Small business has long been known for being more focused on community than larger corporations. Many of Chicago’s growing businesses are building “People before Profits” right into their brand. These local businesses are out to change the world.
Kido, a kids’ empowerment clothing company, started as an online boutique that grew its following with clothing of positive affirmations geared primarily towards children of color. Kido’s community building started with hosting Baby Soul Jam events with Mama Fresh. These Saturday morning dance parties on the South Side were designed to build community with families. Once the flagship store opened in the Roosevelt Collection, Kido exploded with community-focused events, clothing and books. Before the pandemic, you could visit Kido for lessons on hair care, storytimes that celebrate a wide range of cultures, to hang out and chat with other local families and pick up your favorite graphic tee to affirm your child’s beauty. During shutdowns, the storytimes have moved to Instagram Live and have included interviews with authors from around the country.
1137 S. Delano Court, Chicago
This haven for belly dancing, women’s fitness classes and workshops believes in its mission so deeply that it converted its business model from a for-profit business to a non- profit organization. It has allowed Hip Circle to expand its resources for women to fully accept and love their bodies. Local businesses sponsor classes and workshops, giving room for women to forget their finances and join a class. During the pandemic, classes have moved online, including many parent and child workshops.
727 Howard St., Evanston
Helix Cafe opened its flagship shop in Edgewater in 2019. What appears to be another hip coffee shop actually has a pretty unique mission. The coffee shop serves as a training and skill-building tool for Chicago-area youth. The cafe doesn’t just give them a job, it helps them discover their skills and talents and see how they can use them in the workforce. You can volunteer to help inspire and mentor, or just find a great cold brew and lunch. Coffee, candles and tea can be ordered for home delivery.
6237 N. Clark St., Chicago
This social enterprise company that empowers young moms by providing a community of support and job training. In addition to being a candle and home fragrance company, young moms can get assistance with resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills, and parenting and financial capabilities courses.
Bubbles Academy is adored for its music and arts-based classes and arts integrated preschool. Its Whole Child Arts non-profit’s mission is to expand what Bubbles Academy offers, to give more families access to quality activities in under served neighborhoods. One of the more impressive goals of Whole Child Arts is to not just teach children of color but to also create and train more artists of color to teach young children. So, children can see themselves in the people creating art with them. During the pandemic, classes have moved online and in the parking lot in the summer.
2184 N. Elston Ave., Chicago
Sip of Hope in Logan Square stands as a beacon for those struggling with mental health. All of the proceeds go to Hope for the Day to help the non-profit continue its work with suicide prevention and mental health education. Sip of Hope also offers workshops and outreach for those struggling with mental health. A big piece to the puzzle is that it provides training to all staff members to recognize and support those who may be seeking mental health help, meaning someone in need can just stop in for a cup of coffee and find help. You can get a stellar hot chocolate or chai to help support their mission.
3039 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago
A Chicago-based mom created this comfy clothes collection for adults and kids. In November and December, $5 from every purchase will be donated to House of Good Shepherd, which serves Chicago women and children affected by domestic violence.
This all-natural textile company is a regular at Chicago Artisan markets with Fairtrade apparel, towels and cushions. The business was started by a pair of city moms who support the Save the Children Foundation, Equality Now and support schools and hospitals in their Chicago communities.
Mom-created and run, this company is a top supplier of crafts, balloons, party planning and all around fun making. It is regularly called on for balloon installations, for families looking for craft projects or creating planning the perfect party. Watch for installations of backdrops for the Instagram-worthy photos during holidays. A portion of all sales is donated to HelloBaby or The Nora Project.
Earth-friendly products for home, health & beauty and pets, one percent of yearly profits are donated to environmental causes. The business was also Chicago’s first zero-waste store.
The designs come from Chicago, while the products are then handcrafted sustainably in East Africa. Lifestyle pieces range from bags to jewelry and are created by a former school teacher.
The girls clothing company makes comfy T-shirts, sweatshirts and joggers for girls that love science, sports, outdoors, history, art (basically all girls).The founders, parents of three girls, partner with different organizations to give back and help raise money.
Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.
This article originally published in Chicago Parent’s February 2020 issue. It has been updated with the most recent information. Chicago Parent writer Lori Orlinsky contributed to this report.