Small Business Spotlight: Stumble & Relish

  |     |   Small Business Spotlight

You are beautiful. Visitors to the Stumble & Relish website are welcomed with this heartwarming reminder as it is scribed on some of the unique, handmade jewelry sold by the shop.

After a move two spots down, Stumble & Relish is now open at its new location at 1312 Chicago Ave. in Evanston. The move was a great success, and owner Jaime Leonardi said she’s thrilled about the new space.

“We wanted to create a destination of goods focused on greeting cards, jewelry and gifts,” said, Jaime, who co-owns the shop with her mother Paulette. “We believe the things you relish most are the treasures you stumble upon, hence the name “stumble & relish.”

The mother-daughter duo have dreamed about opening the shop for years. The result is an adorable local store featuring Evanston artists, handmade goods, unique finds, vintage accents, and other “little things to stumble on and savor,” reads the website.

They chose Evanston because of its flourishing art scene, something Jaime said is important to embrace now more than ever before.

“In an era of online shopping we worked to create a cozy environment with an assortment of price points and a human connection to the goods. Stumble & Relish prides itself in being part of the community from hosting trunk shows, working with our local organizations and getting to know our neighbors,” she explained.

The Main recently had the opportunity to chat with Jaime about the shop, little things, what its like owning a small business within The Main-Dempster Mile.

Here’s what she had to say:

The Main: How would you summarize your “story?”

Jaime Leonardi: My Mom, Paulette, and I have always loved seeking out small boutiques and hand-crafted goods where ever we were. Many of our conversations over the years ended with “someday when we own our own shop…” I spent my career working in graphic design and package design. Through my design work I found a love and admiration for typography, letterpress greeting cards, illustration and small artisans in general.

My Mom was retiring from teaching and I had decided it was time to work towards opening a retail shop. After a few years of freelancing and mentorship from a creative entrepreneur, we decided to open a shop.

TM: What has been the biggest challenge of your career and how did you overcome it?

JL: There are always challenges through work and life. Every stage of the business has a new challenge. Most recently, we moved the shop – it was only 2 doors North, but still proved to be a huge effort. We had to inform our customers about the move, build out a new space, get the needed permits, etc. Every step of the process needs attention but it all comes together at some point. I think with any challenge you need to take a deep breath, adapt and learn how to make it better going forward.

TM: What do you most enjoy about your career?

JL: Every job I’ve ever had I truly believe I was lucky to be surrounded by some of the most creative, brilliant people and learn from them. I still feel that way- our customers, our neighboring business owners and our makers are a wealth of knowledge. They all spark new ideas and new and interesting concepts we can try. Owning a retail shop really brings in an assortment projects. I like that it keeps me on my toes but keeps us connected to the folks around us.

TM: Who inspires who and why?

JL: We focus on small business makers. They inspire us to sell their goods. We love hearing their stories, seeing their lines evolve and seeing our customers reactions and admiration for the special items they choose.

TM: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about running a business?

JL: Every business owner has a “bag of tricks.” Know what you are good at but more importantly know where you need help and get it.

TM: Can you describe a moment or moments when you stopped and realized this is why you are doing what you’re doing with your life?

JL: The Evanston community has been so good to us, there are certain events where the community really comes out and makes us feel so special and so happy we’re here- Small Business Saturday, The Evanston Wine Walk and our in-store trunk shows with artists. Every time we do one of these events and our tiny shop is overflowing with people, I try to take a moment and remember this is why we’re here.

TM: What advice would you offer to other small business owners?

JL: I think the amazing owners at Hewn Bakery said this in an interview regarding opening a business and it really resonated with me “If you try to be perfect, you’ll never get anything done.” When we opened, when we moved, when we had a leak in the store – we did our best but it’s not always perfection. Sometimes you have to learn along the way.

TM: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? (all in good fun)

JL: I have no philosophical basis…I’m going with chicken.


WHAT: Stumble & Relish

WHERE: 1312 Chicago Ave.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

CONTACT: (872) 227-0801

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