- Jan 30, 2018
The Chamber is pleased to announce the three winners of the twelfth annual Business Awards, which recognize excellence in the Northbrook business community. The award winners, each meeting its own criteria, will be recognized at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Dinner on February 26th.
la de da! Named Northbrook Business of the Year
The Northbrook Business of the Year is honored for excellent business practices.
Since it first opened its doors almost 13 years ago in downtown Northbrook, la de da! has delighted customers as a fun and stylish place to shop — the kind of store where you can grab a quick gift, or lose yourself while browsing amongst all of the fashionable merchandise. But make no mistake about it, owner Jill Carlisle has put her serious business skills to work to create one of Northbrook’s most successful specialty shops, developing an assortment of trendy and unique selections of home decor, baby gifts, and fashion accessories that appeal to women of all ages. Many of these items are exclusive to her store in Northbrook. Over the years, the store has survived and continued to grow through economic ups and downs. La de da now enjoys a loyal clientele that has come to know and appreciate its exceptional customer service.
Jill opened the store surrounded by her loving friends and family. Her decision was one of necessity as she needed to support herself and her young children after the death of her husband. In order to be near her children, Jill decided not to seek a “safe” corporate job. Instead she used the skills she knew best — going all the way back to when she worked in retail as a high school student at Young In Heart in Hubbard Woods, to the skills she honed during her 14 year career at Marshall Field’s. Her Field’s experience, which involved overseas travel to Europe and Asia as a buyer for children’s wear and later women’s knitwear, taught her the importance of watching hard numbers and the bottom line– understanding the cost of goods and pricing to develop private label merchandise and identifying the latest trends.
Over the years, the 900 square foot store has tripled its business and has grown to a staff of eight. She credits her site in downtown Northbrook for much of her success with neighboring retailers providing daily foot traffic and convenient parking. The shop also has a sizable stock room that allows her to continually fill her selling floor with new merchandise.
“You have to be committed to work hard in this business,” she comments. “Part of the reason for my success is that I am present at the store almost every single day. Also what makes the store unique is that we can sell to females from ages 0 – 100!”
The store is deeply rooted in family. It was her father’s influence and his signature expression that is the always present in the store, which bears his signature phrase, “la de da!” – his personal seal of approval.
Jill was driven by a desire to be available for her family while also providing a source of income. Her children were her daily motivation. “I believe the commitment to my kids in those early days is what drove my success,” she comments.
Known as a place where customers can come into the store literally every day and find something new, Jill works hard to keep the inventory fresh and in style. It’s not unusual for her to sell thousands of an especially hot item in her store, and she takes pride in her ability to identify items that are future key best sellers.
But Jill’s commitment to personal service is her best known quality. She offers a concierge service that is literally door to door – customers can call with a request to purchase a gift, identify a price point, explain the occasion, and Jill and her staff will pick it out, wrap it , place it in the iconic black and white bag. “We have actually run the gift out to someone waiting in their car,” she comments. “This is what separates us from the rest — and it’s something not available when shopping on the Internet. I like to call it the ‘hit and run’ because it’s directly geared to helping our customers right at their moment of need!”
Having experienced so much success, Jill believes that it’s important to give back. She has learned the impact she can have in her community by providing a way for her customers to make a difference. Several times a year she conducts charity events to support others. In 2017 she planned an event with her customers to raise $1500 for hurricane relief efforts. Last Mother’s Day, la de da! delivered 40 baskets with products collected from her customers to a women’s shelter in Evanston.
The store continues to motivate her and bring her happiness. “There’s not a day that I get up that I am not happy to be here. It’s such a joy.”
Jill will donate the store’s $500 honorarium that accompanies the award to Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital.