Every Wednesday, you will be introduced to a local entrepreneur. This week, meet Heather Anderson of Muse (106 N. Marion St.), the dynamic and driven proprietress of a fresh, new women’s boutique in Oak Park. Pioneering and passionate, this exuberant storeowner shares with us why fashion is more than just fleeting trends, but an opportunity to express oneself artistically, gracefully, creatively.
Heather fills her shop with items that mirror her own personality: inspired, urbane, and effortlessly chic. She offers apparel that is classic and cosmopolitan: quality fabrics full of rich texture and vibrant color. “I think about all body types and all budgets when I buy for the store.” She introduces items that draw attention to a woman’s personality and not merely their shape. Most importantly, she never forgets the myriad lifestyles that her customers lead: “I wanted to create a store where mothers and daughters could shop together.” You’ll find a back room with a comfy couch and a basket of toys as well as a TV for male counterparts.
Heather has developed a faithful following of customers whom she knows by first name. As customers stroll in and out of her shop, she asks about their jobs, their families, and their day. Norma Rixter, Oak Park resident and Muse customer, tells me, “[Heather] is just so warm. I really love this store. It’s nice to avoid the crowds and the hassle of finding parking at the malls; it’s wonderful to have options right here in Oak Park.” Heather’s friend, Jen Boender, an Oak Park resident and jewelry designer, works at Muse and assists in creating that warm and welcoming atmosphere Muse is known for.
Heather can remember with clarity the day she fell in love. With fashion, that is. And as with all love stories, it can be a roller coaster ride. Her eyes light up as she recounts the day she knew she had to have that striking workout ensemble that Jane Fonda donned: you know the one she’s talking about, that shiny bodysuit, those legwarmers, all that pink and purple froth (see photo gallery for fashion flashback). She remembers all events in her life based on what she wore. Let’s test her memory. The first day of kindergarten? Without pause, she answers, “I insisted on a wearing a dress!”
As her love of fashion took off, a sense of refinement followed on a parallel track. She lists career-minded women like avant-garde French fashion designer Coco Chanel and the Brazilian-born supermodel and philanthropist Giselle Bundchen who made intelligent choices and have had extraordinary influence on the world of fashion. Heather’s degree is not fashion related, but she knew she’d found her niche after working as a manager at Anthropologie. Following the advice of a close friend, she immersed herself in the world of retail, studying the sensibilities and techniques, in hopes of some day opening her own lifestyle store.
Oak Park appealed to Heather for several reasons: the beguiling cobblestone streets captivated her, the kinetic atmosphere was inviting, and the artistic community resonated within her. “I felt I could connect to the women here,” she explains. “If you don’t find the perfect apparel piece today, you’re certain to discover another great fashion treasure.” You’ll find cotton, cashmere, silk, and chiffon all at your fingertips. Exquisite leather handbags and fashion forward vegan shoes – you can find it all right here. She also offers edgy jewelry and statement pieces, like a fabulous wood and stone cocktail ring, a sparkling chain necklace by House of Harlow, or delicate gold chandelier earrings.
“It has been a dream of mine forever to own my own shop. I always felt I could work my way to it. I can’t thank the customers enough for supporting my dream.” Heather insists that one’s reveries are not simply castles in the sky and encourages others to quest after their own dreams. I felt truly inspired after chatting with Heather. Leaving Muse, I had high hopes for my wardrobe, but I also felt suddently propelled, like anything was possible. Who knows what’s in store for you and me?
Have you visited Muse? If so, have you found the perfect dress or bauble? Tell us why you love Muse!