As a budding entrepreneur, it’s only fitting that I pay homage to the women who created the path before me. Last year Fortune came out with an article that stated that Chicago is one of the greatest places for women entrepreneurs. In recent years, there have been a slew of women’s run startups and it doesn’t look like the growth of these businesses will be slowing down anytime soon.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or you know one, we can all agree that it’s no easy feat. Businesses are always constantly coming and going so for anyone who makes it through the dog eat dog world of entrepreneurship, it just only seems right that their efforts are recognized.

While there are always new businesses popping up on my radar, I wanted to introduce you to some of my favorite businesses and entrepreneurs. The women on the list are individuals who I believe shake up the entrepreneurial space with unique and creative ideas and concepts. After all, you have to figure out how to stand out in this competitive space and these women do just that.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I’m pretty sure I’m leaving some people out. Luckily, Chicago has no shortage of talent so¬†stay tuned for this multi part series. And if you know of an entrepreneur who should be featured fell free to contact me ūüôā

Without further ado, it’s only right that I kick off the list with one of the first features on the blog the events of Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event.

Debi Lilly

 

Photo Credit: Alissa Pagels
Photo Credit: Alissa Pagels

I first came across Debi Lilly, like I other intriguing¬†businesses via Instagram. One day a couple of bloggers started posting pictures and I saw the most beautiful table spread. One by one they would show trays of sweets, beautiful floral decor, and then it was revealed that they were in Debi Lilly’s famous DL Loft.

After seeing the pictures, I made it my personal mission to attend Debi Lilly’s next event. About a week after I saw the pictures I asked Debi Lilly if I could cover her next event. Till this day, I haven’t met an event planner or shall I say eventeur that has such a keen eye for detail. When you attend a Debi Lilly event, you know that it’s going to be¬†memorable. It’s impossible to attend one of her parties and fight the urge to whip out your phone to snap some pictures. The atmosphere she creates is certainly one that you have to see to believe.

With 20 years of experience under her belt and a repertoire of fabulous events, Debi is definitely the top of the class for event planners. For Debi, event planning just came naturally. She became the go-to person for planning friends parties in college and later she progressed to planning her friend’s wedding.

Unlike most brides, she also didn’t need to hire a wedding planner because she was able to plan it herself.

Till this day, Debi is the hostess with the mostess and her events continue to have that special touch. When you attend a Debi Lilly event don’t be surprised if she greets she with a smile and a cocktail that she whipped up behind the bar. A Perfect Event wouldn’t be perfect without Debi Lilly.

 

 

Liz Klafeta

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Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

Liz Klafeta is another entrepreneur that I came across via Instagram. She is the founder and creator of the boutique rental agency Bangtel. ¬†You may remember Bangtel from the first event I hosted “An Afternoon with Mr. Clark” The event was held¬†in the luxurious Mr. Clark’s Penthouse in Lincoln Park. It featured a clean modern aesthetic with touches of whimsy in the form of a suspended bed and a teepee in the bedroom.

However, when you explore¬†the many properties of Bangtel you’ll notice that Liz and her team are no one trick ponies. Interestingly enough, from the Gold Coast to Wrigleyville each property has their own unique flair with just the right touch of Liz. I think many designers have a signature style, but Liz has shown that her aesthetic is incredibly versatile.

It all starts with her finding a property and she completely guts and transforms¬†the entire space. She’s essentially a master house flipper. Someone seriously needs to consider giving Bangtel their very own reality show because I’m sure Liz and her crew have tons of fun.

Liz and her team are always discovering new and unique properties and they are making Chicago a chic place to live in the process.

 

 

 

Chrishon Lampley

IMG_5741Not too many people can say they have their own wine company, but Chrishon Lampley of Love Cork Screw has not only created her own wine brand but a lifestyle. Her interests in the finer things in life come from her experiences of living in Chicago, Germany, New York and Las Vegas. For the past 20 years, Chrishon has had her pulse on all things in the luxury market making Love Cork Screw a force to be reckoned with.

Fans of Love Cork Screw love the brand’s unique take on classic wines. ¬†Lovers of Pinot Grigio enjoy ¬†indulging in a bottle of¬†“Good Times Good Friends”¬†and for those warm summer nights a bottle of “Hard Knock Life” makes it a night to remember. From looking at the robust catalog of wines, Love Cork Screw proves that they are your go to wine for any occasion.

It won’t take long for Love Cork Screw to become a worldwide household name.¬†Currently the wine is available¬†in Whole Foods Market, Mariano’s, RPM Steak, and you can even order a bottle while dining at Carnivale.

While Chrishon has become a master vintner, she continues to expand the Love Cork Screw brand by making it a première luxury lifestyle destination. Fans of the brand can now add a touch of Love Cork Screw into their homes with soy candles and cigars.

Chrishon Lampley’s impressive list of accomplishments makes her an inspiration to all and she is a true model of success. ¬†Since her company’s inception, Chrishon has made it her mission to inspire young women to become entrepreneurs. While having your own wine company or any company seems like a nearly impossible feat, Chrishon Lampley has shown that with hard work, determination, and a good idea anything is possible.

Pretty soon we’ll all be ending our days with a nice glass of wine from Love Cork Screw.

 

Katrina Markoff

KMIf life is like a box of chocolates, that statement doesn’t hold true when you nibble on the delectable bites from Vosges Haut-Chocolat¬†and Wild Ophelia. You know exactly what you are getting with each bite of chocolate and that is a divine experience for the taste buds.

Katrina Markoff’s chocolates have become mainstays within Chicago culture becoming the go-to gifting item. Let’s just say if someone gives you a box of Vosges, then they must really care about you. We’ve all come to recognize The Purple House in its Chicago locations and now Katrina is taking us on yet another journey with her line of Wild Ophelia’s chocolates.

Katrina’s journey from student to master chocolatier began when she graduated from Vanderbilt University and moved to Paris to begin her culinary career. After an apprenticeship in Spain, she took her culinary talents on a worldwide adventure. She drew inspirations from Paris, Spain, Southeast Asia, and Australia. With unique and rare flavors, Katrina allows us to travel the world through chocolate. And the best part, we don’t need a passport to begin this journey.

Katrina not only gifts Chicago with her delectable chocolates, she also strives to encourage entrepreneurship among women. Some of the proceeds from her line Wild Ophelia go towards the organizations that support women entrepreneurs.

Guess you can’t feel too guilty about indulging in your sweet tooth since it all goes towards a good cause.

Katrina has certainly left her sweet mark on Chicago and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

Sophie Evanoff

Sophie 1When we need a little escape to Paris in Chicago, we look no further than the oasis of Parisian sweets Vanille Patisserie.

Almost 5 years ago, entrepreneur and pastry chef Sophie Evanoff acquired the business and continued the mission of providing high quality Parisian desserts. At Vanille one can find delectable offerings of croissants, decadent chocolates and candies the ever popular colorful array of macarons. In fact, Vanille has become¬†the staple in Chicago with practically every event opting for a taste of Vanille. We’ve all become familiar by the colorful towers of macarons that grace practically every occasion.

Having a French escape in Chicago was a no-brainer due to the international appeal. According to Sophie, Chicagoans have a an expectation and appreciation for quality products and they know they are getting that with Vanille.

Vanille is not just a drop in shop, patrons will also be transported to France during an elegant session of afternoon tea. One word to describe the Vanille experience…Heaven

With three locations in Chicago, Sophie has gifted¬†Chicagoans with a much-needed Parisian escape in the city. Because of the booming success of Vanille, I think it’s safe to say that we are grateful for our sweet taste of paris courtesy of Sophie Evanoff.

Stay Tuned for Part 2!