The Latin word for “brave” is Valentia, and that was sort of how Jane, an interior designer by trade, was feeling when she decided to pursue a lifelong dream of owning and operating her own studio/ boutique.
So she and Valentine returned to Chicago this past year and settled into new digs in the River North neighborhood (most recently, the Prakis’s lived in Cleveland, Ohio; before that, Vienna, Austria).
The front room features a wide array of products, from Fair Trade dresses, in light summer fabrics with fun patterns like pineapples and flowers, to purposely mismatched men’s socks, purses, baby clothing, diaper bags, and children’s books, some of which Jane’s daughter-in-law illustrated.
The books rest on a chest that once belonged to Jane’s grandmother. As a child, rather than play house, Jane told The Pipeline that she often played “merchant” instead, filing the drawers of the chest with wares and selling them to imaginary customers.
Today, she has real customers. Throughout Valentia there’s framed art on the walls that looks so homey it’s possible to forget any of it’s for sale until one notice the price tags. In the bedroom, Jane switches out the bedding whenever a custom set is sold. The kitchen features a variety of soaps, dinner ware, and glasses, while the back patio displays gardening gift items like painted watering cans.
“I love Chicago culturally… its clean, it’s friendly. I would raise kids here. It’s so diverse. I love the lake and the living style here. Chicago uses its coast line so beautifully, too,” Jane said, adding, “Gosh, I probably sound like an ambassador!”
It’s okay… we agree. There is something about Chicago that makes it worth boosting, especially in the summer months.
Valentia is located at 2042 N. Damen Avenue. There’s no website yet, though Valentia Studio/Boutique has a Facebook Page, so go ahead and ‘like’ it like the pipeline (we’ve got a FB page, too) just did! Pictured at left is Jane with Marilyn, a design student who works at Valentia.