Nestled in a tree-studded design enclave just west of downtown Chicago, the bricked loft district that houses our design studio and corporate offices is also home to a host of other creative talents that infuse our world with inspiration, innovation, and integrity every day.
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk with some of our neighboring artists, designers, and other creators about what they do and why they do it.
First up: Eli-Wyn, a family-owned upholstery business that brings a personalized touch to everything they do. And the list is lengthy: re-upholstery, custom furniture, window treatments, fabric sales, and pickups and deliveries.
Recently, we caught up with Molly Quinlan, who runs the shop with her husband, John.
Here’s what we talked about:
Unison: Eli-Wyn offers such an array of services. How did your business evolve?
Molly: My husband, John, had a retail store for many years, and he used Eli Wyn upholstery at the time. So when the owner retired and offered us the business in 1996, I took over and dove into the reupholstery business. At the time, I was a designer at a commercial furniture dealership in Chicago, and ready for a change.
Eli-Wyn offers upholstery services as well as custom furniture. We make everything from headboards to sectionals, ottomans, and pillows. We also make custom window treatments.
We moved to the Fulton area about 6 years ago, and we welcome customers to come and select from hundreds of fabric samples that we have in our showroom.
Unison: That sounds like a unique model – kind of a hybrid between an upholstery shop and a design studio. Do you feel this makes you different from others in your field?
Molly: Yes, the full-service aspect is unique. John brings deep retail experience from running his own store for over 10 years, I bring the design background, and we have a gentleman on staff who, upon request, will go out to customers’ homes to help them take measurements, select fabrics, etc. We love to work with both designers and end users, and our full-service approach allows for that.
It’s also nice that we have a library up front to service customers and designers who want to select fabrics. And the custom furniture side is unique as well.
Unison: And can you tell us about the vibe in the design district of Chicago where you (and we) are located?
Molly: This area has been wonderful. We have met many different artisans who share a collaborative approach to their work: there’s Unison, and also a refinishing company, custom cabinetry makers, and a graphic printing company that we have had the chance to work closely with.
It’s been great to be able to utilize the knowledge from the various crafts. It is definitely a unique area to work in.
Photography credit, John Sturdy