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Meet Kenya Renee of Absolutely Anything Essential Gift Shop in Bronzeville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kenya Renee.

Kenya, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
With a passion for all things handmade, and going back to simpler times utilizing natural ingredients and recycled remnants, all while sticking to a budget. Absolutely Anything Essential was initially created as a pop up gift shop gracing flea markets and vendor events throughout Illinois for Pier One Import Lovers and Hobby Lobby Addicts.

Over the past year we’ve opened our intimate shop in the heart of the thriving Bronzeville entertainment district of Chicago featuring jewelry, bath and body products, home decor and fragrances, apparel, one of a kind gifts, personal and pet accessories, gourmet treats, party favors and much more.

The Absolutely Anything Essential gift shop is now an incubator space that offers an eclectic ensemble of over 15 businesses under one roof. We have assembled an array of local and national vendors along with skillful crafters and business entrepreneurs who showcase unique product lines that embody our company’s image of a “Modern & Urban Lifestyle.”

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?
Although we went from embracing a hobby to now owning a brick and mortar in a short period of time. I took many entrepreneurship classes. I competed in business plan competitions. And I won the Chicago Urban League’s business plan competition May of 2016 which inspired me to open the establishment.

It’s still a learning process and we are constantly implementing more ways to keep shoppers interested in shopping with us instead of going to big box stores.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We allow local vendors, artists, designers, authors, handmade artisans, entrepreneurs to experience a retail space, our vendors can utilize the space to host private events, pop up vend and make their products in house at our establishment.

Absolutely Anything Essential also has our own signature lines of bath and body products, home decor, home fragrance and specialty gifting.

We are proud to continue our efforts to be environmentally conscious in all parts of business. In fall 2016, we proudly introduced our recycle program that helps our customers reduce carbon imprints and save money on their favorite Absolutely Anything Essential product. Our customers can bring back their glass jars purchased at our gift shop and receive discounts on their purchases.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was heavily into the arts and many called me a dreamer. I was raised in a home of 4 women who worked hard. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood called Calumet Heights near 87th and Stony Island.

My grandmother had many jobs and specialized in many things, from sewing quilts, skirts and curtains, then selling them at local flea markets each weekend. I grew up accompanying her each Saturday and Sunday every summer, majority of my life.

Pricing:

  • Pop Up Vendor Spaces begins at $35 a month
  • Private Event Space rental begins at $75 an hour
  • Spend $30 or more in our gift shop receive a free Tote Bag

Contact Info:

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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