12 Small Businesses to Support in the Midwest

A Scandi sensibility is sweeping stores across the Midwest. Over the last few years, hygge-filled

A Scandi sensibility is sweeping stores across the Midwest. Over the last few years, hygge-filled hideaways have been popping up in places like Omaha, Kansas City, and Indianapolis—but the shops all share a commitment to their local communities.

Chicago, Illinois

Photo: Courtesy of Ikram

Since opening her first storefront in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood in 2001, Ikram Goldman has single handedly put America’s Second City on the fashion map. Her eponymous boutique, which moved to a bigger location in 2011, is home to some of the world’s most illustrious designers and their straight-off-the-runway designs–Goldman’s brand roster includes Comme des Garçons, Sacai, Givenchy, Valentino, Fendi, Stella McCartney, and more. Inside her lacquered, crimson-splashed shop with giant porthole windows, you’ll find rows of mannequins dressed in nothing but strands of statement necklaces, as well as a second floor stocked with clothes, gifts, and accessories, as well as a farm-to-table cafe. —Brooke Bobb

Detroit, Michigan

Photo: Courtesy of Détroit Is the New Black

For six years, Roslyn Karamoko worked as a buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and then in southeast Asia heading up the buying team for e-commerce company Rocket Internet GMBH. The Seattle-native moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 2013 and later that year, launched her label of streetwear called Détroit Is the New Black. In 2016, Karamoko opened her first brick-and-mortar shop and in 2019, moved locations to a bigger, contemporary space where she now houses both her own line of ready-to-wear and beauty and a rotating roster of independently-owned businesses from Detroit and beyond. Détroit Is the New Black is a hybrid art gallery, store, and incubator space, one which features and supports labels on the rise from around the world. —B.B.

Red Shirt, South Dakota

Photo: Courtesy of Molina Parker

Molina Parker is an Oglala Sioux beadwork artist based in Red Shirt, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Parker creates handmade jewelry including colorful earrings and cuffs, all of which incorporate design motifs from her Indigenous culture (she also uses materials such as quills). Her latest pieces include thin beaded cuffs inspired by video games. Parker says being based in her home territory continues to inspire her vibrant designs. “When I lived in different cities, my work looked more structured and ‘hard,’ ” Parker says. “Living here has brought a softness to my work and is more nature-based. It’s hard for it not to be when I can open my door and see all this nature and animals—the other day I was chased by a turkey!” —Christian Allaire

Indianapolis, Indiana

Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Shehorn Photography

Thomas Dant has joked that it was a “selfish dream” to open James Dant Purveyors, his seven-year-old shop in downtown Indianapolis. When he couldn’t find his thoughtful, fashion-curious tastes reflected in his surroundings, he could have packed up and left; instead, he brought his favorite things to the Midwest. Located in Indy’s hip Irvington neighborhood (just a stone’s throw from the legendary brunch spot Milktooth—an absolute must), Dant’s curation rivals that of any Brooklyn or Silverlake shop. You’ll find cult menswear designers alongside heritage labels and hand-picked vintage, plus a wide selection of apothecary products and unique home decor. Men and women alike will find it hard to resist the Shangri-La Heritage leather jackets; James Dant is one of the only American stores to import them from Italy. —Emily Farra

Columbus, Ohio

Photo: Courtesy of Lolly Lolly Ceramics

It’s hard to get your hands on a Lolly Lolly Ceramics mug. Not just because every batch sells out almost instantly, but because owner Lalese Stamps morphs her handles into fantastical, unconventional geometric shapes: spikes, chains, gears, triangles, and wheels. Some even have handles that stretch out far beyond the mug’s body like a coiled rope. While the humble coffee vessel isn’t often considered ceramic art, Stamp’s creations elevate it well into that cannon. “Our mugs can be art on your shelf or part of your daily ritual,” says Stamps. (She means it: Everything is dishwasher safe.) While Lolly Lolly’s Columbus, Ohio studio is closed to visitors due to the pandemic, you can order online or email her for a custom creation. —Elise Taylor

Des Moines, Iowa

Photo: Courtesy of Des Moines Mercantile

Founded by Mallory Richardson, Des Moines Mercantile opened its doors during the pandemic in June 2020. Despite the difficult timing, the shop has been able to keep its doors open for the last seven months due to the support of local residents. At Des Moines Mercantile, you’ll find many household items with roots steeped in the state of Iowa. There are handcrafted, 19th-century-esque brooms by Franklin Broom Works, wool blankets from Amana Woolen Mill, and prints made by Red Door Press. One of the key pillars of Richardson’s business is to “support and lift up makers and creators in their craft,” she tells Vogue.“We strive to provide an experience that feels like home; where everyone is welcome and where anyone can find something to treasure. To tell their story…When people walk into my shop, my hope is that they feel a sense of simplicity, slowness, and belonging.” —Julie Tong

Kansas City, Kansas

Photo: Courtesy of Fine Folk

Though everything about Fine Folk feels very much in-the-now, the boutique does offer an element of the bygone. With shopping appointments and complimentary alterations available for every purchase, the store’s customer service and care are so thoughtful it almost feels out of date. Located in Kansas City, Fine Folk is a purveyor of fashion, featuring designers like Rachel Comey, Nili Lotan, and Oddobody, as well as things for the home like glassy French press coffee makers and artwork from Emily Johnson. It all comes together wonderfully to make a collection of treasures that are slick, minimal, and warm and inviting all at once. —Lilah Ramzi

Kansas City, Missouri

Photo: Courtesy of Dear Society

At both of their Kansas City locations, Dear Society owners Maria Casteel and Chanel Jezek have stocked the space with all the things they hold dear. These treasures include wares from local designers, an apothecary with natural beauty products, and a selection of understated home and fashion pieces. Their aesthetic is one that veers towards minimal—wooly coats in camel colors, oatmeal-colored basics, and easy slide sandals. The vibe carries over into the store’s decor too. At their just-opened 18th Street shop, a statement archway lends an architectural flair and a curtained-wall treatment makes the space feel more living than retail. Plus, a selection of the store is vintage and secondhand, so you can feel great about whatever purchase you make. —L.R.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Photo: Courtesy of Millie

Minnesotans seeking a bit of sartorial romance need look no further than Michelle LeBlanc’s Mille, located on a sweet little corner in the Tangletown neighborhood of Minneapolis. The store itself (a brilliant blend of gilded vintage romance and airy modern minimalism that juxtaposes mushroom lamps and tropical palm-printed bolster pillows against Hellenistic busts and golden Art Deco wall sconces) is more than enough to lure you in. But the real treasures? The scrumptious array of glorious puff-sleeved blouses, gauzy cotton dresses, and block print pajamas with gigantic lounge pillows and fringe-trimmed beach umbrellas to match (all part of the in-house label, the latter made in partnership with a small, family-owned workshop in Jaipur, India). —Madeline Swanson

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Photo: Courtesy of The Foundry

Take one step inside Minneapolis’s The Foundry and prepare to be transported into the hygge homeware haven of your dreams. From beeswax candles and subtly striped linens to an impressive array of cleaning brushes for just about every occasion imaginable, the shop is buzzing with that New Year’s resolution energy that makes you want to get rid of everything you own in exchange for one of each item on display. A champion of utility and thoughtful design, founder Anna Hillegass (with the help of her eagle-eye creative team and several sweet canine mascots) hopes to promote a “non-disposable lifestyle and celebrate living with fewer, better things.” —M.S.

Omaha, Nebraska

Photo: Courtesy of Exist Green

Leigh Neary, owner and founder of Exist Green, was working as an engineer cleaning up contaminated waste in Northern California when she had the idea to open a zero-waste store in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Exist Green is centered around reducing waste, avoiding single-use items, and sustainable sourcing (you won’t find items with palm oil or petroleum in Exist Green, and all items are recyclable or compostable). Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers and restock anything from refillable makeup palettes, to wool dryer balls made from old sweaters, red quinoa to cinnamon-vanilla hand soap. All the bulk items are stored in glass jars with steel labels in lieu of lackluster tubs, an aesthetic choice which lends the store a more boutique, apothecary-like feel. —Sarah Spellings

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Photo: Courtesy of Ursa

If you’re not familiar with the city of Milwaukee, it’s easy to assume that the town’s best offerings revolve around great beer and cheese. Locals, however, know that there are countless hidden-gem eateries and shops amidst the more obvious tourist staples. Ursa, a lifestyle and plant boutique, is one of them. Established in 2017 in the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee, Ursa was once a showroom for the King Buick dealership in the 1940s and still boasts the dealership’s floor-to-ceiling windows and original terrazzo floors. From homegoods and decor to jewelry, fragrance, and stationary, Ursa is a must-visit should you find yourself in Milwaukee on a weekend afternoon as a local or as a visitor. And, even if plans in the city aren’t in your future, Ursa’s website offers a number of their in-store items too. —Rachel Besser

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