New Washington Park store features products from Chicago entrepreneurs

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CHICAGO – In the shadow of the Green Line on Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park, the L-1 is now open for business.

“This is where all of my inventory can live and I’m really excited,” said Peter Gaona, owner of ReformedSchool.

Gaona started ReformedSchool in 2013, but now it shares a physical location.

“ReformedSchool is an eco-friendly fashion brand that uses fashion and accessories to teach Black and Latinx history while using sustainable, eco-friendly products. It started out as a side business at first and turned into two full-time jobs, ”Gaona said.

Gaona’s collection includes clothing, enamel pins and home decor items, blending past and present.

“It was a way to engage people and start conversations about race and what’s going on in the world,” Gaona said.

Gaona is one of three local entrepreneurs who share the space.

You can also purchase Hemp Heals bodywork products from owner Tiffany Joi and Solo Noir for Men and Zen Soul Apothecary products from Andrea Polk.

They are the first group selected as L-1 fellows, receiving support and mentorship to help them grow their businesses. The newly renovated retail space is part of the arts block, managed by Arts and Public Life, an initiative of the University of Chicago.

“At APL, our mission is to really tie all of these things together, economic development, social development, cultural development and preservation,” said Adrienne Brown, Director of Arts and Public Life.

Community leaders gathered on Saturday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the arts and public life and the opening of L-1, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re excited to be back in person, to have people coming together to bring people together physically, socially and joyfully to celebrate and rediscover what it means to be together as a community,” said Brown.

Gaona, who lives nearby, said he was excited about the possibilities.

“The felt I used is made from recycled plastic bottles. I would love to see my items in more gift shops and museums across the country. I think the educational component is so important because when you wear something you should be able to know what it means and tell other people about it, ”Gaona said.

L-1 is located in the 300 block of East Garfield Boulevard and is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.


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