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Union Handmade Brings Crafty Goods to North Center

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Photos: Courtesy of Union Handmade

Union Handmade opened its crafty doors just two weeks ago, bringing a sort of real life Etsy shop to North Center. Its part-retail, part-workshop setup is only the beginning of what sets it apart from your standard shop. The range of goods spans genres (think vegetable-dyed scarves, metal jewelry, home goods from India, and more) and price points range from $7 greeting cards to a $520 coat. The common theme? The handmade element that inevitably brings about the, "Where did you get that?" question from your friends.

We chatted with owner Leigh Deleonardo to hear about her space, Read on to learn all about Union Handmade and what you'll find there.

What was the inspiration behind opening Union Handmade?
My first store, Made To Fit on Clybourn, was the inspiration for Union Handmade. I closed it 15 years ago to focus on my family, and I have missed it ever since. I was recently inspired to design clothing again when last fall when I couldn't find anything I wanted to buy.
It sounds like it's sort of a bunch of shops within a shop. How does that work?
Union Handmade is made up of a group of members who pay rent, work at the store, and manage their inventory. Each member takes care of some important task for the store. One member does the scheduling, another manages our mailing list, someone created our Facebook page, et cetera. Jamie LaPorta, formerly the Creative Director for Land of Nod, is our Creative Director and knitwear designer, helps guide us all in the right direction.

What type of items can we find?
We offer beautiful timeless clothing, accessories, textiles and housewares, all made with integrity, in small batches, by hand.

And how have customers reacted so far?
We often hear that it is a joy to find such timeless but special items. Much of the merchandise available at Union Handmade is not available anywhere else. I often hear that the clothing fits as if it was made specially for the woman trying it on. Perhaps my favorite remark is that shopping is usually such a task but at our shop it's a pleasure.

For big fans of the shop, how frequently can they expect new inventory be added?
Because the designers also work at the store, we are always refreshing our racks or cases. The studio in the back is great for working on new pieces. We can also respond to the needs of individual customers quickly. Last week a customer needed a large in one of my tunics, I was able to have it cut and sewn within the week. —Moira Lawler
· Union Handmade [Official Site]