HUMBOLDT PARK — The designer behind Chicago-based jewelry and accessories brand Cities In Dust is opening up her own “mini gift shop” — with help from friend and shop owner Claire Tibbs.
Meghan Lorenz is taking over the back room of Humboldt House, Tibbs’ home goods and accessories shop at 1045 N. California Ave.
The “shop within a shop,” Lorenz’s first brick-and-mortar, will be open through the end of the year, but could stay open longer if it’s successful. An opening party — complete with cocktails and giveaways — is planned for 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday.
At Lorenz’s shop, customers will find an assortment of Cities In Dust jewelry and accessories, some of which won’t be available anywhere else, as well as objects, art books and accessories made by other designers — all curated by Lorenz.
Among the offerings are an inlay chess set Lorenz found in Mexico ($118), woven blankets from Chicago-based textile designer Studio Herron ($190), art books ($18-$120), vintage sunglasses (all $20) and nail polish from Odeme ($12).
The project was a natural fit for both Lorenz and Tibbs, who have been friends and collaborators for about five years. For most of Humboldt House’s existence, the shop has sold Cities and Dust jewelry and accessories — and Lorenz’s brand has become a customer favorite.
“Out of any artists we carry here, people are fan girls of Meghan,” Tibbs said. “I’m really excited for her customer base to be able to subscribe to Meghan’s style and be in a space fully curated by her.”
Lorenz is only selling items that reflect her personal style. She said she likes to mix modern objects with pieces from other decades, mostly the 1980s with “a touch” of the 1970s.
“I try not to get too trend-focused with my decor,” Lorenz said.
Unlike Humboldt House, which is packed with colorful Turkish rugs and pillows and Chicago-made ceramics and accessories, Lorenz’s shop has more of an art gallery feel.
“Our homes look very different, but our customers like touches of what we both have to offer,” Lorenz said. “It’s non-competitive and we both have pretty loyal followings, so it’s a nice collaboration.”
Lorenz has been making jewelry and accessories under the Cities In Dust brand for about nine years.
Now a full-time designer, Lorenz studied fashion business at Columbia College Chicago. Her first job out of college was on the window display team at Marshall Field’s as it was transitioning into Macy’s.
Lorenz then worked for the founders of the boutique and design house Eskell. She was there for several years before launching Cities In Dust. It started as a hobby — something she did “for fun” — but as word began to spread about her unique pieces, her business grew.
Lorenz’s pieces are now for sale in shops around the country and in Canada. About a year and a half ago, Lorenz quit her most recent job and started working on Cities In Dust full-time out of her live/work studio in Wicker Park.
Teaming up with Tibbs on the “shop within a shop” concept is the logical next step for Lorenz, who is interested in potentially opening a standalone shop sometime in the future. The back room was most recently occupied by Lost Girls Vintage. After about a year and a half, the founders left Humboldt House and opened a shop of their own in West Town.
For Tibbs, the partnership is a slam dunk, not just because she gets to work more closely with her longtime collaborator and friend, but also because her customers will get two separate —and equally curated — experiences every time they walk into Humboldt House.
“It’s a fun experiment that’s going to benefit us both,” Lorenz said.
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