WASHINGTON PARK — Two Bronzeville performance artists who make small-batch soaps, candles and other home goods are launching their first brick-and-mortar store at the Boxville marketplace.
Stoviink Creatives is the newest tenant at 300 E. 51st St., where vendors sell their wares from shipping containers. Married couple Tovi Khali and Storie Devereaux operated Stoviink from home for years, with the hand-crafted products at the center of a creative vision to make art that nourishes and fulfills.
They made the move to Boxville in early November when a staffer who was impressed by their wellness boxes suggested they apply for a spot at the marketplace.
“We had applied a couple of times before but never heard back, so when I was laid off from my job this summer, we applied again and got in. The timing was perfect,” said Devereaux, an Englewood native who’s performed at venues across the city.
Stoviink’s line of soaps, candles and cranberry sauces are vegan and eco-friendly. The duo said they began creating soaps for themselves after finding it difficult to find mass market products gentle enough for sensitive skin.
“Shopping for soaps was difficult; Tovi has alopecia and Graves’ disease, and most of the products on the market are harsh on sensitive skin. She started to create those soaps, then test them on herself,” Devereaux said. “She wanted to expand that to a demographic who have the same issues.”
Their best-selling soap is Earth, made from activated charcoal and palm and coconut oil. Stoviink offers eight scents — including Recharge and Anew — for $7 a bar.
Another customer favorite is the homemade cranberry sauce, which, like the soap, was initially for their family.
Wondering if other people would be interested in buying a jar, Devereaux queried her Facebook friends — and the response was overwhelmingly positive. They went from selling 75 jars their first year to 300 the next, expanding the flavors to include orange and blueberry. Each 10-ounce jar sells for $10.
“I was the one who was always tasked with bringing the cranberry sauce for family dinner. I’d always bring the one in the can, and one year I just learned how to make it myself. My mom didn’t think I did, but I did,” Devereaux said.
Coming off a successful grand opening, the duo is gearing up for the holidays. Their soaps are in such high demand that Khali is making batches every day to keep up.
Stoviink will collaborate with another Boxville tenant, Da Book Joint, on a performing arts project in the near future. Being surrounded by other Black entrepreneurs at the business incubator — and on the South Side — is a source of inspiration for the couple.
“Anytime you’re an entrepreneur in the Black community, it’s always a plus. We were already entrepreneurs when we were performing. Anytime you work for yourself, that’s entrepreneurship,” Devereaux said.
Stoviink Creatives is open noon-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: