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Meet Jaime Leonardi of stumble & relish

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jaime Leonardi.

Jaime, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My Mom, Paulette, and I have always loved seeking out small boutiques and hand-crafted goods where ever we were. Many of our conversations over the years ended with “someday when we own our own shop…”. I spent my career working in graphic design and package design. Through my design work, I found a love and admiration for typography, letterpress greeting cards, illustration and small artisans in general.

My Mom was retiring from teaching and I had decided it was time to work towards opening a retail shop. After a few years of freelancing and mentorship from a creative entrepreneur, we decided to open a shop. We believe the things you relish most are the treasures you stumble upon, hence the name “stumble & relish”. We chose Evanston because of the supportive community and flourishing art scene.

We wanted to create a destination of goods focused on greeting cards, jewelry and gifts. In an era of online shopping, we worked to create a cozy environment with an assortment of price points and a human connection to the goods. Stumble & Relish prides itself on being part of the community from hosting trunk shows, working with our local organizations and getting to know our neighbors.

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?
Is anything ever smooth? In our first year open we had a huge leak and it was one of the harshest Winter’s in Chicago history – not great for a new business but we got through it. We also didn’t account for the daily attention our inventory management and accounting would take, we have learned so many ways to better our processes over the past 4 years. Every bump in the road has taught us that being adaptive is truly a superpower.

Please tell us about stumble & relish.
The core of our business is working with small business makers. We enjoy getting to know the process behind the creation of the goods and the folks that make them. We are known for our eclectic assortment of jewelry and greeting cards. Over time we have become known for carrying Evanston and Chicago specific goods.

We are most proud of the work we have done outside our shop – working with our neighbors, donating to local organizations, taking part in our business district and being a part of the Evanston community.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was nine, I got the chance to travel to San Antonio to visit family. It was a trip I still think of today, I learned how to play poker, enjoy Tex-Mex and Southern cuisine and we went antiquing.

I found this small sapphire and silver ring. It was the first “real” piece of jewelry I ever bought. I still have it to this day. It truly was the beginning of my love of vintage pieces, jewelry and exploring new things in general.

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Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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