By Alma Valenzuela –
Heidy Goercke’s grandfather was a merchant in Ecuador and her mother had a jewelry store in Germany. So it’s no surprise that she would follow in her family’s footsteps by opening up her own business in Chicago.
Her boutique, the “Zaraz Collection,” in Wicker Park has neatly decorated tables and displays of silver and fashion jewelry, tote bags, clutches, sun glasses, hats and scarves.The boutique’s décor is made up of frames creatively sustaining purses and necklaces on the walls.
Goercke describes her boutique as “simple and elegant” and what makes it different from other boutiques, she said, is that they tailor towards the customer’s needs.
“My mom is very skillful. A lot of merchandise she recreates. For example, some people don’t have their ears pierced so she adds a clip to the long earrings or if we buy an accessory she adds or takes stuff from it to make it look better,” Goercke said.
”Heidi is a great business woman and she always goes above and beyond to please her customers,” said Toni Pullen, a customer at Zaraz Collection of almost two years. Pullen said she has made comparisons at other boutiques and has determined that Goercke’s pieces are unique and affordable.
What also makes Zaraz unique, Goercke said, is her Hispanic and European culture. She said her culture has influenced, to a certain extent, the type of accessories they choose and how she interacts with customers.
Goercke was born in Cuenca, Ecuador to an Ecuadorian mother and half Ecuadorian and German father, but she was mostly raised in Munich, Germany. She said the boutique was named after her mother Sara and opened in December 2009.
“My brother Johannes really liked my mom’s name Sara therefore, we decided to call it Saras but he thought it sounded boring so we named it Zaraz,” Goercke said. Zaraz emerged years after a trip Goercke made to Chicago in 2002 to visit her brothers. Goercke said that trip brought her unexpected opportunities that made her decide to live here.
She said her brothers were business owners and offered her a position as manager of approximately seven accessory stores. Goercke said she also fell in love with the man who is now her husband, Roland.
But in 2009, Goercke said, her brothers decided to sell almost all their stores to move back to Ecuador and that’s when she decided to open her own boutique.
According to Goercke, her store exhibits two different styles of accessories: one that reflects her mother’s style and one that reflects hers.
“My mom likes accessories to be more colorful and things [accessories] that are made of wood, leather, or that look indigenous. I like more modern and slick looks,” Goercke said.
“But I’m warm with customers and I think that comes from the Hispanic side,” Goercke said. So Goercke and her mother have given Zaraz a Hispanic touch in their own way.
Goercke also said she is aware of the current economic situation and that people are currently more cautious about what they spend but she still wanted to open her boutique.
“I am really enjoying this [being the owner of the boutique] because it’s been challenging. The rent in this neighborhood is not cheap. If the economy was better we would be doing even better but we are doing well,” Goercke said.
“If you have a good product for a good price, not necessarily cheap, but good quality, people will buy it. With accessories you can do a lot of things and not always have to buy a new item of clothing” she said.
Griselda Lopez, Goercke’s friend of almost 10 years, said Zaraz has accessories for people of all ages and they have a variety of prices.
“They have high-end stuff and cheap stuff. And, if you’re running around and want something quick then you can find something inexpensive,” Lopez said.
Lopez also said Goercke has a good attitude and personality which is good for her business. She said Goercke has been a great friend and has pushed or steered her in the right direction when she has limited herself in her career as a make-up artist.
“If it wasn’t for Heidy introducing me to some people I would probably not be doing make-up now,” Lopez said.
Goercke said if you follow your heart and are willing to accept new opportunities and challenges you can accomplish your goals and be happy.
“Zaraz Collection” will be closing at its current location on January 31st, but Goercke said she will continue to sell accessories at her kiosk store “Iguana” at Orland Square Mall. Goercke said she is expecting her second child and would likely experience a time constraint maintaining two businesses and a family. Since there has also been a raise in rent, Goercke said that if she finds an ideal location, she’ll open Zaraz again.
Goercke will continue to sell accessories at her kiosk store “Iguana” at 1000 Orland Square Drive in Orland Square Mall.