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Is beauty in the eye of the beholder or does it come from within? While either view may be fundamentally true, Forest Park business owner Eden DeGenova is most interested in exploring the latter perspective, specifically by helping women realize or rediscover their inner beauty at her lingerie boutique in Forest Park.

Baubo’s Garden, which was opened last September by DeGenova and celebrated its one-year anniversary over the weekend, is a quaint shop that offers a wide selection of intimate apparel for everyday wear or special occasions. She also promises personalized service and a selection for women of any age; ideas that evolved from DeGenova’s own desire for such a store.

“I was sitting on my back porch with a very dear friend of mine having a few drinks and we were talking about how there’s no place where you can get really good lingerie,” DeGenova said. “I said, ‘Let’s open a shop’.”

DeGenova parlayed that idea into the business that exists today within the thriving Madison Street corridor. DeGenova has devoted herself to the boutique, but a little divine intervention via the Greek goddess Baubo has also helped her burgeoning business.

Baubo is the Greek goddess devoted to women’s femininity.

“I found out about Baubo in some readings and I was fascinated by her,” DeGenova said about the belly goddess known for her female, regenerative power. “Baubo is the woman who brought Demeter [Zeus’ wife] out of depression by baring her belly, making her laugh and lifting her spirits. I like that idea of Baubo facilitating a woman coming into her own sensuality again. That’s the feeling I try to create in my shop. It’s all about celebrating the fact every woman is a goddess. I want people to come into my store and feel comfortable.”

Aside from its ambiance that carries a certain sprezzatura, the shop often is further accented by burning incense, flowers and artwork on the walls. On the product end, Baubo’s Garden sells everything from bras, panties, and camisoles to lotions, accessories, and bridal items. Everything is geared toward honoring the unique pulchritude of each woman that visits the shop.

“Bras are my business,” said DeGenova, who estimates that she sells bras at a 3-to-1 ratio relative to her other items. “I’m building the bridal business and I’m also getting a lot of people coming in for gifts. I love talking to the customers and finding out who they are and what they are looking for. It’s not like they just come in, buy a bra and leave.”

DeGenova’s reassuring approach has left a favorable impression on her customers.

Wendy, a repeat customer who asked that her last name not be used, said the store has a romantic feel that helps to personalize the experience. That quality is rare in larger stores, she said.

“Going into some other stores can be very intimidating, but Baubo’s Garden is a small, intimate setting,” Wendy said. “Eden is so accommodating and gives it that personal touch. Whether I’m buying bras or even just stockings or nylons, I like to give her my business. She deserves it because she should get back what she gives. If you haven’t been in the shop, you’re missing a treat.”

In addition to the assorted lingerie, sleepwear and accessories available at Baubo’s Garden, DeGenova offers other amenities like hosting Baubo’s “Garden Parties,” which run the gamut from celebrating birthday parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, or simply a girls’ night out.

“I discovered Baubo’s as I was exploring the shops in Forest Park,” said River Forest resident Carol Cox. “When I entered the shop, it was aesthetically pleasing and had beautiful lingerie. Eden is so personable and friendly. She’s so helpful and I always look forward to revisiting the shop.”

Many of DeGenova’s customers tend to come from Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest, but more patrons are starting to visit from Chicago and other suburbs.

DeGenova’s future plans include more special events like group discussions exploring women’s spirituality and femininity and a book club. She also wants to develop Web sales and potentially expand the business with an additional location, possibly in a resort area.

“I want to do more special events and build on the idea of celebrating women in all aspects of their lives, not just buying lingerie,” DeGenova said. “We’re all about making women feel good about themselves and discovering the sacred feminine within their beings.”

While DeGenova refers to Baubo’s Garden as “her baby,” she’s keenly aware of the benefits/challenges ledger when it comes to owning a business. However, she ultimately sees the venture as self-fulfilling, though she is empowering other women.

“When you own a business, you can do whatever you want but that also means making mistakes on your own,” DeGenova said. “You also enjoy the success, though. Baubo’s Garden is a creative venture but it’s also an expression of myself.”