Left to Right: Her & Ziba owners Elhom Karbassi and Leslie Castromayor on Feb. 9, 2022. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

RAVENSWOOD — The owners of a vintage clothing shop opening in Ravenswood this month spent years selling their wares at markets throughout the city before launching a brick-and-mortar business.

Her & Ziba’s, 4919 N. Damen Ave., carries a variety of colorful clothing and accessories from between the 1960s and 1990s. The store opened last month.

Owners Elhom Karbassi and Leslie Castromayor said they are fond of the bright colors and patterns from those decades, and like to help customers work bold items into their outfits to help them explore and expand their personal style in a fun way.

“We can help them figure out what clothing makes them feel good,” Karbassi said. “Clothing has been gendered for so long, but clothes doesn’t have a gender and it should really be whatever makes you feel good.”

Karbassi previously worked in the nonprofit world but found she had more of a passion for helping people find vintage outfits and started to sell clothes on the side. Karbassi left her nonprofit job in 2020 to focus full time on selling vintage clothes at local markets, she said. 

That’s how she met and befriended Castromayor, who had also been selling vintage clothes for a few years, Karbassi said. Karbassi is Iranian-American and Ziba is Filipino-American.

“We instantly bonded on how vintage clothing is still very much a white space, especially in Chicago. It’s still a lot of white folks, which is fine,” Karbassi said. “But being two first-generation Brown women, it felt really nice for us to find each other and for us to relate on the gatekeeping we feel sometimes happens. ”

Some of the items for sale at Her & Ziba, 4919 N. Damen Ave. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

The friends started the process of opening their shop over the summer with the goal of creating a welcoming space for fans of vintage clothing like themselves.

During their market days, Castromayor sold clothes under the name Never Heard of Her Vintage and Karbassi sold under the name Ziba Finds. 

Combining their previous names into Her & Ziba was the perfect combination for their new business, Karbassi said.

“Ziba means ‘beautiful’ in Farsi so my old name was Beautiful Finds and keeping that was important for me,” Karbassi said. “And we had a really dope artists create our new branding and logo.”

A grand opening celebration is set for 11 a.m. March 12, featuring a limited supply of branded tote bags and other items. For more information visit the shop’s Instagram.

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