you say embodies the overall design sense of Chicago?
BS: Renzo Piano, the architect behind the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.
SK: I think Chicago has such an eclectic style and that’s the beautiful thing about living here. Personally, I love Azeeza Khan and her collections are always unique but refined.