• 272 E. Deerpath, Suite 106 | Lake Forest, IL 60045 | 847.234.4282





  • LEADERS CIRCLE:

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  • Fauzia Khan
    Lake Bluff Family Dentistry

    42 Sherwood Terrace, Suite 8

    (847) 604-4012

    www.lakeblufffamilydentistry.com

     

    Lake Bluff Family Dentistry provides excellent dental care for the entire family in a relaxed office atmosphere.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting your own practice?

    Fauzia Khan:  I graduated from school in 1999, and that was what I always wanted to do, and I just finally got to a point where I was ready.  I wanted to run my practice the way I wanted to—I wanted it to be my own so that I could treat all my patients in the best way possible. And here I am!

     

    LFLBC:  What is one thing that one thing that you want people to know about Lake Bluff Family Dentistry?
    FK: When I built out my office space, I wanted it to be very patient-focused. I spent a lot of time designing and building it, and I really wanted it to feel like home to a patient. I want them to be comfortable and at ease. I have personalized appointments. Everyone has different desires and different needs. So, when patients come in, I listen to them and I really try to understand what they're feeling, what they're going through and what they would like. And I do very thorough exams. 

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    FK: My vision is to be the premier dental office in the area--and to really help people.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative?
    FK: I wanted to do dentistry differently. I want people to feel comfortable, but I also really understand that [the dentist] is oftentimes a scary place for people. Some of my patients come with lots of dental ‘pasts.’ So, we make a point that when we welcome a patient into our office it is with care, warmth and respect. And people feel that. Superb client service is really important to me. And we are committed to providing the highest level of dental care.

     

    LFLBC:  Do you work with any other local businesses?

    FK: Yes. I recently hosted a Women's Wellness Open House at my office, and I invited other newer, women-owned businesses that came in for an opportunity to promote themselves or sell their products. My friend, Ellie with Elliestyled helped me put it all together. Kristin Weisberg was here with her essential oils, my friend Charlotte Music was here with her jewelry, MJ Moore who does Lake Bluff Massage Therapy, the girls from Blue Sun Yoga, Flowers by Katie Ford, Molly O'Neill and Jen Buettner with their yoga practice. It was a great lineup of people, and we had a really good turnout. I look forward to more collaboration like that with so many health and wellness businesses in our community.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    FK: I have kids at Lake Forest High School (and I am an LFHS grad as well), so we work with [the high school’s] Open Doors career exploration and service program. We have had three kids come in back in November -- a freshman, a sophomore and a junior. We did a whole program for them to provide insight into a career in dentistry. For example, they got to brush each other's teeth laying in the chair and had to realize they had to do it upside-down! They really enjoyed it—I got great feedback from that.

    Also, I recently gave a presentation at the Lake Bluff Public Library about how to care for teeth as we age called ‘Dentistry over the Age of 40.’  I support the Lake Forest High School hockey team. And last fall, we had a really successful book drive –we collected about 200 books to donate to kids in need. And last year, we marched in the Lake Bluff 4th of July parade! I grew up here, so I’m really interested in being involved in the community.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    FK:  From a very young age I loved science and wanted to work in the healthcare field. I decided to go into dentistry, and primarily, that was driven by my relationships with people. I love to talk to people. I love to help people. I love to listen to people. And I love smiles and I love teeth!  So, for me [dentistry] was just the culmination of everything I love! And having my practice here in Lake Bluff, is just perfect. I could not be more happy with it!

     

    6.24.19


     

  • Amy Wagliardo & Leslie Lord
    Gorton Community Center
    400 E. Illinois Rd., LF

    www.gortoncenter.org

     

    Gorton Community Center is the gathering placed in the heart of our community where people connect, converse, learn, listen, play and perform. It’s also home to Dog Day, coming up Saturday, June 22 from 10am to 12pm…don’t miss it!

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Chamber: What was the inspiration for the Gorton Center?
    Amy Wagliardo:
      Gorton Center was started in 1974 by a group of local citizens. It came about partly because of the building. The building was opened in 1902 as the Central School, (and changed to Gorton School later), the first K-8 school in Lake Forest, and at that time, the high school was at City Hall. The building was renovated several different times throughout that time. In 1972, they were going to close the school and the city was going to tear the building down. A group of concerned citizens rallied around to create a Community Center--because at the time there was no Parks and Rec Department, there was nothing like this. So, [the Gorton Center] was a city agency for many years and then it was rolled off as its own non-profit in the 2000’s. For many years it has housed the Gorton Drop-In Learning Center. Then in 2012, there was a campaign to raise funds to endow the Center and to renovate it. The theater got a full renovation and reopened in the fall of 2015 with a state-of-the-art cinema system in it.

     

    There was a focus group that came together for ‘the big think’ in 2012 to help determine the elements that people wanted in their community center, and one of the suggestions was film, because there used to be a movie theater in town and now there isn't.  So, that tied really nicely with the major donor of the space. Nancy Hughes [the wife of the late filmmaker John Hughes] gave the largest gift to renovate it. The John and Nancy Hughes Theater has over 300 seats and is now used for dance recitals, children's theater, movies, professional theater productions, live music…you name it. It is used for our productions and also rented out to others.

     

    So today, we have our own classes, films and events that we produce. We are still home to the Drop-In Learning Center, and we have 11 other nonprofits who office here we rent a space for other people's events.

     

    LFLBC: What is the Gorton’s vison? What’s in store in the future?

    AW: So we still feel that there are people who live really close to 400 East Illinois that still don't know that this building houses all of the vibrant and varied things that are going on here. Every day we talk to people who don’t know what we have to offer. So, awareness of what we do is always something that we strive to improve so we can communicate our activities most effectively.

     

    Also, because we're a non-profit, 25% of our budget comes from contributions from generous and kind patrons who support us year-over-year. So working to maintain the financial stability of the organization is also a strategic priority.  Because of Gorton's history of reinventing itself and in the 2010’s of ‘relaunching,’ almost like as a start up again, another strategic priority of ours is for development. Our Board is moving from a start-up type board onto more of a governing board. So we're looking at board policies and procedures, onboarding off-boarding, attracting the right people for the board and that sort of thing.

    We also have a new priority around strategic programming where we are bringing two to four Signature Events into Gorton every year and then potentially even a larger event. Right now our signature events include our Mountainfilm Festival and Second City.  With that, we’re ramping up our Gorton Producer Program that provides individuals the opportunity to underwrite an event.

     

    Leslie Lord: We’re really trying to be top of mind for people when they want to see a movie, or take a class, or any of numerous things we offer here. We want them to come to us.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about the Gorton Center?

    AW: We’re here for the whole community…we have something for everyone. Our audience is so broad—so we try to reach as many people

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful initiative?
    AW:
    We’ve added a number of community-centered events that are free or low-cost and have grown every year—like our end of summer block party and outdoor movie.  People love our Dog Day which has been around for a long time and different forms. We’ve had a PAWS adoption day; we recently did a blood drive; we do the Kids Only Holiday Shop. We love our events that really bring the community together. Like ‘Home Alone’ the day after Thanksgiving--everybody laughs, and it just fills you up.

    LL: And many of the other events that we have here do bring the Community out. It just really feels like this great Community, and its familiarity.

    AW: People really do come together at Gorton.

     

    LFLBC:  What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    LL: Oh, there are tons.  Deer Path House, Maevery, Market House, The History Center, the Library, Open Lands, ArtsLink, Lake Forest Bookstore, CROYA, Lead, the Community Church…all the vendor’s that do the Kids Only Holiday Shop…Gifted, Kiddles, Initial Choice…there are so many.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    AW: Well…that’s our main focus in all that we do. But we also collaborate with other organizations’ events—we donate to auctions and fundraisers. We want to be part of what's going on in town. We feel that is what will keep Gorton relevant -- to have our tentacles everywhere connected to everyone else. I feel like it only makes the pie grow larger.

     

    6.17.19


     

  • Sandie Bacon
    Artists on the Bluff 
    www.artistsonthebluff.org

     

    Don’t miss the 19th annual Artists on the Bluff 2019 Summer Arts Festival!  This independent outdoor art show highlighting local artists is June 15 & 16 on the Lake Bluff Village Green. With live entertainment, food, and a children's crafts tent, it is sure to be a lively community event!

     

    Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was the inspiration for starting Artists on the Bluff?

    Sandie Bacon: Artists on the Bluff has been around since the year 2000. I was working with Steve Ragsdale, Barbara Trentham and Kay Wolf, and we just had this vision of wanting an artist community. The thought was that artists were not connected to one another. So, it was a way to get artists to get together and to also get the community involved. Since then, we’ve had several community leaders serve as president, including Cathy Sturgis, Amy Ackley, Pat Falligant and Kristin Ashley.

     

    LFLBC: What is the vision for Artists on the Bluff?

    SB: We’re still a group of artists that get together and we do community things…like the Art Fair that is coming up June 15 & 16, Father’s Day weekend. We’ve also done murals at the train station. We have a gallery at The Gallery in Lake Forest where we have a themed show once a month. It’s such a nice business model. The menu is based on the artwork that is on the wall, so the food brings in a lot of customers to see the art.  We have monthly meetings where we bring in artists…we had Mark McMahon in last month to talk about his work and the business of marketing. We have brought in water colorists and oil painters, sculptors…all different kinds of people. We also have meetings where we talk about how to make an artist’s statement, or how to work together, etc.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Artists on the Bluff?
    SB
    : Art is a great thing to bring community together. We really are community, and art is like a common language that we all speak.

     

    LFLBC: What local businesses or organizations do you partner with?
    SB:
    Almost all of them here in downtown Lake Bluff...Be Market, Flotstone, the Lake Bluff Library, the Lake Bluff History Museum.  Lake Forest Bank & Trust is one of our sponsors. We’re part of the Chamber’s ArtsLink group, so we are involved with all those non-profit creative organizations and do fun things together.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
    SB:
    We do the Art Fair which gets all the local businesses and community involved. Oh, and Phillip Ross, who is our designer, has done all the Village stickers and logos. We’re also going to do an exciting project next year celebrating the Village’s quasqicentennial, (125th Birthday). We’ll be having and installation of fiberglass dogs placed all around town…so that should be really fun!

     

    6.10.2019


     

  • Pat Davenport
    A Safe Place 
    www.asafeplaceforhelp.org

     

    A Safe Place organizes four fundraising events each year--in August they will host their Drive Out Domestic Violence Golf Outing. The golf outing, which raises much needed funds for programs and services that help transform the lives of victims of domestic violence and their children, will take place at Briarwood Country Club in Deerfield on Monday, August 19. Registration and sponsorships are available at www.asafeplaceforhelp.org/golf-outing.

     

    Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was the inspiration for starting A Safe Place?
    Pat Davenport:
    The organization was founded 40 years ago. The Lake County State's Attorney at the time had seen an uptick in domestic violence cases in the county. He decided to form a task force of about 30 people including judges, lawyers, community agencies, to address the issues that our county was experiencing. Out of that came the recommendation that we needed an organization like A Safe Place. Through the years we have expanded our services to remove barriers to services and barriers for a victim to leave an abusive relationship.  This past year in collaboration with Lake County States Attorney Mike Nerheim and law enforcement we expanded our services to include human trafficking due to demand.

     

    LFLBC: What is your vision for A Safe Place?
    PD:
    Our vision is to be the leading domestic violence organization in the northern part of Illinois working to end domestic violence. And we do that in different ways. One is through our victim center approach, working on intervention, but also, prevention.  For example, we work in the school's with young people to help them understand what a healthy relationship looks like, and to watch for red flags.
     

     

    LFLBC: What has been A Safe Place’s most successful initiative?
    PD:
    We provide a comprehensive safety net of services through 13 different locations in Lake County.  Last year we served over 16,000 of our neighbors. We offer a 24-hour crisis line, so when the victim takes that courageous step to make that phone call, we're there.  Also, we have a ‘crisis response service.’  One member of our team attends domestic and human trafficking police calls so they can start building a trusting relationship little-by-little. So, when we are called to a residence, we offer support and encouragement to the victim. The next step in our safety net is housing.  If a victim is fleeing home because his or her life is in danger, the emergency shelter is a place victims can stay up to 3 months to start rebuilding their life. Other victims may need transitional housing (up to 2 years) or permanent housing. We also help them to find employment, go to school, and to address their basic needs. We also provide legal advocacy. We actually have an office in the courthouse and we are right next door to the domestic violence courtroom. We do about 90% of the Orders of Protection. We also provide behavioral health services (individual, and family counseling, support groups and art therapy, transitional and permanent housing as well as supervise visits and custodial exchanged   at our family visitation center. And we are actually a dual agency-- our main focus is victims work, but we also provide services to abusers.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about A Safe Place?
    PD
    : Domestic violence can happen to anyone, women and men, regardless of your class, money, race, age. People think we only serve women who have been abused, but we also provide services for male victims.

     

    LFLBC: Do you collaborate with any other local organization?
    PD:
    [Having our offices at Gorton] is awesome, because everybody here works beautifully together. [Our neighbors] include Fill a Heart for Kids, Mother’s Trust, Bravo… and they'll pitch in and help out when it's time. We cannot do what we do alone – without people helping out, we would not be able to accomplish our goals.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    PD: How we give back is the return on the investment of our work in the community. [Domestic violence] results in health-related costs, not to mention the social impact.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything that we didn't discuss that you would like to share?

    PD: What we do is help people, and we could use help with that!  If there are companies out there who want to do service projects, we have facilities throughout Lake County that need work. We work very hard to keep our overhead low so we can have as much money go to programming as possible. We rely on volunteers to do so much of what is needed. So, contact me and I will be happy to put you to work!

     

    6.3.2019


     

  • Rick Lesser
    Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe, LLP 
    191 E. Deerpath, LF
    www.llphlegal.com

     

    Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe, LLP is an experienced North Shore estate planning and litigation law firm.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was the inspiration for launching Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe LLP?

    Rick Lesser:  We’re a small law firm by Chicago standards, but actually we’re a large law firm in Lake County. We have 12 lawyers and our practice is primarily estate planning, trust administration (when the plan matures) and litigation that arises out of those matters. We help clients initially by drafting wills, trusts, powers of attorney for health care and property and sometimes more sophisticated instruments as well. Then, when the time comes, we help their named executor or successor trustee to administer the assets of the estate. I’ve been here since in Lake Forest since 1987. We started this law firm in 1997. Originally, we were Bowman and Lesser, and have had some change over time, and now we are Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    RL: I believe that we are going to continue to grow. We started out with just myself and my old partner Bob Bowman, with a shoeshine and a smile. We’ve managed to go to 12 lawyers. I think we will continue to expand. We have a part-time office in Chicago, and we may go to a more permanent location there, and we may expand out to other states as well.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about the firm?

    RL: That we do high-quality legal work at a reasonable cost.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you work with?

    RL: We do a lot of work with local accounting firms, particularly Pasquesi & Sheppard, Robert C. Brown, Ballen & Company [now ARCC Consulting], and a few others. We also do work with local banks, in particular Lake Forest Bank & Trust. They are part of the Wintrust group which has a corporate Trust Company and we work with them on a fairly regular basis. We do work with other local banks including the Northern Trust Company, BMO Harris and First Midwest Bank; and financial advisors as well, like Merrill Lynch. We also do work with the local insurance agents as well as other allied professionals.

     

    LFLBC: Tell us a little bit about the Chamber’s Legal and Financial Forum.

    RL: We started that group in 2003. Because the Chamber does so much for retail, we wanted to add something for the legal and financial service businesses in the community. So, we started the Legal and Financial Forum with the idea that we would meet quarterly, in the early evening 5:30 to 6:30, at a local business’ office or a restaurant. One organization would act as the host, and they would buy the beer! The program would involve about a half hour of networking followed by about a half hour presentation by the host. With the Forum, banks, financial advisors, lawyers and accountants would have a regular means of getting together, which provided a couple of benefits—networking, education, and just a chance to get to see business associates.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    RL: We are very community-oriented. We won the Chamber’s award for community service a couple of years ago. We do actual charity work, as well as a good deal of community involvement. I've been president of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Lake County Estate Planning Council and the Lake County Bar Association, as well as the Lake County Bar’s Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the bar. We’ve been very active in local government. I served on the Lake Bluff Village Board for eight years. And my partners have been very active with Lake Forest Caucus, and with the schools in particular.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    RL: Yes. I’d like to point out that it’s very important for people to make estate plans. We provide a very valuable service for our clients. Because when the time comes (and sometimes it comes very unexpectedly) people need to have documents in place. In this country, people have tremendous privacy and also tremendous variety and choice in terms of how they choose to make their own arrangements. Very little is done for you. [With that freedom], the burden is on the individual to create things, such as their powers of attorney for health care and property, which are vitally important for your care and welfare.  I see what happens when people come in and there was no plan. It leaves the family members uncertain as to what to do.

    5.27.2019


     

  • Erika Vernon
    Elawa Farm Foundation
    1401 Middlefork Dr., LF
    www.elawafarm.org

     

     

    Elawa Farm is a wonderful place to learn about the history of the "Gentlemen's Farm" movement, enjoy a beautifully restored and productive garden and purchase the products made in their kitchen at their Garden Market held on Fridays and Saturdays 8am to 1pm, now through the end of October. 

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was the inspiration behind Elawa Farm?

    Erika Vernon:  A lot of what we do here at Elawa Farm is guided by the history of the farm itself. All of the buildings here are original to the property and they've been restored to their original state. We are still growing the vegetables and flowers in the exact same space where the Armour family originally farmed. Mrs. Armour grew award winning dahlias--so we grow dahlias every year, too and maintain a stock of Elawa dahlia tubers from year to year. We don't use any chemicals on the property. The only additive we use in the soil in the garden is compost. So, we're very conscious of our impact on the environment and with what we're selling to our community. All the food that people buy here is safe and hasn't been sprayed. Our programming centers around all things garden & food related. We host classes on cooking, floral design and gardening, and we just hosted a discussion about landscaping without chemicals.

     

    We’re focused on working in harmony with the environment and making a safe environment for our community.

     

    LFLBC: What is the vision for Elawa Farm Foundation?

    EV: Going forward, we would like to continue what we've been doing, and just grow the number of people that come to visit Elawa Farm. Our Market grows every year, as well as the number of classes. We want more people to learn what we do here, how we do it and how they can apply the things they learn at Elawa in their own home.  

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Elawa Farm?

    EV: That we are a place for the community. Technically, our property is owned by the City of Lake Forest. So, it's public property and we very much want to encourage people to come here to visit. People can walk the grounds and look at the veggies and the flowers. Anyone who's interested can take a walk in the garden, talk to our garden manager and come to our Market on Fridays and Saturdays to learn more about what we grow.

     

    Also, we partner with different organizations. This year will be working with Roberti Community House in Waukegan. It’s a 9-week culinary training program that trains people to then be employed full-time in the culinary field. They will be making soup every week for our Garden Market!  We also work with EGGceptional Abilities in Lake Bluff—they provide our eggs for our weekly Markets. We always have EGGceptional Abilities eggs, and they sell out every week.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative?
    EV:
    This totally doesn't make sense in the business world, but it’s probably our free programs.  Our classes can be somewhat expensive, and not everyone is able to come and pay $85 for a cooking class or a floral design class. So, we recently hosted a free event ‘Landscaping without Chemicals,’ and we had almost 100 attendees. Hosting events like that that can get people in the door and then they can see what we do. I think programs like that are one of the best things we can offer.

     

    LFLBC:  What other local businesses do you work with?

    EV: We work with Katie Ford Flowers. She lives right here in the community and she teaches Floral Design classes here. Lake Forest Flowers, Ellie Styled [event planner] and Froggy’s for catering are on our vendor list for weddings and events here

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    EV: We’re a very public-facing entity. People can come and walk the trails, visit the gardens, attend a class, and come to the Garden Market. We’re really all about serving the community and getting people excited about food.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    EV: I’d like to mention our summer intern program. We have garden interns, kitchen interns, and Garden Market interns, which are all paid, part-time positions. We have high school and college age students join us, and they don't usually come with any previous garden knowledge, but they learn everything from the greenhouse to planting in the field to harvesting to working at the Garden Market. The interns really get a good sense of how to run a small business. We're going to be building more of a curriculum around each internship. Our goal is that students can come to Elawa in the summer and receive college credit for the work they do here and possibly even have a project to work on that they present at school.

     

    5.20.2019


     

  • Rebecca Asfour 
    The Dailey Method

    188 East Westminster, LF
    847-283-9000
    Instagram 


    The Dailey Method is the fastest way to a strong, lean, sculpted body. Combining the best of Pilates, yoga, and ballet barre training, classes are an ever-evolving mix of movement that offer extreme benefits for body and mind. 

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for owning The Dailey Method?
    Rebecca Asfour:  I came to the Lake Forest Dailey Method studio as a student, 5 months after my little guy was born, and with pretty bad postpartum depression. I walked into the studio without knowing anyone, left my baby in the childcare room and I took a barre class that helped me find my strength, balance, courage and, ultimately, my best self.  After only a month of taking class, I was toned and fit without injury or aches in my ankles and knees. As a former runner, this was remarkable!

    I loved The Dailey Method so much that I trained to teach barre and then eventually took over the Lake Forest studio in 2015. Now that we have opened in Vernon Hills, I am honored to bring The Dailey Method classes to a whole new community.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    RA: My vision for our studio is that we always make everyone feel welcome and we always promote a sense of community. Because that’s what we are – a community. We are a community of women and men, parents, students, grandparents, children. I think the defining part of my journey is that I understand the concept of being a new kid because I moved a lot growing up. I understand how challenging it can be to try something brand new and that scary feeling of walking into an unfamiliar place for the first time. Now my job is to make people feel welcome when they walk through our doors. My job is to make people happy and help them find their best (and strongest) self.  It’s a job I take very seriously.

    For someone who never had a hometown, and always felt like the new kid, I’ve purposefully created a place where everyone is welcome, encouraged, supported. I’ve created a little hometown community within the studio walls!

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing about The Dailey Method that you want people to know?
    RA: The Dailey Method is for everybody and every BODY. Our classes are amazing for women (and men!) of all fitness levels, sizes and ages. If you have an injury, you can come here. If you're pregnant, you can come here. If you just had a baby, you can come here.  It really is a remarkable that our classes really do work for everyone.

    To get started, I recommend our first month special – it’s $85 for an unlimited month of barre and cycle classes. This is a great way to try different class formats, different teachers, different times. This is how I started at the studio, and I think it’s the right amount of time to try us out and understand what we’re all about!

     

    LFLBC:  What has been your greatest business initiative?
    RA: Growing. Opening a second studio was a huge leap of faith and a ton of hard work. But I truly believe in our product – and I know that we offer the best barre and cycle classes, lead by the most amazing instructors, within a super positive and uplifting environment. It’s the perfect recipe for happiness, and I believe, to my very core, that The Dailey Method will continue to thrive.
     

    LFLBC: Do you work with any other local businesses?
    RA:  Yes! We love our fellow local businesses! We have done special partnerships and promotions with a lot of the nearby business from Bedside Manor to Lily Alexander to Kiddles! I think collaborating and connecting in our town is really important.

    I’m actually going to be speaking on Friday, May 17 at 1 pm at the Lake Forest Shop to the Entrepreneur Club. Everyone is welcome! I'm going to talk about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur and hopefully inspire others to take a leap of faith into something new themselves!

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
    RA:  We love to be involved in the community in any way we can. We do a lot of donation drives and fundraisers at the studio. We did a huge book drive with Bernie's Book Bank, we’ve hosted really successful diaper and clothing drives. Most recently, we collected gently used athletic clothing and donated it to Haven House in Libertyville. We have some other exciting charitable events coming up this year too. I believe that it’s our responsibility to be of service to others.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share??
    RA:  I often hear that people either are intimidated to come take a class…or they don’t have time to workout. To anyone new, I wholeheartedly invite you to come take a class with us because once you walk in, you will understand there is nothing to be intimated about. We will always greet you with a smile and you are always welcome. I promise! Secondly, if you don’t have a lot of free time, I totally empathize! I think of my workouts as a gift to myself – as a time to find balance and strength – and I am a better mom, wife, friend, sister and daughter after I take class. I have 2 small children and 2 businesses, so it’s a real struggle for me to find time to take class too! But just try to carve out time for 3 classes per week (we offer 45 minute and 1 hour classes, so maybe start with 3 45 minute classes). If you can take 3, that’s all you need to do to see real results. We can’t wait to see you at the barre and on the bike!

     

    5.13.2019



     

  • Sue Tierno, Kathy Wood with SwirlersSue Tierno & Kathy Wood

    Suzy’s Swirl

    703 Rockland Rd., LB

    www.suzysswirl.com

     

    Suzy’s Swirl is a family-owned and operated frozen dessert business swirling frozen happiness--offering the most craveable yogurt, gelato, sorbetto, ice and custards.  

     

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was the inspiration behind opening Suzy’s Swirl?

    Sue Tierno: There were so many! My sister, Kathy, has been in the food service business for over 30 years. Really she was the brains behind it all.  We joke about how she opened it with herself and three knuckleheads! Originally, 8 or so years ago, Kathy and my husband Joe were going to open up a fast casual Italian restaurant. But on October 1, 2011, my husband passed away. So we put things on hold for a little while and tried to regroup and get everybody back to where they needed to be. You know, we were just eating a lot of frozen yogurt at the time. So, we came up with the idea and thought, let's give this a try. We’ve been in Lake Bluff since June of 2014.

    Kathy Wood: With the passing of Joe, and where Sue and her family were, and where I was, we kind of combined both of our visions. I wanted to build a great business for my family and Sue wanted to really show her children that after a great loss, you can have a great life. So, we brought both of our visions together and thought, let’s show that you can still pursue the American Dream through innovation, great relationships and frozen happiness. That became our true north star and the impetus behind what we wanted to do, and it's been the driving force behind everything we've been doing since. It really fits with our mission statement, which is swirling goodness with our products, swirling greatness with our team members and their job experience with us, and swirling gratitude for our customers and our community.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision? Where is Suzy’s Swirl headed?

    KW: You know, we love Lake Bluff, and we just signed another five-year lease, which is awesome so that we can continue to be part of the Lake Bluff and Lake Forest communities.  But also, we are heading toward the retail food service area. We are in the process of launching Suzy’s Swirl craft cocktails and craft beer lines.  They are now available online and we are working with local grocery specialty retailers to put it in their locations as well. There is no one in the space doing it yet!

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Suzy’s Swirl?

    KW:  I think Suzy’s Swirl is about really being able to pursue the American Dream . We’re working to develop the next generation of young leaders with our team here. We're trying to be great stewards in the community. And at the same time, we're trying to build a successful and profitable business.

    ST:  Suzy’s Swirl is all about family. We’re a family-owned business, and all of our swirlers are family. So I really think family, hope and joy is really at the heart of Suzy’s Swirl.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative?

    ST:  It’s our partnership with College of Lake County. For the past five years we have been a sponsor of their entrepreneurial program called ‘The Big Idea.’ So, college kids pitch an idea, like for a product or an initiative they want to pursue, and they go up before five judges and pitch their idea.  Then we give them a generous donation to go towards their college education. That's been one of our biggest achievements.

     

    LFLBC:  How do you give back to the community?

    KW: One of our greatest collaborations is with the Lake Bluff Park District and the Lake Bluff July 4th parade. We’re supporters of Bluffinia, we get involved in many of Lake Bluff's activities, we’re involved with the Lake Forest High School Turnabout Dance, and Libertyville High School, Carmel Street Scenes.

    We also support Rosalind Franklin University and Lake Forest College. They get discounts. We do a lot of fundraising—Cups for a cause—with a lot of different organizations. We try to be good steward in the community, because without the community, we don't exist. We’re swirling gratitude for the community and our customers.

     

    In all honesty, one of our greatest partnerships is with the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber. We were recently involved with the Comedy Night, we love to do the Chamber’s holiday party--it gives us an opportunity to make connections and get introduced to others in the business community. And we love being on the Shopping and Dining Guide each year. The Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber has been a really amazing partnership for us.

     

    LFLBC:  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    ST: So, as I mentioned, my husband Joe died from cardiac arrest in 2011, but we wanted him to be a part of Suzy’s Swirl. So, we developed the Big Joe Challenge earlier this year. Customers were invited to have 64 ounces of product and 8 ounces of topping, and they had to finish in 20 minutes. If they did, they got a t-shirt and were recognized on our wall of fame. If they didn't finish, we asked them to donate $20 to the American Heart Association. We held it on Joe's birthday, Saturday, March 9, and we raised over $1,600 for the American Heart Association with the help and support of the community.

     

    KW: We say it’s the power of a cup…it could change someone's life, or it could support something that will save a life. We consider how our cups really can transform a life…great cups, great causes.

     

    4.29.2018


     

  •  

    Colette Mendelson
    Stepping Stones Network
    www.steppingstonesnetwork.org
     

    Stepping Stones Network is a nonprofit whose mission is to educate and engage the community to prevent domestic commercial sexual exploitation and to provide comprehensive, restorative care to survivors.

     

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: Tell us about Stepping Stones Network and your involvement in the organization.

     

    Colette Mendelson: About 4 years ago I saw a posting in the Christ Church bulletin about Stepping Stones Network and their mission and they were hosting an informational/education session and I decided to attend.  The issue just compelled me to want to help and I told the volunteers that evening I would run an art fundraiser for the organization, and I have been a volunteer ever since. The numbers are staggering, it is estimated that between 16,000-25,000 people are sexually exploited in the Chicagoland area. The stories of how many girls/women are taken advantage of by manipulation just sicken me and I wanted to do something about it. I can empathize with the girls/women--if I had trusted the wrong person at some point in my life, could this have happened to me?  The thought is terrifying.

     

    LFLBC: What is your vision for Stepping Stones Network?


    Colette Mendelson - This is an exciting time for Stepping Stones Network, we have been an entirely volunteer organization, and this past month we just hired our first staff members and will open our first home to help mothers who have been sex trafficked and their pre-pubescent children.  Our vision is to have several homes. Our first, opening July 8, 2019, will be a 12-18 month program that will bring healing and help the family rebuild their lives. Our hope is then to duplicate this home to serve more clients and to open a second program that will be a short term 30-90 days for someone to test out a program as some women cannot commit initially to a long-term program. Our program will be holistic and help both the mother and the children. We believe we will be the first in the country with this kind of program.  Other structured programs are designed to assist single women and are not equipped to take women with their children – so the women either have to give up their children for at least a year, or forego the help.  Most women don’t want to give up their children so this becomes a barrier to them getting help.  

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Stepping Stones Network:

     

    Colette Mendelson:  Sex Trafficking is not just [women] being taken off the street and kidnapped and forced into prostitution. It is more sinister than that--it is often by fraud or coercion. The numbers for victims of sex trafficking keep rising with the demand, and that demand is due to pornography. Pornography is the most downloaded thing on the Internet. Many people are becoming addicted, and that can bring them to 'purchasing' a person.  This is modern day slavery.  We offer programs for men who are struggling with porn and sex addiction that is run by a man who came from that background. We offer another program for men and/or women who have suffered some sort of trauma in their lives.  They are called our Conquer Groups (Men) and Journey Groups (Women & Men).  Stepping Stones Network wants to stop the demand, educate and prevent and restore lives.

     

    LFLBC: What other local organizations do you work with?

     

    Colette Mendelson:

    In my role as Director of Development for Stepping Stones Network, I have worked with Forest & Found where we are lucky enough to be one of its charity recipient organizations. We are one of the beneficiaries of a fundraiser that The Mustard Seed held earlier this month.  We also have partnerships with A Safe Place and Safe Families.  Beauty Brains and Brawn has had me speak at one of their events too. Many local businesses have supported us also when we have run a fundraiser like Kenzy Gifts and Décor, J McLaughlin, Sara Campbell, Flowers by Katie Ford, Deer Path Inn and J Crew.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

     

    Colette Mendelson:  We are constantly creating partnerships with the local community.  We have worked with local law enforcement to help place a few women who have been trafficked and we offer sex trafficking education meetings every third Monday night at Christ Church that anyone from the community can attend.  We have partnered with many local nonprofits and businesses to help keep our community a safe and wonderful place to live.

     

    4.22.2019


     

  • Kristina Phillips
    Executive Director
    Career Resource Center  

    40 E. Old Mill Rd., Suite 105 , LF 
    www.careerresourcecenter.org
    847-295-5626
     

    Career Resource Center’s mission is to change lives and strengthen communities with confidence-building, results-focused employment resources. 

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was the inspiration behind the Career Resource Center?

    Kristina Phillips: CRC began 29 years ago as a religious outreach mission with an innovative approach to serving the needs of a few local individuals impacted by the “white collar” recession. With foresight and wisdom, the original founders conceived of and established an organization that relied entirely on volunteers to oversee and deliver services.  Career Resource Center has grown throughout its history and is now an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit career transition center.        

        

    LFLBC: What is your vision?

    KP: Our vision is to provide our community with a warm and welcoming setting in which to search for their future job, helping them remain positive and motivated. We teach self-reliance as the cornerstone of success. Members learn more about themselves, explore career options, and develop a focused plan of action through meetings with advisors and specialists, and attendance at education and training programs. Job candidates learn to articulate their talents and successfully market themselves, maximizing their chance to find satisfying employment.‚Äč

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about CRC?

    KP: CRC is able to leverage the strengths and resources of the surrounding communities by engaging our team of more than 100 volunteers, who offer their expertise pro-bono to serve on the Board of Directors, deliver education and training programs, coach candidates, greet visitors and candidates, and perform many of CRC’s operational functions. In addition to helping others, you have the opportunity to form lasting friendships with other volunteers. By making a contribution of your time and expertise, you will reap the rewards of fulfillment and satisfaction knowing that you make a positive impact in others’ lives. To get more information about becoming a volunteer, call 847.295.5626 or email volunteer@careerresourcecenter.org.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your most successful initiative?

    KP: Transforming careers has remained constant throughout our 29 year history. CRC has assisted more than 13,000 individuals in their job search. Members span a range of disciplines, professions, experiences, and compensation levels. Keeping pace with changing marketplace demands, technological advances, employer expectations, candidate needs, and the economic environment, we deliver high-caliber employment assistance. Career Resource Center continues to transform careers with responsive, efficient, compassionate, and comprehensive employment resources and support.

     

    LFLBC: Do you collaborate with any other local businesses?

    KP: CRC partners with numerous community leaders and organizations such as local townships, chambers, and religious organizations in order to carry out our mission.  We would not be able to operate without the support and partnerships we have in place. 

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    KP: We give back to the community by providing low-cost job search assistance needed by our neighbors in order to remain in their homes, their neighborhood, and to contribute to the local economy. 

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    KP: CRC would like to invite the local business community to attend our upcoming CRC Fiesta-an event to raise fund to support our mission. 

    Join us on Thursday, May 2, 2019 for CRC Fiesta with craft cocktails created by the talented mixologists of North Shore Distillery, authentic Mexican menu prepared by renowned Chef Freddy Sanchez of Taco Vida, raffles and silent auctions, and live music. 

     

    4.15.2019


     

  • Mike Dorneker
    Lake Bluff Brewing Co. 
    16 E. Scranton, LB 
    www.lbbrew.com

     

    Lake Bluff Brewing Co. has served as a community beer hall for Lake Bluff as well as a destination brewery for Chicago and beyond. In addition to producing award winning beer, the walls of the taproom have hosted artists to display their work, some as local as down the street and others from as far as the other side of the Earth. The taproom also serves as a curator for both analogue and live music for all to enjoy.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision? 
    Mike Dorneker:
    Our vision is to provide a warm, cozy, inviting experience to our customers. A place for the community to gather and socialize, while enjoying the highest quality craft beer brewed on-site and made with locally sourced ingredients.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your business?
    MD: I wanted to own a brewery in Lake Bluff, because I feel it is truly a special place. Our customers are fiercely loyal, and we feel honored to serve them. We have won numerous awards for our innovative and unique recipes, including at the national level. We are a family-friendly place, and in addition to great beer we value great music and great art. My family and I live in Lake Bluff, and we feel so blessed to be a part of this community. Our kids go to Lake Bluff schools and my wife teaches math at Lake Forest High School.  

     

    LFLBC: What has been your most successful business initiative? 
    MD: We have been hosting our outdoor block parties for the past six years. The street in front of the brewery is shut down and we have live music outside 5 times a summer. We work with local vendors such as Griffith, Grant, and Lackie, Maevey Public House, Donati’s pizza, and Left Bank, to put on epic events with great beer, great music, and great food.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?
    MD: We love to collaborate with local businesses! Maevery Public House, next door, makes the food that we serve, and that has been a wonderful collaboration for both of us. We just had a collaboration event with Lake Bluff Hub and Cycle where we featured the new Kona line of bikes and released a special beer at the brewery.

    We also work with the Lake Bluff Library for trivia nights, and we recently collaborated with the Lake Bluff History Museum to name our new spring seasonal, Swan Island. We’re also working with the History Museum to get some old historic maps and pictures of Lake Bluff to hang on our walls. We have the event with the Chamber on April 12 [April Foolishness] that looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.  We have a beer and yoga event coming up with Blue Sun Yoga in Lake Bluff  in April.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
    MD:
    We work with several charities and business throughout the year to give back to the community. Every year we brew a beer for the Lake Bluff Public Library and $1.00 of every pint is donated directly to them to raise funds for various projects. It was called Totally Booked last year, and this year we are brewing Totally Booked II. We also work with Beef 4 Hunger for an annual charity block party. We donate growlers and growler fills to numerous silent auctions and charity events to help raise money. Several times throughout the year we dedicate sales nights to various causes and charities. We are partnering with The Community Church of Lake Forest & Lake Bluff to raise funds at this year’s Criterium bike race selling LBBC beer.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
    MD:
    We feel so blessed to be a part of this community. Lake Bluff is really a special place.

     

    4.2.2019


     

  • Rick Young
    Chicago Comedy All-Stars  
    www.chicagocomedyallstars.com

     

    The Chicago Comedy All-Stars is a group of the best stand-up talent the Windy City has to offer. On stage credits include The Tonight Show, HBO, Comedy Central, Country Music Television, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Last Comic Standing, America’s Funniest People, Showtime, Fox Television, ESPN2, The Bob and Tom Radio show and WGN. From Chicago to Iraq, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and all points in between, the All-Stars have traveled around the world bringing laughter to every stop!

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: Tell me about Chicago Comedy All-Stars and your involvement in the organization.

     

    Rick Young: I have played softball for many years and one of the guys that I have played with, Jim McHugh, is a well-known and talented stand-up comedian. At the time, I was in an executive sales position with a food company. Jimmy asked me if I wanted to have dinner with a group of comedians. When I asked where, he said, “Well it's just soup and wine at a friend’s place in Chicago.” So, I went there and met some really nice people. They were funny, and affable; and, the soup was really good! They wanted to formalize their business, so I started asking some basic business questions and learned they really needed some direction. They needed help with booking shows, negotiating contracts and guaranteeing shows. I thought I might be able to help them. So, Jimmy and I put the Chicago Comedy All-Stars together and did a business plan and that’s how we got started. That was about 12 years ago.

     

    I have a Masters degree in theater and in the 70’s was at Second City. I also worked at Pasadena Playhouse in California, Dudley Rigg’s Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis and acted at several theaters in Chicago. But I wasn’t making it in theater, so that’s when I went into the food business. But my first love was entertaining--either directing or acting. My partner Jim and I have developed a model for helping organizations with fundraising with comedy…we call it ‘fun raising.’ We love doing "fun-raisers" for the simple reason that you're helping somebody good causes while having fun.

     

    LFLBC: What is your vision for Chicago Comedy All-Stars?
    RY:
     To continue to build our fun-raising model, to do more corporate shows, and really to gain more recognition so we can continue to grow the Chicago Comedy All-Stars brand. Jim and I are very respectful of our comedians, which is why they like to work with us. That helps us get really great talent, too. We want to expand into country clubs, service organizations and shows with bigger audiences.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Chicago Comedy All-Stars?
    RY:
     We have really great top-rated comedians and we’re hilariously funny and unique. Also, we present "clean" comedy. We believe that you don’t need profanity to be funny. Sure, there are some innuendos, but we assure our audiences that we are rated PG-13. We do shows for little league baseball teams, fire departments, church groups…so we keep it "clean." In addition to comedy shows, we emcee events, we help groups with their auctions, raffles, paddle raises…and we make it a lot of fun! 

     

    LFLBC: What other local organizations do you work with?

    RY: We’ve done shows and events for so many local groups: Lake Bluff and Lake Forest Little League Baseball, Safe Haven School, Bravo Waukegan, different groups at the High School, the Lions Club, various church groups, etc.  We’re also doing a public show at the Gorton Center in January that we’re looking forward to. And of course, we’re really excited to do the Chamber shows ‘April Foolishness’ on April 12…so get your tickets now!
     
     
    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
    RY: Our business model, "fun raising," is really all about giving back. We feel like we can really help organizations raise money, raise awareness for their cause and provide people with professional comedy, all at the same time. It’s central to what we do.
     
     
    3.25.2019
     

     

  • Tanya Fretheim
    Street Level Studio
    847-432-5150     

    www.streetlevelstudio.com

    Street Level Studio drives business results for its clients with best-in-class design, branding, marketing, video, and digital experiences. A fixture on the North Shore for more than 30 years, it’s a trusted and valued creative partner for both big global brands and smart small businesses.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: Tell us about your role with Street Level Studio.

    TF: When Street Level Studio’s founder was thinking of retirement, I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, nor did I want my coworkers to be out of jobs, or our clients to experience a disruption in their marketing services. At that point I’d been with SLS for nearly 15 years and had a leadership role so I negotiated a buyout. I’m in my fifth year as a 100% women-owned business, and am continuing to grow and expand our services (Design, Branding, Marketing, Web, Digital, Video, and Analytics).

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    TF: Our roots have always been in graphic design and always will be. Design is at the heart of everything we do. Design applies to anything from developing a brand to building its website and everything in between. My goal for SLS is to be our clients’ marketing team or an extension of their marketing department with the ability to fulfill any project they need, a one-stop shop.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Street Level Studio?

    TF: SLS can produce big agency results with small agency service, we provide all the impact without the ego or bureaucracy.

     

    LFLBC: To what do you attribute your success?

    TF: Hands down, my coworkers! They are energetic, smart people with diverse out-of-the-box thinking. Each person on my team has been carefully chosen in order to fill a need or skillset we were missing, be it in content development, video creation, animation, web development, or design, each are experts in their own specialty and together our team is complete.

     

    LFLBC: Tell us about your greatest project.

    TF: Every project we work on is great! We recently completed a pro bono video project for Northpointe Resources. They provide services for intellectually and developmentally disabled people. They started a program called Art360 in which people in the program create art which in turn is sold to corporations throughout the Chicago metro area. It’s a great and fulfilling program on so many levels. Being part of the team was a real feel-good and seeing the video come to life was really amazing to be able to tell their story. Northpointe is now able to better communicate what their art360 program is all about.  You can see the video here: https://youtu.be/a1rDcqJNpPU

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    TF: By growing the business I have created new jobs which in turn benefits the community. In addition, I serve as a director in the Highwood Chamber of Commerce and chair of the marketing committee. Street Level Studio is new to the Lake Forest Lake Bluff Chamber this year and we’re excited to become more involved in our extended community too. 

     

    3.18.2019
     


     

  • Holly Nagel
    Whimsy - Custom Balloon Design Studio
    847-445-1430     
    www.ThisIsWhimsy.com

     

    Holly Nagel Entertainment - Adult & Youth Programs
    www.HollyNagel.com
     

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting your business?

    Holly Nagel: My original inspiration was my then 2-year-old son. As a college-degreed full-time working mother of a youngster, I was facing many issues and decisions and I did what any red-blooded American gal does when she’s in a quandary – I took a class-- a clown class! And from the first party I entertained at, my business hit the ground running.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    HN:  
    Connecting people one balloon at a time! I know it sounds simple, but that is the truth of it. Wherever we have an installation, delivery or program, people come together in fun, often meaningful ways. Due to client demand, the evolution and possibilities have been endless as we now offer many services all related to the fabulous balloon. Whimsy is our décor & delivery service, and Holly Nagel Entertainment is our programs division. (Both sites link to each other.)

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your business?

    HN: Balloons are truly for any event and any age. They are not just for kids' parties anymore. Our balloons can be jazzy and vibrant, whimsical and fun, sophisticated and graceful. From private parties and gala events, to lobbies and sales exhibitions, we are able to transform any space.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your most successful business initiative? 

    HN: There have been, and will be, numerous successful initiatives and collaborations. Working with cultural landmarks for large installations like the Field Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art were two. Working with Lake Forest Country Day School to install a two-story Jack & the Beanstalk in their main lobby was another. In addition, I consider my business, which has grown by referral, to be a continual business success. We always have projects brewing as well.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    HN: Local businesses I have collaborated with include Lake Forest Library, Sunset Foods and Lake Forest Country Day School. In addition, other area businesses I’ve been working with for years include Caputo Cheese Market, Lake Bluff Library, the Chicago Bears, and many families. I’ll mention the Chicago Blackhawks too, because many area folks are also fans!

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    HN: Giving back has always been an imperative for me and my company. I’m particularly drawn to issues that affect women and children, from literacy and education, to personal and professional development, to shelter and trafficking. I contribute everything from direct hands-on volunteering, to entertainment and décor, to facilitating and speaking.

     

    3.11.2019


     

     

  • Phil Gayter
    Brandstorm!
     
    www.brandstorm57.com

     

    Brandstorm has been delivering powerful, brand strategies and insightful creative for 6 years. Working in all mediums: digital, traditional, print and more ...

     

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for launching Brandstorm!?

    Phil Gayter: Well, it was actually a big career change for me. I had been running an agency in Kansas City and found myself wondering what I wanted to do. It was at the time when digital media really took over and I was struggling to find relevance to what I used to do, which was being a global creative director in a big agency setting. The notion that companies were struggling for their identity came into my head. I was working with GLASA on their communications committee and I was in a meeting where they were trying to come up with a marketing idea. In about 10 minutes I came up with a whole campaign for them, which I presented. Little did I know that in the meeting was a guy with a big financial services company and he said, ‘I want you to do for me what I just saw you do for GLASA.’  I realized I had the experience to look beyond the creative needs and help him with his marketing strategy. That was the kickstart to a process I called Brandstorm, which is why my company is called Brandstorm! I now do ‘soup-to-nuts’ -- brand strategy through creative end-product, and I love it.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    PG: Well, as I've grown, the small mom-and-pop places I was doing business with five or six years ago have been replaced by medium-sized companies. My vision is to be taken seriously with the really big entities. I'm starting to have more work in the city, and I do have some clients around the country. So, my vision is to take on bigger and bigger accounts.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Brandstorm!?

    PG: I can flexibly answer any creative challenge. Sometimes it’s not about doing a website…that’s such a narrow way to think about your brand. But a creative challenge could be how to reach people or a target audience when a company doesn’t have any budget. I was very proud of a project I did in Kansas City for an organization that helped homeless teens. They came to me asking for help with branding, and said, ‘by the way, we don’t have any money!’ So, I took it on as a pro bono project. I had this idea of distributing full-sized bodies around Kansas City. I made them out of rolled up newspaper and dressed them up in thrift-shop clothing, which was donated. They looked absolutely real. We chose a specific date—a first Friday when there was an “Art Walk” with 100,000 people in attendance. I had the bodies strategically placed around town in positions like huddled in doorways. Each body had a cup with postcards in them which people could take for information on the group. It was incredible. I was interviewed by the local NBC affiliate and the FOX affiliate--the PR alone was just huge, worth thousands. It drove traffic to the website, and we did it with no money. I'm really proud of that.

    (Watch a video of the campaign: Lost Children)

     

    LFLBC: What has been your greatest business success?

    PG: I see everything as a success because I aim to never fail.  So, I guess the next project I work on is my greatest success.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    PG: I collaborate with Angela Denton of VentureWrite, and Susan Kelsey of Merrill Lynch. I’m also doing a painting and wine party with Merrill Lynch. I have lots of other companies I work with out of the area like production companies and coding companies and even my identical twin’s company in D.C.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    PG: I’m an executive board member with the LF/LB Chamber and I host the bi-monthly networking event, B4Work every other Friday. I am mentoring for the Incubator at the High School. I do a lot of public speaking. I’m speaking at the Library about entrepreneurship this coming March. I like to be really involved in the community.

     

    Where are you from, and how did you end up in this area?

    PG: I grew up in Manchester, England and I got hired globally to come to Leo Burnett 30 years ago. I was basically on a year contract and stayed. The guy that hired me happened to live in Lake Bluff so we saw it and liked it and chose to live there. I never looked back so to speak.

     

    LFLBC: Any closing comments?

    PG: Bring me your creative challenge and I'll fix it.

     

    2.25.2019


     

  • Jeremy, Britt & Shaun Carter
    Britt Carter & Company
    1350 S. Skokie Highway
    www.brittcarter.net


    Britt Carter & Company helps turn your home into a haven of comfort and beauty. Their passion is to create the interior of your dreams with the finest furniture and an expert eye.

     

    LFLBC: What was your inspiration for opening Britt Carter & Company?
    Britt Carter: The belief and desire that if we serve people’s needs and work hard, we could create a viable organization.
    When I was a sophomore in high school back in the late 1960s, I helped out on the weekends at my stepdad’s “mom & pop” furniture store. Typically I was there to house-clean and help move furniture off the sales floor after being sold. Oftentimes on Saturdays, the store was full of potential customers with lots of questions, and when other salespeople were tied up, folks would ask me questions and want my opinion. After all, I was the owner’s son. At first I was reluctant, but in short order I enjoyed helping select fabrics that harmonized, and created rooms of new furniture. (I believe it was a gifted talent my mother passed on to me). I became pretty good at it. It was fun for me, seeing people get excited about purchasing new furniture for their homes.


    Later, I went on to work for the major home furnishings company in Chicagoland, John M. Smyth and I quickly became one of the top salespeople. It was more fun than work, but six months in, I came down with pneumonia. Laying in the hospital, I began thinking if I was ever going to succeed for my own family I should start my own company. I knew all the right people who could help me establish myself in the industry. So in 1980 with a small loan, my wife Vicki and I opened Britt Carter & Co. (3000 sq. ft.) in Cambridge Plaza in Libertyville. Business grew, and in 1987 we moved to Rivertree Court (10,000 sq. ft.) in Vernon Hills. Finally in 1994 we built our present 25,000 sq. ft. building.
     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    BC: With two sons, Jeremy and Shaun, in the company, my hope is that they may carry forward what I have always been passionate about, namely meeting new people and helping them create homes they love coming home to.

    Shaun Carter: We’re sincere students of the high-end home furnishings industry. We live it, and notice everything that’s going on in it. We’re always finding new themes, new ideas and new inspirations. So, when you look around our showroom, that’s the reason it looks the way it does.


    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Britt Carter & Company?
    BC: Probably gratitude. We as an organization have been blessed for nearly 40 years. We have enjoyed making lifelong acquaintances with customers, clients, and industry leaders. There has always been something meaningful when you achieve something good for people who put their trust in you. To know that they love coming home to a tasteful expression that creative interiors foster.


    LFLBC: To what do you attribute your success?
    SC: Our quality, talent and sincerity. Being an interior designer, you live and die on your talent.


    LFLBC: Is there anything else you would like to share?
    BC: Only that we are very grateful to be a part of this community. We have some of the most wonderful clients and customers up and down the North Shore. To me, the most exciting part of our business is the people we serve. It’s been a lot of fun!
     

    2.18.2019


     

  • Jennifer & Jon Smoter
    A.M. DePrisco Jewelers 

    284 East Deerpath, LF

    Follow on Facebook and Instagram

     

    Family-owned luxury jeweler A.M. DePrisco has expanded to the Midwest with the opening of a new store right here in Lake Forest.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for opening A.M. DePrisco in Lake Forest?

    Jennifer Smoter: My husband Jon and I both worked at Abbott and have lived in Lake Forest for many years. We are raising our  kids here. After Abbott, we started a marketing and communications company because we really wanted something that we could do together but also something that we could potentially have our boys carry on. But, let me tell you, they were not interested!

     

    My Aunt Lisa was married for many years to Patrick Swayze, who sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009. They met when they were teenagers, fell deeply in love and became an iconic Hollywood couple. Lisa found love again when she met Albert DePrisco, a renowned jeweler with over 40 years’ experience through the family business established in 1948. So now, through my aunt and uncle, we have brought the DePrisco family tradition to Lake Forest.

     

    We purchased Jewels of Lake Forest from Dru Anne Smyth, who had been in the business with the store on Deerpath for 15 years. We had been negotiating space in Market Square, when my husband overheard that Dru Anne might want to sell. He was in the right place at the right time. We walked in and told her we were interested in purchasing her store. She wanted to sell to a family-owned jeweler who would take great care of her customers…even better that we were Lake Forest residents, as well! So, we closed the deal on September 14 and we very quickly remodeled.

     

    We've brought in a couple very different designers, but we also bought Dru Anne’s inventory, as she had some very beautiful and high-quality items. This was so that her treasured clientele would experience what they loved here before. For example, we have kept DeBeers Forevermark Diamonds, their environmentally conscious brand, Assael and Masteloni pearls and Kwiat. We’ve added a new designer, Alex Soldier, who caters to Hollywood and red carpet events, and a few Italian designers, Roberto Demeglio and Vaid.

     

    The jewelry industry is going through an interesting transformation now, and the demographic for jewelry is very widespread. Everybody loves jewelry.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    JS: Our vision is to really accelerate the DePrisco family business, which has been around for 70 years, and establish the brand’s footing in our hometown. The business was started in Boston, Massachusetts by Frank and Marie DePrisco. My Uncle Albert is an expert jeweler and gemologist and he's been in the jewelry business for 40 of those 70 years. It was important to us to put a brick and mortar store where our home is, and Lake Forest was a perfect fit—it’s very much like the other communities that A.M. DePrisco operates in.

     

    We love the idea of bringing everyday luxury to people. We also have our eye on attracting the new generation of people who are starting to buy jewelry. They have a different perspective than our moms and dads did.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about A.M. DePrisco?

    JS: That we bring you experience and customer intimacy…and we cater to you. Love is really what we do. Our customers are giving a gift, celebrating getting married or an anniversary or just celebrating themselves. The expression of love is something that we take very seriously.  We have a strong attention to detail, and we combine that with the ability to procure precious gemstones, watches and other diamonds, by leveraging long-standing relationships with trusted sources. And, if we don’t have what you are looking for in store, we can custom-design a piece of your dreams, or we can find it for you. We love being in the business of making people’s dreams come true… helping them express their love is just really wonderful. Many people have trusted the DePrisco family for generations, and you can get that same level of trust now right here in your local community.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your most successful business initiative?

    JS: I have to say it was our Grand Opening. We opened the store the right way. We invited people who were tried-and-true customers of Jewels of Lake Forest and other people we know in town. It was a really fantastic grand opening--you couldn't even move in this space! It was great to see the community coming out and supporting us.

     

    Jewelry purchases take thought and consideration. It's not like going to buy a new pair of sunglasses or a food processor. People look for five or six times before they make a major purchase. So, to start off at a place where we could really have the community come out and experience us, to get to meet Albert and spend some time talking to Jon and I – it was really great. We are so excited to be here in our hometown, showing people what we can offer and to bring luxury brands.  

     

    LFLBC: Do you collaborate with any other local businesses?

    JS: We're just starting to do that, as we are strong supporters of Lake Forest small businesses and commerce. At our grand opening, we used a local planner and all local vendors for our catering, flowers, glassware...everything. The vast majority of our décor has come from local businesses.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    JS: We have donated some pieces for auction for various organizations. And we're participating in the wonderful discount program the library is doing. We’ve been in business for just a short amount of time, but we look forward to helping with more events in the future. Giving back to the community is essential to operating a business today.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    JS: I want to invite residents and shop owner to stop by and meet us! We love to help people and genuinely want to make them and their loved ones happy. If we don't have it here, we can we can get it for you.

     

    We're fortunate to have a long heritage of reinventing and redesigning jewelry. We have some events coming up in the spring to showcase our redesign work. Reinventing pieces, such as engagement rings, earrings or pendants is an area of expertise. Pieces that you may have had for a while or a family heirloom -- we're able to give them new life!

     

     

    2.11.2019


     

  • Cathy McKechney


    Lake Bluff History Museum

    127 East Scranton, LB

    www.lakebluffhistory.org

     

    The Lake Bluff History Museum is the force behind preserving Lake Bluff's past and creating some of the Village's favorite events in the present. It is also the recipient of the LF/LB Chamber's 2019 Community Leadership Award! Get to know more about the Museum from President of the Board, Cathy McKechney.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: When was the Lake Bluff History Museum founded and how did it come about?

    Cathy McKechney: 1995 was the Village’s 100th anniversary and there was a lot of activity going on surrounding that milestone. I was involved with putting on a show called the Centennial Follies which was about the history of Lake Bluff. We had about 200 people in town participate in this event and it was a huge success. Through that event, I got to know Kathy O'Hara and Janet Nelson, the Principals of our schools at the time. They ran the little museum located at East School. That collection came from Elmer Vliet who originally had a little cart of Lake Bluff memorabilia that he took from classroom to classroom and shared it with the children. In 1982, he gave his collection to Janet and Kathy and they opened the museum. When the school needed more space, they needed to find a home for the collection. Some people involved with the Centennial started to fundraise to see if we could make enough money to build our own museum space. We worked with the Village and the Library and were able to raise about $2 million in a very short amount of time. That led to the construction of this space attached to the Library.

     

    LFLBC: Have you added to the collection since then?

    CM: Yes. Adding to the collection has been ongoing. We have a lot of records saved here, so many of our volunteers come and put together new displays like ‘Made in Lake Bluff’ which is a recent display of things created by Lake Bluff residents. Another example is the Lake Bluff Ice Truck. In 2010, we received a 1931 Lake Bluff ice truck from the grandson of its original owner. The truck was in pieces and had been stored in a barn in DeKalb Illinois for decades. As a Board, we thought “We don't know if we can take this on, but we better take it or this piece of history will disappear forever.” Within three years the ice truck was up and running because of some incredibly talented and enthusiastic volunteers. And the ice truck really started the auto show. It’s the highlight of the auto show which returns for its seventh year this June.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about the Lake Bluff History Museum?

    CM: Everything we do is dedicated to enhancing life in Lake Bluff. We're very involved in the community and create many of the community’s activities. It really all comes from our Board’s passion for Lake Bluff. Everyone on this Board has either been in a position of leadership, or has been an educator, or has a business background, but they are all here because they love Lake Bluff and they want to give back to their community.

     

    Sometimes I feel like we're the best-kept secret in town, because we do so many events that people often think the Village puts on. We do the Auto Show, the Ghost Walk, the walking tours. We’ve even taken over the Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies since the American Legion Post retired. We bring a more historical element to the ceremony, reading letters from people that lived in Lake Bluff and served in past Wars. I think that really touches home and makes it much more palpable and real. It makes more of a connection, especially with the middle school kids.

     

    LFLBC: What is the Museum’s vision?

    CM: Right now we just want to get the word out about the Museum. We are an all-volunteer organization. Adrienne Fawcett has joined us as a part-time employee and she's going to help us with this. We want people to know that this (the Lake Bluff History Museum) is where so many Lake Bluff activities originate and it is the source of all sorts of information about Lake Bluff history. We’ve got our hands in everything.

     

    LFLBC: How can the community help the Museum?

    CM: We love our volunteers. Donations, of course, are always fantastic, because we need that to just keep the doors open and to keep going. It is important as young families move in to let them know about the history of the Village. In my first home here, I was told the patio was made with bricks from the Children's Home--I didn't even know what the Children’s Home was! 

     

    LFLBC: What has been the Museum’s biggest initiative?

    CM: We just brought the Ghost Walk back for the first time in four years...that entails a lot of work and a lot of people. Really, all of our events are big. We love to teach people the history and educate the community. And we are involved with some of the education programs in the local schools. But check back with me on big initiatives--we are thinking about launching a capital campaign soon. We're laying the groundwork and we want to establish a fund to accomplish some key goals and including making the collection more accessible to the community and keeping our doors open for visitors.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses and organizations do you collaborate with?

    CM: We work with the [Lake Bluff] Merchants organization. Collaboration is the name of the game to get more people into downtown, so we’ve worked with them along with the Chamber to establish It’s A Wonderful Life, It Happens Every Spring and of course, The Ghost Walk. And really, all the Lake Bluff businesses contribute [to the Museum]. They've all been very generous…and of course the individuals in town, too.

     

    LFLBC: How do you see your role in the community?

    CM: We are the only organization in the community to preserve the history of Lake Bluff. We have a unique culture--so our history is something that people in Lake Bluff understand and appreciate.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you would like to share?

    CM: I wanted to mention the Christmas Home Tour. We started that 8 years ago and it just keeps growing. Really, all the programs we've done seem to increase every year. Our only issue is letting people know that we're the ones doing all these events.

     

    I also wanted to point out that the Village and the businesses make our events possible. How many Villages would let a group of people come in and use their Village Hall to stage of seance [like we do for Ghost Walk]? That's unusual! So sometimes we hear ‘It takes a Lake Bluff to put on a Ghost Walk!’ For the Ghost Walk, volunteers create everything, all the decorations, and put them up in the stores and take them down. Merchants such as  Bluffington’s…allow us to take over their restaurant the Friday before the event to create one of the 10  historical scenes that make up the Ghost Walk.  The museum has earned a level of trust with the merchants and often they will give us the keys to get done what we need to get done to create our sets within their spaces. 

     

    We also have the quasquicentennial coming up—that’s the 125th Anniversary of the Village—in 2020. That'll be another big celebration--in fact, we're going to bring back the Centennial Follies again.

     

    We’re a little museum with a lot of momentum!

     

    1.15.2019


     

  • Meet Diana Melichar


    Melichar Architects

    www.MelicharArchitects.com

     

    Melichar Architects is committed to making the world a more beautiful place. Based in Lake Forest, they create spaces that are designed to last and enrich their client’s lives.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your motivation for starting Melichar Architects?

    Diana Melichar: I started my business in 1993 with the desire to make our world a more beautiful place…make our community more pleasing, and make peoples’ lives happier. That was my inspiration.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    DM: We’ve been on a path for decades to make beautiful and functional places through timeless designs.  Architecture is a big expense for people, so we want to create something that can withstand design fads as well as the stresses that age buildings….architecture that lasts for a long time. If you want quality and beauty, you have to do it the right way. That’s why people come to us.

     

    LFLBC:  What is the one thing you want people to know about Melichar Architects?

    DM: We listen. We listen to our clients and respond to their needs, while creating buildings that are more than they expected. Successful architecture melds time-tested design principles in a way that is inspirational and easy to live in.  Our job is to help our clients navigate the design and building process…if our clients aren’t having fun, we’re not having fun either! The process is complex, but we simplify it for our clients.

     

    LFLBC: Tell us about your greatest project.

    DM: Our greatest project is the one we’re working on at the present moment! Our design work runs the gamut. From someone’s basement bathroom, to historic renovations, to new million dollar homes…we design small jobs and big jobs. We’ve done a fair amount of urban design as well—helping to determine how buildings fit within the context of a neighborhood or community.

     

    We look at projects holistically, as each has unique parts that require our orchestration.  The objective is to solve problems and find great solutions for our clients….and each one is special.

     

    Some of our recent projects include the new Ferrari Showroom in Lake Bluff.  We are also very excited because construction is just underway at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest. We were able to repurpose existing space within the church to meet their needs, instead of having to build on. It’s going to be a beautiful space where everyone at the church can enjoy their new fellowship area when it’s completed.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    DM: Working with local interior designers, landscape architects, and contractors allows us to join forces as a team, and provide a variety of perspectives to a client.  We also provide consultations for real estate agents, to help them understand the design possibilities for a home and its spaces. 

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    DM: I try to be involved in any way I can in the community, because I live and work in Lake Forest…and I grew up here! I was on the task force for Ragdale’s recent major restoration and renovation. I feel strongly about giving back to the arts. I’m involved in my church community and I sing in the choir. And now, I’m excited to be the incoming President of the Board for the LF/LB Chamber of Commerce. Our community has so much opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with many different types of businesses in that role.

     

    1.7.2019


     

  • Meet Cindy Pasquesi

    Pasquesi Home & Gardens

    975 North Shore Drive, Lake Bluff

     

    Pasquesi Home & Gardens carries a wide variety of quality plants and products to turn your home and garden into a stylish sanctuary. From plants to bird baths, pet food to housewarming gifts, and everything in between...Pasquesi Home & Gardens has it all.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:  What was the inspiration behind Pasquesi Home & Gardens?

    Cindy Pasquesi: My father emigrated here from Italy in the late 1950’s. Both my parents had always wanted to have a store, so in 1975 they purchased an Ace hardware store in Highland Park. They were the first hardware store that sold a wide variety of products, almost like a department store. They were really ahead of their time in retailing. It was before Williams Sonoma or Home Depot. They had a high-end housewares department where they sold Krups and cappuccino makers. My grandmother would do cooking demos in the store…she didn’t speak English—she was from Italy, and would demonstrate how to make authentic Italian dishes. They sold homemade pasta machines and showed customers how to make pasta. They were really visionaries, ahead of their time. So much of that kind of thing happens now…It’s very mainstream now, but back then, it hadn’t been done.

     

    So, each spring they would transform the parking lot into a mini garden center. It always brought people such joy to come and buy their annuals and perennials.  My parents thought it would be cool to have a store that just focused on gardening. They found our previous location in Lake Forest, and at that time it was just an old Farm and Fleet store that serviced the gentlemen farmers who were still in West Lake Forest. As farms left and more homes came in, the community really wanted a place where they could buy their gardening-related items.  So as the business grew, we began carrying more outdoor living things, nature items, and then eventually items for the home and gift items. We outgrew that space and then found our current location in Lake Bluff and we continued to evolve and change. Now we are really more of a lifestyle center than a ‘garden center’ focusing on things for every aspect of your life and home--from indoor to outdoor, everything nature and home.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    CP: Our vision, regardless of what we were selling, has always been to give the best customer service. We want to be sure that customers are coming back because they want to shop here and they love the employees. Our employees are well-informed and we provide expertise and products that are high quality.  Our mission statement is ‘to contribute to the enjoyment of your life.’ We really feel like we live that--providing great service to the customers and the community. Everybody who works here really embodies that.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Pasquesi Home and Gardens?
    CP: My parents started this business from a commitment and dedication to community and family. We are a family-owned business. My two siblings and I have taken over as my parents transition to retirement.  It’s about hard work and dedication for us. We continue to be committed and dedicated to the community we serve. And the community has been very good to us.

     

    LFLBC: What is your greatest business initiative?

    CP: We’re always trying to stay on trend, seek out the new and unique and bring great things to our customers. We do that a few different ways: Showing our customers different ways they can use things in their home and gardens and keeping our employees educated so we can pass that information on.

     

    Right now with some of the big retailers closing, we have opportunities to expand some of our subcategories. For example, toys. With the closure of Toys R Us, we have expanded our toy department. And we’ve found that people want the really cool unique toy that Target doesn’t have. This weekend we had our first ever toy fair, and it was a huge success. So, we are continually evolving to provide for our customers.

     

    LFLBC: Who do you collaborate with?

    CP: We collaborate with Mariani quite a bit. Also, we work with the Wildlife Discovery Center, Melinda Myers (a national gardening expert), and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    CP: We contribute to many local organizations, the scouts, the schools. But one thing we are really proud of is that we work closely with Cristo Rey St. Martin…a college prep high school in Waukegan. We’re of their business sponsors. We employ two of their students. It’s for first generation kids from underprivileged families. The purpose of the school is to get kids into college and graduate. Their work program helps the kids pay their tuition. The kids go to school 4 days per week and work 1 day per week and their pay goes toward their tuition. Plus, they get the real-life work exposure that is invaluable. We’re very proud to be part of this organization.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

    CP: It’s been quite a journey from 1975 to now. We are so thankful that the communities that we serve really look at our retail establishments as a second home. They have trusted us with their homes and families and purchases…and we’re honored that they have such confidence in us.

     

    11.5.2018


     

  • Meet Catherine O'Meara

    Heller Catering

    www.hellercatering.com

     

    Based in Lake Bluff and owned by Chef Catherine O'Meara, Heller Catering offers customized menus composed of fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:  What was the inspiration behind Heller Catering?

    Catherine O'Meara: The company has been around for 40+ years. I come from a corporate management background, in food service, and always looked for ways to express some creativity. You don't always get that luxury in a corporate setting and it can be somewhat stifling, at times. I have always been told that I possess a palate for taste and flavor combinations and that I should think about a degree in the culinary arts. I am one of those that can always come up with an ingredient outside the box to add to a recipe. Some years ago, I landed a job as the emcee for the "Cooking Corner" at the Taste of Chicago and did that for 16 years running. I was on stage every day opening up for seven different chefs each day; asking questions and managing the audience. It was a great experience, nervous as I was the first few years, but something must have been working because they kept inviting me back season after season. I had the awesome privilege to be on a stage in front of hundreds of people and talking with talented and creative culinary geniuses from all over the country and the Chicago area. It just amazed me how much talent I got to observe each day and it triggered a fire within my soul. It made me think that I could be a small part of this all and food could be my creative outlet. So, with that said, I quit my corporate job, went back to school and got a degree from Le Cordon Blue and purchased a catering company. Call me crazy, but evidently this is where I was meant to be because I am still standing. 

     

    LFLBC:  What is your business vision?

    CO: I consider myself a creative, or that is where I am happiest; making food taste and look great and setting a beautiful tablescape for guests to enjoy. I have many avenues of food styles that are requested through our clients and most recently I have been working with a couple of integrative medical doctors and leaning how foods affect the body. I have always been a (somewhat) healthy eater and I am learning so much from these professionals. You don't always know disease until it happens and then it can knock you off your feet. In this country, the average person consumes 160 pounds of sugar! There is sugar in everything and we are an addicted nation. I have one client that just opened his fifth location here in the area and I am fortunate enough to be his caterer when he is here for one of his presentations He draws a BIG audience. His rules for my cooking are; no gluten, no dairy, no refined sugars. I love it as it has really broadened my horizons with food. I would like to work with people want to learn how to read labels in the grocery store or how to eat healthy. It's really not that hard. People are feeding their families out of convenience and not nutrition. We, as a catering company, strive to keep our food very clean, organic and sustainable because we care about our clients well-being.

     

    LFLBC:  What is one thing you want people to know about Heller Catering?

    CO: We are not cookie cutter....we are custom and global with styles. Our menus on-line just give snippets in the vast realm of food we can bring you. I love researching ethnic cuisines, writing menus and taking pictures of what we create. We just developed a Lebanese menu for a client and was just recently asked to create another ethnic style with Indian foods. All of these spices and flavor profiles are exciting. Traveling the world and gaining first hand experience would be a dream.

     

    LFLBC:  What is your greatest business intiative?

    CO: Taking this leap of faith buying this company…just not knowing if I could make it work!

     

    LFLBC:  How do you give back to the community?

    CO: I have developed a fondness for the Midwest Veterans Closet for very personal reasons. I met Mary (Carmody) two years ago when we provided a complimentary breakfast hosted by the LF/LB Chamber honoring the military. She and I hit it off and have been kicking around a few ideas on how to help veterans in need and there are so many of them. I am excited about this joint venture - fingers crossed. We are always trying to help where it is needed and there are so many good foundations. We recently donated 300 appetizers to a GLASA event. Everyone is always so grateful and it makes us feel good to help in some small way.

     

    LFLBC:  Anything else you'd like to share?

    CO: I love it when I make other people happy...and through food, I believe I can accomplish that. This has been an amazing journey.

     

    11.12.2018


     

  • Meet Judy Kohl

    The Mustard Seed
    202 E. Westminster, LF

     

    The Mustard Seed, a fair-trade shop, pays artisans from developing countries a fair price for their work so that they are able to make a sustainable living. They then donate all profits to local and global organizations to support women and children.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for opening The Mustard Seed?

    Judy Kohl: My parents were missionaries to the Belgian Congo in the 1950’s, and when I was 8 months old they returned to their home there. My father was a seminary professor and my parents were on loan to a school deep in the jungle. When I was seven years old, the country gained its independence and our family had to flee…literally in the middle of the night leaving everything we owned behind. We even had to leave our 10-week old puppy. We escaped to Uganda and then moved on to Kenya. Both my sister and brother still live there. I still have such a tie to Africa and it’s a huge part of my life today.

     

    I actually didn’t open the Mustard Seed, as a friend of mine had the concept and got it going in 2009. I wanted to be involved from the beginning - as my husband told me, it was part of my DNA. A few years later, she moved to Chicago, and planned to sell it. I was in a transition in my life and it felt natural to take it over. That was back in 2011, and it has been the most wonderful experience in my life since then. We have an incredible group of volunteers who are a part of the store. It seems like all the volunteers feel an integral part of the store, so it has a sweet spirit throughout.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    JK: I want to share a world view to the people who come into our store, as well as to our volunteers. It’s about making people more aware of the world outside of our community and the great needs there are. Lake Forest (and the whole North Shore) is such a wonderful place to live. I’ve lived here 20 years…it’s such a privilege to live here, but I want to always have a world view that encourages me care those less fortunate.

     

    Shopping at the Mustard Seed gives people an opportunity to shop local and still make a huge difference in the world. Every dollar we earn after paying our costs,  goes to feed, clothe or educate women and children around the world.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about The Mustard Seed?

    JK: We are very serious about the concept of fair trade and want to encourage people to consider this in their personal buying. Just think about it…if something is really cheap, there might be a reason it is really cheap. With fair trade, the artists set the price and we give them the fair price. Also, we know that no children are being forced to work, workers are in safe conditions and they are being paid a fair wage. Our whole store here…that’s what it’s all about. We are literally supporting villages around the world by buying from them.

     

    I like to say that buying fair trade is the gift that gives three times…first, it’s fair trade so right there you are supporting a community; secondly, we give back all our profits to a totally different group of people; and lastly, you are giving a gift to yourself or someone else. It’s not a very complicated concept.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    JK: It’s probably the fashion show we had earlier this year held at our neighbor’s space, LifeWorking Coworking. We sold a lot of tickets, and this year we raised over $10,000 that went to help three different orphanages in Kenya, Haiti and India. People just kept giving us checks even after the event was over, so it was very exciting for all of us! 

     

    We also love to have people host events here that benefit charitable organizations...like book clubs, church groups, Newcomers. It can be a really fun way to get you shopping done, and each group can pick where they send the proceeds for the event.

     

    LFLBC: How else have you been able to give back?

    JK: Our little store has made such a difference in the world…we’ve built a clinic for an orphanage in Kenya, which I just had the opportunity to visit last week. Though it is more primitive than you would see here, it is now staffed by a city medical team and each day has a different purpose along with caring for the orphans. It becomes an HIV/AIDS Clinic, a Maternity Center along with a training center for the community. We can all make a difference in a life by shopping here. We also send money if there is a natural disaster, but in general, we try to have a relationship with the people we give to. We want to invest in the lives that we can see and they can get to know us a bit. 

     

    LFLBC: Tell us little more about yourself.

    JK: I’m a musician by profession. I have my masters in organ, and I play a lot of piano in different settings. I usually play for the holiday concerts at the Lake Forest elementary schools. I’ve also been filling in for a friend as organist at Deerfield Presbyterian Church. It all keeps me busy, but I love this season of my life.

     

    10.29.2018


     


  • Meet Lynette Foss


    Lyric & Lecture
    http://www.lyricandlecture.com

     

    Lyric & Lecture is a musical and educational talent agency that brings high quality entertainment and informative programs to community venues. 

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting Lyric & Lecture?

    Lynette Foss: Well, I’m both a musician and a public speaker. My years in education have led people to approach me to speak to various groups about a variety of topics. I started doing presentations at other colleges and community centers, then I kept getting more referrals! It got to the point where I couldn’t personally fulfill all of the requests, so I brought in some of my friends who were also great speakers to handle the dates I couldn’t do. And I thought, “I should make a business out of this!” The same thing was happening with music. I‘m also in a band, and we were getting requests for dates when we weren’t available, so I would recommend other bands that I knew. With Lyric & Lecture, I have widely extended my network of public speakers and musicians, and I get a small commission for bringing people what they need.

     

    In November, it will officially be one year since I started the company! It started out slowly but is gradually steamrolling to the point where now I have clients calling me regularly. My primary market is small community venues. I do some work with festival organizers and park districts, but there is a huge market for me in senior living facilities…the active independent living communities that want to offer their residents stimulating programs for which I provide speakers. Some of these places are just beautiful, like a resort, and they regularly host parties for residents and their families, for which I provide the music. I also provide music for private parties, weddings, fundraisers... I’m the exclusive agent for North Shore legend Derrick “Suede” Stout, with whom I also sing, and all of his musical incarnations.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    LF: My vision is to be ‘THE go-to person’ for the North Shore when someone needs an educational speaker or a musical performer for any event. I have a wide-reaching network of musicians, in many different types of bands. So, if you want a solo artist, or duet, or trio, classical, jazz, pop, rock, a mix…piano music for the first part of your event followed by a dance band, I can do that. And I have so many contacts who can speak on panels, or participate in discussions, on whatever topic people might need. This is kind of a new thing for me, because I’ve always been in education. I’m learning as I go, and so far, I haven’t made any catastrophic mistakes! Teachers are always learning, I guess! It’s been exciting to use the other side of my brain.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Lyric & Lecture?

    LF: I think what differentiates my agency is that I am a one-stop shop for many of my clients. I can book both bands and educational speakers to help my clients put together their whole monthly schedule of programs and presentations. They just tell me what they need, and I can put something together for them. Plus, since my business is small, my clients work personally with me.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    LF: Tapping into the fundraising events market and the active aging market have been really great places for me to find clients whom I can help. I’ve also been working with some area country clubs, and hope to expand that market.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with or want to collaborate with?

    LF: I’m very excited to have started working with the Gorton Community Center, and of course, active senior communities. I’m looking forward to working with new senior living facilities in the area, as well as restaurants and country clubs who want live music.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    LF: Part of my mission is to help educate the community. Also, just to be a presence and a resource in the community for education. When I book music for a charitable cause, I promote their events through my own social media and other channels, and partner with them to find event sponsors, to assist in their fundraising efforts.

     

    LFLBC: Anything else you’d like to share?

    LF: My day job is teaching biology at Lake Forest College, and prior to that I managed educational programs for not-for-profits. I grew up in Michigan and did my undergrad at the University of Michigan, then went to grad school at DePaul University. That’s how I landed here. When I got married, my husband Robert and I moved to Lake Bluff. My son Wyatt graduated from LFHS in 2017 and is now a sophomore at College of Wooster in Ohio.

     

    I‘ve always been a singer, but I fell into the local music scene through my son attending School of Rock—he took guitar and bass lessons there for eight years. A few of us adults there wondered ‘why do the kids get to have all the fun? Let’s start a band.’ So, we did! My musical network just expanded and blossomed from there. I mentioned that I regularly sing with Derrick “Suede” Stout—you can catch us next at Primo Restaurant in Gurnee on November 3 from 8-11, and right here at MLG on November 23 at 6:30 after the tree lighting ceremony. I’m also currently in a 1970s cover band called See Alice, and we play in the area on a regular basis…our next public performance will be at 210 Live in Highwood on January 4!

     

    So, Lyric & Lecture is the result of the networks I have established in music and in education/speaking. ‘Lyric’ is for music, and ‘Lecture’ is for the speakers. Like my page on Facebook to keep up with area events!

     

    10.22.2018


     

  • Meet Caitlin Saville Collins

    C. Saville Photography

    https://www.facebook.com/C.SavillePhotography/
     

    Caitlin Collins is a local photographer who specializes in capturing the fine art and essence of families’ lives.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting C. Saville Photography?

     

    Caitlin Collins:  I've always loved art and I enjoyed taking pictures for friends and just for fun. I took Photography classes all through high school and college. At the time, I was learning to shoot on film and develop my pictures in a dark room. Then, my senior year I took a class that showed fine artists how they might make a career out of their art. It was a little eye-opening! After graduation, I was living in Chicago and I did an internship as a wedding photographer. The person I worked for had never shot on film, and I had never shot digital! But, the transition for me was pretty easy. I liked that with digital, I was able to see my photos right when I took them. From there I worked with alot of different studios and got to see behind the scenes. Eventually, I felt like I was ready to do it on my own, so I just jumped in!  That was in 2009.

     

    LFLBC: What is your Business Vision?

    CC: My vision has shifted over time. At first, I loved taking pictures because it was fun going to all these different events and parties. Then I had a photo session with a child and I it was like my mood just changed...I thought, ‘this is so much more fun with kids!’ So, that was a big shift for me. I just didn't want to do as many events. I wanted to do more children, newborns and families, and to preserve a family’s legacy through photography. 

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about C. Saville Photography?

    CC:  When I photograph families, I really want them to focus on enjoying the end result…to have, in a solid form, something they can interact with and have for years and years to come, whether it be a photograph hanging on a wall or an album of photos. In this digital world, I believe it is so important to preserve your family photographs. You can't necessarily enjoy your photos when you have them only stored digitally. For example, one of my clients has shelves in her family room, and she wants to display small stacks of family photos that she can change out periodically and she can interact with. I’m producing those images for her. If a photo goes in a frame, it's more work to change it. So, this is something that can be easily changed and keep the photos on display fresh and new, instead of on a computer hard drive.

     

    LFLBC: What other local organizations do you collaborate with?

    CC: I have a space at The Gallery that I share with another photographer. The restaurant uses it as a dining space in the evenings, and my images are hanging on the walls. I use it as an office and a place to meet clients when the restaurant is closed.

     

    I do a lot of events for Open Lands, I shoot for the Lake Forest Caucus…and so many others. I feel like every group I volunteer with has me take their photos! It’s a great way to see people and get new clients. I’ll have my camera with me, and people always say, ‘Oh you're a photographer!’

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    CC:  I’m a 5th generation Lake Forester. I didn’t appreciate that until I moved back here as an adult. That is why my new found interested in family legacies became much stronger. The year I moved back, my family was recognized as a Lake Forest Centennial Family by the History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff and I ended up doing a lot of research for that. Our family has been here for so long and all the pictures are from around here. It's a neat thing...we still have these amazing old photographs. The negatives no longer exist, but the hard copy photographs do. It's great to preserve those memories through photography.

     

    10.15.2018


     

  • Meet Dr. Taher Sobhy
    Persona MD
    http://personamd.com/

    Get to know Dr. Taher Sobhy of Persona MD who joins modern medicine with old-fashioned care.

     

    Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting Persona MD?

    Taher Sobhy: I’ve been in practice for 17 years, since 2002, but I was so busy, I decided to change the way I practice by dropping insurance and skipping the middle man. We’re essentially going back to the way doctors saw patients before the insurance companies got so involved…like the 1970’s and ‘80’s when everything was much simpler. It’s better for patients and it’s better for doctors.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about you and Persona MD?

    TS: By dropping the middle man, I can provide better service to the patients in an inexpensive way. It is a membership model. I charge the patient $70 per month and that is all. They don’t pay anything more for a visit…no co-payment, no deductible. And for a husband and wife it is $65 each per month, and kids are $20 each per month.

     

    In Illinois, physicians are allowed to dispense medication in the office, . I dispense the medicine for few dollars; like blood pressure medicine for $1 per month; antibiotics are $5; etc. Also, X-Rays for $50, CT Scan for $200, MRI $350 (which costs $1000 with insurance), and mammogram $90. So, I’m just dropping the middle man and that makes everything much less expensive. The only thing I don’t cover is hospitalization. People can easily get catastrophic insurance for much less monthly premium.

     

    This model of medical practice is called DPC—direct patient care. In Illinois, there are about 30 or 40 of us, and in Lake County about 6 or 7. Direct Patient care model really benefits the patient in three ways: They get high quality of medical care; the doctor is available 24/7 so you have access to the doctor at any time; and this model offers price transparency—you know what everything is going to cost upfront. It’s a great plan for people with high deductible insurance. They must pay $10,000- $15,000 before the insurance kicks in. And it is great for employers, small business owners to provide affordable health care for their employees.

     

    I can even do a ‘virtual visit’ by phone, Facetime or skype. It’s as if you are in the office. To see the doctor, you don’t have to even leave work. In a traditional practice, the only way for a doctor to get paid is to have a face-to-face appointment. But, I can ‘see’ patients in the way that is easiest for them.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    TS: I would like to offer this affordable health care to more small business owners as a perk to their employees. Through this model the employee, can reach the physician without leaving their work place.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with or want to collaborate with?

    TS: I would love to work with local small businesses like restaurants, really any business with up to20 employees who can offer this plan as a benefit.

    We have three locations—Schaumburg, Libertyville and Gurnee. I have a second female doctor coming on board soon to help with the growing number of patients.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    TS: I live in Lake Forest with my wife and two girls.

     

    This concept takes us back to the way medicine was handled years ago, without the insurance companies as the middle man making so much money.  Again, the three pillars of this style, are first, board certified physician, second: availability, and third: price transparency.

     

    10.8.2018

     


     

  • Greg Derman

     

    Maevery Public House

     

    20 East Scranton, LB

     

    Maevery Public House serves up Elevated American fare in downtown Lake Bluff. We sat down with owner Greg Derman to learn more about this community gem.

     

    Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for opening Maevery?

    Greg Derman: My wife and I wanted to create a restaurant on the North Shore (where we both grew up) that just felt really comfortable--a place to gather with friends and family and neighbors and get a great bite to eat. A place where you can just be treated the way you want to be. Hospitality is a big thing for us. I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life, and it’s always been a dream of mine to own my own restaurant. My wife kind of jumped on to that same dream and we just thought it was time.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    GD: Creating a really warm, inviting local place for people to gather and create experiences and feel comfortable.  I think we’ve achieved that, although we are always looking to improve and create new dishes and satisfy our clientele.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Maevery?

    GD: We serve up really good food and we stand behind everything…and we want to always provide great hospitality. We just want to take care of people and please everyone who walks through the door.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    GD: I’d say hiring the right people has been the key for us. It’s not all about me or the chef…it’s about everyone who works here coming together. That is really important. We want to build a team environment and then bring on the right people to express our values. When we opened the restaurant, we wanted to make sure we did everything right…from the silverware, the lights, the ambience to the food. It’s all the little details that add up. We put a lot into the décor and the details. My wife had a vision for the place and then we hired a restaurant designer, Mark Knauer, and he took all those ideas and made them reality.

     

    LFLBC: Tell us about the name ‘Maevery.’

    GD: So ‘Maevery’ is our daughter’s first name ‘Mae’ and her middle name ‘Avery’ combined. She’s five now. She will host with me and Sundays, she’ll even hit a few tables and pick up a few orders! (laughs)

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    GD: We do all the food for Lake Bluff Brewery next door. It’s an abbreviated version of our full menu. We get all our cheeses from Caputo’s over in Lake Forest. We cater meals for different events and businesses in the community as well. We believe that when a community works together, and businesses work together, the stronger the community is as a whole.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    GD: We donate to a lot of charities, including the local schools. And most recently, we did an event with GLASA. We donated food and sent a chef out for that.We also do block parties here in the summer that bring the whole community together.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
    GD:
    We like being a hub for the community, a place to gather.

     

    9.24.2018


     

  • Meet Peg Gronau
    Peg Ann Kompany

    77 East Scranton, LB

     

    Peg Ann Kompany offers stunning one-of-a-kind jewelry from many local artisans and an array of select handbags and fresh new designs in clothing, plus perfect gifts for any occasion.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:  What was your inspiration for starting Peg Ann Kompany?

    Peg Gronau: It was my love of jewelry. I had been a school secretary and I was ready for something new. My husband, Kurt, inspired me to just take a leap of faith and start my own business. I was visiting family in Springfield, Illinois which is close to my home town of Havana. I went to my aunt's favorite store and met the owner who was making her own charm bracelets and selling charms to everyone in town - from kids to grandmothers. That's how my passion started. We had our opening day in June of 2001 and haven't looked back since.

     

    LFLBC:  What is your business vision?

    PG: Since 2008 the market hasn’t been too kind to us. The economy wasn’t so good at first, and then after that, online shopping started becoming a major factor. We would love to see more foot traffic and local shopping so people can see what we really have. More business is our ultimate goal.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want your customers to know about Peg Ann Kompany?

    PG: Well, a few things. We support and sell products for a lot of local artists, we repair jewelry and we offer free gift wrapping. If somebody wants something and I don’t have it, I’ll go out of my way to try to find it for them. Recently some items in our store I have made - it's been really fun using my creativity that I really didn't know I had.Overall, we just want to make the customers happy.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    PG: Our most successful item was a skirt designed in Amsterdam. It is a one size fits most and was reversible, so you were getting four skirts in one.  They were huge and the most popular product we've had AND we still carry them. This year it is a sign company that we've teamed up with - Blackdog Creations. These are wonderful signs about Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, wine, dogs - you name it!!!

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    PG: We try to have a Thursday night every so often where all the neighboring stores in town stay open late for customers. September 20 we’re participating in the Lake Bluff Sip & Stroll.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?

    PG: We offer an evening of shopping that many fundraisers use for their silent auctions. We donate an evening of shopping for 15-20 women and provide wine and appetizers. Whatever is sold that evening we donate 10% back to that particular charity.

     

    LFLBC: Anything else you'd like to share?

    PG: We have 11 grandkids from 7 months to a sophomore in high school - all live in Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and Morton Grove. Our son,  Rodd Specketer, started the Lake Bluff Brewing Co. in 2011, our daughter Melanie Walsh, works at the high school and our son-in-law, Jasper Michael was the first chef at Maevery Public House and our daughter Gretchen Wooldridge was also a teacher in Lake Bluff and she worked for CROYA for may years. Kurt and I have lived in the same house on Scranton for 36 years. We are truly locals and we love Lake Bluff!!!

     

    9/17/2018


     

  • Meet Susie & Pat McMurray

    Flotstone
    53 East Scranton, LB
    www.flotstone.com

    Flotstone, a new ‘float center’ in downtown Lake Bluff, offers a revolutionary way to relax and restore.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for opening Flotstone?
    Susie McMurray:
      I was in retail, in this same space, for 16 years. I felt the need to change things up and slow down a bit, take life at a slower pace. My sons came up with the idea of floating, because they had all tried it. We talked about it and did a little research and we went to the international Float Conference in Portland, Oregon. In 2008 there were less than ten float centers in all of the U.S., and now there are nearly 300.  It’s growing very fast. The conference was very inspirational. The people are so involved in what they do…and it’s for others’ wellness. Floating helps people who are stressed, veterans with PTSD, Alzheimer’s patients, heart patients, Lyme Disease patients, so many things…even Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and concussion. The sooner you float, the faster you can heal. There is still a lot of research going on exploring the benefits of floating.  Now even sports teams and the military have their own float tanks.

    Pat McMurray: We’ve seen such improvement in people. Floating targets the area you need most.  It promotes homeostasis because it takes away all the distractions and your body can do what it needs to do to heal. When we went to the float conference, we met some amazing people. We fell into alignment on so many levels. It was the coolest group of people I’ve ever met.

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    Pat McMurray:
    Our vision is to continue on this path that found us. It takes a certain amount of courage to take this leap! And we want to continue educating ourselves. There is a big learning curve in this business. We also want to continue making connections in the community so we can learn what has helped others. Once we become rock solid we want to have a ripple effect in the community…to help more people.

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Flotstone?
    Pat
    :   We’re here to help people… to help them break free from that super-stressed-out lifestyle. When your fight or flight system is always on, the practice of floating is one of the only things out there that can truly reset your sympathetic nervous system. In addition to floating, we have a sauna and we carry health-related products that promote homeostasis.

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?
    Susie:
    We collaborate with physical therapists, gyms, yoga centers, wellness centers, doctors, veteran organizations and more. Any business with a wellness focus, really.

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community
    Pat:
    We donate to a lot of charities.
    Susie: We hope that Flotstone will become a meeting place for people who are like-minded and looking to be well. We’re not a spa, but we’re hoping to have some gatherings here with interesting wellness speakers.

     

    9/10/2018


     

  • Meet Joy Hurd
    Lake Forest Country Day School 
    www.lfcds.org

    LFCDS has been a part of the Lake Forest community since its founding in 1888. The school, which provides a rigorous academic curriculum and a welcoming community for students age 2 through grade 8, just welcomed new Head of School, Joy Hurd.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be the new head of Lake Forest Country Day School.

    Joy Hurd:  Yes…I’m brand new here as of July 8! I grew up on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio and lived there until I went to college in Boston.  I have lived in New York for the last 12 or 13 years with my wife, Emily. I worked at a few schools there, and was most recently at Buckley, which is a school for boys on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for Kindergarten through 9th Grade. My wife has worked in business—startups, consulting, etc… We packed up our stuff and drove back west.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about LFCDS?

    JH: The School’s vision is that every child here is known and loved. Actually, that’s one of the things that drew me here, as that phrase is very similar to my personal educational philosophy. So that was one of the first signs that this was the right place for me. Knowing and loving every child is what this school is all about…and I believe we achieve it. People refer to LFCDS as a family school, that the kids feel like they are known and loved here. And if the kids are happy to come to school, we’re doing our job.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful initiative?

    JH: Well, all businesses are in the business of people, but schools are really in the business of people. At LFCDS, there has been real value placed on faculty and professional development. One of the reasons our faculty love this school, other than the families and students, is that the school fosters a culture of growth. By dedicating resources to the personal and professional development of faculty, they feel enriched by their time here, and that pays dividends with the students. We’ve been able to provide the resources for our people to do their best work.

    Also, the school has recently made a few capital improvements. We are really proud of our new Innovation Lab, and we have recently renovated our gymnasium and performing arts center as well.

     

    LFLBC: What other local organizations do you collaborate with?

    JH: We truly value the connections we have with this community. Our mission is best achieved in partnership with other organizations. We partner with Lake Forest Open Lands, we march in the Lake Forest Day parade put on by the American Legion. We collaborate with the Lake Forest Book Store for our book fair and speaker series, Kiddles Sports for our spirit gear, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, Deerpath Art League, and more. And we are so thankful for the many local businesses that donate items to our annual auction or place ads in our auction booklet. We are also proud to partner with the other schools in the area, both public and private.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    JH: Just a few examples…we do programs with North Chicago schools, we donate to the COOL Food Pantry, and as part of our opening meetings in August, our faculty and staff volunteer for a day at Bernie’s Book Bank.

    But another way we contribute to the community is through our annual Speakers Series that is open to the public. Each fall we host two renowned authors to discuss their area of expertise pertaining to child development and education. On September 25, we’ll have Tina Payne Bryson talking about ‘The Yes Brain’ and on October 23, Eboo Patel will discuss ‘Religious Diversity and What it Means for Our Children.’  We welcome all members of the community to attend both talks.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    JH: Just how happy I am to be part of the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Community, and to feel like a member of a very welcoming community. I went to the Chamber of Commerce luncheon in July and it was great to hear directly from the Mayor and the Village President about the happenings in the community.

    Also, I interviewed for this position in the winter, and I was promised beautiful summers. This certainly has been a beautiful summer.

     

    8.27.2018


     

  • Meet Jamie Moorhead
    Moorhead Law Group, LLC

    www.moorhead-law.com

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:

    What was your inspiration for starting Moorhead Law Group?

    Jamie Moorhead:  It was really to make some money! (laughs) I’m a lawyer and I do commercial real estate work. I primarily represent tenants in lease negotiations, whether it be retail, office or industrial warehouse. I was a partner in a big national firm downtown and had done that for many years. It was really two things that drove me to move out of that firm and open up my own smaller law firm. One was to reduce the administrative bureaucracy of a big firm. Secondly, was that I was doing my work by myself. For lease negotiations, clients really only want one attorney; they don’t want multiple attorneys working on one lease. So, I was kind of like a tiny law-firm within a big law firm. Opening up my own firm gave me the opportunity to do things the way I wanted to and to set my own rate. It was kind of an experiment but it’s going really well now. I started up in 2012 and the recession was still going on. People appreciated the reduction in fees. It was nerve-wracking, but it ended up being the best thing!

     

    LFLBC: What is your vision for your firm?

    JM: I had an office in Chicago and moved it up to Lake Forest two years ago. My practice is national--I help clients with properties all over the country. Essentially, I take the real estate component of their business and handle it for them from a legal perspective and act as a counselor to help companies grow and develop a sound real estate strategy. My goal is to be one of the top leasing attorneys in the country…I’m not there yet, but I’m close.

     

    LFLBC:  What is the one thing you want your clients to know about your business?

    JM: As a solo practitioner, I have some of the best work experience for a lawyer. I’ve worked in very large firms, with some excellent attorneys. My work experience is high quality, but my billable rate is that of a small firm. So, I provide big firm legal experience and service at a much more competitive billable rate. I’ve taken the big firm work quality but stripped out all the big firm overhead and reduced the billable rate. We don’t have a lot of mahogany and marble! (laughs)


     

    LFLBC: What has been your most successful business initiative?

    JM: I wrote a book in 2014 called Tenant Leasing 101.  I wrote it to teach companies about leasing. The book breaks down the lease and goes through the key areas of the lease by topic and then goes into negotiating strategies. I’ve been selling it and marketing it for four years now. Some of my clients have really appreciated it as a resource. It was little daunting, but it was a great experience.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    JM: I work with local insurance companies, local lenders, companies that do environmental assessments, and real estate brokers--several in Lake Forest. They put together the deal, and then I’ll help with the legal perspective.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?

    JM: We’re actively involved in a couple of charities. We support the Spirit of 67, the Chicago Children’s Museum, Misericordia and some land trusts. We give back through financial support and with our time as well, which is more rewarding that just writing a check.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    JM: My wife and I moved to Lake Forest from Chicago two years ago. It’s a big change going from the city to the suburbs, but it’s been very positive for us. We’ve had a great experience. Professionally, the Chamber of Commerce has given me terrific opportunities to network within the great business community here.

     

    8.20.2018


     

  • Meet Carissa Floyd
    The Pilates Underground

    246 East Deerpath, LF

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for opening Pilates Underground?

    Carissa Floyd:  I’ve taught Pilates for a long time in many places. I started my journey in Vegas, then I taught in the Barrington/Lake Zurich area and then in Houston!

    More recently, I moved back to Chicago and taught group classes at a little studio in Lake Bluff. They had three reformers, so it was really small groups, just 3 or 4 per class. It was a huge success. Everybody loved it and they even started bringing their friends. But three reformers weren’t enough to bring many friends! I spent a year building up my clientele there and had amazing clients--so supportive and wonderful to work with.  I just fell in love with the area and the community is fantastic.

    Last November the owner decided she was going to close. I was so sad, because I had the perfect schedule, my favorite clients…it was just great…I loved it. So, I started looking for places where I could continue to teach small group reformer, but I couldn’t find any place around here to bring my clients. So, I decided to open my own studio

    The studio has five new reformers and with five clients per class I feel like it’s intimate enough and it’s a great community. I can get around to everybody, and we can get through a good amount of material. It’s big enough that you can come with friends, and there is good energy with that size of a group.  

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want people to know about Pilates Underground?

    CF: We are an upbeat and approachable studio. I’m passionate about empowering people to move in their own bodies and to feel comfortable and empowered to move in the right way for them.  Oh—and our equipment is all brand new…it’s a treat to get on it.

     

    LFLBC:  What is your business vision?

    CF:  I want The Pilates Underground to be known as your community studio.  We will continue to strive to bring you a flexible class schedule of a large facility, in a boutique sized studio with personalized care.  Be on the lookout for more classes that work with your work schedule and school drop of schedule, as well as for more opportunities to reach your wellness goals.” 

     

    LFLBC: You’ve only been open a few months, but what has been your greatest initiative in that time?

    CF: To be where we are at such an early stage has been just fantastic. We’re doing really well, and I wasn’t expecting that. I’m a little bit of a cynic, thinking that in 3 years it will be OK…but I’m really happy with where we are now.  The community has been fantastic. People are bringing their friends in and we have great online reviews.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?

    CF:  I’d really like to do more in the community. Year 1 is like just survival! We’ve donated to a few organizations including Make A Wish and Lake Forest Country Day School. I’ve done complimentary mat classes for teachers at Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Montessori where my son goes. To be able to serve teachers that way has been awesome.  My goal for Year 2 is to be more connected in the community.

     

    LFLBC:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

    CF: In Pilates, there are different schools of thought and different methods. I like to be very customized and individual-focused.  I’m certified through Stott Pilates, which is a more contemporary method. It’s different than Classical Pilates. I encourage people to try different studios and see what feels good to them. 

    Also, we’re going to have continuing education for current instructors. In January we’ll have our first reformer course for people who are interested in teaching, or who just want to know all the details of the moves for their own practice.

     

    8.13.2018


     

  • Meet Aric, Lee & Jay Shlifka
    Kiddles Sports

    258 Market Square, LF

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: Congratulations on your 50th anniversary! How was Kiddles Sports started and how did you all become involved?

    Lee: My grandfather bought Kiddles (which was a hardware store) in 1968. In that time period Schwinn & Raleigh were distributed exclusively in hardware stores. My dad worked part time as a teenager and once he graduated in 1975, he came on full time. The 1970s propelled health and active lifestyles into the mainstream and with that top of mind, bicycles, running and sports in general took over our business model. With that change, it edged out hardware. We were the fourth Adidas dealer in Illinois and were pioneers in taking on popular brands such as: Nike, Rollerblade, Trek, Brooks, along with many more. Aric and I tried several jobs out of college, but ultimately found our love for the Kiddles Sports trumped those opportunities and we both came on full time in the mid 2000’s.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want your customers to know about Kiddles Sports?

    Aric: When you walk in the door, you are not just coming in as just a customer, you’re coming in as a friend…[you’re] coming into our house and we’ll take care of you. We’re not here to sell you; we’re here to guide you in the direction you are seeking.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    Aric: We want to stick to our roots with top quality customer service in selling bikes, running shoes and sports equipment to our local families--outfitting them for sports. While team sports have been a foundation for us since our inception, in the last decade, we’ve transitioned into more custom apparel and equipment for schools, club teams and corporations.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    Aric: In all our fifty years?! (laughs) We change as the retail climate changes. So, right now we’re in the season of bicycles, so it’s bicycle sales and service. But, the big growth initiative is probably going to be the custom uniforms, spirit wear and equipment for teams, corporations, school events as applicable. While you see it online, we take the time to guide you every step of the way!

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    Aric / Lee: We‘ve done recent promotions with Sweets, The Left Bank and Fitness Together to name a few. We’re always trying to find synergies with other small businesses.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?

    Aric / Lee: We have donated to so many local charities. In our 50th year, we are looking to find synergies with more local organizations. We’ve done things with Catholic Charities, Most Blessed Trinity, GLASA, Gorton Center, LEAD and many more… We like to do ‘Shop for a Cause’ events, to give people a reason to not just go online.

     

    LFLBC:  Is there anything else you'd like to share?

    Aric: We want to say ‘Thank You’ for allowing us be part of your community for 50 years.
    Lee: Look for more Kiddles Sports events in the next couple months … our actual 50th is September, so we’ll be celebrating through the end of the year.
    Jay: We do and will continue to listen to feedback to ensure we offer any and all sporting goods needs.

     

     

    8.6.2018


     

  • Meet Eileen Looby Weber
    Lake Forest Flowers
    546 North Western Avenue, Lake Forest

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:
    When was Lake Forest Flowers started, and how did you come to be involved in the business?

    Eileen Looby Weber:  We’re celebrating our 101st year! Lake Forest Flowers was established in 1917 as a greenhouse on Rosemary Road. Fast forward, we operate as full-scale floral and event business. We recently received the Centennial Award from the Lake Forest- Lake Bluff Historical Society and there is an interesting presentation on their website of the history of our business. In September, we will be awarded the Centennial Award from the Society of American Florists.

     

    My father purchased the store in 1981, so I was born into the business. I helped out as a child and spent a lot of time at the shop and got to know the workings of the business. Then in high school, I got my driver’s license and I could help deliver flowers. I went to Purdue University earned my bachelor’s degree in horticulture production and marketing. I had planned to go work for a large-scale production greenhouse facility, because I had done a lot of plant research and growth trials in college. I interviewed for these positions and had offers, but I really started to think, “Is this what I really want to do?” My father offered me a position to come back. I really love working with people, so this is the best of both worlds…I get to work with both flowers, plants and people! I’ve been here now full time for 15 and a half years. After working full time for a couple years, I pursued my MBA at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision for Lake Forest Flowers?

    ELW: To be here another 100 years! Yes really -- to continue to serve our customers through all phases of life…from birth through death…all of life’s celebrations and memorable occasions.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Lake Forest Flowers?

    ELW: We customize to each of our client’s needs with the of attitude ‘we make it happen.’

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    ELW: Definitely our free rose sign! We started that well over 10 years ago now. We post all different types of names--male, female, etc. We’ve put ‘Santa’ up there a few times, and if you come in in a Santa suit, you get a free rose! People feel really good about it and it give them a reason to stop in and visit with us!

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    ELW: Oh, so many…a lot of the local wedding planners and coordinators, the salons and photographers. We collaborate with the churches in town, the Hospital, Lake Forest Library, Lake Forest Place, the schools and their sports teams and drama departments, Scout Aquatics, Citadel Theatre, Lake Forest Symphony, Gorton Community Center, Griffith, Grant & Lackie, Dickinson Hall, Parks & Recreation Department, several retailers and many of the restaurants. Because gifting of flowers is emotion-based and sentimental, we look forward to the opportunity to partner with local businesses and organizations.

     

    LFLBC: How does Lake Forest Flowers give back to the community?

    ELW: We represent brick and mortar stores that have been here for generations. We are here for our customers. Our hours are reliable, we have the ability for customers to order online or by calling, as well as stop in to the shop.

     

    And of course, we give back through donations and discounts with the schools, churches and other not-for-profit organizations. For example, we have been a frequent participant in the Home Tour for District 67, floral presenter through educational programs with the Library, garden clubs, Dickinson Hall, Elawa, etc. and featured on blog postings.

     

    We also give back by offering the service of flower gift-giving and flower education through our hands on floral workshops for both kids and adults. I think that is something really special in this day and age. It really means a lot to people when they get flowers. The gift of flowers has so much emotion attached to it… flowers truly make people happy.

     

    LFLBC: Anything else you’d like to share?

    ELW: We really care about what we do and about offering our customers personalized service. I like to have a personal connection with our customers and put my heart and soul into my designs.  It’s what I live for… sharing my passion of flowers with others!

     

    7/30/2018


     

  •  

    Meet Craig Grimes
    Sauced Pizza & Wings
    508 N. Western Ave., Lake Forest

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:
    What was your inspiration for starting Sauced?

    Craig Grimes: I spent 25 years in the corporate world at different restaurants and moved up through the ranks. I started as a busboy, and then dish washer, bartender, waiter, assistant manager, manager, district manager, regional manager, vice president, president, COO, and finally CEO. I worked 15 years with Levy Restaurants here in Chicago, and then became the CEO of a vegan restaurant chain called Native Foods Cafe. After taking some time off I became a student of the pizza business, learning processes and procedures and traveling to different pizza restaurants around the United States. I came up with a ton of names and ended up picking ‘Sauced Pizza” as it had a nice ring to it. From there I used my restaurant business experience to build a brand. Sauced Pizza has been open for over a year, and we are in preparation to open our second location in Vernon Hills.

     

    One of the main reasons I chose the pizza business is because we truly do live in what I like to call ‘customization nation.’ All of us like to create our own experience and there’s no right or wrong. It’s a ‘no-rules’ game. Whatever you want, we’ll build it for you. I love to serve the customers exactly what they want. They are the boss, and we aim to serve them regardless of the ask.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?

    CG: Our vision is to keep a very simple concept, focusing on pizza, wings, pasta, salads, and a couple desserts. We want to do fewer items and do them all really well. We will continue to utilize the highest quality ingredients, grown from local farmers. When we have 5 or 6 different locations, we will create a central hub of production which will send the other locations the ingredients they need, allowing the managers to focus on execution, customer service and community integration. Once we get to 12 or 15 locations, we will begin to franchise our stores and continue to grow.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want your customers to know about Sauced?

    CG: At the end of the day, the one thing that means the most to me is that people know we care. That I really, truly care. The customers are the lifeline of the business. I solicit feedback, good and bad. I know that perfection is hard to attain, but we strive to reach it by creating a culture that shows we care. We call people by their first names.  Plus, we are actively involved with the LF/LB Chamber of Commerce, within the schools and in the community. It’s all about our actions, not just lip service. Our goal is to continue to stay involved within the community and make a difference.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    CG: Our opening! Sauced Pizza was started from a white piece of paper. Everything you see, feel, and touch, I envisioned and brought to life. I truly believe in the saying, “You’ll never be 1000% better than your competition, but if you work at it and try, you can be 1% better a thousand different ways.” It means that it’s not about one single initiative, it’s about the sum.

     

    One initiative that surpassed our expectations, is that our wings have become incredibly popular. We have both traditional and boneless wings. I am a wing lover, so we put a lot of thought and research into them. Because of their popularity, I am actually changing the brand from ‘Sauced Pizza’ to ‘Sauced Pizza & Wings.’ The wings have absolutely surpassed my expectations.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with and how do you give back to the community?

    CG:  We collaborate with the non-profits, like the schools, churches, and community centers. We work with St. Mary’s Church and their kids lunch program. We do various community service projects with the Gorton Community Center. Also, through Lake Forest College, I get to help mentor entrepreneurship classes. I’ve given tours and even advice on starting a business.

     

    LFLBC: What makes you unique?

    CG:  I knew at a very young age that I would be in the food and beverage industry my whole life. It’s not just a job for me, it’s a passion. It fits my personality perfectly and I care about what I’m doing. My old boss, Larry Levy, told me an old saying from Confucius, “If you find a job that you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” This quote resonated with me. As I continue to grow this business I want to maintain that philosophy. I want to surround myself with people who truly love what they do.

     

    7/23/2018


     

  • Photo: Kerri Sherman Photography

    Meet Megan Stockton
    Gifted
    225 East Deerpath, Lake Forest

    Photos by Kerri Sherman Photography

     


    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting Gifted?

    Megan Stockton: I had been creating and producing gifts and selling things since I was 12. I ended up going to school for graphic design and then worked in the advertising and consulting world. I was still producing things for friends and family…and they wanted to buy those things to give as gifts to others, so it happened pretty organically. I started the business out of my house for four years, until we were bursting at the seams. Then we had space in West Lake Forest for five years. We eventually outgrew that and our production needs increased, so we moved to East Lake Forest where we are now.

     

    It’s a labor of love…I just can’t stop making stuff, and I love the production side of things! I love taking a product and embellishing it, or personalizing it and then, with that product, solve a problem for a customer--such as a gift for a wedding or a significant event in someone’s life. On the business-to-business side, we solve branding issues and provide products for [business] events. We do the majority of our production in-house. We have the ability to laser, embroider, vinyl and print in order to embellish our products.

     

    It’s so fun for me. I get to do what I love, in the community that I love, and be near my kids, without having to commute very far. I also get to work with a lot of people that I really like--it's a great team of people that make up the Gifted family.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision for Gifted?

    MS: We’re not really selling gifts, we’re selling customer service, so our vision is to be a one-stop-shop for people. I often hear customers say, “I can get everything I need here…a birthday gift for a friend, something for my daughter, something for someone who just lost a parent, and I found something nice for myself, too.”

     

    We buy as much as we can that is made in the USA, items produced by women-run businesses and products that are ethically-made. Even the paper we wrap in is recycled. We try to be environmentally responsible and recycle everything we can. We try to be a resource for the community, support local fundraisers, and we’re also a place for people to gather. The difference between us and Amazon is that you can’t touch it or smell it or have personal interaction when you shop on Amazon.  Here you can. We all need Amazon, but we also need personal interaction. We encourage kids to stop by on their way home from school. They are well behaved, and it’s nice for them to feel respected and that they have a place to go. We’re that corner store where you run into people you know. A number of times people have made connections here, and that is pretty magical. We want to create infectious happiness, because it’s better that way. Those small moments can change a lot of people’s days.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want your customers to know about Gifted?

    MS: We’re part of your community. We’re from Lake Forest, and we live here. I moved here when I was nine! We’re a local family and we want to earn your business. The dollars you spend in this community stay here, and we have a vested interest in this community. I’d love people to give us a try if they haven’t.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    MS: Great communication with our customers. From an operations standpoint, buying an iPad and using it to communicate with our customers has been amazing. Since we do custom work, we use the iPad to photograph the item before we wrap it, and send a picture of it to the customer, so they can see it and we can let them know it is ready. The iPad gives us one point of contact with customers and then it also serves as a digital photo album of all the products we have created over the years. Oftentimes a customer will look through our photos and find something they like and want us to re-create it for them. 

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    MS: We work with the schools, including the High School Boosters. We’ve done things for LoMastro, GEM Financial Advisors...many more. And there is one customer that I can’t mention, as we’re currently doing a re-branding for them.

     

    Personally, I’m a loyal shopper at the Lake Forest Book Store…Max always has a great recommendation for me! I love Market House…Carla is terrific, and we used their upstairs room for my father’s memorial. I love Caputo’s…I’m there to get food quite often.

     

    LFLBC: How does Gifted give back to the community?

    MS: We love to support local organizations through donations for events like auctions, but what we really enjoy is hosting events at the shop to help raise money for an organization. We call it ‘Gifted Gives Back.’ We give 10% of our sales for that day to the organization. We did one for the [Lake Forest High School] Foundation, we recently did one for the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff LDA (Learning Disabilities Association). I think it’s really fun to get people together in the spirit of raising money for local organizations. I like a good party…I’m always happy to host a party for a non-profit organization.

     

    Also, we’ve had a number of teams with the Business Incubator class at the High School come in and talk with us about their product or service. I offer feedback on its viability and tell them what I would do.

     

    LFLBC: Anything else you'd like to share?

    MS: Come see us during the Lake Forest Sidewalk Sale! We’ll have some exciting standard Sidewalk Sales stuff, and also some great specials. We’ll have half of the store moved outside and we have a nice covered area right in front.

     

    For business owners—come talk to us about collaboration. There is more to Gifted than you may know. We have so much more than what you see on the floor in the store. We’d love to collaborate with you!

     

    7/16/2018

     

    Photos by Kerri Sherman Photography

     


     

  • Meet Bette Anne Duffy
    Deka Lash
    840 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest


    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:

    What was your inspiration for starting Deka Lash?

    Bette Anne Duffy: I reached a stage in life where my son was off in school and I wanted to go back to work to keep myself busy. My background is in marketing and advertising, particularly on the advertising agency side and in the ten years that I had been out of the business, being a full-time mom, I sort of aged-out of that environment.

     

    So, I developed a hobby that was my passion for a very long time and it was competitive ballroom dancing! So, I kind of dove into that as if it was a career. I was always an amateur, never a professional. But I traveled all over North America and competed almost every weekend. And when you compete, everything is over the top…the makeup, the hair, the costuming…for a reason--because you don’t just dance with your body, you dance with your facial expressions, and your emotion. All ballroom dancers wear crazy strip lashes, so that you can convey emotions to the judges at the other end of the ballroom floor as well as to spectators way up in the nosebleed seats. I got to the point where I really started to like how I looked with these caterpillars that I would glue on my eyelids! I felt like when I was on the floor and competing I was beautiful, strong, powerful and energetic. But when I would come home and just make a run to the Jewel for eggs, I didn’t feel as beautiful and powerful. I realized the difference was my lashes of all things!

     

    At the time, I had a friend who just finished aesthetic school and she learned about this brand-new thing called eyelash extensions. She used me as her guinea pig and then started a business out of her home. I became absolutely hooked and addicted to those lash extensions! She lived far away, so I went along the North Shore looking for an alternative…someone who did good work at a reasonable price. One week before Thanksgiving, I was at a location and I kept hearing the reception phone ringing off the hook and the receptionist actually turning away customers because they didn’t have the capacity to handle the business. My marketing brain kicked in and I thought there is an unmet need here.

     

    That’s when I thought there might be a business opportunity here on the North Shore. But I considered, if I bring this business forward, I really don’t want it to be something that costs and arm and a leg, or just for the wealthy, or just for a special occasion. I came across the founder of Deka Lash, Jennifer Blair, who is a wonderful human being. She is based in Pittsburgh, where she had four studios and she was doing gangbusters there. She had just decided to franchise. My husband and I went in as business partners. We were the sixth entity that signed on to be a Deka Lash franchisee. Our first two locations (in Glenview and Lake Forest) are the first and second Deka Lash locations in Illinois, and are currently the highest volume producing studios in the country. We are planning to open two more.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    Bette Anne:
    Really, it’s the empowerment of women. Making women feel beautiful, strong, empowered, in control of their lives. When you walk out of here…it’s almost like an episode of Fixer Upper, where the houses have good bones, but then magic is worked on them, and there is this big reveal. It’s a surreal moment for these women who have had a wonderful relaxing service—most fall asleep—and when they wake up and the lash artist hands them the mirror, the reaction is always ‘Oh my gosh, I am beautiful!’ The reaction is always so much greater than what their expectation was. There is so much reward in that.

     

    LFLBC: What do you want your customers to know about Deka Lash?
    Bette Anne: Two things: We care about the health and safety of your natural lashes, first and foremost. If someone came in with weak, brittle lashes that could not hold the weight of the extensions, and wanted to look like Kim Kardashian, we’ll turn them away because we could damage the health of their natural lashes. So, health and safety is our number one goal.

     

    Secondly, we are really all about customization. Other companies have a menu board and may say, ‘OK, here are the looks we have available, pick one of these styles.’ What we do is customize a lash plan for every individual client based on their eye shape, their face shape and their lifestyle. We really work with them so they understand the maintenance requirements. We are committed to our clients having the plushest, most full lashes they can have and teaching them how to take care of them.

     

    LFLBC: What is your biggest business challenge?
    Bette Anne: Well, we’re still new....our Lake Forest location just opened in March. One of our challenges is educating our clients on what extensions entail, how they are applied and how to upkeep and maintain them. It’s a process similar to wearing artificial nails, where your first service takes longer to get the set of nails put on, and then you have follow up appointments for fills. Lash extensions are kind of like that…the first service is two hours [while the lashes are applied], and it is a very soothing, enjoyable experience. Then if you are religious about coming back every two to three weeks, your service time is shorter so we can just fill in the gaps and keep your lashes looking plump.  That’s the educational challenge for us.

     

    LFLBC: What other area businesses do you collaborate with?
    Bette Anne: I would love to work more with med spas, because personally I have this adage that lash extensions are like Botox without the needles! It’s that reveal…the client sees such a great transformation in themselves. Hopefully, if we’ve done a good job, we’ve opened up their eyes, and made them look younger and more awake… that is what a med spa does. I’m in the process of working with some of them now. We would really love to work with any businesses that are female-oriented.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?
    Bette Anne: We have a corporate-wide commitment to female cancers. A percentage of every dollar we earn at the individual studios goes to corporate for this purpose, and they make a sizeable donation to Susan G. Komen and other women’s cancer-based organizations. Also, we are offering discounts for military and first responders. We want to thank them for their service with service by us. While most of them may be men, we open the service up to their spouses as well.

     

    We’re very excited to be part of the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff community, and to be located right by the West Lake Forest Starbucks and LoMastro. Our clientele here has been wonderful.

     

    7/9/2018


     

  • Meet Diana Durkes
    Forest & Found

    1363 N. Western Ave., Lake Forest

     

     

    Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What was your inspiration for starting this business and what is your business vision?

    Diana Durkes: My company is a non-profit, but there were many others in the mix who helped us get Forest & Found started. I want to speak for the collective and not just myself.

     

    We are concerned about the state of our environment and the fact that more people are consuming more things. We believe that there are a lot of great existing products out there that can be reused. This is part of our inspiration and our vision.

     

    The other part is our community effort. We want to involve the community in as many areas of the business as possible. Our inventory comes from the community; therefore, we want to give the proceeds, made from the items we sell, back to the community. It’s a virtuous circle.

     

    The company was created in 2014, and I remember opening on a very snowy day. Some brave souls came out and supported us, and we’ve been growing ever since. Currently we are trying to find new and creative ways to grow. We want more people to know about our store and our mission, so we can get more customers as well as possible donations.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want your customers to know about your business?

    DD: We are like a mini department store. We have something for everyone here. It’s almost like one-stop shopping. You can find apparel for your whole family, or even household furniture. We are compact, but we have lots for everybody. Everything is from the community. People can donate here whenever, just by bringing things in during business hours, we just ask that people call ahead for larger items.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    DD: We have partnered with various artists and creators in the neighborhood. We feature the art that they have made here. That has been a lot of fun. We have opened our doors afterhours to the community. Soon we are having a networking session with one of the charities that we support. In the past we have had a Painting and Refreshments Night, as well as other workshops, like “learn to sew.” We stay involved with the community and it has been very successful.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    DD: Recently, we featured artwork from some of the clients at Northpoint Resources, which is located in North Chicago. Northpoint Resources provides resources for handicapped adults, and they make amazing abstract paintings.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?

    DD: On a daily basis we are grateful and thankful for the community.  We wouldn’t be here without them. We take every opportunity to say “thank you” to them. Our business model is all about giving back. All the sales we have accrued are donated to a specific charity on a quarterly basis. This last quarter we donated the proceeds to 6 different charities. It included a dog shelter and Waukegan to College. The rest can be found on the website, (www.forestandfound.com).  We also have an internship program with the kids from Waukegan to College. Every Saturday they send two high schoolers to help out in our shop.

     

    LFLBC: What is something that you can tell the community about yourself that makes you unique?

    DD: This is the perfect job for me. I have had a done a lot of different things in my life. I have raised five kids, built websites at Northwestern University, worked part time at Crate and Barrel, and wrote a column for Time Out Chicago about the things you can do with recycling. You can makeover many things, all it takes is a little imagination. You can learn anything. Forest & Found combines all of that and makes me happy.

    7/2/2018


     

  • Meet Allison Gurza
    Sage Explorers

    644 N. Bank Lane, Lake Forest

    LF/LB Chamber: What was your inspiration for opening Sage Explorers?
    Allison Gurza: I was a teacher for 15 years at St. Mary’s. I was ready for a little bit of a change, but I wasn’t ready to let go of teaching altogether. So, I started Sage Explorers, as an educational toy store and learning center. That way I could still stay connected with the kids and be teaching, while offering a service that I knew was needed…Lake Forest didn’t have a toy store. Also, when I was in college I worked at a children’s clothing and toy store, so I had a little background going into this.

     

    LFLBC: What is your vision for Sage Explorers?
    AG: It actually happened last week! My vision is for all of it to be working well at the same time. The toy store, the learning center, and the Friday and Saturday craft classes. Last Saturday, we had multiple customers in the store, kids playing games, kids doing a craft, and students we tutor taking a practice SAT test. So that’s my vision…for all of the pieces to be working, all at the same time. When it happens, I go, ‘This is exactly why I did this!’

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want your customers to know about Sage Explorers?
    AG: Two things: 1) That we’re not just a little kid’s store. People tell me, ‘My kids are too old for a toy store now…’ But, we have games and items for everyone.  Age [parameters of] 10-plus, really does mean plus! We have games that adults can enjoy just as much as the kids. And, just because you don’t have kids, doesn’t mean games are not for you anymore.  And 2) I want customers to know that we have a Learning Center with a full team of tutors. We cater to kids K through 12.

     

    LFLBC: What is the significance of the name 'Sage Explorers?'
    AG: I came up with 'Sage Explorers' because the store is devoted to educational toys and games and incorporates a learning center. So 'sage,' meaning wise, correlates to the educational nature and 'explorers' connects to the journey of learning. 

     

    LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative?
    AG: I’m hopeful that our summer workshops will be really successful. We are offering a great six-week Full Spectrum Reading Program, a Writing Process Class, Math Review for all levels, up to Pre-Algebra and Algebra, Game Coding and Woodworking. All the information is on our website. I’m really looking forward to those being successful.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?
    AG: We have been partnering with another Bank Lane business that works with kids…Maker Research Labs across the street from us. We started doing a joint newsletter called ‘Bank Lane Happenings.’ We’re going to offer activities for kids on Thursday evenings prior to the concerts on Market Square this summer!

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
    AG: We participate in the Spirit of 67 Spirit Card program. And I honor a lot of donation requests that come through various area organizations and schools. I feel strongly about participating in things that are educational.  I feel it’s really important for businesses to always be giving back. In the future I’ll be donating to different select groups on a monthly basis.

     

    6/18/2018


     

  • Meet Mike Adams
    Financial Advisor, Edward Jones Investments

    Lake Forest / Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce:  What was your inspiration for getting into this business?

    Mike Adams: So, I’ve always had a desire to help people plan for their financial future. My background was originally more about me managing my own personal finances, trading daily throughout the markets and taking care of my own retirement concerns. But that career changed for me, so I had to change and reinvent myself. Coming on the retail side, I had alot of opportunities to work for other firms, but none of them really had a plan for me on how to build my business. Edward Jones has a recipe for success.  As long as I followed the work structure and did it consistently and persistently, my probability of success was very high. That’s one of the main reasons I came to Edward Jones--to focus on the individual investor and their primary needs and goals, not on my production as a financial advisor. 

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision for the future?
    MA: My vision for our business is to be a trusted adviser for families, business owners and individuals who are really thinking about stability, and helping them meet their goals.  I want to be a trusted adviser [with clients who] want hear my thoughts and the thoughts of Edward Jones.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing that you want your customers know about your business?

    MA: I want them all to know we built our practice from the ground up. We did not take on any clients of other advisers that wanted to sever their relationship. All of my clients are folks I met face-to-face, whether it was either at their home or at their business. I met them either in Lake Forest or Lake Bluff. And over time, they have referred their children or parents or cousins and aunts, nephews, nieces, what have you. So now all of our business is based on referrals.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?

    MA: I mentioned earlier, I was in the business of trading and that came to an abrupt halt in 2007/2008.  My wife and I had just built a house that we moved into and my career was [suddenly] gone. So, we had to circle the wagons and put the house on the market. It was a big adjustment for us as our income dropped dramatically and it was a challenging time for our family. We came out the other side and Edward Jones happened to be there for us.  To see the opportunity Edward Jones was providing to me was helpful, because I believed in it. When I was hired, there was just one office on the East side of Lake Forest. They said to me, if you accomplish these three things in the first 12 months, we’re going to build a brand-new office for you, and that’s what happened. So, that was the turning point for us. We’re very happy. We’ve been with the firm about eight years and it’s starting to grow faster than it did in the beginning. We still have a long way to go, but I’ve got great support. I have a lot of clients who want me to succeed and they bring a lot of people to me. It is very gratifying.

     

    LFLBC: What other local businesses do you collaborate with?

    MA: I work with a few CPAs and law firms in town that do estate planning, divorce, and family law. We collaborate with Semmelman & Wisneski in Lake Bluff for estate planning and other family law needs. We work with Riewer & Collins in Lake Forest, Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe. We have Ballen & Company…Steve Ballen is one of the top CPA’s we work with. I support local businesses through taking clients to lunch to restaurants in town. We use PostNet for a lot of shipping and handling. Anytime we have an event here or somewhere else, we use local restaurants for catering. I live in Lake Forest, so we like to support local business.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?

    MA: I am involved in the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Club Kiwanis chapter.  I help out with their fundraisers like candy days, and our big event is the Pancake Breakfast on July 4th in Lake Bluff. We all get up around 5:30am to mix the batter, get the sausages cooked up and get out all the food and juices. I serve as a committee member with the Caucus in Lake Forest for Ward 1, and I’m also on the committee that is working to select people to be runners for the school boards. I serve on an Endowment committee and as an Elder at our church--First Presbyterian Church. I also volunteer time to help with the Rummage Sale. I donate some time with Misrecordia. I’m becoming more and more involved in the community--helping local charities that serve needy children and needy families, and things like that. It’s becoming really rewarding to participate in the community events and community charities.


    6/25/2018


     

  • Meet David Lee
    The Clockworks

    34 E. Center Ave., Lake Bluff 

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: What was your inspiration for getting into this business?
    David Lee: I didn’t start this business. A friend of mine started it in 1972. He left town in 1979. I jokingly refer to his leaving as his mid-life crisis. He later decided to become a stockbroker. I bought [The Clockworks] from him in 1989 and have owned it ever since. This is exactly what I want to do until they carry me out of here horizontally. I like it, I have fun doing it, and it’s my passion. I truly enjoy clocks, watches, barometers and music boxes.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    DL: I like The Clockworks exactly as it is. There isn’t much change that can occur. I want to continue to be a small helpful business that can either fix someone’s valued grandfather clock or introduce someone to their new cherished watch. Sometimes sales are high, and repairs are low. Most of the time repairs are high, and sales are low. It has been like that since 1989. I will continue to find and acquire watches and clocks, to then turn around and sell them to those who really want them. When I work on a clock, I want it to be functional for many years to come. Ultimately, my goal is to help people for as long as I can.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want your customers to know about your business?
    DL: I would like them to think of Clockworks as a one-stop shop for repair, restoration, maintenance, or anything else you can think of for time pieces and barometers. Clockworks is one of four companies that does mercury barometer repair commercially in the United States. The other three are on the East Coast. The youngest of the four of us is 65 years old. So, you better come in when you can because there aren’t a lot of us that are going to be around for very long! (laughs). I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years, since 1963 to be exact. This business has been in five different locations since 1972 in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff and I plan on it being here for years to come.

     

    LFLBC: What has been your most interesting transaction?
    DL:  A unique experience I had was selling a Thomas Tompion grandfather clock back to England, which is one of the most famous clock brands in the history of modern clockmaking. Tompion worked on these clocks in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. My father was able to acquire it on a trip many years ago. He thought it should to go back to England before he dies since that’s where Thomas Tompion lived, died, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. We ended up selling it to a very well-known English Tompion Collector.         

    I had another clock that was made by Daniel Quare (a famous clockmaker) in 1715, and I sold it 300 years later in 2015. If it continues to be properly maintained it will still be working in 2315. It’s that terrific of a clock. Those were very rare and special occurrences. In my mind, my most successful business initiative is selling, or fixing any timepiece that is of value to someone else, regardless of the price tag. Some people will bring clocks in that have been passed down for generations and have a special meaning to the owner.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?
    DL:  In 1992, I repaired the tower clock in Market Square. Just recently the clock stopped working, and they asked me to come back and fix it again. I said, “Absolutely,” but I wanted to wait until winter was over. In 1992 I was almost 50 years old, today I’m 75, so I wasn’t about to climb up there when it was still icy! It wasn’t free, but it was important to the community and I was very proud to be the one fixing it for Lake Forest.

    I try to give to as many charities as I can. Oftentimes I find myself helping my previous customers when they need donations for their various charities.

    6/11/2018


  • Meet John desRosiers
    Inovasi & The Otherdoor
    28 & 30 E. Center Ave., Lake Bluff 

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: What was your inspiration for opening Inovasi?
    John des Rosiers: So I’ve always wanted to own my own place. I love restaurants and I love cooking…and the business side of it. I’ve always wanted to be able to have my own ideas and make things work on my own. I generally don’t like being told what to do.  When you are your own boss, you basically have more freedom. I thought that I could be a good boss and have a good business and take care of my staff. And I think I do a pretty good job at it. Mistakes get made for sure, but I learn from them and don’t repeat.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    JdR: [To] build a really good restaurant, make everyone very happy, and then go build another one and another one after that. So now we have Inovasi and The Otherdoor around the corner and we are working on plans for another 2 in the coming 12 months.

     

    LFLBC: What is the one thing you want your customers to know?
    JdR: Honestly, more than anything else, we care greatly about the happiness of our customers when they’re here. We’re not a normal restaurant for our area. There are places like country clubs which are pretty normal average American-style restaurants. We don’t fit into a lot of those molds. Our style cuisine is different in the fact that we use local farms for almost everything that we have. It’s very unique [in that] there are not a lot of places that push that. We try to be fresh and creative at the same time and use and support local growers. We really have amazing flavor combinations and our textures are very unique. Also, most of the stuff we buy [comes from] within 100 miles of the restaurant. Our beef Farmer is in Wisconsin and our pig farm is right next door. We get our butter and dairy from guys in Wisconsin also.  The reason [we source locally] is the quality. It’s always better…it’s actually BETTER than organic! We visit the farmers and walk through their barns. We spend time with them and get to know them..

     

    LFLBC: What has been your most successful business initiative?
    JdR: The taqueria, The Otherdoor, is performing 300% better that we were hoping it was going to. It’s been really surprising. I think we really did just the right thing for the community to really enjoy it.  It’s understandable for everyone. It’s grown every year for five years in a row now. It’s really amazing--it’s great and it’s a small little space but it does really well financially. It’s really affordable, especially for the area. We have really good food--we didn’t make it a super authentic Mexican place, [but] it’s 90% there. We think if we made it super authentic, not everybody would gravitate toward it. So, we did our sauces very traditional from different regions in Mexico. We do some different meats and fillings for the tacos. But we try to make it understandable and easy to grasp and enjoyable for everybody at the same time. Plus, it’s a little unusual and weird. We don’t use any signs, but regardless, we’re busy [and] there’s [often] a line out the door and down the block.

     

    LFLBC: How do you give back to the community?
    JdR: We do charities like crazy three times a year. [We] actually give up the restaurant for charities to host their events here. We did it three times last year and we have two on the books for this year. We work with Mother’s Trust. We just did a thing last week with Meals on Wheels. There is another one in town called College Opportunity--they tutor and mentor kids. We do a lot of work with them. There are a couple of churches in town that we donate to. There are a couple of school districts. [There are] over 30 different things that we participate in over the course of the year. We try to help people, to do something in a small way almost for everybody.  Three or four times a year we will donate a dinner for ten people. [The taqueria recently] catered an event for Open Lands. We donated dinner for eight people that is going to happen on one fields at on their property…and they will have dinner in the middle of nature. I don’t know how we’re going to do it yet. We did one dinner for CBO for 10 people in their house…10 courses with wine. We will donate a few of those every year. That kind of stuff is the biggest thing and it raises between $6,000 to $10,000 for the charity. 

     

    6/4/2018

     


     

     

  • Meet Greg Jumes & Weston Polaski
    Victor App
    https://victorapp.io/

     

    LF/LB Chamber: What was your inspiration for launching Victor App?
    Greg Jumes:
     When my USMC deployment ended in 2008 and my Marine Corps enlistment ended in January of 2010, I had a really tough time adjusting to life back home in Wisconsin. It was definitely the low point of my life. After a couple years, I spent some time back in the Middle East and Asia doing security work for private companies and government agencies which was kind of like being in the military. But, as a civilian I got to go home every couple of months, but that just wasn’t sustainable. I didn’t see myself retiring, so I had to come up with something different [to do]. After having a corporate job in Chicago in 2015 I was introduced to some veterans who were involved with an organization called Bunker labs. It’s a non-profit that helps veterans become entrepreneurs. So, after getting into contact with them I realized I could be an entrepreneur if I [could] solve a problem. I went into the most real problem that I’ve ever had, and that was being in combat, then being out of the military. So, I wanted to build a piece of technology that would help veterans and their families feel a sense of community, [access] health and wellness resources and find career opportunities in the area.

     

    LFLBC: What has been its impact on the local military community?
    Weston Polaski: So the thing we found right away was that our founding partner, Rush University, has the Road Home Program. It’s an excellent program at Rush where they actually fly veterans’ entire families here and put them through a three-week intense inpatient program. They fund it all. We also saw that there is an overload here in Chicago. We were connecting with a lot of veterans in the community and heard about their experiences at Jesse Brown, [Edward] Hines [Junior Veterans Administration Hospital], the VA up in Lake County. And the number one thing was just the long wait. And so, we have it pretty simple on our app where you just go on and request an appointment. I went on [the app] on a Thursday, requested an appointment, they called me the next day, and I had an appointment on Tuesday….just unheard of [before]. We have a Marine on board now as well who is a patient at Road Home and he said he couldn’t believe how easy it was to go through our app and get the service that he needed.

     

    LFLBC: What kind of help can veterans get through your app?
    WP: We’re looking for anything community-based, whether that’s the American Legion, the VFW, or even just a local small business like a restaurant where [veterans] can save some money. Anything that is going to provide support and make them feel welcome in the community.

    GJ:
     So, some of the resources that we currently range from financial assistance to mental health care to free gym memberships. We try to provide as much curated resources to our users in the greater Chicago area [as we can]. We try to hit on every one of those life resources …whether it’s money, childcare, or more. If you want to start a business, grow a business we can connect you with those resources. If you are looking for mental health care, we can connect you there. If you are looking for fun activities or some place to save money, we can do that too. A lot of our businesses provide a lot of different resources. Some will have job opportunities and also a discount. Some of them are just hiring. Some are just offering a discount. Then we have Rush University that offers their programming for veterans, their job opportunities and also their events and activities they provide to the veteran community here in Chicago.

     

    LFLBC: How many partners do you have?
    GJ: Currently we have Rush University as our main partner. We have been working very closely with LinkedIn and WeWork to provide events and also feedback on their current veteran initiatives.

     

    LFLBC: How do veterans learn about you?
    WP:
     Right now, were doing a lot of social media, and our team have all been in the veteran community for a while and we have our connections. So, it’s [us] going to the VFW’s, American Legions and getting the word out. And we put out a lot of fliers.
    GJ: The best way is for veterans to find us through our website and social media channels.

    LFLBC: How was 2017 after your initial launch?
    GJ:
     We had a really great 2017. We raised $26K though a crowd-funding campaign which was really great because that allowed us to start development on our prototype that was launched in May of last year. A couple weeks after we launched we won an award for $72,000 at a pitch competition. That was super great. [We’ve had some ups and downs] and learned a lot, and now we are at a stage where we are raising more capital through private investors.

     

    LFLBC: How has developing the app changed your mission in bridging the military and civilian communities?
    G
    J: It’s [been] eye-opening, because we have identified that there are a lot of existing veteran organizations that are all trying to do the same thing. And at first, I was kind of discouraged and hesitant about doing this whole venture, but as we continued to research and connect with other organizations, we found that we’re doing something that nobody else has really tried to do. There have been some mobile applications for veterans, but they didn’t last because they didn’t find a way to provide value to both sides of their market. [They were just saying they were going to help veterans], but that was only going to go so far. So, what we found is that not only is it very important to focus on helping the veterans, but also [to help] the organizations and businesses through a sense of a return on their investment. If you’re going to give us $200 a month for our service, we want to make sure we are providing you $10,000 in value.  Whereas our competitors weren’t really doing that. We found that as we kept going deeper and deeper into this we found that we were on to something and that there was a big gap that needed to be filled the right way.

     

    LFLBC: How has your connection with the Chamber of Commerce and the communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff helped you?
    WP:
     It’s been great to get to know the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities. They have been amazing. The people who I have met through the Chamber and at the events, have been great. We are a tech company in downtown Chicago and I never really see tech startups leaving the city area and getting out to the communities where their users and customers are.

    GJ: 
    [We’ve been able to make a lot of] connections…and having people in your corner. Having a network up there, both with the business side and the veteran community. We’ve been up there to have dinner at some of the restaurants who are on the app and have met the owners which has been really cool. I keep running across people in the downtown [Chicago] area that I find are also members of the Lake Forest Chamber.

     

    LFLBC: What can the communities of LF and LB do to help support your initiatives?
    GJ: Two things: One, we’re raising capital…so anyone who might be interested in investing and being part of our business would be great. And secondly, think about what your business can do for the veteran community, and the value [associating with us] can bring to you. Veterans are 90% more likely to shop at a business that openly supports the military over the competitors. We try to educate a lot of small business owners about that…when we ask them to post a discount or offer, they sometimes think we’re just asking them to give something away, where if you give something, you’re really getting a lot more.  If I get a free beer by coming into your restaurant, I’m not just coming in for a free beer…I’m going to eat there, or I’m brining a date, or my family. So, giving these little perks isn’t a charity case. It’s a marketing angle and our goal is to get those 60-some thousand service members in the Lake County area to come into those business and be regulars. Or even get employees from the veteran community.

     

    LFLBC: Anything else you’d like to share?
    GJ:
     If any veteran has a suggestion, we would love to hear it. [We’d love to hear their] stories, and experiences they have had. Any issues they have had separating from the military. They can contact us team@victorapp.io We’d love their input.

     

    5/23/2018


  • Meet Ed Geraghty & Tom Marks

    American Legion, McKinlock Post No. 264
    Facebook - McKinlock Post 264 American Legion

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: What is the American Legion’s mission?
    Ed Geraghty: The American Legion really has two purposes. One is to serve veterans, and the other is to serve the community. The American Legion was founded back around World War I, back in 1919 and we’ve been serving the community in Lake Forest for about one hundred years now.
    Tom Marks:
     When we say community, the emphasis is really on children and youth.

    LFLBC: What inspired each of you to join the American Legion?
    EG: 
    I wanted to give back. A lot of people helped me [when I was] in the military. I joined the Legion later, as I had to raise the family and get the kids through college! But once that was behind me I got involved with the Legion...about ten years ago. It’s been a very worthwhile experience. We do a lot of good things for a lot of different groups.

    TM:
     I got involved about 20 years ago…it’s been awhile! For me, it was really to honor the memory of my father who served in World War II. When I met the guys here, I realized that they needed help. The WWII guys were still running Lake Forest Day, still doing all the hard work and the lifting, and some of them were getting to the point where they couldn’t march the distance for the parades. And I said well, ‘best I help.’ So, I’ve been Commander three times. Ed is now in his third year of being Commander. We’ve both been in with both feet!

     

    LFLBC: What types of programs, events, support and resources does the American Legion provide for local youth and children?EG: We have several different programs. One is our high school scholarships that we give out every year. Last year we gave out $20,000 in college scholarships for high school seniors at Lake Forest High School. We also support CROYA; each year we have them perform at our Lake Forest Day. We also have American Legion baseball which is for boys up to age 19 and we have local coaches usually from the high school. We support Lake Forest College on their Veteran’s Day… [we go] out with our flags and color guard. And then of course, the scouts. Our post is more than a building for us, it’s almost a community center. The Cub scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Brownies…they all use the building for their meetings and for things like pancake breakfasts. So, we try to do as much as we possibly can to help the youth in our community.
    TM: 
    The Boy Scouts are a decentralized organization, [which means] every Boy Scout Troop is actually owned by a different entity, not the Boy Scouts. So, in Lake Forest, Troop 48 is sponsored and paid for by us with a fairly significant check. Troop 246 is sponsored by First Presbyterian Church. [Also], we write a check to [support] Applause, the [booster organization for] Lake Forest High School musical arts. We also do a Boys State…we send 6 to 8 boys to a one-week program at Eastern Illinois University where they do mock government and learn how bills get passed and all the stuff that goes along with that.

     

    LFLBC: What is your involvement in special events in the community like Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Lake Forest Day?
    EG:
     We’re the ones who post the flags all over town on holidays. We do that with our members, Boy Scouts and Members of the community. We put the flags up and take them down at the end of the day. For special days like Memorial Day we also put flags [on the graves of veterans] in the Cemeteries: St Mary’s Cemetery, Lake Forest Cemetery, Fort Sheridan Cemetery and St Patrick’s Cemetery.

    TM: 
    That’s 3000 flags at the cemeteries, and at least 550 flags around town. The funny thing is less than half the people in town don’t realize that its us that put up those flags.

     

    LFLBC: What all do you do for Lake Forest Day, the Parade and the Carnival?
    EG: We do it all. There is a tremendous amount of planning…we start in January and continue until the event in August, then we work to close the books on it by October, so it’s almost a year-round event for us. The parade had 88 entries last year. We’re hoping for more this year. We usually have eight to ten bands, lots of different groups. For the carnival, we ask for volunteers from the high school, the honor society, local realtors man the beer tent and sell beer and wine for us, and we have other community members selling tickets…it’s all hands on deck, basically!


    TM
    :
     [Lake Forest Day is on a Wednesday because] in days of yore, the Garden Club ran it. Traditionally most businesses were closed on Wednesdays in Lake Forest and the doctors and the bankers went and played golf. Even as late as 1983, I remember our bank was closed on Wednesday. So maybe by the early ‘90’s that went away. So, Wednesday was a good day to get the whole town together and celebrate without being away on the weekend. In those days, the town really did turn out. Also, a lot of the high school classes have had their HS Reunions around Lake Forest Day. One year we got a suggestion to do it on a weekend. We put that up the flagpole and we took a lot of incoming fire! [laughs]

    EG:
     That wasn’t one of our greatest ideas. It got shot down pretty fast! [laughs!]

     

    LFLBC: How can the community continue to help and support the Legion?
    TM:
     Number One: We are trying to grow and develop something called the Sons of the American Legion. We understand that there are probably fewer people living in Lake Forest today who were on active duty in the military, but maybe many of their fathers or grandfathers did, in Vietnam or Korea. We need that next generation to get involved so we can continue doing the things we are doing now. The largest active group in the Legion right now are Vietnam-era vets…we’re between the ages of 65 and 80 and we’re not getting any younger. It’s important that these things we do go on, and we need that kind of help. So, we’d love for more members of the community to get involved.

    EG: 
    For those who don’t have time to join, we ask for them to participate in our raffles, or to purchase flags through us…we’ll even drop them off at the house. Any support they can give us financially, [is helpful]. We need the community support. Lake Forest Day is our number one fundraiser. The events and the raffle provide all the funds that we then give back to the community in the form of scholarships and all the other things we do.  And about a third of the people who win [the raffle], don’t claim the prize, they just tell us to donate it back to the community.

    TG:
     If a [Legion] member wins…then you’re really under a lot of pressure to give it back! [laughs]. 
    Also, [We’d love for members of the community to] come to Market Square on Memorial Day at 10:45. The scouts will be there. The speaker will be the Commander Omar Martinez from the Great Lakes Naval Station. And, if people want to help us put up the [Memorial Day] flags, they should contact us at (847) 234-9870. There are a variety of times [to volunteer] when we visit the various cemeteries. We could also use the help Tuesday morning picking up the flags.

     

    LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
    EG: 
    On behalf of the entire post I would like to thank the Lake Forest community for all the support they have given us over the years.

    TM:
     And we are thankful for the help we get from the Chamber. 
    There are all kinds of service. We have members who were at Okinawa. We have member who were at D-Day and even members who never left the states…it’s a range of everything! But everyone answered the call and went and served their country. We’re glad that we can now do things to serve the community, because service doesn’t end when you take off the uniform.

    5/23/2018


     

  • Meet Paul Baffico
    Lake County Veterans & Family Services Foundation

    http://lakevetsfound.org/

    Paul Baffico served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division in 1970 and 1971 as a combat communication platoon leader. He earned the Silver Star, the Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal; and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry while flying 206 combat assaults. Paul spent his career at Sears Roebuck and Company, where he rose to President of the Sears Automotive Group and CEO of Western Auto Supply Company that merged with Advance Auto. He volunteers monthly in Washington DC as a National Park docent at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. He is the founder and President of the Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation.

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: What was your inspiration for creating Lake County Veterans and Family Services Foundation?
    Paul Baffico:  
    On the heels of serving in Vietnam, and reflecting on the life-after-war I have enjoyed, I realized I wanted to give back to the Veteran community for my good fortune. Inspired by what I saw other people doing for Vets, It has become my life’s purpose.

     

    LFLBC: What types of programs do you provide to Veterans and their families?
    PB: Our motto is: ‘We connect Veterans and their family members with each other and the benefits and resources that they earned and deserve.’ We help them regardless of the era they served, the branch they served in and their discharge status.  And we define family differently than most government regulations would. We’re inclusive not exclusive.

    Over the past five years, we have worked to build a network of partners that help us deliver our services. Services include, but are not limited to, weekly Coffee Klatches that bring Veterans together in five different locations around the county; we provide help for depression, help for deployment issues, both individual and family, PTSD help, grief help, housing, MST [military sexual trauma], TBI [traumatic brain injury], homelessness, financial crisis and counseling, substance abuse, legal, educational benefits, employment, holiday packages, community speaker series, community storytelling, and military 101 training for first responders like clergy, educators and law enforcement. So, anybody who walks in with any problem and has military service…we’re going to help them. Whatever the problem is. Free and confidential.

     

    LFLBC: How has the foundation grown over the years?
    PB:
     It started [in 2011] as a federal grant from the department of Health and Human Services that was awarded to the Lake County Health Department who ran it until 2015. I was the chairman of the governing council. In 2012, the grant was cut by 53%.  So, there was essentially no money to support an ongoing program.  Consequently, I started a 501c3 non-profit, funded completely by private donations, to run parallel and to expand grant progress.  October 2015 was the official end of funding for the original grant, and this Foundation became a completely free-standing non-profit charity free from governmental constraint.  We opened with the DryHootch Drop-In Center. 
    We started very small as a grant. We had 20 to 30 cases a year that were very limited in scope because of federal policy compliance. Which means [Vets] had to qualify for VA benefits to qualify for help from the grant. What the American public doesn’t realize is there are many, many service members who are not entitled to benefits At our Foundation, they don’t have to qualify for anything.

     

    LFLBC: How do Vets find you?
    PB: Most find us in person at DryHootch or online. We have a website and social media--Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. We publish a newsletter every month. We have a very, very strong community outreach program…one of the elements of that program is Cup-A-Joe. And we have the well-equipped and welcoming coffee shop. Our services are supported by over 60 providers in Lake County that we have personally Vetted who make referrals to us. 
    We had less than 500 contacts in our first year. Last year, we had 18,263.  We now should be a little careful that we don’t overpromote and get more than we can handle. Right now, we have 36 active cases with 136 completed for 2018. Our model is to teach Vets to resolve their own issues; we give them agency to resolve and we guide them to the appropriate resources so the individual takes control of their own well-being. We have five professionally trained peer support specialists (who are all combat Veterans) who listen, connect and guide, all based on trust.

     

    LFLBC: Tell me about the impact you’ve had on Veteran’s lives.
    PB:
     Here are a couple examples…

    We had a 72-year-old Vietnam Vet who had been a very successful executive. After he retired, he experienced PTSD.  He didn’t want to go to the VA, didn’t want any help. We talked to him over a period over 4 to 6 months and we got him help from the VA. He did not want any disability money, but he received the help he needed.

    Another example…a Gulf 1 Vet [who was a truck driver], was driving an 18-wheeler in Wisconsin and he totaled his truck in an accident. To avoid [crashing into] a mother and her two kids, he ran his truck into the guardrail. He called us and said, ‘I’m stuck here. What can you do to help me?’ We rented him a car to get his stuff out of the truck. And we rented him another car so he could drive himself and his three-legged dog back to Mississippi, so he could get back to work.

    One more… We got word that a Marine was dying and he had fallen in love with a little dog when he was getting treatment in North Carolina. The man was down to this last 4 or 5 months.  All he wanted was to be with this dog. We sent the Peer Support Specialist to North Carolina to get the dog and take it to Kansas City to be with him in his last days. It turned out both the Peer and the client had served in the same Marine unit 50 years apart: one in Vietnam, the other in Afghanistan.

    These are things a government agency is not going to do. So, we provide a safe welcoming model for Veterans who, very honestly, are relatively uncomfortable in the civilian world for the rest of their lives.

     

    LFLBC: How can the community help your initiatives.
    PB:
     Well, [in order to keep serving Veterans] we could use financial assistance from members of the community. We constantly solicit for donations in various ways.

     

    LFLBC: What community events do you have coming up?
    PB: 
    We have lots of events. The biggest one is our Ruck March in September. It’s a 22-kilometer march…22 is symbolic of the number of Veteran suicides per day. Participants put 22 pounds in the ruck sack to symbolize the weight of carrying the death of a comrade. It helps raise awareness of Veteran suicides.  People can sign up to participate, donate, form a team. 
    Also, we’ll be volunteer help at the Lake Bluff Antique Car show in June. We’ll be in the Lake Bluff 4th of July parade. …we’ll be taking donations at both of those. We believe in a strong community presence, because we can’t do this without the community. It’s not just money…it’s the moral and spiritual support that the community provides.

    5/23/2018


     

  •  

    Meet Steve Whittington
    LifeWorking Coworking
    717 Forest Ave., Lake Forest

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: What was your inspiration for opening LifeWorking Coworking?
    Steve Whittington: I moved to the Chicagoland area about 4 years ago and was working for Grainger. I had worked 20-plus years with P&G. Long story short, I determined I was not going to be a 20-year veteran at Grainger. I started looking for new opportunities, and a colleague who was a native Chicagoan, said that this ‘networking thing’ is a big deal. He ended up sending like 40 introduction emails out and I started pulling at threads. I figured that I wouldn’t be going back to big corporate and thought I might do consulting. I started going out to cafes and coffee shops, places to eat, (which wasn’t something that I needed to be around…all that food!) and I would look around and see all these people struggling to be productive. That was the genesis for starting this concept of a work place that’s really community-centric, that’s close to where you live, [and] that resolves some of those pain points like distractions or security. It’s the community that you need.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    SW: When I started this, my background had been at P&G. I had 10 years of mobility, with an IT focus, and 10 years as an enterprise program manager. I would assess the scalability of somebody’s brilliant idea. You know…built with ‘scotch tape and string,’ but it’s going to be the next billion-dollar initiative. My job was to come in and assess if [the product] was scalable, and if so, to bring [in] the team to scale it. I brought both of those building blocks to LifeWorking CoWorking. The majority of these [coworking facilities] are in urban centers. Very few companies have exploited them, professionally, in the suburbs. The market is wide open, and my vision is not only establishing this location, here in Lake Forest, but to expand into Chicagoland. We expect to have two more locations by this time next year and from there we could get to as many as six in Chicagoland. Then we’d like to expand regionally, looking for suburban markets that have urbanizing communities, transit-oriented design, highly walkable, close to rail, attracting the millennial market, and also provide assets and services for those that are in transition. That’s our business vision…not franchising (yet), but to really grow this company at a relatively aggressive pace.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want customers to know about your business?
    SW: We are more than workspace. I don’t even like that word, ‘space.’ We are Work PLACE. The word ‘place’ has more of an emotional connotation. You come in and you can see that we are contemporary. We want you to come in and say “Wow!” If we took this downtown, we may not get as much of a wow factor, but there is a wow factor here in Lake Forest. We really want folks to know that we’re hospitality. If you are a member of ours, we don’t just treat you to a great space, but we have events focused on networking. We’ve done salsa nights here and comedy shows to benefit non-profits. We host the [Lake Forest/Lake Bluff] Chamber. It’s really more than just a space to work. We will be bringing amenities online and want to surround you with what is important. Our mission is to enable the best, most productive marginal minute, whether you are working, networking, or life-working. What that means is that you may be C-Suite (CEO, CFO, etc.) capable, but you happen to be running the household. You’re running foundations, or community organizing, and we are the place for you.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?
    SW: 
    We had a campaign just before the holidays last year that was called Get Your Spouse Out of the House. We had a spouse walk into the Mustard Seed and saw one of our little cards. She  took a picture, sent it to her husband, and said “Here’s where you’re going!” Not, “You should check this out.” We had several of those new members join from that initiative.

     

    LFLBC: Do you collaborate with other local businesses?
    SW: Yes! Many of them. We’re excited about our new collaboration with the Lake Forest Chamber of Commerce. It’s an innovative program that we just announced--a combined membership with the Chamber and LifeWorking Coworking called ‘ChamberWorking.’ This exclusive membership is for folks that want to join both organizations. You get meeting space, a Lake Forest business address, secure Wi-Fi access and print capabilities along with all the benefits of LF/LB Chamber membership, like networking opportunities, promotion, educational forums and more. We’re even going to launch a mentor program in conjunction with the membership.

    We’ve also worked with the Chicago Comedy All-Stars and put on two LaughWorking events that benefited the American Cancer Society and Safe Haven Schools. We are a sponsor for Lake Forest College’s Relay for Life. We have local corporations that use us for professional meetings.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business give back to the community?
    SW: Our main goal is to find businesses that are maybe a little bit earlier in their life and help them grow. From a community perspective, it’s what we do with the Chamber of Commerce. Another event that we have every quarter is an art gallery. All the art that is in LifeWorking Coworking is from local community artists. We put together a wine and cheese shindig and meet the local artists. If they sell, great, it’s just an opportunity to help the local artists, especially in an environment where galleries are starting to close.

     

    LFLBC: What is something that you can tell the community about yourself that makes you unique?
    SW: I’m a startup entrepreneur at 50 years old and I never thought I would be! I wasn’t ready to do what I’m doing right now, until now. I was an exchange student in Sweden when I was 15 years old. I’m a veteran of the Armed Forces. I was in the army for a couple of years and then the national guard. I’m a graduate of Ohio State University. My children are both 4th generation Buckeyes as well. I worked for Proctor and Gamble with my wife, and we got to live all over the world. It was a great business opportunity but even better chance to show my kids the world. This is where LifeWorking comes into play. I believe passionately that we live in a very complex world and everybody is working to ‘push the pea,’ to get ahead, to take one step forward in our complex, daily lives, no matter who you are or where you come from. I believe that very strongly and that’s why we are Life and Working combined.

     

    5/15/2018


     

  • Photo Credit: Kerri Sherman Photography

    Meet Cecelia Lanyon
    The Gallery
    202 E. Wisconsin Ave., Lake Forest

     

    Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: What was your inspiration for opening The Gallery?
    Cecelia Lanyon: The Gallery opened about a year and a half ago. My partner [Dominic] is a chef. He’s been in the industry for over 20 years and I have an art background. We wanted to combine both of our passions together and try to create an immersive experience where guests can enjoy art and food. We had been working on the concept in thought for a long time and found that this space was very conducive to what we were looking for. We have a gallery space that functions just as a gallery, and then the dining room that doubles as both an area to eat and also peruse artwork.

     

    LFLBC: Where do you get your artwork?
    CL: Artists on the Bluff is one of our residents. They are a member-based non-profit art group. We work directly with them. They have their own gallery openings once a month. In terms of the exhibits that we showcase in the dining room and other artwork that is on display, Renée Romero Schuler is a very well-known Lake Forest artist that I have been working with for almost 4 years. We exclusively represent her works on paper. She does large-scale paintings and exhibits all over the country with representation in Chicago. But her smaller scale stuff is shown here. In the Main dining room we have rotating exhibits that switch every 6 to 8 weeks. We either seek out those artists, or they find us.

     

    LFLBC: What is your business vision?
    CL: I hope that this evolves into including more theatrical components, like music and additional art forms. We are starting to embrace that by doing our first dinner theater. We will have a live musical performance [in May] and then dinner that is intended to be eaten with the musical. It's called “Cabaret”.

     

    LFLBC: What is one thing you want customers to know about your business?
    CL: Dominic and I really consider this space an extension of our home. So when we have guests join us for dinner we really focus on hosting them in our own space. Every person having a good experience it is extremely important to us, which is why we like that we are a small space and also a small operation. When someone is making a reservation they are either talking to me or Dominic. We really care. This is our life passion. For us to be able to welcome guests to experience what we have created is very special to us.

     

    LFLBC: What is your most successful business initiative?
    CL: One of our initiatives has been partnering with other businesses in the community. We most recently partnered with Left Bank. Ideally as a creative business we want to be continually collaborating. 
    We are always looking for different opportunities. Dominic always envisioned the idea of collaborating with chefs, because we match the menu to the artwork on display. Ideally if we had a Japanese artist we would want [to collaborate with] a chef specialized in Japanese food. Collaborating outside and inside of the kitchen is something that we love to do.

     

    LFLBC: How does your business get back to the community?
    CL: One of our favorite shows of the year is the emerging artist exhibit. It gives us the opportunity to display over +150 kids' artwork from local schools. We do that in tandem with Deerpath Art League. This is the 11th year Deerpath has done it, and the fourth year that we have hosted it in this space. It’s something that both Dominic and I feel really passi
    onate about...to make sure we are supporting creative youth, because they are the future, and making them feel honored and celebrated for creating and having the confidence to do that. I would say that is one of our biggest contributions that I feel really strongly about! 

    Photo Credit: Kerri Sherman Photography

    5/8/2018