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Local business empowers women one item at a time

Local business empowers women one item at a time
Local business empowers women one item at a time 03:30

CHICAGO (CBS)--  As you're out shopping for holiday gifts, it's always nice if you can make that first stop a local one.

A shop in Ravenswood is filled with some of the most unique gifts and art because it's all original work by female artists.

That's where the shop gets its name, Bon Femmes, which is French for "good women." It's run by one woman who says, she just wanted to give female artisans a home to sell their work.

Omotola Akinbiyi owns Bon Femmes on North Damen Avenue.

"At no point did I plan on having a brick-and-mortar," Akinbiyi said.

It's a small space, but in it, she somehow manages to fit an eclectic world of art, clothing, and jewelry all created by women.

"So many of the artists are so helpful even when, like, it was obvious, I wasn't like, sure what I was doing," she said. 

Akinbiyi started off as a blogger, covering food, fashion, and art.

"I started doing interviews with women artists and I learned more about their struggles making money," Akinbiyi said.

To Akinbiyi, the solution seemed clear.

"I was like, I could sell their art and then they can make money," Akinbiyi said.

Like her blog, Bon Femmes started online.

"At the beginning, all I had was art prints, some stationery, some home goods, and then I was like, wait, what am I doing? Why am I stopping myself?" Akinbiyi said. "Women make so much more than just art."

Akinbiyi knew she could do more than just sell online. The risky part was opening in the midst of a pandemic. 

"When I first opened, naturally I was scared, but Ravenswood is so good at shopping local," Akinbiyi said.

She's gone from finding artists to being sought out by them.

"Which is insane because like some of these artists, my gosh, I know you and respect and have been following you for so long and you want your stuff in my shop," Akinbiyi said.

From curated vintage collections to handmade pieces, Bon Femmes aims to have a little bit of something, for everyone. 

Outside of working hours Akinbiyi also likes to use the space for free events like book swaps, cocktail workshops, and even a Real Housewives Trivia Night

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