BUCKTOWN — An elementary school teacher resigned from teaching as of last week, but she hasn't gotten away from young ones.
Erica James has opened Young Royal Couture, a children's boutique at 1750 W. North Ave in Bucktown — a career path that will have her clothing — rather than teaching — children. She'll also be working almost directly next to her younger sister, Laricia Chandler, who owns a women's boutique, Epitome at 1746 W. North Ave.
"We need our own little reality TV show," James said of the two shops.
Though James worked as a second, third and fourth grade teacher for the past seven years at a South Side school, James said she studied retail in college and "loves fashion."
"Teaching is not my passion anymore but I haven't totally dismissed it. I was ready for a change," James said.
A mother to a two-year-old daughter, James stocked her shop, which has a tagline of "wear kids are royalty," with boys and girls sizes from newborn to size six.
"We're not a high-end [store] but we're not a budget boutique, either. We also have a birthday area with tutus and headbands, a little bit of everything to offer," James said.
Though James is new to the retail scene, she said will have some help from Chandler, who has a strong social media presence with over 3,500 followers to her Twitter handle, @MzFabRicia.
Previously at Lake Street and Halsted Avenue in the West Loop, Epitome relocated to Bucktown over Mother's Day weekend, while Young Couture opened in early June, James said.
Though she does not live in the neighborhood, James said she thinks the shopping scene in both Wicker Park and Bucktown is "awesome" and she "likes the mix of boutiques, they represent a variety of styles and taste as far as fashion."
Epitome carries a wide range of ready-to-wear dresses as well as some custom designs, with prices ranging from $69 to around $150, an intern Toi Bly said.
In addition to dresses, other items on display at Epitome include high-heeled pump shoes, belts, and accessories such as "Lavish" brand hats made by local designer Corey Lavish.
Epitome boutique, 1746 W. North Ave. Phone: 773-342-1811. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Young Royal Couture, 1750 W. North Ave. Phone: 773-252-4911. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.