Oh, you pretty things

By HermineBloom

Owner of Truffle Truffle, Nicole Greene, worked as a presidential management fellow for the federal government before opening her sophisticated confectionery business. Succumbing to what she calls her “internal Martha Stewart,” she began selling handmade truffles and the like to various cafes throughout Chicago and online in 2008. Heather Sperling, editor for the online-food publication Tasting Table Chicago, provided Greene with her first press as a small unknown business.

“From that initial contact, we always maintained a good relationship, and I’m forever grateful to her for giving us exposure when we were unknown,” Greene said. “She has such an amazing palate.”

When Sperling approached Greene about being a vendor at a European-style market called the Dose Market, Greene was quick to accept. Last November, Sperling teamed up with three local cultural curators: Emily Fiffer, editor of culture blog DailyCandy; April Francis, wardrobe stylist and founder of The Haute Closet; and Jessica Herman, associate style and shopping editor for Time Out Chicago magazine. Together, they developed the idea for Dose Market, a highly curated refined indoor market held at the River East Art Center, 435 E. Illinois St., with 20 food vendors and 20 fashion vendors from around the city. As a result of their collective clout and taste, the ladies assembled their favorite products and lines—some of which have never been sold at a market or resale for that matter.

Beginning on June 5, the Dose Market will take place on one Sunday per month. Some vendors will inevitably return, but new ones will spring up regularly. Sperling said keeping the look of their tables and products fresh is invaluable.

“The market is curated by these four incredible women,” Greene said. “I have absolute faith in their taste, and I know so many of their readers in the city do as well.”

Deciding on the aesthetic quality and market’s character was the first step, which was a quick and easy process, Francis said.

“We all knew we wanted it to be very edited [and] highly curated,” she said. “And we wanted to bring in companies we absolutely believe in [and] we want to give more exposure [to].”

X-marx, a supper club that hosts pop-up dining events and serves dishes inspired by different cuisines each week, is one such vendor, poised to sell prepared foods at a table at Dose Market for the first time.

“You’ve always had to go to one of [X-marx’s] dinners,” Sperling said. “This is unprecedented for them.”

According to Sperling, founder of Rare Tea Cellar, Rodrick Markus is responsible for renovating the tea lists at many of Chicago’s top restaurants, such as Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph Ave.; and Naha, 500 N. Clark St. Markus’ tea isn’t currently available for resale anywhere but will be sold at Dose Market in June.

Similarly, the partners behind vintage shop Deliciously Vintage, 1747 S. Halsted St., will sell their garments at a market for the first time.

Law Roach, co-founder of Deliciously Vintage, said he met Francis two years ago because they’re both members of Chicago’s fashion community. Since then, they’ve become friends who admire each other’s work, which is why he was thrilled to set up a table at the Dose Market though he said he generally believes certain markets cheapen his aesthetic.

“At a normal market, there’s tons of stuff and all that digging,” Roach said. “The way [Francis] set it up is going to be more selective. I think what [she] does and who she is aligns with what we do at Deliciously Vintage.”

At Roach’s shop, they sell clothes every season based on the collections designers are showing and only buy vintage clothes and accessories from estate sales and private sellers. They’re committed to focusing on a particular color or silhouette or a piece that’s reminiscent of what Marc Jacobs might design that year, Roach added.

Fashion, Francis said, is generally synonymous with a trend, but it should encompass a lifestyle and include music or art, for example. That’s why food, fashion, stationary, jewelry and reimagined boom boxes are sold at Dose Market. In particular, fashion and food have a special relationship, which is evident in fashion blogs and magazines.

“When you’re putting on a cool outfit, you’re going out to a great restaurant because that’s what Chicago is known for,” Francis said. “It’s natural. I feel if you’re aware of one, you’re aware of the other.”

Sperling noted that during the last couple of years, people who are working in the food world have branched outside the restaurant scene like X-marx. They all share the same kind of artisan approach that draws people to fashion, Sperling said.

“They’re made with phenomenal materials, there’s a great story behind them, they’re passionate and they’re devoting their lives to it,” she said. “Someone who really cares [about] what they wear, shops at boutiques and likes local designers will also want to stock their pantry with artisan foods because it’s an extension of what they love in other parts of their life. The philosophy behind a lot of the food products we have at this market, it’s the same with clothes [but] a different outcome.”

Other markets like the Green City Market, for example, share a similar sentiment. Though it’s also devoted to selling locally grown, sustainable food and products, the market takes place outside in the middle of the summer and doesn’t feature fashion.

Greene, who has yet to participate in a market thus far, cites dealing with the heat as a logistical challenge in selling at outdoor markets.

“That’s always been enough of a deterrent, but this was a great opportunity for us to do whatever we want without having to worry about those challenges,” Greene said.

She hopes to sell their signature truffles and beer and pretzel products in addition to cakes and pies packaged in jam jars at Dose Market.

The fact that it is so refined and well-thought-out was appealing to vendors like Greene and Roach, among others.

“It’s all about local businesses and that’s important to us philosophically because that’s a big part of our business model,” Greene said. “We do very much care about doing everything by hand.”