“Having a really big goal in mind feels intimidating, but when you break it down to just a million little steps it becomes doable.”
Hallie Borden founded and owns Milk Handmade, a store featuring clothing, accessories, and products made and designed by local Chicago designers. Hallie strives to provide high quality pieces at an accessible price point and create for artists in Chicago.
“I always knew I wanted to start my own store and I wanted to work with local artists in Chicago. I opened Milk Handmade in May of 2012. I recently launching the Milk clothing label, all of which is produced in Chicago. I grew up in Chicago. I studied advertising and film in school. I wouldn’t say I used my degree actively, but I found the creative nature to be inspiring and interesting, which lead me to want to continue down a creative path. After college I worked in b-to-b consulting. I was not creatively fulfilled, and I wanted to open a space for artists in the community.”
ABOUT MILK HANDMADE
“At Milk Handmade, about 80% of the products and clothing are made in Chicago. I like to keep it local for the environmental impact. When I first opened there wasn’t as much clothing and accessories being made in Chicago. After I opened, the scene improved. Now there is too much to choose from! It’s great that there are so many artists. We work with a lot of designers that we have worked with since the beginning, such as Sofia Reyes and Michelle Starbuck. About a year ago, my sister and I decided to open another store together – Honey Bridal. I opened Milk Handmade alone, while Honey is co-owned by me and my sister. We have had a great time owning a store together. We are similar, but with different strengths, so we have balanced each other out.”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING A BUSINESS?
“Having a really big goal in mind feels intimidating, but when you break it down to just a million little steps it becomes doable. For people starting out, I really think it is important to break the question or problem down into smaller pieces in order to start a business.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?
“It is important to be authentic and let your business reflect your personality. Your personality doesn’t have to define your business but it should represent you. It is the biggest advantage I have compared to bigger businesses. Customers see authenticity and then they want to support you.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE POWERFUL?
“It is really just about having the confidence to be yourself and accept yourself. When I first started this store, I felt like I was playing the role of a shop owner. Then I realized that wasn’t what I was doing- that that’s who I am. It feels powerful to just be myself and accept who I am.”
FAVORITE PRODUCTS IN THE SHOP?
1) The candles we carry are made for our store brand, and they’re made here in Chicago. You can only get them here. They are all soy wax. The name of the scent is what it really smells like and they burn very clean. They are one of my favorite things in the store They can be purchased on our website. https://milk-handmade.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/little-candles
2) I also love the Argaman and Defiance raw silk crop tops we have right now. They are all made in Chicago by designer Lydia Crespo. The silk is kind of like the brown rice of silk. They are natural, and a beautiful texture and weight. They can be purchased on our website. https://milk-handmade.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/speckled-raw-silk-crop-tops
3) One of my favorite products are shoes that are made in Peru. They quality is really unprecedented. I have been wearing this brand for years. I thought if I love them so much my customers would too. They are one of the few non-Chicago brands we carry. (ADD NAME OF BRAND) https://milk-handmade.myshopify.com/products/michelle-mule-by-fortress-of-inca