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  Written by
  Kimberly Sweet

  Photography by
  Matthew Gilson


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Coming of age
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Positively medieval
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Elements of style

  > > Gift trapped

image: "Elements of Style" headlineContinued... Like many people her age, the 28-year-old sees herself not as a disillusioned Gen-X slacker, but as part of a generation "taught to keep asking questions, questioning systems, pushing boundaries, making changes." She credits her parents--Katharine P. Darrow, AB'65, a U of C trustee and recently retired senior vice president of the New York Times Company, and lawyer Peter Darrow, JD'67--with encouraging her to make changes in her career, helping her to see that they didn't have to be lifelong choices. Even starting a business.

image: Business partners Tunstall, left, and Darrow complement each other's styles."My parents weren't scared at all," Darrow laughs. "Nothing scares my parents--I've tried really hard. They can withstand anything. And laugh later. I put my parents to the test. Over and over again. And they passed. I failed, but they passed."

The second of three children, Darrow came to the University in 1989 and studied literature, primarily Russian literature in translation. She got her start in retail while a fourth--year student, leaving school to accept a full--time job as assistant manager of an Orland Park, Illinois, Body Shop store. The Body Shop, an international manufacturer and retailer of hair- and skin-care products, uses all-natural products, campaigns against animal testing of cosmetics products and ingredients, supports fair working conditions and wages, and works with Amnesty International.

"After being at the U of C for so long, and so focused on--this sounds terrible--the trivia of intellectualism," Darrow explains, "it became so much more important to me to be involved in a practical experience like a retail business that was making local changes in the community, huge social changes worldwide."

In 1994, she met Tunstall, a marketer based at the Body Shop's U.S. headquarters in North Carolina, when Tunstall was in Chicago on business. Between long phone calls and occasional visits, the two became good friends--friends who spent a lot of their time together shopping--and eventually started to discuss opening their own business. In the meantime, Darrow left the Body Shop in 1996 to become director of retail at a theme store in the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex in New York.

Still, she wanted to start her own venture and wanted a partner. A friend in New York wanted to start a restaurant; Tunstall wanted a boutique. Darrow chose Tunstall, feeling she would be more dedicated. They got together for two weekends to talk out their plans. "We just drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and brainstormed," Darrow recalls. "We have the funniest notebooks that we wrote, full of these crazy, really good ideas that were completely half-baked."

In the end, she decided to forsake her hometown for her adopted one, the Knicks for the Bulls. In early 1997, Darrow and Tunstall moved out to Chicago, sharing a studio apartment with Darrow's yellow Lab, Wheeler, and waitressing while they crafted their business plan for a women's boutique. They decided it would be called Phoebe 45: Tunstall had always wished she'd been named Phoebe. In honor of Michael Jordan, Darrow contributed the 45, Jordan's jersey number when he returned to the Bulls from retirement in 1995.

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