ELMHURST – When Leslie Pozen and Angie Pool met at a St. Patrick's Day party, they instantly knew they'd be friends. But two years after the chance meeting, they're also business partners.
"We connected immediately," Pool said.
Now the two operate Rouse, a specialty boutique and studio in downtown Elmhurst that opened late last year. Pool was ready to retire from the corporate world, where she'd worked for almost 30 years, when Pozen's growing ellu handbag business demanded more than a basement workshop.
Their friendship became the wake-up call they both needed to embark on a new venture. They wanted their boutique to inspire others, like they had been inspired to create it.
They settled on the name "Rouse," which they define on their front window as, "/rowz/ v to awaken n an energetic space designed to awaken creativity, passion, inner bliss, self-love..."
"We buy things that we love, and when people come in and love that stuff, it makes us feel good," Pozen said.
She described discovering Fly London shoes while out of town. After a flood of compliments, she and Pool decided to carry the fashionable comfort shoes in their store.
Another staple of their inventory are Yoga Jeans by Second denim Co., a Canadian company. They boast the flexibility and comfort of yoga pants, with the style and look of jeans.
"We wanted to be more of a destination place," Pool said.
The front half of the shop displays unique apparel, artisan jewelry and Pozen's ellu handbags, while the back half is a multipurpose space. Thursday mornings it's a Yamuna Body Rolling classroom. Some evenings, the space hosts private shopping events, one of Pool's favorite things.
"We get to play Barbie," she said of picking fashion items for party-goers.
The Rouse duo wants the space to be a place for all genders and ages. They also host children's parties in the multipurpose space, with everything a preteen could want: bedazzled jeans, pizza and a fashion show.
"We turn down the lights, and we shine the lights on the runway," Pozen said.
Rouse also hosts craft sessions, yoga and Creative Connections – a girls' night out inspired series of events. Recently, a Bottle and Bottega event there let attendees paint under the guidance of a professional artist while they sipped drinks and socialized.
"We want it to be more than just another boutique," Pool said. "We want it to be a place where people come and get inspired."
If you go
Where: 132 N. Addison Ave., Elmhurst.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Info: Visit rouseelmhurst.com for details about joining a Rouse event or scheduling your own.