Mother-daughter duo opens handcrafted goods store in downtown Evanston

Rosalie Chan, Reporter

After quitting her corporate job, Jaime Leonardi looked for work that combined past experiences in retail and her passion for art.

She decided she wanted to open a store for handcrafted goods and her mom, Paulette Leffler, helped her. The mother-daughter duo’s store, Stumble & Relish, 1310 Chicago Ave., adds to Evanston’s array of locally-owned shops. The store is collaborating with other local businesses Saturday to promote their work with a Sip & Shop event. 

“People have been so open to seeing what we have,” Leonardi said. “I love meeting people around and redecorating. It’s a fun, creative outlet.”

The shop sells handcrafted items including jewelry, home decor, greeting cards, vintage pieces and artwork. The products come from festivals, such as the Renegade Craft Fair, companies that make vintage pieces and individual artists from Etsy and Evanston.

Stumble & Relish tries to sell the work of as many Evanston artists as possible, Leonardi said.

At Saturday’s event, Stumble & Relish will work with nearby lollie, 1312 Chicago Ave., Dragonfly, 1309 Chicago Ave., and Perspective Gallery, 1310-1/2 B Chicago Ave.

Lollie, Dragonfly and Stumble & Relish will have sales on their products, feature local artists and designers and offer wine and champagne while customers shop throughout the afternoon.

“I think it adds a more personal touch to the experience,” Dragonfly owner Amy Boone said. 

Perspective Gallery will also promote artist Katsy Johnson’s photography project called “Requiem for a Farmwife.”

“We hope to see a lot of people come out on Saturday,” Lollie owner Alexis Eyler said. “We think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The three shops have a lot to offer. The owners are great people … Their support of local artists is great.”

Leonardi said the people of Evanston and local business owners have been friendly to them since the store opened.

“Evanston is urban enough where people walk by, but it focuses on small businesses,” she said. “We’ve not only had support from neighborhood residents, but support from neighborhood businesses.”

Leonardi enjoys working with her mother, who works at Stumble & Relish a couple of days a week.

“It’s been nice to see each other more regularly,” Leonardi said. “I love doing it, and it’s a great way to connect. We’ve always loved handcrafted art, and there’s common ground for both of us.”

Leonardi has not made products for her store yet, but she hopes to make greeting cards and custom invitations in the future. She also hopes the businesses will work to do more with the community and find ways to give back to schools and charities.

“I think that local and family-owned businesses are really what make a community like Evanston interesting,” Eyler said. “They’re what draw people to it. There’s less of a draw when areas don’t have small businesses. They add a lot of color to a community. They’re what contribute to the economic stability of Evanston.”

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