dash, daring, and determination, entrepreneur Jessica Darrow,
X'93, is bringing fashion to the Chicago masses.
say it's not what you know,
it's who you know, but most of the time a combination of the two
works best. Witness Jessica Darrow, X'93. Armed with several years
of retail management experience and a knack for connecting with
everyone from bank presidents to basketball players, Darrow and
friend Tricia Tunstall opened their own clothing boutique in Chicago's
oh-so-hip Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood in October 1997. Right
from the start, the store, Phoebe 45, had plenty of hype--mentions
in Vogue and Elle magazines, visits from Dennis
Rodman and musician Liz Phair, fashion shows drawing the local
years after the store's opening, in-store sales are three times
what the owners had projected. Phoebe 45 now includes clothing
lines representing 35 mostly female designers from New York, Chicago,
and Los Angeles, plus jewelry, scarves, hats, and bags. Recently,
Darrow and Tunstall branched out by adding a men's section and
a Web site for on--line shopping.
store's success brought with it what could have been the death
knell of the young business: a lawsuit for trademark infringement
filed by Kay Unger New York, owner of Phoebe LLC, a women's clothing
line. Though the Phoebe clothing line started up after Phoebe
45 opened its doors, Darrow and Tunstall had neglected to trademark
their store's name. Unger's lawyers pressed charges June 1; four
agonizing months later, Darrow and Tunstall agreed to an out-of-court
settlement requiring them to change their store's name to p.45
as of January 1.
were not scared, we were pissed off and sad," says Darrow. "Having
to settle was difficult. It was clearly a good business decision,
because fighting the lawsuit would have cost a fortune, but the
lawyers and judge thought we had a good case, so it was hard to
risks seems to come naturally to Darrow, a native New Yorker who
strides across the bustling intersection of Damen, North, and
Milwaukee virtually daring cars to hit her. Tanned from a three-week
trip to Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Paris, Darrow wears an Amy
Zoller long--sleeved gray matte jersey shirt with lace--up V neck
and a blue-gray, floor-length, bias-cut skirt by Paul & Joe--both
from Phoebe 45, as are most of her clothes--and chunky black shoes.
She tops this with a sleek black leather jacket and silver accessories--a
thick bracelet, plus three rings for her fingers and a fourth
for her nose.