HYDE PARK — With The Velvet Collection, owner Leslie Roberson hopes to make event planning fun and approachable for everyone.
The luxury linen rental shop, 5305 S. Hyde Park Blvd., quietly opened in late June, after Roberson spent months working on the store’s aesthetic to ensure it was warm, welcoming and effortlessly cool. The Velvet Collection — the only Black-owned luxury linen rental in Chicago — offers a variety of table linens that people can rent for any occasion.
The Velvet Collection took over the space formerly occupied by resale shop Brown Elephant.
“I found pieces that resonated with me,” Roberson said. “I like texture. Everything I’ve selected here is because I like the way it feels, or I like the way I hear it. So my idea is to grab whatever speaks to you and share with everyone.”
Roberson, a military-trained Rockford native, had the idea for her shop years before she’d ever signed a lease, telling her friend, local event planner Nicole Marie, of her vision during a phone conversation in 2016.
When Roberson texted Nicole Marie last October that the store was happening, her friend called her immediately to help her flesh out her plan.
“She was like, ‘Have you thought about this? What about this?’ I had 10 pages of notes,” Roberson said. “I call her again in February and tell her that I don’t have all the details yet, but the store is here, and the fabrics are here, so come check them out.”
Upon seeing what Roberson had put together, Nicole Marie was impressed and suggested they collaborate on what would become the Nicole Marie Collection of linens.
While it could be intimidating to venture into a predominantly white industry, Roberson said she doesn’t think much of it, as she’s focused on the things that drive her and her relationship with God.
Selecting color palettes and fabrics comes naturally for Roberson; it’s about the vibe: what feelings they evoke, what messages they convey. Before the pandemic, she regularly hosted dinner parties for family and close friends, meticulously planning every detail. It was her eye for detail that kept the guests coming back.
Eventually, Roberson’s dinner parties became the type of event for which people in attendance would plan their ensembles weeks or months in advance.
The Velvet Collection offers a wide range of table linens, from basic solids to a designer collection featuring patterns and colors for more upscale occasions. Collections are available to view by appointment only.
“My job is to pull up for everybody and figure out how we can work together, because we drive the culture,” said Roberson.
The Velvet Collection is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
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