Support Local

December 2020 View more

In 2017 Shannon Gutierrez was ready for something new in her career path when she built a five-year plan for a business mentoring group she had joined. She wrote that she wanted to open a store, and eventually a second location. Gutierrez had no entrepreneurial or retail experience, but was a really great shopper, she laughs, and was a natural when it came to picking out home decor. Less than five years later, she now owns a successful boutique clothing and home decor store in downtown Aurora (14 W. Downer Pl.), and opened a second location in her hometown of Wheaton (126 N. Hale St.) in late October.

Wyckwood House carries an array of gift items like candles, jewelry, clothing, and more made by over 50 local artisans. Before opening it, Gutierrez was working as a children’s director at a local church and always wanted to have her own store. She enrolled in a six-week business planning group that SCORE mentoring group was putting on, dreamed up a five-year plan and began hosting markets out of her home in Aurora. She had a lot of friends who already sold handmade items on Etsy join her for the first market, and eventually she turned that into a weekend experience with eight artisans, live music, and food. Marissa Amoni attended one of the markets and asked Gutierrez if she would consider opening a shop in downtown Aurora, where Amoni plans events like First Fridays.

As the holidays approached and Gutierrez was planning a December 2017 market, she realized it fell on the same weekend as downtown Aurora’s First Fridays event, where local artists and musicians do pop-up events at businesses and venues the first Friday of each month. She found a space she could borrow for the weekend and had 18 artisans come in for her pop-up market. She did so well at First Fridays that she signed a lease for the same space and quit her full-time job to open Wyckwood House in July 2018. “It’s just amazing how naturally it all played out,” she says. “We have over 50 artisans that we work with currently at the shop, and it’s really cool to be able to provide a space for people to share what they make and are passionate about.”

The stores currently carry four clothing lines curated by local women, plus locally made items like unique jewelry by Hazelry in Lockport and Natalie Clare Collections in Batavia.

Gutierrez also supports local makers by using many of their products for her stores themselves, like Send Me a Dream who built Wyckwood House’s website and sells fun statement mugs and totes. The Knotted Table, a husband-and-wife team that sells home decor signs and furniture, built Wyckwood’s checkout station and display tables, and Real Happy Space, a handmade wooden home decor company, provided displays and shelving for both stores.

“It’s a special thing that we get to work with so many creative types and it makes me feel like I’m not doing this alone,” Gutierrez says.

Before the pandemic, Gutierrez used the shop to support other small business owners and create a community with events like calligraphy workshops, whiskey tastings, and Boss Babes—a weekly women’s networking group cohosted with Aurora Downtown. She hopes to host similar events in Wheaton in the future, too.

“It’s more than just shopping—I want it to be an experience for people to come and touch, feel, and smell, but also connect with each other,”
Gutierrez says. “I feel like that’s something we’re missing these days, even before COVID. I just wanted to create a space where people want to connect and maybe find something cool to take home, too.”

Photos courtesy Wyckwood House