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Simona Callá, a Wicker Park boutique that sells handbag and accessories for women, is a labor of familial love. Owner Carmen Boada says that working alongside her parents is the thing that excites her most about her job. "My mother's style and mine are so distinct that it brings an eclectic feel into our merchandise," she says.
The merchandise in question changes every six to nine weeks, and appeals to a wide range of sensibilities. "Women are very particular about their handbags, so we decided to develop styles fit for any age or occasion," Boada says. In neutral hues and bold colors alike, the bags are stitched up from materials that include real and fake leather or nylon. Currently, all of the inventory is less than $250, though that may change as new styles arrive.
In store now are wristlets, wallets, and the house-made "Anytime Bags," which are made of real leather and have different straps that let them serve different functions. "Our design process is very unique," Boada says. "Although not all our handbags are personally designed by us, we're making an effort to design all of them and eventually sell them as wholesale to other shops and department stores."
Boada has a background in graphic design, which helps her to whip up digital blueprints of each style. "Before the process begins, we like to get inspiration from our favorite designers and try to envision [the accessories on] our customers," she says. "One thing that I've learned from doing creative work for advertising firms is to always put the customers' needs first."
The Boada family has Venezeulan roots, and drew on its heritage to hammer out the brand's aesthetic. "In order to maintain the Latin vibe, all of our bags have Spanish girl names such as Miranda, Sofia, and Lucia," Boada explains. There's also a cultural tie-in with the store's location. Though the fam considered setting up shop in Evanston, "we were lucky to find this great space on Division Street," she says. "We're happy to say we made the right decision, with the hispanic influence of [the nearby] Humboldt Park and the great shops surrounding us."
The store itself, designed by Colleen Kinder from Platinum Coast Designs, is intended to feel like a hotel in Aruba. Bossa Nova or some kind of Latin-lounge music is always playing in the background. On the far end of the space, a wall is decked with green, jungle inspired patterns. Clay hands jutting out of the leafy wall serve as display hooks for newest bag styles.
In the center of the space, a table holds a giant bouquet of calla lilies, which are the brand's symbol. "Our family has always used the calla lily for special occasions such as wedding, or at family gatherings," Boada says.
And of course for her, going to work with every day is a family occasion of sorts. "Woking with my parents has been a huge honor," she says."I've learned leadership skills from my father and my mother has given me great tips on customer service and style."
· Simona Calla [Official Site]
· Platinum Coast Designs [Official Site]
· All Wicker Park coverage [Racked Chicago]