Each Wednesday, here at the Shopping Blog, you’ll have the opportunity to meet a local entrepreneur and read the inspiring story of how one of your favorite neighborhood shopping haunts came to fruition. This week, meet Eden DeGenova, Oak Park resident, savvy businesswoman, and proprietress of Baubo’s Garden, 7234 W. Madison St., a lingerie and foundations shop in Forest Park. Find out just how plants and Pat Benatar put Ms. DeGenova on the path to panties and pajamas.
Her customers know Eden as the bra-tender, the woman who can look at you and tell you what you need, that is, what bra size you need to be wearing, as well as someone who loves to listen to and laugh with the women who visit her charming boutique. What many customers may not know about Eden is that she is an accomplished musician, a theater actor, and has over twenty years of experience as a horticultural therapist. Eden attended the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago for voice and played in various rock bands after graduating, belting out empowering songs for women. Eventually she went on to study horticulture and worked as a special event and program coordinator for the Chicago Botanic Garden and Garfield Park Conservatory. She brings her eclectic taste in music to her shop, filling the boutique with jazz, rock, soul, and pop tunes. It’s no coincidence that she knows all the words to the Pat Benatar ditty that’s playing in the background as she helps you choose the right bra.
With a wide range of interests and professional experience in more than one field under her belt, how exactly did the idea of Baubo’s Garden come to be?
Eden was interested in making a career change and was chatting with a friend when the idea of a lingerie shop was borne, but not simply to offer foundation garments and sexy under things to women in the area. Eden explains, “Selling women lingerie would allow me to help them feel good about how they look from the inside out. I also like creating, so building a business of my own seemed a natural fit.” The idea was taking shape in her mind when, while out in the neighborhood one day, Eden saw the “For Rent” sign in the space that would eventually become Baubo’s Garden. “When I saw the location become available, I decided to take a chance.” She thought she would just try it for a year: “And four years later, I am still here. The store is a living and growing thing that provides me with a creative outlet. Our store is very inviting, cozy, and congenial: [a place] where women feel safe and can feel comfortable about their bodies.”
Eden confesses that having a very young business during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression has been a challenge, but she tackles each new day with tenacity and feels the hard work is worth it, “It’s very rewarding, and it’s exciting.” Inspired by the customers she has come to call friends, she celebrates “strong women who inspire me to do my best work and continue to grow. They are honest, deep, remarkably wise, and at the same time human and humble. This experience has expanded my views, my business skills, my ideas for the future, and I have been blessed with some great new friends.” Her advice to those considering a new venture at this time? She offers the following quote by fellow naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, “’There must be [a] generating force of love behind every effort destined to be successful.’”
If you’d like to see your favorite shop featured in OakPark.com’s Shopping Blog, send an email to Christina@oakpark.com.