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Meet Melody Kratz of Studio 8 in Oak Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melody Kratz.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been an artist. Mostly creating what I couldn’t afford. Paintings, furniture etc. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had clear images of art I wanted and furniture design I loved. When I lived in Memphis, I worked for a high end painted furniture designer after I graduated college. I worked in quality control and managed about 20 artists who painted the furniture. I learned a lot about how to paint furniture, what people were looking for and the amount of labor involved. After I had my second and third children (twins), I realized working and caring for the kids at the same time was not an option. To keep myself sane (and to bring in a little cash), I began scouring alleys for discarded furniture. I would restore pieces, paint and resell them. I began having people follow my work and request custom pieces. When the twins started school, I knew it was time for me to do something for myself. I wanted to incorporate all of my interests and experience into one business. I was watching my best friend (Leah Brussock Goodwin) open her vintage store and realized that my love of vintage art and furniture could only be combined by opening my own store.  So in a split second, I came up with the idea of Studio 8 – creating the art studio I always dreamed of and an outlet to sell my creations. I had looked at a space in South Oak Park that was sorely in need of some TLC – a small 1960s-style building set inside a concrete yard. The owners wanted to tear the building down, so there began my persistence and begging them to let me rent the building for just one year. After 4 months of aggravating the hell out of them, the owners finally threw me a key and told me to have at it. It took me three months to clean the space up enough to open my doors. The first day I turned on my “Open” sign, my first customer walked through the door. I knew then that this was going to work. Three months later, Leah closed her shop and joined forces with me. Leah specializes in vintage and estate jewelry. She takes up almost half the store with everything ranging from costume, sterling and fine jewelry. We’ve been in business for almost 2.5 years now and things are going great. We run outdoor vintage flea markets from April thru October that bring in vendors from all over the area. Our little shop will see about 200 customers on a flea market day. It’s so rewarding to hear from our customers about how much they love the shop and the unique pieces they find here. Our motto is that we are making Vintage Modern. Every item we place in our store is art in our eyes.

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?
There have been bumps along the way. I couldn’t get a business loan due to my husband had just started his own business 2 years earlier and I wasn’t bringing in a legit paycheck. I used my IRA to fund the business. My location has its pitfalls. Since there are no other retail shops close by we must keep our doors locked for security reasons. Getting the word out and keeping up with inventory also has its challenges. Even with these it has been a rewarding adventure.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Studio 8 story. Tell us more about the business.
Studio 8 is a unique vintage boutique. We sell everything from vintage jewelry, furniture, art and home décor. We are not your average antique store. Every item we sell on the floor has been thought out and carefully chosen. We never put out broken, dusty or down right disgusting items we have all seen in traditional antique stores. We want our store to feel like your most interesting friends home. We are proud of the vibe Studio 8 has created and the inspiration we offer.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I have never thought of myself as a lucky person but life continues to bring me what I need. This shop has brought me such happiness and love from the community. It’s not easy to ask for help but when you are a small business owner it is crucial to ask for support. Luckily, that is exactly what we have been given. Much support.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Studio 8
    1125 Garfield Street
    Oak Park, IL 60304
  • Website: www.studio8oakpark.com
  • Phone: 708-665-3145
  • Email: info@studio8oakpark.com
  • Instagram: Studio 8 Oak Park
  • Facebook: Studio 8 – Oak Park

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.

2 Comments

  1. James j. Hennessey

    July 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    I was delighted to see this article –I believe that your shop is on the site of Parichy Roofing co. where my father worked as a salesman for many years in the 50’s & 60’s .Parichy was also the patron of the women’s baseball team “Parichy Bloomer Girls” and owned Parichy Stadium at Harlem and Garfield. Good luck in your venture , on my next visit home to Oak Park, I’ll stop by.

  2. Paul Vlakancic

    July 18, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Very nice ladies. Nice story too!

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