Popup ‘babes’ extend their guest stay

Esther Bell
The Boss Babe's popup shop 

By Kendrah Villiesse

Eight empowering business owners who “took over the block” have extended their popup shop’s time in the Loop until March.

The Boss Babe is a collaborative shop created by eight female-run businesses at Block 37, 108 N. State St. Chicago, to celebrate local commerce and girl power. The shop was only supposed to be open for the winter holidays, but its unexpected success encouraged them to extend their stay, according to Kat Connor, one of the “babes” and co-owner of XO Marshmallow.

The shop carries an assortment of novel designer products from the eight vendors: The Trendy Sparrow, Earth Cadets, XO Marshmallow, Vo Yourself, Kaike, Standout Style, Alice & Wonder and See Song Designs.

“The wonderful thing about the popup is, regardless of what you are looking for, you are going to find something,” said Lindzi Shanks, founder of the Boss Babes. 

The mission of the popup is to inspire others with the idea of collaboration instead of competition and empower women, according to Shanks.

“We once had a dad come in with his three daughters [and] he kept talking about how a concept like this is really empowering for his little girls,” Shanks said. “When women are collaborative [instead of] competitive, great things can happen. When we work together, we lift each other up.”

Shanks said what draws customers to the shop are the cute products, but the story of the women who created it makes them come back again.

Loyal Instagram followers as well as random shoppers are intrigued by the shop, according to Connor.

“My favorites are the ones that walk past the displays, peeking in, stop, and then backtrack and step in,” Connor said. “A lot of that is the care that goes into making everything so visually appealing.”

The Boss Babes store was designed completely from DIY projects found on Pinterest, Shanks said.

“When we got the space, it was completely white walls and the concrete floor,” said Shanks. “You would be amazed of what a few cans of gold spray paint can do.”

Shanks noted that it is up to Block 37 and the other business owners to decide whether the collective will stay past the end of March, but she is also interested in expanding The Boss Babe to other cities and female companies. 

Tamika Price, the owner of Standout Style, said the popup has been a great learning experience for her as a business owner, particularly with seeing what sells and creating price points.

“At the very least, outside of being a great addition to the holiday sales, learning more about your customer has been the best part for me,” Price said.

The success of the store and the support from customers in a downtown location proves that Chicago is ready for more local businesses, Shanks added.

“The fact that people keep shopping here makes me think that people in Chicago are ready for more local,” Shanks said. “We just get so much love for the idea of the shop and what we are doing.”