The husband and wife who have a 2-year old child both own their own businesses, but have managed to carve out careers doing what they love. Chris, who is a graduate of the University of Kansas, started his own graphic design business called Braintrust Design 11 years ago and is also involved in several other projects to further himself as an artist.
Gabrielle, on the other hand, owns and operates “Grow in Motion,” a dance studio located on 7518 W. Madison Street in Forest Park where she gives lessons in American tribal belly dance and also conducts movement therapy. The University of Michigan graduate started her business in the basement of her house in Berwyn, but when the city of Berwyn found out, it told her she didn’t have a license and she would have to find a studio if she wanted to keep her business. She was able to quickly scramble and find a space, but after renting there for two years, she was contacted by her current business partner, Catherine Lewan.
“Catherine called me after I had the baby and told me we should rent a space together in Forest Park,” she said. “When I saw the space, I immediately loved it, but I thought it would be way too expensive. As it turned out, the rent was lower than the space in Berwyn, probably because Forest Park is still an up and coming community.”
Chris has also seen moving to Forest Park as a positive, especially with the support the studio has received from the Forest Park business community.
“We still live Berwyn, but I spurred Gabby to move to Forest Park when the opportunity first came up,” he said. “Berwyn really wasn’t giving us a lot of support and Forest Park is a lot more progressive, so it just made sense to relocate. I really think Forest Park has a great business community. There are the Madison Merchants and Summerfest which offers the progressive dinner. The first time I showed my art was at the progressive dinner and I really got a great reaction.”
Also, since Lewan is a pilates and yoga instructor, it has proved a nice compliment to Gabrielle’s dance studio. Gabrielle has seen growth with her belly-dancing lessons, while still devoting time to movement therapy. Gabrielle, who is a licensed counselor, describes movement therapy as a body centered form of therapy that helps relieve stress related problems and mental health problems. Previously, she worked at McNeil Hospital in Berwyn, using movement therapy to treat many serious types of mental disorders. She has also worked with the Volunteers of America and a program through Roosevelt University that helps formerly incarcerated women reintegrate back to society.
“I don’t market the movement therapy like the belly dance because it often involves people who are struggling and it is a very personal thing,” she said. “Now, I am going to get contracted through insurance companies, so I think a lot of business will come my way without having to advertise.”
As Gabrielle has built her clientele, she credits Chris for helping put a face on her business with his graphic design prowess. And though Chris lists his graphic design job as necessary to pay the bills, his true passion is art. Recently, Chris completed a 10-year project with his friend and poet John Sacelli. The duo completed the angeLynx Divination card deck, featuring 52 cards with Chris’ artwork and Sacelli’s self-created language called Angelish. The deck is a right brain-left brain dialogue, exploring both words and images. After 10 years of working in the graphic design field, Chris realized he wanted to return to artistic routes, so he began to venture to the park with his sketch pad in hand. Slowly what emerged were the initial sketches for the angeLynx deck.
“AngeLynx is a fusion of everything from my design and art background,” he said. “It was a natural progression to combine my art with the deck. I was very influenced by the work of Alex Grey. When I first started school, I wanted to be an artist and illustrator, but then I switched to graphic design because I knew that would be more lucrative. Still, I felt a yearning to get back into art and this has been the perfect outlet. Plus, I was looking for a spiritual path and this allowed me to pursue and explore the world we don’t see.”
Already, angeLynx has exceeded Deschaine’s expectations by slowly building a buzz. He has began to receive orders from all over the world. Plus, he can continue to hone his art by creating new and different decks in the future. In addition to the angeLynx deck, Chris was also recently commissioned to do the artwork for a new Chicago recording label called 180 Music. The projects don’t end there; Chris is also working on designing the packaging for a new scent called “Money.” While Chris continues to focus on his art, Gabrielle’s goal is also to continue to try and grow and shape her business, which is made easier by living in Forest Park.
“It was very difficult to juggle everything when the baby first came, because we would work 24/7. Now, we have reached a good balance both with our careers and our personnel lives. A lot of women in Forest Park are working mothers and so it has been nice to meet and talk with them about my experiences, the move here really has been great for a variety of reasons.”