Creative Customers

June 2019 View more

By Annemarie Mannion

Whether it’s a monogrammed tray, a pillow decorated with a bunny, or a planter of succulents, Sharon Hederle’s Lisle home is decorated with many unique items you won’t find online or on store shelves. That’s because she made them herself, with the help of the Collective Lhe + Makery (4724 Main Street, Lisle,

The business is owned by Jennifer Rizzo and Autumn Geist, who opened the boutique in downtown Lisle two years ago. Customers are encouraged to express their creative sides, enrich their minds and spirits, and peruse an offering of home decor and lifestyle-related products—70 percent of which are locally made, handmade in the USA, or made with a cause.

Creating items at the Makery has become a habit for Hederle, who even had her birthday party there last year. She and her friends celebrated her special day by making monogrammed trays.

“You really get to appreciate the different talents your friends have,” says Hederle about the party. “You don’t usually get to do that unless you put yourself in that space.”

Making items herself also allows her to customize them. “I can make things that are more personalized to my taste and the decor in my home,” she says.

Geist and Rizzo, who each have three children, met through their children’s school activities. The store’s three-word name reflects the different aspects of the business. The “Collective” refers to bringing adults, which are the store’s main focus, together to create or do something to renew their spirits.

“I always had a vision of creating a space where women could come together, create together, and have that experience,” says Geist.

The studio is fitted with a long, farmhouse-style table and chairs where people gather for classes. The store offers eight per month, covering a wide range of endeavors, including wood burning, weaving, jewelry making, pallet signs, watercolor, canvas painting, and Tibetan bell meditation.

All of the classes are open to beginners as well as more experienced artists. The variety means that customers, like Hederle, keep coming back to discover more ways to express their creative sides.

“We’re unique in that we’re offering so many different classes,” says Geist. “If all we did was board signs, there’d be no reason for people to come back.”

Classes range in cost from $25 (for guided meditation) to $109 (for creating a large acrylic-painted canvas), and all materials are provided.

“We don’t want people to stress about getting the right supplies and we clean up the mess,” says Rizzo.

The “Lhe” in the store’s name (an abbreviation for “lifestyle, home, and experience”) refers to another part of the business: Rizzo’s interior design services, color consultations, and custom artwork.

Rizzo, whose background is in art licensing, had always dreamed of having a business where she would have a studio as well as sell art, décor, and gifts. She enjoys selecting artwork and other items for homes or businesses and helping students stretch their creativity.

“Jen is fabulous at giving you that little nudge to not do exactly what the template is,” says Hederle.

Rizzo notes that customers never produce a cookie-cutter product.

“Everyone will come up with something different,” says Rizzo, “that’s unique to them.”

Another element of the business is the cozy boutique space where Geist and Rizzo sell such locally made items, such as chocolates and honey made in Wheaton and soaps crafted in Naperville.

One of the store’s services is the Carefully Curated Box, which contains five to eight items selected from the store. Customers pay $69 for a monthly subscription to receive a box filled with items that cost about $125, says Geist. The boxes follow a different theme each month, such as the Bee’s Knees box, which was filled with items related to bees or honey.

With all the aspects of the store, Rizzo and Geist have ample opportunities to create bonds with customers.

“They may come in as customers, but they leave as friends,” Geist says.

Photos courtesy The Collective lhe & Makery