VOYAGE CHICAGO : Meet Lale Ketcham of Windy City Bebe in Lakeview and Southport Corridor
THE BELOW ARTICLE RAN IN VOYAGE CHICAGO SEPTEMBER 2017
Today we’d like to introduce you to Lale Ketcham.
Lale, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far. Born & Raised in Chicago, I am a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with Degree in Fashion Business. I also studied abroad at Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Italy.
I have always had an interest in fashion. From my teenage years of perusing various fashion magazines, to my adult years working for various fashion brands. I would have to say my interest in the different or unusual fashion trends sprouted at an early age, from my years spent traveling abroad with my parents; (my dad often worked overseas, and we spent our childhood summers in Turkey (I am half Turkish)
My start in the children’s fashion business came shortly after I had my son Aydin. He had a rough start at life, and was born with a heart condition, this threw our entire world upside down and I decided to stay home with him for the first few months. My new found role as him mama was definitely an adjustment. I had tried to remain true to myself, and maintain my own identity- I started a blog under the same name, and used it as an outlet to share my experiences with other women.
Shortly after starting the blog I created a namesake children’s line of handmade leather moccasins, and offered them at pop-up shops and via the e-commerce platform. It was during this time that I also started working for a showroom based out of the merchandise mart. I traveled the Midwest selling children’s clothing brands to retailers.
I felt children’s fashion, (especially in Chicago) was lacking. I was having the hardest time finding the fashion I had wanted for my son. My own fashion style has always been inspired by global street fashion, and I yearned to find similar looks for children. Unable to find the pieces I was looking for, I was inspired by my son as my muse and created my own clothing line. (It was distributed to retailers across the United States).
It wasn’t until a fluke opportunity arose, when my husband encouraged the opportunity to open a brick and mortar location. At first I thought we were insane, but the motto of “you won’t know until you try” and the overwhelming support from my husband, family and friends made the decision easy.
It was March 2016 when we signed our lease, and May 2016 when we opened our doors. It was a whirlwind adventure of traveling to LA & NYC and sourcing unique products across the globe.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome? There have been many struggles with my journey. I mean what is a journey without a few bumps in the road to test everything along the way? I have encountered bullies, critics, and had plenty of sleepless nights, but it is the positive that keeps me going.
I remind myself daily that not only am I doing this to chase my own dreams, but also lead by example for my child. I also remind myself that by having a small business I am supporting so many other small businesses. The foundation of my business will always be deeply rooted in encouraging entrepreneurship especially that for women. (Over 80% of our products are women designed and owned business)
Windy City Bebe – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition? Windy City Bebe is a unique collection of children’s clothing, shoes, accessories, books and toys. We are known for our unusual products that truly bring life to children’s fashion, and reminds us all what being a kid is; FUN. I am most proud that Windy City Bebe remains true to itself and its foundation with its styling, the never ending search for new product that keeps us feeling young at heart and puts smiles on all of our customers’ faces. I am most proud that over 80% of our products are Women designed/owned businesses; big or small from the showroom floors in NYC or the pages of Etsy wholesale, we are endlessly supporting women small business.
Our collection is specially curated, it is sourced, felt and loved before it makes its way into our doors. We try to stand apart from all of the others, whether it be locally or internationally our collection is unlike any other.
Our Motto has always been: Curated Fashion For Cool City Kids.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on? We opened our doors in May of 2016 and September of the same year we won Chicago’s Best by Chicago Magazine. This year we won Chicago’s best by the Chicago Reader. And! This year I was named the “Queen” of Children’s Fashion by the Chicago Chic.
This has been the most humbling, experience of my entire life.
The average price point of our clothing is $25
Newborn to 6 years (some lines go larger or we can order for you)
Delivery is available same day in Chicago via Postmates- we can even throw in a balloon!
We are the only children’s boutique in Chicago to offer 100% e-commerce, meaning all of our products are available for purchase online
Address: 1423 w. Belmont Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60657 (just west of southport)