Located in the depths of Chicago, alternative boutique Milk Handmade sits decorated in an assortment of twinkly lights. Spread across the store are distressed wood tables, vintage ladder displays, milk jugs and crates; emanating a modern farmhouse aesthetic. All wooden furniture has been custom made by a local artist from dumpster-rescued wood. The boutique accommodates a comfy environment with a snug and cozy feel to it. Customer favourite pet greyhound, Sauvie, sleeps on the couch all day, welcoming familiar guests.

Milk Handmade | Photography of Milk Handmade

Suki and Solaine, stocked at Milk Handmade | Image courtesy of owners

Displayed all over the store are a delightful assortment of accessories, clothing and bath & beauty products that appeal to a wide range of shoppers. Adhering to a consistent style perspective, trendier pieces are chosen and balanced out with more timeless concepts.

Soap Distillery, stocked at Milk Handmade | Image courtesy of owners

Soap Distillery, stocked at Milk Handmade | Image courtesy of owners

Michelle Starbuck, stocked at Milk Handmade | Image courtesy of owners

Founder Hallie Borden envisioned a space for independent designers to sell ethically made and locally sourced sustainable products. While the style of the boutique has evolved since 2012, the philosophy behind it remains the same. Around 80% of all products are made in Chicago and many of the labels carried are one-woman productions.

Milk Handmade | Photography courtesy of Milk Handmade

image6

Milk Handmade | Photography courtesy of Milk Handmade

“The great thing about sourcing local is that most designers find me. Oftentimes, we’ll pick up a new designer, and a week later I’ll hear from all of the designers in her network. We have a steady stream of artist submissions, which makes my job easier. (Although it can be tough to choose!)”

– Hallie Borden

Milk Handmade | Photography courtesy of Milk Handmade

Alicia Mohr, stocked at Milk Handmade | Image courtesy of owners

Designers need to be established enough to handle the demands of a business, yet small enough to fit in with the small-batch philosophy of Milk to be an attractive match. Hallie’s picks of her favourite local brands from Milk are Suki & Solaine, Sophia Reyes, Michelle Starbuck, Hovet, CHC , Soap Distillery and Alicia Mohr. These brands lend to the store’s cosy aesthetic and continue to support the local scene.

 

With special thanks to Hallie Borden for her personal comments.