COVID-19 did not kill Jessica Luciano’s business, Creativita, which has been located at 7512 Madison St. for the last six and a half years. What it did was force the shop into a new business model which then became an opportunity to expand her business.
Like many of the businesses along Madison Street Luciano closed down her in person operation last winter. Part of the motivation was that her husband Massimo has family in Florence, Italy and Italy had become something of an epicenter of the pandemic even before it did in the U.S. The news from that Mediterranean country forced them to take the virus seriously and close before most of their neighbors.
“When we first closed,” she said, “we took a couple of weeks to buckle down and make the shift to an online platform with our “art to-go” kits. We shifted towards online events instead of in-person paint parties, and local customers were so supportive.”
Experimenting with shifting to doing business mainly online became one more “necessity is the mother of invention” stories we’ve heard from business owners in Forest Park over the last 12 months.
“Shifting to online,” she said, “allowed us to reach a larger audience and many customers who may never have stumbled upon our studio as they lived in different states. Doing online classes and working with groups from near and far, alongside our new addition of shipping products or delivering locally, we were forced to question how to continue expanding this digital platform while also offering in-studio painting.
“Due to our small studio size, we knew it was not possible to continue with both endeavors, and we decided now was as good of a time as ever to make the change.”
When asked to describe her new studio, Luciano replied, “Oh my! Our new space is amazing!”
It is large, over 2,300 square feet, and is located in a remodeled warehouse located at 5333 W. Lake St. in Chicago and is full of working artist studios. It has a loading dock and elevator which will allow her to order larger quantities without having to unload a pallet onto the sidewalk and offload it from there into the store.
Another benefit from the move is personal. “I am also so excited,” she said, “about having a space of my own to paint in again. Painting and making art simply for the sake of making art is something I have deeply missed. It is something I never got around to doing since we opened in 2014. Now that I have the space, I am excited to rediscover this.”
Along with the gains which accrue from the move there will be losses. She said that she will miss the “hustle and bustle” along Madison Street and people dropping in to say hi or waving as they drive by.
“Forest Park has been a wonderful place to do business,” said Luciano, “and moving was a tough decision.”
She is not, however, cutting all ties with Forest Park, saying that she hopes to remain present in this community through pop-ups.
“We are forever grateful,” she said, “to have called Forest Park our business home for the past 6 ½ years. While we won’t have a storefront any longer, we look forward to seeing our customers, many of whom have become dear friends, in new spaces and places to make art their afternoon or night out.”
The last day Creativita was open on Madison Street was March 20. Contact info: 312-848-4364, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.creativitaco.com.