You’ve been there: You’re in Logan Square, and there’s that one storefront that piques your interest, but you’re on your way to work or chasing after that early bus. And every time you pass by, you swear to yourself that you’re gonna go in, someday.
One store that I finally peeked in is Flair Chicago, located at 2354 N. St. Louis Ave. Flair Chicago, created by Melissa “Melisser” Elliott, has 200+ pins, buttons, patches and other fun items designed by women and members of the LGBTQ community. She also has artwork by members of the gay community, with art exhibitions and wine tastings that pack her tiny storefront.
There are pieces that range from TV memorabilia to edgy, in-your-face humor, a perfect addition to Logan Square’s collection of small businesses that scratch your counter-culture itch. If you were to browse their Instagram page, you’d think it was a huge space, but currently, the location is 150 square feet, the size of some people’s living rooms. But for what the store lacks in footage, it makes up for in warmth and colorful ambiance. There’s even a shop dog, Strummer.
There have been many window shoppers who are turned off by her store, which proudly says, “Defend Trans Youth” and “Black Lives Matter” in the front window. But Elliott, an outspoken person herself, pays them no mind. “I’d rather fail and stick to my beliefs than take a fascist’s money,” she said.
The most interesting part of Flair Chicago is the owner herself. By day, Elliott is a hip and fashionable store owner and the co-founder of Girl Pin Gang, composed of 70 female and gender queer pin artists. By night, she’s Fay Ludes, a ginger-haired drag green with huge eyelashes and colorful outfits that probably would’ve gotten her into any Andy Warhol party.
Elliott opened her store in fall of 2016. She’s since been learning the challenges of running a retail store, with the help and advice of other local business owners. When asked what her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be, her list is as follows:
- Have a clear vision of what you want, while leaving room to be flexible.
- Align yourself with other businesses.
- Stay true to yourself.
- Build an emotional support group.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, starting a business,” Elliott said. “Surround yourself with people who believe in you.”
Her hard work has paid off. At the end of this month, Flair Chicago will be moving to a 450-square-foot location at 3415 W. Fullerton Ave., after some renovation and the Renegade Craft Fair. For more information and to attend the open house, follow Flair Chicago on Facebook and Instagram.