By Nona Tepper
Takara Beathea-Gudell will be moving her Oak Park-based clothing and accessories store to Forest Park in mid-June, a move inspired, in part, by her desire to find better dance partners.
"I'm happy to be part of a business district again. I think, for me, I'm more of a high-end fashion designer and I'm like an island over here" in the Oak Park Arts District, she said. "I'm not really dancing with anyone, so I need to partner with businesses that are right at my price point. I just think it makes a better shopping experience."
The Takara store will open in the 800-square-foot space at 7502 Madison St., immediately adjacent to Madison Street Shoes and near MacDaddy Salon.
Originally from the St. Croix Virgin Islands, Beathea-Gudell started her career as a 19-year-old accessory designer in California, where she would buy large quantities of shells, sit on her porch in Pasadena and string them into earrings. She then sold them to passersby on the beach. Her seashell earrings took off, area boutiques started stocking them and eventually Beathea-Gudell built a solid career as an accessory designer for such big-name department stores as Nordstrom, Joseph Magnin, Sears and more.
As Beathea- Gudell aged, her interest in fashion evolved into clothing, and she opened an Oak Park boutique in 1999, currently located at 140 Harrison St.
"Takara was looking to expand her Harrison Street store and looked at multiple locations in Oak Park and, quite candidly, what she was looking for, what her requirement was in terms of size, condition of space, and location did not exist in Oak Park," said David King, owner of the Oak Park-based David King & Associates real estate company and a Forest Park resident who represented Takara in the transaction. "She will make a fabulous addition to Madison Street."
Beathea-Gudell said she designs most of the pieces herself, and said she's now known for her playful use of fabrics like mesh, Neoprene, fleece and more. Her contour collection is currently made of recycled water bottles.
"But now that we're going into the spring, I like to use metallic linens and gauze and cottons, I try to stick to a lot of natural fibers," she said.
Her Forest Park store opening will coincide with the introduction of her new clothing line, which will feature a "crinkle collection" of intentionally wrinkled clothes in new designs and shapes. Clothes run from extra-small to extra-extra-large sizes. Beathea-Gudell is also known for designing individual pieces for customers with specific needs, like breast cancer survivors. At her new store, she will also launch a line of body care products, a new Takara fragrance, designer glasses frames and a "cute little Takara shoe that's like a ballet slipper but really fabulous," she said.
Beathea-Gudell is currently interviewing for a manager at the new store. Interested applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
"Opening stores is like a puzzle to me, I just love to put all the pieces together," she said.