There are not many places in Chicago that you can walk into and feel like a Parisian for the day. Well, if you have never had this feeling, there is a good chance you have not been to The Left Bank in Chicago. With its French ambiance and vintage miss-match furniture it truly does make you feel like you are walking the streets of Paris.
Sitting at 1155 W. Webster Avenue in the residential area of Lincoln Park, The Left Bank fits perfectly in it’s location where it has been for 20 years.
Owner, Susan Metropoulos, has always had an interest in jewelry. “Some women love shoes, I love jewelry. And I’ve loved jewelry ever since I can remember. It’s that story of diving into your mom’s and grandma’s jewelry box, they were both big accessory mavens,” she said. “Especially my grandma, she wore the real stuff and fake stuff and she always looked fabulous.”
She soon became comfortable with the jewelry industry as she worked in a jewelry store part time, in addition to her full time job. The task of importing and exporting jewelry came easy to Susan, as she loved to expose French jewelry lines that had not yet been marketed in the U.S. In 1995, in Crain’s Magazine, the news of Navy Pier opening on May 1st spread.
“They were looking for small businesses, ‘to sell small trinkets and do dads,’ and I thought wow that could be me,” Susan said. “So I cold called them and they listened to me and I went in there with a small business plan on one page.”
They loved her idea, and after one meeting Susan’s dreams of owning her own jewelry store were becoming all too real! After 3 years Susan moved her ever-thriving business to the streets of Lincoln Park, which eventually blossomed into a Bridal Boutique. Her petite store truly captured the charm and essence of what Paris holds.
Susan has always been a fan of Paris and named the store after her favorite part. “I always wanted a ‘Frenchy’ store and the Left Bank is a very charming part of Paris, that’s where the artists and all the writers hung out. It is filled with cafes and boutiques, it never gets old, it is a really magical place.”
Besides jewelry, The Left Bank also sells wedding shoes. They started selling shoes about 10 years ago after seeing a large gap in the market for brides. Susan says that department stores just did not want to sell them. So, naturally, she took on the job to cater exactly what brides need, shoes!
” People definitely seek out comfortable wedding shoes, people want fashion forward, they want pretty, everyone does, but you really want to be comfortable,” says Susan.
Their most popular brand of shoes are Angela Noran shoes. These shoes were based off of ball room shoes and re-designed and sized to capture the brides eye. “There is 10 times more padding, the concept is a pillow top mattress for your foot,” says Susan. “They are soft and flexible to hold you in.”
They sound like the perfect shoe, don’t they? Beyond the comfort aspect, these shoes are completely customizable. They can be died a specific color, you can adjust the front to fit your foot, and change the buckle depending on your style!
The Left Bank really has marketed itself as everything but the dress. It has a wide variety of earrings, bracelets, veils, head pieces, belts, bridesmaids gifts, guest books, etc.
With so many options, sometimes brides may get a little overwhelmed. However, something The Left Bank offers, that other salons do not, is a styling service. They partner with salons such as, The Dress Doctor, Ms. Couture, and Reddington.
“We send a stylist out to their fitting with a treasure trove of headpieces, veils, shoes, and jewelry and we get to know what the look and feel and her personal style is,” says Susan. “It really helps them see it all together with their dress.”
Brides are definitely in the right hands at The Left Bank. Not only have they been working with brides for over 20 years, but they have an eye for trends. For example, they have been seeing a lot more brides personalizing items for their weddings and really making it their own.
Another trend Susan has noticed in the last few months is Boho Chic. However, she thinks it may take a little longer to get to the Mid West, the “casual, earthy kind of feel” will soon make its way to Chicago. In addition to Boho, brides also want the glam! Boho Glam may be something to look out for in 2015!
Being in the wedding industry trends come and go. It is important to keep yourself immersed in what’s next.
“We do have a lot of events. We usually have one trunk show a year, when a designer comes in doing either a personal appearance or designers are shipping in a limited edition selection or best of their core collection ad brides get to come see, meet and work directly with the designer,” says Susan.
Last year The Left Bank hosted a event launching Diann Valentine’s signature bridal cuff, as worn by Real Housewives of Orange Country star Tamra Judge. This item is now sold at The Left Bank.
In the end, The Left Bank has taken the wedding industry by storm, delivering brides with what they want and need to make their day even more special.
” I think we have really evolved and we listen to what he brides are looking for and our innate sense of what we like to see and how we like to be treated when we go shopping ourselves,” she says.