Oh, the times they are a-changin'
Over the past five years, dozens of stores have come and gone in Chicago. Four former shop owners tell us about life after the boutique.
Jessa Brinkmeyer, 26, owner of Pivot from 2007–2009
Then Having learned about the eco-fashion industry while working as an editor at the The Chicago Collection, the 2006 college grad recognized a gap in the local market. Within a year of concepting what a store devoted to eco-fashion would look like, she opened a brick-and-mortar in the West Loop, purveying everything from Lara Miller’s local organic attire to ecofriendly alarm clocks. “I opened at a time when I was leading a lot of green retailing in the city,” Brinkmeyer says. However, when the economy tanked, she not only had a hard time selling, but the guilt [about spending money] she heard from shoppers became too much to bear; the fact that the West Loop retail scene hadn’t flourished didn’t help, either.
Now Four months after closing up shop, Brinkmeyer is still figuring out what she wants to do next. In the meantime, she’s interested in helping spread the word about like-minded sustainable organizations, managing public relations for the Squeeze Card, a savings card for green businesses and products, and social media for the FamilyFarmed EXPO, an event focused on responsibly produced, local and artisanal foods. “Educating was the thing I loved most [about Pivot],” she says. “I have a desire to be part of a larger-scale vision, because I think big businesses have the reach and power to do a lot in terms of making changes in how business is done.”