Profile of a local business in Beverly or Morgan Park

Business Spotlight: Veola’s Spa 

By Kristin Boza 

With stress levels rising high, finding the time to relax and engage in self-care is absolutely necessary to preserve mental health and give the body a much-needed boost. Veola’s Day Spa and Wellness Center, 2150 W. 95th St., owned by mother-daughter duo Veola James and Jasmine James, has developed its own reopening strategy to ensure the safety of their clients and staff.  

Jasmine James was invited to speak at one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s daily press conferences on the topic of reopening a salonShe touted Veola’s ABCDs of Reopening procedure, developed specific to the personal service industry: A: Appointment OnlyB: Body Temperature CheckC: Cover Your Nose and Mouth; and D: Disinfect Your Hands. 

“Nobody could have prepared for the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, we had to learn how to roll with the punches,” Jasmine said. “We have always been a service-oriented business and would consider that one of our major strengths. With this safety plan, in conjunction with plexiglass installed throughout the common areas and our one-on-one therapist to client policy, we have reopened with confidence.” 

The pandemic also forced the spa to get creative and engage on a larger scale online. They launched a new website,, to serve existing clients and market to prospective clients by giving them the opportunity to purchase much-needed spa products online. 

Veola James has been at the core of the Beverly/Morgan Park business community for more than 40 years, starting with Plush & Etc. in the 1980s and Veola’s Boutique in the 1990s before opening the spa and wellness center. She was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. in an entrepreneurial family. Her mother, Theresa Wright, opened a beauty salon there in the early 1950s, which was unheard of at the time, according to Jasmine.  

After earning her cosmetology license and moving to Chicago at age 18, Veola began her career as a hairstylist and ultimately a dental assistant, where she met her husband, the late Dr. Edward Jerome James. After raising her family, she still had the drive to create beauty. She became a jewelry designer and was featured in fashion magazines and showcases around the world, even becoming the first African American female jewelry designer to be featured at Saks Fifth Avenue on Michigan Avenue. After many years, Veola decided to get back to her beauty roots and was joined by Jasmine, then a business administration graduate from Florida A&M University, to open Veola’s Day Spa and Wellness Center in 2001. 

“We consider it a blessing to be able to serve the community that has poured so much into us over the years,” Jasmine said. “We will continue to provide professional personal services and products to individuals that are in need of healing and reflection.” 

Spa patrons can relax with facials, waxing, body scrubs, body wraps, hydrotherapy tub treatments, steam treatments, nail care, hair care and more. The wellness center aims to be a place for people to release tension and stress, and carries products that focus on building and strengthening the immune system.  

According to Jasmine, the Rub & Scrub treatment is popular during the fall season as it exfoliates to remove dead skin and ends with a 30-minute massage to hydrate the skin and relax the muscles.  

“Our most popular products are from the Fiji Islands, including shower gels, hydrating mists, body butters, massage oils and more,” Jasmine said. “The ImmuniKit is in high demand because it helps build a strong immune system using organic, all-natural herbs.” 

To find out more about the products or book an appointment, visit 



Sprout & Berry 

By Brittany Wiley 
BAPA Business Liaison 

Born and raised in Beverly/Morgan Park, Claire Richards has been immersed in the community for her whole life.  She comes from a family of entrepreneurs who own DiColas Seafood, Olivia’s Garden and Candace’s Antiques. 

After receiving her MBA in marketing and social media in 2013, Richards started her own company, Amplify7.  Since then, her immersion into the business community grew from her own family’s ventures to serving many other clients in the area such as Swanson’s Deli, Little Hoppers Play Café and Running Excels.   

Richards has helped neighbors build websites and expand their brands, as well as fostered community awareness.  And now she is ready to build and grow her own new business: Sprout & Berry, a children’s clothing brand.   

“Sprout & Berry is an inclusive brand that features children from different races, ethnicities, genders and abilities,” Richards said. “I want children to relate to and identify our company in a loving manner.  

We also give back each season to a charity,” she said. The company’s first release benefited the United Cerebral Palsy Seguin of Greater Chicago, a charitable not-for-profit agency serving individuals with disabilities in metropolitan Chicago. 

Richard’s designs have an organic feel with exciting sparks of on-trend modernity.  

You can tell that she is has taken a bit of risk and it pays off.  The trends she incorporates, when paired with the natural fabrics, are subtle and translate well to children’s clothes. 

To create the line, Richards bought patterns from Etsy and built original designs from there by adding extended collars, extra buttons, lace necklines and more.  She works with “two great seamstresses in California who help turn concept into reality, she said.  

“My first release was successful and taught me that many boy moms are searching for a better brand. I will definitely be carrying more boys (and gender neutral) items in the future.”  

Richards plans to extend her sizing and search for a retail space in Beverly/Morgan Park on 103rd Street or 99th & Walden Parkway.  Until then, Sprout & Berry’s Fall Drop II is live on  Stay updated on Facebook at Sprout and Berry and on Instagram @sproutandberry. 


Seeing the Dentist During the Pandemic  


Dentistry is essential to a person’s overall healthcare, but many people have been reluctant to see their dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to Dr. Raunak Patel, dentists have been prepared to deal with infectious diseases for decades. Even though dental offices are aerosolcreating environments, the benefits of going to a dentist outweigh the risks,” he said.   

When deciding whether to go to the dentist, Dr. Patel advises people to consider the important benefits of good oral hygiene.  

Poor oral health has been linked to several serious diseases including oral cancer, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and obesity,” Dr. Patel said.  Dental cleanings and checkups at least every six months help identify any problems early while they’re easier to treat and before they start to affect the rest of the body. 

Comfort is also a consideration when making the decision on whether to see the dentist regularly. “Cavities can be filled before they cause pain, sealants can be applied to help protect teeth against decay, and gum disease can be treated,” Dr. Patel said.  That advice also extends to children. Regular dental checkups prevent gum diseases in your children and dental visits protect your child against tarter, cavities, plaque and tooth decay.” 

At Dr. Patel’s practice, Todays Dental of Beverly, the staff is following all guidelines from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) to keep patients safe during the pandemic.  

Those guidelines include taking temperature readings and symptom screenings as part of routine assessment prior to performing dental procedures; using appropriate personal protective equipment including face shields; using HEPA filters to decrease possible exposure to infectious agents; and using high-speed evacuation for all dental procedures producing an aerosol. 

Other important safety measures in place at Today’s Dental include having patients rinse with 1.5 percent hydrogen peroxide before each appointment to reduce oral microbes; frequent cleaning and disinfecting of public areas and removal reading materials and other items that are not easily disinfected; and requiring patients to wait in their vehicles until their dental chair is to limit contact among patients.   

It’s our goal to keep our community healthy and smiling and we know regular dental visits can help,” Dr. Patel said. 

Todays Dental is located at 11238 S. Western. Learn more at 708-388-0001. 

Think Before You Click: Ten Years Running  

By Brittany Wiley 
BAPA Business Liaison 

Ten years ago, a specialty running store, Running Excels10328 S. Western, opened their doors to our community.  Since then, Beverly Lynch has been providing us with a personalized shopping experience and quality products to ensure comfort, fit and support.   

But you don’t have to be a runner to shop there.   

Many people are now walking to get out of the house. We want everyone to know we fit walkers, runners and those who just need a comfortable shoe to use at work or to get around,” Lynch said.  The store also carries OOFOS sandals, a recovery footwear brand that absorbs impact and reduces the stress on your feet and joints. 

One of the foundations of Running Excels and their success is the fitting process.  They believe “the journey to your perfect pair of shoes is as unique as you are.”  

Lynch assesses your need by getting to know you, including your history of injuries and the type of exercise you do. She then analyzes your arches and finally your gait to give you shoe options tailored to you.  Customers can test out shoes on the treadmill or outside before making a decision.   

Running Excels was considered a non-essential business when the stayat-home mandate was put into effect.  The doors had to be closed, so Lynch found creative ways to continue serving her customers.    

Since 85% of Lynch’s customers are local, she was able to hand-deliver merchandise to their homes or offer curbside pickup.  She offered fittings virtually and brought customers several pairs to try on.  Wearing masks, outdoor fittings were added at the store.  Lynch still to offer these services if her customers are unable to come into the store because of health concerns. 

“The biggest change we made during this time was adding an online presence,” Lynch said.  Running Excels offers a full line of running shoes on their website,  Customers can search by fit online as part of Lynch’s continuing commitment to personalization.  More shoe colors and styles are available online, so even if you have an in-person fitting, you can order a shoe that isn’t available in the store.   

Lynch does not just sell shoes and running-related products in her store.  She has created a community with the Run Beverly group.  

“Many of the runners… are now lifelong friends,” she said.  Some have been running together since the store opened in 2010. “They are a welcoming, non-intimidating group,” she added. All are welcome at no charge.   

We are lucky to have a store like Running Excels in this neighborhood.  Beverly Lynch is committed to the physical health and comfort of our residents.  She has gone above and beyond to survive and serve us through COVID.  Even if you don’t need shoes, stop in for running shorts, socks, hats or even a mask.  We can do our part to make sure Running Excels celebrates another 10 years. 

To learn more, visit  Follow Running Excels on Instagram @runningexcels or Facebook, 


Business Spotlight: A Hopping Place for Families 

By Brittany Wiley 

Michelle Bryant-Smith and her husband Maurice Smith opened Little Hoppers Play Café, 2670 W 111th St., in August.  It’s an interactive and creative boutique style play space for kids age seven and under and a café for families.   

The idea for the Play Café was birthed out of Bryant-Smith’s frustration as a new mom and the lack of family-focused offerings on the South Side.   Most of the classes and activities that she found were located on the North Side or in the suburbs.  After spending so much time in traffic, she “set out on a mission to find infant and kid activities on the South Side.” The lack of choices was disappointing, so she set out to create something herself. 

The open play space features playsets that are engineered to help with cognitive, developmental, and social advancement for infants and toddlers.  Children age two years and over get to participate in active play that allows them to use their imaginations, practice their social skills, and move their bodies.   

Parents can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in the café, where they can choose from a variety of refreshments.  They can sip on coffee roasted in Chicago from a local vendor, which is female owned.  Or you can choose a smoothie, snacks or ice cream. 

Bryant-Smith is focused on creating an “environment of community, fun, learning, compassion, and warmth.”   

It will be more than just a play space, but also a haven for parents. Bryant-Smith struggled with infertility and got through a difficult time in her life by “joining a community of women with a wealth of information and resources.”  She wants Little Hoppers to be that community for other parents. They will provide parent-child classes, yoga, STEM, and more to reinforce this mission. 

Little Hoppers is intent on keeping their patrons safe.  Cleaning and sanitizing will occur multiple times a day by staff and weekly by a professional.  Between 12 and 1 p.m., they will close to disinfect all surfaces.  They will limit the patrons and masks are required for everyone over the age of 2.  Customers can also pre-book and pay online to limit interaction. 

Bryant-Smith and Smith are dedicated to our community and families.  They want to “create a convenient, inclusive, fun environment” and a safe space.  And they have worked long and hard to make their vision a reality.   

Visit Little Hoppers, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Learn more online at and follow their journey on social media @thelittlehoppers on Instagram or on Facebook at 

Business Spotlight: A Hopping Place for Families

By Brittany Wiley

Michelle Bryant-Smith and her husband Maurice Smith opened Little Hoppers Play Café, 2670 W 111th St., in August.  It’s an interactive and creative boutique style play space for kids age seven and under and a café for families.

The idea for the Play Café was birthed out of Bryant-Smith’s frustration as a new mom and the lack of family-focused offerings on the South Side.   Most of the classes and activities that she found were located on the North Side or in the suburbs.  After spending so much time in traffic, she “set out on a mission to find infant and kid activities on the South Side.” The lack of choices was disappointing, so she set out to create something herself.

The open play space features playsets that are engineered to help with cognitive, developmental, and social advancement for infants and toddlers.  Children age two years and over get to participate in active play that allows them to use their imaginations, practice their social skills, and move their bodies.

Parents can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in the café, where they can choose from a variety of refreshments.  They can sip on coffee roasted in Chicago from a local vendor, which is female owned.  Or you can choose a smoothie, snacks or ice cream.

Bryant-Smith is focused on creating an “environment of community, fun, learning, compassion, and warmth.”

It will be more than just a play space, but also a haven for parents. Bryant-Smith struggled with infertility and got through a difficult time in her life by “joining a community of women with a wealth of information and resources.”  She wants Little Hoppers to be that community for other parents. They will provide parent-child classes, yoga, STEM, and more to reinforce this mission.

Little Hoppers is intent on keeping their patrons safe.  Cleaning and sanitizing will occur multiple times a day by staff and weekly by a professional.  Between 12 and 1 p.m., they will close to disinfect all surfaces.  They will limit the patrons and masks are required for everyone over the age of 2.  Customers can also pre-book and pay online to limit interaction.

Bryant-Smith and Smith are dedicated to our community and families.  They want to “create a convenient, inclusive, fun environment” and a safe space.  And they have worked long and hard to make their vision a reality.

Visit Little Hoppers, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Learn more online at and follow their journey on social media @thelittlehoppers on Instagram or on Facebook at

New Business Blooms on Walden Parkway 

By Brittany Wiley 
BAPA Business Liaison 

On July 11, Oak & Bloom celebrated the grand opening of their boutique at 9909 S. Walden Pkwy.  Step inside their captivating space to find a meticulously curated collection of vintage home décor by Angelina Schmelling accompanied by stunning stems thoughtfully arranged for you inhouse by floral designer Erin Cox. 

You may be familiar with Erin Cox Designs, a local staple who focused on designing floral arrangements for homes and events as well as for outdoor and seasonal plantings.  Her style is based on the “free flowing design of a stem and adding in texture and novelty flowers and accents.”  This process allows her offerings to stand apart from other bouquets and designs.   

With a background in luxury styling, it is no wonder Cox’s customers have said “her eye for styling and design [is] unmatchable.” She has worked for top productions houses and retail stores in Chicago and the North Shore, and was commissioned to design for top event planners in Chicago, LA and even as far as Hawaii.   

Cox is now back in school for a Landscape Design certificate and planning on continuing her education in sustainability in agriculture. She is taking her first shot at growing her own flowers to cut and sell in the store. Her love for texture in nature shows in her floral works of art. 

Angelina Schmelling began her journey toward this collaboration working for Rachel Ashwell.  She managed Ashwell’s store, Shabby Chic, in Chicago then in interim manager positions in New York, San Francisco and Malibu.   

Schmelling created lasting relationships with her clients and, once she moved on from Ashwell’s company, they reached out to her for their home décor needs.  A design consultation business grew from there.   

Schmelling began collecting vintage pieces for her projects and created Starling Vintage & Home Décor.  For the past decade, she managed a successful e-commerce website along with local home and theatrical rentals while continuing interior design.   

These two women are longtime friends who have always wanted to open a store together.  Their admiration for each other’s style and work ethic made that an easy decision.  But why open during a global pandemic?  Both said COVID redesigned their business models.   

Schmelling’s design business began to take on smaller projects, which she was able to tackle through Zoom.  This freed up time for her to focus on the home décor portion of her business.  And Cox saw some of her biggest sales in floral deliveries during COVID.  She equates this to people having a “new look into humanity” and finding ways to “make other people smile” through the difficult times.  

Once a storefront became available in their desired location, they jumped on the opportunity. “This Beverly Station shopping area is an established destination thanks to the existing businesses here and on 99th and Wood, and the neighbors are so welcoming, popping in almost every day during the build out,” Schmelling said. “This whole process has been a beautiful experience and we are grateful for the positive reception we have received.” 

Stop into Oak & Bloom, open Tues. through Sun.and experience their sustainable, equitable and beautiful floral and home design. Take a sneak peek into their gorgeous style and space and follow their story on Facebook at Oak & Bloom and Instagram @oakandbloomchicago. 

Beverly Dry Goods Brings South Side Pride to Walden  

By Brittany Wiley 
BAPA Business Liaison 

Mary Bujwid and her fiancé Jason Moss have been bringing South Side-inspired wares to the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood since January 2019.  Through their hard work and the support of the community, they will open Beverly Dry Goods bricks-and-mortar on Thurs., July 2 at 9915 S. Walden Pkwy (formerly occupied by Capsule).   

“I truly feel that there is nowhere else in the city where we would be as successful as we’ve been in such a short time.  This community makes Beverly Dry Goods possible, and we feel a large sense of responsibility to provide them with products they can be proud to wear, use in their home, or give as gift,” said Bujwid. 

In 2017, Bujwid and Moss moved to Beverly/Morgan Park.  They were drawn to the “clear sense of community” when they previously drove through on Moss’s motorcycle.  Bujwid explained that it was easy to tell, even just passing through, because “everyone smiled and waved, neighbors chatted in the street, families played in yards, [and] there were beautiful homes wonderfully kept and restored.”  They knew they wanted this for themselves. 

Bujwid grew up in retail and always wanted to open her own shop. After moving here, she was inspired.  She found her why. “No one was celebrating how special this neighborhood and the people are, so I decided to take that on,” Bujwid said 

Bujwid and Moss have created a hyperlocal line of candles, apparel and accessories with names that represent the neighborhood, “Walden,” “Longwood” and “Frunchroom,” to name a few.  They will be expanding their line to include beard balm, room sprays and diffusers.  

Dog treats will be making their way into the store shortly following the opening (their line is delayed due to COVID closures) to accompany the bandanas they’ve created for our furry friends.  The store will not only carry items for your pet, but it will also be dog friendly.    

Their desire to be pet friendly was not only inspired by their dog and the number of families with dogs in the community, but also because Bujwid had a vision for the store  “to be interwoven into the daily lives of customers and not just a place to go and grab something.”  She wants to be a spot for people to gather, to hang out, to feel at home.   

Support your neighbors and South Side pride at the new Beverly Dry Goods location on Walden or online at Follow their journey on Instagram @beverlydrygoods and 

MAYTA COLLECTION: Crafting Connections through Fashion 

By Brittany Wiley 
BAPA Business Liaison 

Maggie O’Reilly, a native southsider, is the creative mind behind Mayta Collection, an ethical fashion brand driven by her personal travels and connection to culture.  Handcrafted in Peru and Morroco, her oneofakind designs include accessories and home goodsOReilly plans to expand into men’s accessories such as leather travel bags and duffels in 2020. 

The birth of the brand started before the designing, inspired by O’Reilly’s wanderlust and her desire to immerse herself into country and culture during her travels. While studying in Mexico, she began to explore the markets, which were teeming with local artisans selling their goods. Her intrigue grew. More travels followed: Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. She spoke with the artisans, heard their stories, and purchased handcrafted pieces that she brought back and sold casually. 

After marrying Gustavo Gomez, who is Peruvian, her tie to Latin America deepened. A trek up Macchu Picchu and time spent with family in Cusco birthed more intrigue. With the help of her new father in law, who speaks Quechua (an indigenous language), she was able to communicate with and gain the trust of the artisans. She began to work with them to create the unique pieces that make up her brand.  Mayta Collection became official in 2016. 

For two years, O’Reilly perfected her process, from sketch to shipping. The government in Peru invited her to a tradeshow and sponsored her travels. She increased her connections and ability to find textiles. All the while, following a small production model. O’Reilly doesn’t plan to change that. She is passionate about each piece – the fabrics are handpicked, and each one is made by one of the five people who work in the workshops. The textiles are extras bought from families or at auctions. Each piece has a story that O’Reilly feels personally connected to. 

When it was time to expand, O’Reilly chose Morocco. She visited Marrakesh and was accompanied by GomezTogether they scavenged the markets of the city. It was a big risk to take with the characteristic prejudice toward women and their lack of connection in that country. The couple would frequently be asked to meet at night, after markets were closed, to see handiwork or they were ferried into alleyways, away from the crowds. With risk came reward when O’Reilly found a genuine, trustworthy young man whose father and uncle had been in the rug business for years. That young man still runs her operations. 

Mayta Collection is built on relationships and personal connections. O’Reilly stresses the importance of this in her businessBut she also shows tremendous care for the other entrepreneurs in the Beverly/Morgan Park community. She lifts others up and offers advice willingly and with gusto, simply to share her knowledge. She says she gets “pure enjoyment” out of watching our small business community grow, that it is in her nature to help and collaborate. And “the more resources and help and collaboration we have going on, the better,” said O’Reilly. “We are all in this together…and our neighborhood deserves to be highlighted.” 

To carry a piece of culture in the form of bold, contemporary fashion, visit O’Reilly’s website, or her Instagram page, @maytacollection. Mayta Collection designs are also carried at Turkey Chicago. 





CORE Fitness Redefines Postpartum 

By Kristin Boza 

CORE Fitness and Physical Therapy, 2940 W. 95th St., is known for its wide range of offerings in Pilates and physical therapy, all in an effort to help strengthen the core and promote overall health and well-being. 

An essential part of CORE’s philosophy is to promote women’s health at all stages of life, particularly addressing the changes that occur after a pregnancy.  

“I like to think once postpartum, always postpartum,” said Cathriona Fey, Women’s Health Fitness Specialist at CORE, with certifications in pre/postnatal care. “The changes that are required of our bodies to carry and birth children can impact our deep core and how we move for the rest of our lives.”  

From a fitness approach, CORE’s prenatal and postnatal classes are geared toward helping women feel stronger and more connected to their bodies. “Our goal is that they can return to their regular exercise routine more confident and supported, armed with these essential techniques to train safely and more effectively postpartum,” Fey said. “Postpartum recovery started during pregnancy and a lot of the techniques we teach can prevent common postpartum issues, like incontinence, diastasis recti, low back pain, prolapse, and more.” 

Issues like pelvic pain, painful intercourse, urge incontinence, and post-surgical therapies can be treated through physical therapy and fitness classes at CORE. Even if insurance doesn’t cover physical therapy, women can find help through the fitness classes, or they can graduate to the fitness classes after completing a physical therapy program. All classes are designed to provide a safe and effective full-body workout while promoting a functional and stronger core.  

“It’s so important to shed light on women’s health therapy and pelvic floor therapy because it’s not usually talked about,” said Terri McCabe, Studio Manager at CORE. “Most women experience issues at some point, and these issues are related to pregnancy and deliveryFor us culturally, we’re sent home from the hospital without a prescription for physical therapy and told to ‘just rest.’ If we were given the proper tools and rehabilitation opportunities or therapeutic interventions immediately following labor and delivery, we may not have issues feeling out of alignment or offbalance years later.” 

CORE Fitness and Physical Therapy is in the insurance network for BCBS PPO, and they also accept self-pay and workman’s comp individuals. Since physical therapy is an essential service during the shelter-in-place orders, CORE is able to see these patients; telehealth appointments are also available. Online fitness classes are available for a drop-in price of $10 per class; register online at