Each month, the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce highlights a different business from our neighborhood. This month we caught up with one of Ravenswood’s most stylish entrepreneurs, Emilia Dlugolecka, owner of Mrs. & Mrs. DIGZ! Located at 1770 W Berteau in the historic Deagan Building, DIGZ is a boutique specializing in designer resale and consignment, as well as items and accessories from over 10 local designers.
Thanks for making time for us this month! First question– wow long has Mr. & Mrs. DIGZ been open?
MMD moved into the neighborhood 2 years ago. We were in Andersonville for 7 years prior to relocating to Ravenswood. We will be celebrating our 9th anniversary on May 5th!
What inspired you to start your own business? What were you doing before DIGZ?
I don’t know if “inspired” is the word I would use. I was laid off from Jones Lang LaSalle in January of 2009. Commercial Real Estate was tanking at the time and so were thousands of jobs. I did not want to go back to the corporate world after that. So I got really creative.
Was there someone or something that got you interested in fashion?
Fashion was always something I was interested in. I was the youngest of 3 girls so everything I owned was a hand-me-down. When I turned 14, I got a job after school just so I could make money and spend it on whatever I wanted. New clothes, after years of those hand-me-downs, was a must! Ever since then, fashion was finally attainable. Maybe that’s why I went into resale instead of retail. I wanted people who couldn’t afford designer items, like I couldn’t, to have them as well. Hmm, interesting. I’ve never thought about that before!
What can I find at your shop that I can’t find anywhere else?
Mr. & Mrs. DIGZ carries only 1 of everything. Because of this, the pieces we have are special. You will be the only person with that dress or handbag versus having 10 of the same dress on one rack. Our items are carefully chosen. We carry a great variety of styles, colors and sizes so you can always find a special item.
What’s the transition from a retail to a studio space been like?
The transition from a brick-n-mortar storefront to a loft studio space has been heaven! It costs money to park on the street so that right there is a deterrent for customers. Anyone and everyone can walk into your on-street storefront and most days I would have people coming in who were waiting for the bus, waiting for their manicure appointment, waiting for their lunch table, etc etc. At least 50% of people would come in for other reasons than to shop in the boutique.
In the loft space, that issue does not exist. People who come to the loft are seeking out Mr. & Mrs. DIGZ and are ready to shop. Street parking is plentiful and free! The other big difference is price in rent and bills. My monthly expenses are 1/3 of what they were on Clark Street. The other difference is exclusivity. The loft offers clients a more personal shopping experience. It is private, more relaxing and just a fun time.
What’s the biggest challenge in running your business?
When you absolutely love what you do, there really is no challenge. It becomes part of life and the two become one. There is no such thing as a “day off”. That might be the only real challenge. The hardest part, for me, is saying no to a client. If it is my day off and a client says they have a large amount of designer items to consign, guess what I’m doing? Dropping everything and meeting that client. If I don’t, they will go somewhere else and I do not want that to happen. I can always resume the day-off after I meet with my client.
What do customers say they love the most about MMD?
My clients love that they can come in, throw their coats off and have the boutique to themselves. It is a very relaxing atmosphere. They also love the fact that I take great pride in the items I accept from consignors. Every piece is special and in excellent condition if not new.
What’s your most popular line or item?
My most popular items are definitely handbags. Designer handbags are extremely expensive and a lot of times not attainable. But when they are at DIGZ they very well might be in your budget and if not, there’s always our lay-away option! I have many clients asking for first dibs on certain designer items. Not knowing what kind of items are coming in is half the fun. You never know what you are going to find here. New items arrive daily!
What do you love most about working in Ravenswood? Or about working with the Greater Ravenswood Chamber?
Ravenswood has a very eclectic vibe that I absolutely love and feel a great connection to. There is an amazing sense of history here and and offers everything from great food, art, shopping and of course locally brewed beer! What’s not to love?
The GRCC is 2 doors down from me. That is my first favorite thing about them! Next to that, I very much appreciate all of the advice, guidance and help they have provided me in the last 2 years. Including us in the ArtWalk and other festivals boosts sales greatly so I am extremely appreciative of all of their efforts to help their members succeed.
Like many businesses in Ravenswood, you’ve got a pup that hangs out in your boutique. Care to introduce her to us?
If you have ever visited the loft, you will know that I bring my partner in crime to work with me every day. My sweet little furry baby, Elizabeth Olivia, a.k.a. Ellie. She greets people when they walk in but you will find her most days just sleeping in her bed next to my desk. She’s not a very good sales person but boy is she cute!
Have you had any famous customers or clients?
I cannot share any of that information but we definitely have had our share of musicians, athletes and celebrities. Some have been consignors as well as clients so you never know if you are wearing something that was once owned by a famous celeb! (wink wink)
Mr. & Mrs. DIGZ
1770 W Berteau, Suite 205
Chicago, IL 60613