Sanem is a girl's girl. She works tirelessly to grow her own business but she's just about the biggest supporter of her fellow entrepreneurs as anyone could be. She's a mother, a wife, a #girlboss, a friend and so much more. Every time I see her, it's easy...like no time has passed. I could talk to this woman about pretty much everything under the sun. She's equal parts serious as she is funny, too. We traded a few mom stories just the other night. She always makes me giggle because she keeps it real. What you don't know is that this beauty is the owner of a thriving boutique nestled in Oak Park for seven years now! That's retail success right there! See how she got started and meet one of my favorite Chicagoans!
Tell us a little about Sanem’s and the mission of your brand. How did you come up with the idea and how hard was it to get started?
I actually started Sanem’s as a wardrobe consulting business in late 2009. After editing women’s closets, I found I was doing a lot of personal shopping for them. Instead of buying clothes from other stores I thought I can extend my business. So, Sanem’s women’s clothing boutique was born.
I opened my brick and mortar boutique as a pop-up shop in early 2010. I had no business plan. No bank loans. No interior designers telling me how I should design my space. I just did it. After 4 months of success I made Sanem’s a permanent business fixture in Oak Park.
Shopping at my boutique is a very unique shopping experience. We are the personal stylist you never knew you had. We are all women on the go - whether you are an independent young woman hitting the social scenes or a working mom on the go. My staff and I save my clients time and money. They don't leave with just clothes, they leave with fashion tips on how to wear one top 3 different ways or the right way to cuff their jeans with a specific pair of booties.
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the fashion industry?
Being an entrepreneur is a part of me - it’s in my blood. I grew up watching my father working in the corporate world and then starting his own business. As a child, my summers that were not spent in Europe visiting family were spent working with my father. His drive and dedication towards his work really influenced me.
I never knew I was going to have a career in the fashion industry until I left the advertising world. I wanted change - I wanted to work in a different field. I found myself having big responsibilities of managing, buying and merchandising other women’s clothing boutiques. I was doing everything but paying the bills. It just hit me. I told myself that I can do this on my own.
2. What one Sanem moment are you the most proud of and why?
When I receive an email or get stopped on the streets of Oak Park by a client raving about how much she loves her purchases from my shop and how amazing she feels in them. It’s not just about looking good. It’s about feeling good, too.
3. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
Okay, here we go. My mornings are somewhat blurry because I am on very little sleep. There’s times I am nursing my almost 3 month old while my hubby is getting our 4 year old ready for school. After the boys leave the house I’ll check my email. I will get back to clients who want to book personal shopping appointments in the boutique or wardrobe edits at their home, getting in touch with vendors and designers to place orders, paying bills, doing my banking and so much more. I am very hands on with my business. I have a staff of 4, one of them being my mother, and can I say there is so much I would not be able to do if it wasn't for her. My mother is AMAZING!
I will set work aside and check back in before dinner and then before I go to bed. I’ll tidy up the house, think of what I am going to cook for dinner and then it’s off to pick up my son, Luke from school. When we get home it’s play time, dinner, bath time, reading and then bedtime. My hubby and I will spend time together whether it’s catching up with the Walking Dead or chatting about life. I’ll feed Henry and put him to sleep and then it’s my turn to catch some z’s.
4. How do you describe your personal aesthetic?
Modern, simple, comfortable and efficient.
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
Honestly, my clients inspire me. They come from different walks of life, which attracts me to their world. My parents are hardworking and dedicated. That impacts my life tremendously. Last but not least, my husband. He is so crazy talented in his field and beyond it’s fascinating. He provides me with advice and ideas that I apply to myself and my business. We make a good team!
6. If you weren't in the fashion industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
An interior designer, a chef or an early childhood educator.
7. It's creative time...what's on your Spotify? What inspires you?
I am a radio kind of gal. I’ll turn on XRT or NPR.
8. Favorite restaurant on a Friday night + why?
I wish I had date night every Friday night with my hubby. If I did, it would be between RPM Italian and Turquoise. For a sexy dinner date I would do RPM. The dining room is fabulous, but I would grab a seat at the bar. Make sure you get the fresh burratta, not the breaded one. Its AMAZING!
For a more playful date night I would do Turquoise. Its brighter and smaller. You must try the Lahmacun. I call it the Turkish version of a thin crust pizza. Ask for it to be served with parsley and red onion. Put it on a slice of the lahmacun, fold it up and enjoy. Just do it - you’ll thank me later.
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
10. Favorite weekend getaway destination?
New Buffalo, Michigan, or a pampered stay at the Langham.
11. 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
12. Bonus question - What's next for Sanem’s?
I really want to test the waters of the ecommerce world. I think everyone is shopping online and I want to tap into that component of my business. Maybe even a Sanem’s II in the city???
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