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Many years ago I received a picture postcard from a friend who was traveling abroad. She didn’t know it then, but it occupied my thoughts for years to come.
I hung onto this postcard until I was able to finally visit the then-mysterious monument and historic landmark pictured against a vibrant sky of violet and fuchsia. In 2008 I arrived at last at The Louvre Palace and Pyramid in Paris, France, and I was enchanted.
That same year, back at home in Oak Park, I happened upon a small boutique and I was at once struck by its infinite charm and romantic climate.
Crisp white linens hung from exposed brick walls, suspended like freshly laundered bedding across the clotheslines of a happy hamlet; sage and lilac artisan soaps yielded a fragrant aroma akin to a pastoral landscape; organic wax candles dressed in pretty packages beckoned with their intoxicating scents. I thought to myself, this feels like Paris.
I had stepped into another world, the world of the Careful Peach Boutique.
Those who know the Careful Peach love this boutique for its remarkable range of luxurious European and American-made home products as well as its fanciful milieu. Soft lighting from delicate crystal chandeliers casts warm shadows on hardwood floors, and dulcet French music infuses the shop with a serene atmosphere.
Customers have also come to know and love the woman who has brought a medley of “refined delights” to our fingertips in Oak Park.
Karen Morava hails from Tennessee, and if you listen closely enough, you can catch a hint of southern drawl push through as she expounds the virtues of earth-friendly and high-quality merchandise. But what’s really apparent is her southern hospitality.
As I stroll into her shop, Karen is assisting an indecisive customer, who vacillates between a table linen and a bed linen. She commits, and then changes her mind. Just when I think she’s made a final selection, she hesitates, seemingly in love with several items, delaying the inevitability of choosing one over the other. Karen is patient, friendly, and informative. I have to laugh, when Karen later discloses that at one time she did not consider herself a people person; she quickly learned that interacting with customers was one of her favorite aspects of this job.
Karen came to live in Oak Park over twenty years ago as a student while attending the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Indicative of the savvy businesswoman she would later become, Karen knew it would behoove her financially to settle in a suburb of Chicago, rather than the pricier housing afforded by the magnetic city itself. And settle she did: she has been an Oak Park resident ever since.
After opening a home studio on Harrison Street, Karen soon came to realize that patrons wanted more than wall art. She decided to branch out to include other goods that were unconventional, yet practical. She started with a candle line (tomato-scented candles were the exotic choice of the day); she then added a line of handmade jewelry by a local artist. The impetus to open her boutique finally arrived after many disheartening shopping trips to find unique and functional gifts for friends left her empty-handed.
Karen refers to a “light bulb” moment that came with her tenth wedding anniversary celebration when she and her husband made the decision to travel to a far-away locale: Paris, France. This decision would change the course of Karen’s purchasing habits and alter the direction of her shop to “a celebration of European living.”
“I appreciate and love beautiful things. I believe in offering quality products at the right price points,” she shares. Karen’s thoughtful product choices include one of her oldest: Savon de Marseille artisan soap is made in the south of France with respect to the environment, employing the same practice dating back seven centuries; it is made with all-natural ingredients.
Irresistible items found at the Careful Peach include sunny, handmade French linens in inviting colors and vintage designs. These rich linens are hand crafted in France by the same family-owned and operated textile manufacturer since the 1940’s. (See photo gallery for a sneak peek.)
Karen has also carefully selected Juliska tableware and glassware, featuring ancient Medieval patterns. These beautiful glasses are rich with historic themes. The rustic and durable ceramics are made of fine stoneware and promise, like so many of Careful Peach’s products, “joyful entertaining.”
Karen has a sincere appreciation for those who have patronized her store again and again over the years: “I am so grateful to the customers who make the effort to come out to the shop to pick out gifts or decorate their homes.” She understands that her boutique offers more than just beautiful and functional home goods. Customer service often determines where we shop, and it’s Karen’s hospitality, along with her affable staff, that has cultivated loyal patrons determined to find the highest quality products and the most genial help.
Watch for The Careful Peach’s very own line of bath and body products and tabletops, designed by Karen and made here in the US. For more info visit www.carefulpeach.com.