women entrepreneurs

4xForth: Liz Klafeta of BANGTEL by Taylor Bryant

I like to think of 4xForths as the catalyst to an amazing weekend because who doesn't love to read about rad women and their favorite things to do in the Windy City? This week's feature is all about community member Liz Klafeta, owner of  BANGTEL  She's an interior designer, stylist, entrepreneur, and all around girl boss.

Check out Liz's go-to spots below!

Favorite places to grab a drink in the city:

  1. Parson's Chicken and Fish. The outside patio is amazing for meeting a group of friends. You almost feel like you are in some amazing outdoor oasis in Austin, TX. The frozen Negroni's are superb!
  2. Matchbox because, well…not only do they make the BEST martinis, but they hand you the rest of the shaker. I love a good 2 for 1!  It's always a better idea to UBER here.
  3. Wang's!! That speakeasy dark sexy Japanese opium den vibe. Great for a martini and a first date and always throwing badass parties. Quite honestly, some of the best music in the area as well.
  4. Berlin, especially  for PLASTIC FACTORY.  Ever seen the creatures that throw this party? This place has been around for over 30 years and I have never seen this much talent roaming around the dance floor and gracing the stages. They are amazing. Androgynous Club Kids that spend days on their costumes.  Leave inspired and tired after shaking that hot foot all night long! 

Favorite hotels in the city:

Being that I gypsy amongst all the BANGTEL's, sometimes I have to live in a hotel when they are all fully booked.  It allows me to research first hand the type of top notch concierge we at BANGTEL like to provide to our guests!  

  1. Soho house. They send someone up to make your drink in room when phoned, pre-dinner hour.  Also, the number of toiletries with their own labeled bag is beyond impressive.  I, of course, phoned down and asked if I could take them all after trying everything Cowshed product in the shower.  I love staying there and taking meetings all day.  It is beyond convenient.  January and February are the best because as a member you can stay for $100/night!  That's what I like to call a PAR-TAY! 

  2. The Thompson Hotel: Um…love the restaurant, Nico Osteria.  The rooms are huge as well with a built-out banquet in the corner that is upholstered just right!  The TV's in the lobby with the landscape of the city simply blew my mind.  I had always wanted to do one with a fire silhouette in all the Bangtel's with fireplaces.
  3. The Public Hotel…Ian Schrager designed and there is just so much history.  I remember eating cheeseburgers with my sister in the original Pump Room pre-rehab.  We would sit in Frank Sinatra's booth and look at photos of all the celebs when they frequented the establishment as babies.  It is so light and crisp and refreshing there.  It always feels like home.  The weekend nights fill the lobby with DJ's and beautiful people, while Sunday has the best brunch. 
  4. The Chicago Athletic Association because it is just INSANE.  If you haven't been, GO.  The lobby, the view at the restaurant Cindy's, the Cherry Circle room with that CEILING.  So much history packed into that guy.  Ask for a tour and get your socks knocked off.  The rooms are super hip with brand new rehabbed bathrooms and there's a Shake Shack in the lobby when you come home on those late nights.  Land and Sea did a great job making 

Places I frequent in the city:

  1. Tile Outlet on Fullerton. I. AM. JUST. ALWAYS. BUYING. TILE. The prices are awesome.  There is also a limited run of things.  So, although, you may think everyone has it, everyone will not be able to have it.  

  2. Native Foods for that Taco Salad.  Do they put crack in that thing?? There are thankfully a few interspersed throughout the city, so its a quick pick-up when I am running around. 

  3. Andersonville: Thybony for wallpaper and paint. They have a great selection for wallpapers.  I also love Scout for a Marlin or an amazing table.  Kyllie, of Recovered Interiors, does an amazing job of upholstering some of their goods just right. 

  4. Zap Props or Propabilities for photoshoots and rental items for commercials and print ads.  Now, I generally go and purchase prized possessions for my rental homes. Shoot... I just told you one of my secrets! 

Best galleries in the city:

  1. Chicago Truborn: Ever wanted to be able to buy that "cool" graffiti-inspired art? Sara, the owner, is doing it right!   Not only is she a darling, but she really done something amazing by making street-art accessible to the public.  Pop in and get some good stuff!

  2. Johalla Projects:  Anna Cerniglia is not only one of the raddest chicks I have ever met, but she does the most inspirational things.  For example, she is somehow able to arrange to have her artists paint on a gigantic shipping container for the entry to Perry Farral's area Stage at Lollapoolooza.  NO BIG DEAL...she did that!  #mindblown

  3. Matthew Rachman Gallery:  Well curated walls focusing on contemporary abstract art juxtaposed along side an insane collection of rare mid-century modern furniture in a minimal setting.  The guys there are pretty rad, too! GO SEE! 

  4. Zhou B Art Gallery is a building of artists that offer a live-work space.  Its a crazy little inspirational building in Bridgeport with art installations down random hallways.  It used to be the home to the likes of Hebru Brantley and I love when the meeting of Styles is there.  They saran wrap "wall space" by repeatedly wrapping around columns that are 14' feet away from one another.  

Best places to relax in the city:

  1. Division Chiropractic Not only did they save my back, but Shari will cup the crap out of you and make you as good as new in no time! 

  2. Cowshed Spa is great to spend the day at.  Their massages are always so on point.  The facials are great as well.  If only they offered no chip manicures, this girl would call it a one-stop-shop. Afterwords, you can chill by the fire on roof or catnap while you watch a movie in the cinema room. 

  3. King Spa is uncomfortably weird at first, but then relaxing. Get naked with everyone and dip yourself in every hot to cold bath. You also get to wear the sexiest light pink scrubs while lounging in a variety of their Salt Rooms. The Bim Bop dinner is a highlight and the moisturizing face mask in a bag. 

  4. Painstop on Lincoln or Milwaukee is great for a deep tissue Thai massage.  The wait is usually limited and you can schedule it last minute. They even take some insurance. 

Reading  Liz's suggestions for enjoying Chicago has me ready to take a staycation. I can picture it now, a day at the spa, a night on the town, and coming back to one of the bangin' BANGTEL properties.

If you're ready for a staycation of your own or if you just want to be inspired by Liz's vibrant and ecclectic style, be sure to visit BANGTEL on the web and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

4xForth: Forth Chicago 2016 Intern and writer Carolyn Green by Clare Johnson

It's 4xForth Friday and today, we're highlighting a very special (new!) member in the community. We're featuring Carolyn Green - writer at VSA Partners one of Forth Chicago's new 2016 interns! This incredible West Coast transplant (originally from Portland, Oregon) moved to Chicago a little over a year ago after graduating in 2014 from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design, a Poverty Studies Interdisciplinary Minor and an accidental almost-concentration in Medieval Studies. 

Beyond her incredible personality and wit, Carolyn is also an accomplished creative writer, runner, adventurer and overly-charming coffee date. We are tickled to have her as part of our team and can't wait to see where she helps take our amazing community. 

Places I frequent in Chicago: 

  1. The Second City: I recently started taking sketch comedy writing classes at the Second City Training Center, and it's been a dream. I mean, when else do you get to watch "30 Rock" for homework? We receive free passes to shows with our student IDs, so I try to see 1-2 shows a week. For anyone who wants to learn more about The Second City and the history of Chicago-style improv, I recommend the documentary "Second to None," a behind-the-scenes look at the seminal Mainstage Revue "Paradigm Lost," starring now famous comedians like Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Scott Adsit and Kevin Dorff.  
  2. Lincoln Park: I love to run, and I finished my second Chicago Marathon this October. In Portland, we have an abundance of trails within the city, and I try to mimic that soft-surface experience whenever possible. In general, I'm a big fan of city parks. I love visiting NYC and running in Central Park, and I spent a semester abroad in London, where I would explore the city by running through St. James, Green and Hyde Parks to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, or spy on Will and Kate at Kensington Palace (never saw them). I can do multiple loops of Lincoln Park and never get bored. I'm also on a kickball team through Chicago Sport and Social Club. We're called the Kickbrawlers, and you can find us making memories on the Lincoln Park South fields every Friday night in the fall. 
  3. Green, Inc.: Crazy plant lady is the new crazy cat lady. I can guarantee you that if I'm walking down N. Wells Street (a frequent occurrence), I'll stop into Green, Inc. to see if they've received any new shipments of succulents or other "drought-resistant" plants (the only thing I can keep alive). My apartment is kind of modern, with lots of white, so I'm always looking for ways to make it feel more homey.
  4. Trenchermen: Wicker Park is one of my fave neighborhoods in Chicago, and Trencherman is one of my top restaurants in the area. Birthday dinner, Sunday brunch, whatever, I'm always down for a meal here. May I suggest the pickle tots or the eggs florentine? Housed in a refurbished Russian bath from the 1920s, it's worth visiting Trencherman just for the atmosphere.  

Things to do with out-of-town visitors: 

  1. Chicago Architectural Boat Tour: I tried kayaking on the Chicago River last summer, which was decidedly better than not kayaking...until a dead, decaying rat floated past my paddle. Coincidentally, that was the exact moment I decided my preferred Chicago River experience is an architectural boat tour—a great way for out-of-towners to learn about the city's history, feel the city breezes upon their face (smelling faintly of hot dogs) and hear some really great jokes from the tour guide, such as, "Never take marble for granite." 
  2. Art Institute: My parents gave me a membership to the Art Institute for Christmas, which includes free admission for one guest. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! Visitors are usually interested in an afternoon at the Art Institute, even if we just head straight for the "Ferris Bueller painting." My goal for this winter is to go to the Art Institute on my own (if I bring friends, we usually just end up talking and not really looking at anything), choose one gallery/genre, and read about every single painting in that section. Rinse and repeat.  
  3. Aquarium: I was born in Oak Park and still have a fair amount of relatives in the Chicago suburbs, so my family would spend 1-2 weeks visiting every summer when I was a kid. My mom was big on museums, especially the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. The Shedd was always a favorite of ours, and when my brother and sister visit me on breaks from their respective colleges, we have to go back. It's not like otters will ever get less adorable. I've been to Adler After Dark, but Jazzin at the Shedd is next on my list! 
  4. Chicago Cultural Center: On the way to your requisite visit to the Bean, stop by the Chicago Cultural Center. It's free and they are usually featuring some pretty cool traveling art exhibitions. Walk upstairs to see the stunning Tiffany Dome, a 1,000-foot dome that contains over 30,000 pieces of glass (!!). Also, the Cultural Center is really warm, in case you have visitors who were brave enough to visit in winter. 

Sites I love: 

  1. Man Repeller: I follow too many design/photography/lifestyle blogs to count, but Man Repeller is a site that I check daily for fashion, humor or cultural inspo. Anything written by Amelia Diamond is right up my alley. 
  2. National Geographic: When an article from National Geographic shows up in my feedly, I always click on it. In another life, I think I would have been an archaeologist. 
  3. Design Sponge: Solid ideas for DIY projects and cool profiles of creative people. I love their city guides
  4. The Toast: Writing goals, humor goals. See "Women having a terrible time at parties in art history." 

Places I want to go:

  1. Frank Lloyd Wright Bike Tour in Oak Park: Biking and talking about historic architecture—what's not to love! Unfortunately, this tour was sold out every single time (once) that I tried to buy tickets last summer. Now I know I have to act early for next summer! 
  2. Evanston: My mom went to Northwestern, and always talks about how much she loves Evanston. I haven't been there since I was in high school, but would love to take a day trip soon. Ideally, I would bike there! (Can you tell I'm from Portland?)
  3. Renegade Craft Fair: I was out of town for this event in September, but I'm looking forward to the Holiday Fair in December.  
  4. Iceland: Not in Chicago, but Iceland is a dream vacation destination. I haven't looked into all of the details, but apparently Icelandair will let you take an extended layover in Reykjavik on your way to, say, Amsterdam, free of charge! Hiking, horses and hot springs, come on...and if you need any convincing, Arlena Armstrong on Instagram provides all the aesthetic appeal and wanderlust you'll ever need.  

Thanks for sharing, Carolyn! 

You're in good company when it comes to exploring the city and its many culinary and cultural wonders. Anytime you need a partner to help you explore Green, Inc., Evanston or any Chicago craft show.. you just call out my name (and you know where ever I am....). 

Be sure to follow Carolyn on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest and stay tuned for our second intern introduction, coming to you next week on the 4xForth series.

4xForth: Joan Cinquegrani of Five Grain Events by Clare Johnson

It's Friday, it's a beautiful day and it's time for another community 4xForth. Today, we're highlighting Joan Cinquegrani of Five Grain Events. As the owner and lead consultant at Five Grain, Joan effortlessly executes a wide range of events - from proposal planning to the big day (amongst many other services). With a background in non-profit work, Joan has a particular appreciation and knack for creating beautiful events on the tightest of budgets. Beyond her top-notch organizational skills, she's also a delightful dinner guest and Chicago enthusiast.

Read below and find out more about this incredible entrepreneur, planner and all-around wonderful person:

Place I frequent in Chicago: 

  1. Costco! Our favorite family outing. $1.50 hotdog/drink lunch special and so many opportunities for impulse buys. It's a blessing and a curse!
  2. Logan Square Farmers Market: We try and make it out to this almost every Sunday. It runs May-October outdoors. Lots of great fruit/vegetables but also prepared foods. My family and I go with a blanket, grab a couple tacos and horchata from the Cherub's booth and relax in the shade along Logan Blvd. 
  3. Gethsemane Garden Center: I am not a gardener but my mom is, so I have a lot of fun exploring the rows upon rows of different flower and plant options. Plug they have a fantastic gift shop. It's my mothers day go-to for a one stop shopping experience. 
  4. Humboldt Park: This giant park is so underutilized by most Chicagoans. They have a boathouse with lagoon (and new cafe!), formal gardens, lakes, baseball fields, playgrounds, and tons of green space. It's an oasis in the middle of the city and the perfect place for a walk, bike or run to get your green fix. 

Places I'll go someday:

  1. Milan: I did a study-abroad trip here and am dying to go back. My husband and I both own our own businesses so are thinking we might go live there for a few months in 2017. Trying to make plans to accomplish that!
  2. Hawaii: When I think of Paradise, I think of Hawaii. For some reason my travels have never lead me there but I'd love to go spend some extended time in Hawaii. 
  3. Alaska: Total opposite of Hawaii but I think experiencing the "wild" in Alaska would be a life-changing experience. 
  4. South America: It's a continent I haven't yet hit, and I would love to go experience the different cultures and see the sights. 

Best bites in Chicago: 

  1. Buona Terra: Seriously delicious and fresh Italian food.  If they have scallops on their daily menu you won't regret your choice.  Amazing bread with a garlic puree on every table.  Outstanding minestrone, and their Ravioli con vitello is superb.  I could go on...

  2. Taqueria Moran:  A local favorite--just down the block from where I live.  My faves on the menu are tostadas, their chicken and rice soup (big chunks of veggies, whole drumsticks, and a delicious broth), and chicken fajitas.  And margaritas for a special occasion!

  3. Lula Cafe: Everything on their menu is freshly prepared and so yummy.  A combination of very simple choices (turkey sandwich--add cheddar and bacon, thank me later) and more creative offerings.  They make a MEAN bloody mary if you are there for brunch, but go early if you don't want to wait in line.

  4. Osteria Langhe: This restaurant opened across the street from my office last summer and is a great addition to the neighborhood.  Delicious and light northern Italian fare and a nice wine list.

Favorite Podcasts: 

I don't have as much time to read as I would like, so podcasts have become my new "go to" for a little brain break while I do dishes or run around doing errands.

  1. Snap Judgment:  "Storytelling with a beat".  The stories on here are incredible--funny, scary, tear-jerking.  Each episode has a theme.  I just love hearing true stories (and sometimes fiction) about peoples' lives.

  2. The Longest Shortest Time:  This is a podcast about parenthood.  I had my second child just over a year ago and was thrown into mommy-hood in a way that I hadn't been with my first.  Colic, issues bottle feeding, the challenge of running a business with not one but two kids' needs nipping at my heels was overwhelming to say the least.  This podcast helped me hear other parents' stories and made me feel a little more settled with my current state of being.
  3. Invisibilia:  This show "explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions."  Very cool in-depth stories about how our lives are shaped by things around us.  Really cool!
  4. StoryCorps:  StoryCorps' mission is to help record audio from real people.  All the recordings are archived in the library of congress.  Looking for a cry?  You're pretty much guaranteed with these.  They are typically pretty short and capture snapshots of peoples' lives.

Thank you for sharing, Joan!

Your comments about the Logan Square Farmers Market have me missing summer already. Tacos, family and a picnic in the shade? What a beautiful family tradition! We applaud you for your tremendous ability to manage an incredibly successful business with family and life - a juggling act that many Forth members understand - and we wish you the best of luck in your Milan pursuits!

Follow and keep up with Joan on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  

4xForth: Erin Huizenga of Borough & Block and Till School by Clare Johnson

It's 4xForth Friday and today we're featuring the multi-talented Erin Huizenga of Borough & Block, and Till School. Each week, we highlight one of the incredible women in our community by finding out more about her favorite hot-spots, restaurants, day-trips and more.

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4xForth: Molly Cantrell-Kraig of the Women with Drive Foundation by Clare Johnson

Our 4xForth blog series highlights one of the women in our community by learning about her favorite Chicago bites, hot-spots and recommendations. Today, we're talking to Molly Cantrell-Kraig, Founder of the Women with Drive Foundation.

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4xForth: Olivia Leigh of Olivia Leigh Photographie by Clare Johnson

We're bringing back our 4xForth interviews with the amazing women of Forth Chicago, starting with the wildly talented Olivia Leigh of Olivia Leigh Photographie. Though Julie's fangirled since Olivia photographer her wedding, the rest of us recently met Olivia at our spring salon, hosted in the beautiful Sunday Dinner Club. Her warm personality, insight and attitude lit up the room and we're excited to introduce her to the rest of the Forth community.

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Forth Chicago Favorites: Crafty Cocktails by Katie Kenney

Annnd we're back! We're anticipating warmer temps very soon and what better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a cocktail or two? Grab your girl friends and head to one of these city spots for a what will surely be a very happy hour.

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