When Emilia Dlugolecka was laid off from her corporate job in January, she never imagined she’d become an entrepreneur.
“At first it was like, this is great, I’m gonna hibernate this winter and I don’t have to fight traffic or get on the El when it’s like zero degrees,” she recalls. A few months later, she went into panic mode. “I kind of woke up from hibernation in late March and said, ‘ohmigod, I don’t have a job,’” she says. “I literally got in my car one day and started looking for storefronts… I called every place on Clark in Andersonville that had a ‘for rent’ sign on it.”
Just two months later, Dlugolecka was “standing in line downtown, getting [her] business license. I’m going, ‘what the hell am I doing here?’” she says.
Opening Mr. and Mrs. Digz to the public in May, Dlugolecka was beginning the next chapter of life—on a budget. “I started this boutique on a $15,000 budget, and from beginning to end, I never went over a penny,” she says.
Impressive, given the high-end brands and quality of Dlugolecka’s lines. Featuring exclusive local artists like Andersonville fave Eva May and bad-boy brand Corporate Punk, Dlugolecka either handpicks (or makes!) every item in her four-part concept store: new, gently used, handmade and vintage.
“There’s only one of everything in [here],” she says. “They’re little treasures that you’ll find, you’ll take home and love.”
Like the navy Nabi dress she is currently sporting. Not above a grown-up game of dress-up, she has plucked it off of a mannequin and begun to tug at the straps as she agonizes over accessories. “Sometimes I come in in my pajamas,” she admits. “My friends know, and my family…not to ever expect me to match,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t look like I got dressed with my eyes closed, [but] I don’t match colors. Somehow it works.”
Her customers agree. When a big event arises, it’s Dlugolecka that they turn to. And cater to you she will—give her enough notice, and Dlugolecka will turn the store into your own personal closet. “If you wanted to come in here with like five of your girlfriends…I’ll lock the door and you guys can do whatever you want,” she says.
And it’s not just the ladies getting free reign. Whether it’s men looking for themselves (“men like to dress too, ya know!”), or their special someone (she’s in the process of beginning a ‘Clueless Gentleman’s Club’—a gift-giving service for the husband, boyfriend or relative in need), Dlugolecka is happy to help just about anyone.
“I have customers that are 74, and customers that are 17,” she says, making her style truly universal.
“If your wardrobe is bland, what you buy in here will give it that pop that it needs. If you look at the clothes, there’s not much black or white. [Sometimes people are] afraid to experiment… it takes someone else’s guiding hand to help them a little bit.” (Nicole Briese)
Mr. and Mrs. Digz, 5668 N. Clark, (773)477-8527, mrandmrsdigz.com