Earlier this week, we told you about the new e-commerce site Local Eclectic. One thing we love about this online shopping hub is getting to know the designers behind the featured items. In her Q&A's for the site, founder Alexis Nido-Russo has asked scarf designer Miranda Bennett where to get brunch in Austin; she asked Christina Fan of C/Fan to name the best Chicago spot for grabbing a beer.
We decided to put on our Local-Eclectic hat and turn the tables on Nido-Russo. In a Q&A modeled her own, we asked the local entrepreneur to tell us how she curates goods, why she launched her site, and—of course—where she shops and noshes in Chicago. Heads up: This lady knows her sushi and loves her sparkles and tie-dye. You will not be disappointed.
What were you doing before you launched Local Eclectic?
I work right now at the Chicago Artists Coalition doing events and corporate sponsorships. But I have trouble sitting still for too long, and was inspired by a recent trip to Peru to do something independent as well. I wanted to get into the tech space but also use fashion, and utilize my marketing and pr background, thus Local Eclectic was born.
Describe your curation process. How do you select which makers and designers are featured on your site?
If I just chose with my gut, everything would be black, tie died, sparkly or furry. So I try to think about what I have lined up in terms of style, category, and price point. I ask for recommendations from other designers, too, and try not to follow trends too closely. I look for pieces that are timeless.
What do you find most inspiring about Chicago's fashion or shopping scene?
I'm inspired by the designers and entrepreneurs here that i've had the pleasure of spending time with. There's Meghan Lorenz of Cities in Dust, Laura Lombardi of Laura Lombardi Jewelry, fashion designer Elise Bergman, Julie Ghatan of Dovetail, Kelly Whiteshell of Eskell—all of these people have in one way or another inspired me.
Onto the hometown questions! Why do you love to call Chicago home?
I've been in Chicago for seven years now, and I love the sense of community I've found here. The family of friends I've build here is what I love most about the city. It's not where you are, it's who you're with.
What's your favorite Chicago restaurant, and what do you order there?
Avec. The "deluxe" focaccia is maybe one of the best things I've ever eaten. Dillman's—I'm here once a week for the matzo ball soup and a snickerdoodle cookie, no joke. Yusho: two words. chicken. drummies. And Xoco. I'm a sucker for Rick Bayless.
What's your drink, and where's your favorite place to sip it?
A Hemingway Daiquiri at any of Brendan Sodikoff's restaurants: Au Cheval, Maude's, Bavettes, Dillman's, or Gilt. I've had a Hemingway at every one of these establishments and they are consistently amazing.
Best bet for weekend brunch?
My go-to spot is Birchwood Kitchen and I always order the goat-cheese cream cheese bagel and an oatmeal butterscotch cookie for the table. I also love Flo, Milk and Honey Cafe, and my boyfriend's unbeatable brioche French toast.
What's your favorite Chicago shop?
Eskell is amazing. They have their own line and a very curated selection of other designers, and some vintage pieces. Kelly, the owner, has great style and good eye. Moon Voyage is a new store in Wicker Park that I'm really impressed with. I also love Asrai Garden—it's a great place for gifts. I rarely make it to Michigan Ave, but when I do I have to stop by space519. And Blake when I want to window shop.
What's the best place to soak up some culture?
The gallery scene in the West Loop. Openings at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, DOCUMENT, Carrie Secrist Gallery and Chicago Artists Coalition are great places to discover emerging artists in Chicago.