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Meet Karen O’Sullivan of Share in Wilmette

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen O’Sullivan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Karen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised on the east coast. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I worked as an editor and stylist at fashion and lifestyle magazines. I relocated to Chicago with my husband and landed in advertising for a bit. When I chose to stay home with my three daughters, I kept my creativity alive by creating a small clothing line. In 2010, I co-founded a lifestyle pop up shop, while also taking on several home design and event projects.

I finally decided to take the plunge and open share in February 2016. I always wanted to own a shop, but also felt strongly about finding a way to keep it fresh and unique. A visit to share is meant to feel like an experience: the shop is staged like a home and the merchandise changes all the time. But share is also about so much more than shopping; it is a place where people can come and connect with others.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been a very smooth road. I am not the type of person who can put a business plan on paper, but the vision has always been very clear in my mind. I felt confident in the idea and have been so fortunate to have very loyal clients who believe in what I do. I have relied mainly on word of mouth and social media to get the word out about share.
By hosting and renting the space for events, new people learn about share all the time. It is always the best feeling when someone enters share and immediately feels connected to the space.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the share story. Tell us more about the business.
Share is a creative hub: share is a shop, a design studio and an event space. Share is filled with a curated selection of home decor, apparel and accessories that change often. I feel share is a truly unique shop because I draw on my experiences at magazines and regularly treat the shop like a new issue. People always say, “Wow, it looks different every time I come in here”. That makes me so happy because I hate nothing more than a shop that sells the same merchandise and displays it in the same way all the time.

People like to shop share because they know they can get a great gift, find a little something for themselves without spending a lot of money. I work very hard to keep my prices low and my merchandise uncommon.

I offer design services; anything from creating a vignette on a coffee table to remodeling a bathroom. I love finding ways to refresh a home without running out and buying all new things. I am a big fan of slipcovers, reupholstering and paint! People look to me for my laid back, but polished aesthetic. My look is very east coast, beach vibe, but not over-the-top (no red anchors hanging on the wall at share!) I like to keep it very light and clean and then inject the homeowners’ personality with accessories. My approach is to make a home feel like a comfortable, family friendly vacation home.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Great question! Is there any such thing as gut luck? I have always trusted my gut and it has worked for me, I feel that if you believe in something and feel really passionate about it, it’s worth exploring. I always knew I would be doing something like I am today, but am so glad I waited for the right time to open share.

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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.

1 Comment

  1. Aunt Rose

    October 26, 2017 at 2:22 am

    Congratulations to you Karen for such a great success, I know
    everyone is proud of you, also believe you are a reflection
    of where you came from and a student of the best (your mom).
    I never met such talent that runs in the family, so best of
    luck to you and hope some day to come and visit your shoppe,
    I love the look.

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