October 26, 2010

Chicago Resources for small businesses

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Small Business — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 9:26 am

I attended the City of Chicago’s One Hour Mentor Program yesterday, featuring a panel of entrepreneurs and representatives from city organizations discussing starting and growing a small business.

In addition to emphasizing the importance of having (and following) a strong business plan, they spoke about obtaining financing for start-ups and established businesses. All three organizations offer small business loan/microloan programs, as well as small business counseling, workshops and seminars (many free of charge). Several of the organizations also have business plan competitions. Visit the websites for more information.

Chicago small business resources

October 8, 2010

Five questions with Tracy Dillard [client stories]

Tracy Dillard of Keonig & Strey RealLiving

Tracy Dillard and I go way back.

I met Tracy, an agent with Koenig & Strey RealLiving, over 10 years ago. We were both working in previous jobs and worked on a design project together (a New Year card). We kept in touch when I started my business and have been working together ever since. Like I did on that first project, I work with Tracy to design a New Year card for her business every year—as well as print and online promotional materials throughout the year.

Tracy is a joy to work with, we share a creative synergy that makes projects flow very naturally. She knows what she likes, but also trusts my design expertise. Not to mention, she is a friend who provides inspiration—and always recommends a great coffee shop! What more can you ask for in a client?

Five Questions with Tracy Dillard

Tell me a little about your business.

Tracy: My eleven-year-old (a year older than yours!) real estate practice is primarily referral-based. I specialize in architecturally interesting and unique residential properties in Chicago and nearby suburbs. These properties may range from architect-owned condos in Mies van der Rohe-designed high-rises — to authentic lofts in converted institutional and commercial buildings — to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School houses.

What do you love best about your job?

Tracy: ‘Living temporarily’ in architecturally- and historically-singular spaces. The opportunity to mesh my aesthetic sensibility and business acumen. My smart, accomplished and interesting clients.

How have your past work experiences influenced your current career?

Tracy: I’ve worked with architects, artists, art collectors, corporate and foundation leaders, historians, government officials and developers in my past roles — which have included managing a mayoral committee on the arts and economic development in a major city, building public and private support for the arts in an historic community, and programming in a former torpedo factory and a zoo. My experience as a conduit or intermediary between competing interests has come in handy in real estate!

What do you like best about working with Lidia Varesco Design?

Tracy: You and I collaborate — in the best sense of the word. We come up with concepts over great coffee (key to our partnership), talk in shorthand (given our long relationship), review options via a few emails, and keep raising the creative bar on each other.

What is your favorite project that we’ve worked on together?

Tracy: Hmm. Hard to pick one. I think the New Year card with the black-and-white industrial photos you found to illustrate Carl Sandburg’s Chicago. What about you?

I agree…it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I love that one too! That project in particular had some lovely creative synchronicities: I saw the photographer’s work while browsing the Chicago Reader. I thought his style would be perfect for the card we were working on. I met with the photographer (Robert Murphy Photography) and the images he provided were truly perfect for the theme of the card.

New Year Card for Tracy Dillard (2002)

Thank you for chatting with me, Tracy!

As she mentioned, Tracy celebrated her 10-year business anniversary last year. See the anniversary card and other pieces I’ve designed for Tracy here.

To learn more about her business, visit Tracy’s webesite or follow her on Twitter.

Part of our series celebrating our 10 years in business. Read more here.

July 28, 2010

Where, oh where, to network in Chicago?

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Networking — Tags: , , — lidia @ 2:31 pm

As I recently received a request from someone seeking Chicago networking events, I thought I would post a list of networking calendars that I’ve bookmarked.

Chicago networking calendars

And of course, I must mention Neighborhood Networking in Chicago, the monthly networking event that I co-host with my friend and fellow small biz owner, Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionals.

Know of other Chicago networking calendars? Share the URL in the comments section.

February 5, 2010

Neighborhood Networking heads to Lakeview!

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Networking — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 12:00 pm

The next stop for Neighborhood Networking is a neighborhood near and dear to my heart, having been a long-time resident: Lakeview.

Join myself along with my co-hostess Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionals, and our co-hosts BBR Chicago (Business by Referral), for an evening of networking at local favorite Wishbone Restaurant (3300 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL) from 5:30-8:00 pm. Make sure you stay for our now-famous raffle, which always features items from local businesses.*

Buy tickets in advance for $10 ($12 at the door). Please RSVP if you plan to pay at the door.

*Lakeview businesses: Promote your business by donating an item to our raffle! Contact us for a donation form and details.

January 26, 2010

Network in the West Loop tonight!

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Networking — lidia @ 5:42 pm

Doing anything after work tonight? Join myself and my co-hostess Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionsals for Neighborhood Networking: West Loop at Plush Restaurant & Lounge from 5:30-8 pm.We have a large variety of businesses attending… I just peeked at the list and I’m looking forward to seeing our regulars and meeting the newcomers!

Buy tickets in advance for $10 or pay $12 at the door (online ticket sales end at 2:30 pm). We hope to see you there!

January 14, 2010

Recession buster: the park district

Filed under: Health & Wellness,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 3:01 pm

photo by sidereal on flickr

January always seems to be the busiest time at my gym. Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions or just a lingering desire to be fit, it’s a popular time to start a fitness program. However, most gyms are not cheap and if you’re a small business owner, this might be a place where you cut your budget. Don’t give up on your fitness routine just yet: check out the Chicago Park District.

The Park District has many fitness centers, with low-cost membership fees, located throughout the city. There are also great classes available, like circuit training, Pilates and yoga—I’ve become a big fan of the yoga class at my local park.

If you have a home office, the park district is a great option as there is likely a park near your workplace—and it’s a great excuse to get out of the house. Now get out there and start moving!

November 24, 2009

Shop local this holiday season

Filed under: Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 2:09 pm

Holiday shopping locally this season? In our series of posts featuring business gift ideas, we’ve mentioned many fabulous local artists and businesses. Need more ideas? Download Local First Chicago’s Independent Chicagoan Shopping Guide! The guide featuring local shops and services who are members of Local First Chicago, makes it easy to get your shopping done while also supporting your community.

Happy shopping!

November 20, 2009

Business gift idea: city neighborhood posters

Filed under: Goods & Wares,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 2:39 am

I first noticed a Chicago Neighborhood Poster by Ork Posters a few years back while strolling the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Square… and have been enamored ever since. The city neighborhood posters are available for many popular cities (Chicago, LA, NYC, Seattle, Boston + more) in both single- and multi-color prints (my fave shown at left). I think they would make a great gift for local coworkers—or business associates across the country. And if you really love them, you could have it framed too.

Buy online or if youre in Chicago, stop by the Ork Posters Holiday Store in Ravenswood.

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Watch the bright spot for new business gift ideas each week! And for more ideas read our Tipsheet How do I Find Alternatives to Traditional Gift Giving?

November 5, 2009

Business gift idea: (hip) gift basket

Filed under: Goods & Wares,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 3:22 pm

6fcb35dfa03f040c0f14ed342d633a38For a modern take on the traditional holiday gift basket, head over to That’s Caring. Gone are the fruitcakes and meats, their hip gift baskets offer gourmet pastas, spa goodies and pet treats, just to name a few. Many selections are from local businesses such as one of my faves, The Enterprising Kitchen—and their baskets are packaged and shipped using environmentally friendly materials and methods. Your client or colleague will be thrilled with their gift—and you’ll have the warm fuzzy feeling that comes along with supporting local businesses and the envrionment.

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Watch the bright spot for new business gift ideas each week! And for more ideas read our Tipsheet How do I Find Alternatives to Traditional Gift Giving?

October 26, 2009

Business gift idea: city guidebook

Filed under: Goods & Wares,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , — lidia @ 9:00 am

0811810712_normThese city guidebooks from Chronicle Books make a great gift for out-of-town clients, as well as locals. With the Moleskine City Notebook Chicago and 52 Adventures in Chicago, your faraway clients can get to know your hometown—while local colleagues can play tourist in their own city. Several other cities are also offered in both series.

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Watch the bright spot for new business gift ideas each week! And read our Tipsheet How do I Find Alternatives to Traditional Gift Giving? for more ideas.

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