Back when Jill Card and her husband were going on their first date, he told her to wear “jeans and a cute top.” More than two decades later, the couple decided that would be the perfect name for Jill’s clothing boutique, where women of all ages and sizes can now find their own jeans and blouse or sweater for a first date, a night on the town with the fellow jury members, or a day spent hanging around the house. Her shop’s apparel quickly earned awards and media attention and enjoyed enough success to launch a second shop just 14 months later and a third boutique three-and-a-half years later. The laudations still pour in; the shop was named the Best Place to Buy Women’s Jeans by West Suburban Living magazine in 2012 and 2013.
To earn this praise, Jill selects a wide range of jeans from brands such as Silver, Level 99, Miracle Body, Jag, Miss Me, Liverpool, and Kut from the Kloth, enabling denim-seekers from multiple generations to find styles they like. Her friendly staff is likewise well versed on the fit and style of every jean in the shop. She also offers free basic hem alterations. To pair with the jeans, Jill's stores overflow with cute tops, sweaters, blouses, and jackets from labels including Nick & Mo, Boho Chic, Insight, BB Dakota, Kensie, and Tulle. Jill and her staff also adorn shoppers in necklaces, scarves, and accessories.
Tucked away in downtown St. Charles, Eliza Jane’s girlie-girl boutique glimmers with trendy accessories and colorful jewelry crafted by 35 local artists, three of who are teen entrepreneurs. A pressed tin ceiling and soft lights hang above a hardwood floor, where the colors pink and white feature strongly among accessories—such as kitchsy purses, vintage bracelets, and stuffed animals—that overflow from tall glass shelving units and tables covered with printed cloth. After customers snag a specialty gift for baby, teacher, or self, Eliza Jane's staff can swaddle it in complimentary pink and brown wrapping. Ladies in need of a pick-me-up can pamper bodies with nonchip mani-pedis, facials, and waxing treatments.
Arming Windy City's flower followers with a bevy of buxom blossoms since 1889, Amling's Flowers brightens occasions across the spectrum with its fresh floral arrangements. Built from the fruits of partnerships with independent petal peddlers, Amling's artistic arrangements help express emotions fit for a range of occasions, from birthdays to funerals to the first of many joyous parking citations. Lilacs soothe schnozes and seers with a sense-pleasing blend of lavender roses and fragrant hydrangea ($39.95), while the Cotton Candy's bursts of roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums issue forth with pastel explosions not seen since Gregor Mendel cross-bred hyacinths with a stick of dynamite ($34.95+).
Dick Pond Athletics outfits runners, wrestlers, and athletes with a large selection of shoes made by brands such as Saucony, adidas, and Nike. Men's, women's, and youth track-and-field shoes allow runners to protect their feet from rough pavement and tracks littered with upside-down waffle cones. Men's shoes include Asics Gel Strike 2s ($44.95) and New Balance 760s ($74.95), and women's include Brooks Sports Lady Defyance 2s ($49.95) and Nike Lady Air Max Moto+ 5s ($53.95).
Epic Group’s president and CEO, Greg Weismantel, built his Academie of Management consulting firm on a decades-deep foundation of executive experience. After 15 years in executive sales and marketing management at General Foods (now Kraft Foods), Weismantel left to lead Manor House Coffee Company, which restored the Chicago landmark brand to prominence.
Since Epic Group’s founding in 2003, the business has split into four distinct branches: Epic Management Group, which is focused on the core mission of managerial consulting; Epic Global Technology, which supports data synchronization through cloud computing; Hawkeye Perfect Measure Systems, which manufactures hardware and software for globally standardized weights and measurements; and Epic Global Pavilion, which provides products to organizations such as schools, booster clubs, churches, and homeowner associations.