Annie Novotny sets up shop with Frei Designs at Post 27.
When Angela Finney-Hoffman opened her vintage furniture shop Post 27 (1819 W Grand Ave, 312-829-6122) in 2008, her vision of the business’s future was grander than a one-stop furniture shop. She pictured a department store where people are “making and doing, not just a stale retail setting where everything is hidden and you don’t know the process,” Finney-Hoffman says.
This summer, the timing was perfect: Annie Novotny, whom Finney-Hoffman had come to know through a women’s business-owners group, was overextended and debating what to do with her studio-space-cum-storefront, Workshop, in Pilsen. At the same time, Finney-Hoffman was ready to take a new leap with her shop.
“Angela reached out to me about [the] idea of merging,” Novotny says. “When she called, I was like, ‘I was thinking about the same thing!’ ”
Within a few months, Novotny had shuttered her Pilsen boutique and literally set up shop inside Post 27 with a massive work table near the front of the store’s floor-to-ceiling windows. A metal medicine cabinet—the kind Finney-Hoffman sources and sells in the shop—contains elements of Novotny’s former shop flair, such as crystals and bell jars, as well as the designer’s tools. On any given day, when she’s not teaching young fashion students, you might find Novotny in the space cutting patterns for her line, Frei Designs, or working on the details of a bridal gown.
The entire third of the 4,000-square-foot shop in which Novotny’s workspace resides is dedicated to fashion. The back section houses Axis of Evelyn, Evelyn Daitchman’s vintage clothing, which Finney-Hoffman started carrying at the beginning of the year. In the middle section, a men’s suit display case from an old department store is devoted to Novotny’s line, available exclusively at Post 27 (and on her website, shop.workshop-chicago.com). Pendleton’s Portland Collection, which Novotny had planned to carry in her shop, will hang nearby.
“There is a very large overlap between her customer and mine,” Finney-Hoffman says. “It’s the same kind of person who’s looking at her clothes and my space.”
To that end, the fact that both shops were already sharing several of the same jewelry lines, including Rob Jeffries (Novotny’s boyfriend) and Cities in Dust, made the transition even easier. The possibilities for collaboration, from events to design endeavors, are endless. Plans for workshops on home decor/interior design topics and fashion design are in the works for 2012.
“We’re not going to stop. It’s just going to get bigger, badder and better because now there’s two of us,” Novotny says.