Workshoppe Chicago brings international stories to Evanston homes

Whether it’s hand-woven baskets from California or decadent Turkish towels, co-owners Nicole Petsos and Vivian Afrik want to explain how and where each handcrafted piece they sell was created.

That’s the business they’ve been busy building, Workshoppe Chicago, which will officially launch on September 10th.

Pop-up stores are no stranger to Evanston – as seen in galleries like the Artem Pop-Up Gallery on Sherman Avenue and those hosted by Evanston Made.

Handcrafted soaps and candles by Tatine, a woman-owned studio based in a former Hammond organ factory in Chicago.
Credit: Alexis Rogers

The highlight of Workshoppe will be the way it focuses on the social aspect of shopping. Petsos and Afrik events are held at a client’s home, with invitations encouraging friends to come and browse together.

“Anyone can throw a party – like the old Tupperware party,” Petsos said.

“[We want to see] women encouraging women to buy things,” Afrik said. “When you go shopping with your friends, they know your house and they might say, ‘Oh, this is going to be good.’”

Workshoppe debuted its pieces at a pre-release event on June 18th. The Petsos house, full of internationally acquired products, served as its first showcase. “We just wanted to see what [guests] thought,” Afrik said. “And they loved it.”

“We plan to take [the products] the next day, but then people were calling and emailing and saying [that they] I wish I had bought more,” adds Petsos. “People have been shopping every day since then.”

In addition to exhibiting merchandise, Afrik and Petsos explain the history of each piece through their relationships with the artists. His presentations are imbued with passion for design and travel. Some of his first connections with artists came from a Senegalese market in the early conceptualization of the business.

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