Walking into Ponnopozz Studio is like entering another dimension—an exuberant jungle of saturated colors and lively prints. “Shopping at Ponnopozz is a whole experience,” says owner and artist Adrianne Hawthorne, who painted a huge mural that greets customers with her signature motifs. “My shop is truly an extension of me and my artwork,” she says. “It’s an ever-evolving piece of performance art, between the way it’s set up, to the products I decide to carry or stop carrying, to the work I create there, to the customers that fill it each weekend. When you visit my shop, you’re entering a piece of my world, something very special and dear to me that I hope brings you feelings of happiness, joy and playfulness. That makes you pause and smile, or think differently about something.”
It all started in the summer of 2019, when Hawthorne decided to rent a Penske moving truck to showcase her artwork. She named it “PenskePozz,” paying homage to Ponno and Pozzer—her two imaginary childhood friends. “I had a ton of original art for sale at the time and wanted to have a show but I didn’t want to do it in a traditional way. I’d always thought of doing something in a moving truck because they are such utilitarian vehicles—why not reimagine one as something fun and exciting? I do believe the ‘PenskePozz’ show led to me finding and leasing my studio and store just two weeks later. The truck was like a tiny boutique on wheels and I had a blast getting it set up. The turnout was fabulous and gave me the boost of confidence I needed to finally sign for a shop of my own.”
Hawthorne, who always dreamed of having a boutique of her own, opened her storefront in November of 2019, not too long before COVID-19 hit. Her shop was closed from March until July 2020, and she used that break to focus on her art projects. The fact that she is a User Experience Designer at Google helped her navigate the crisis: “I find [having another job] gives me a healthy sense of balance. The income relieves the stress of relying on Ponnopozz for everything—with that stress removed, I have the space in my brain to create art and other fun things.” When Ponnopozz reopened, Hawthorne spotlighted BIPOC artists every Saturday. Then last November she launched her online shop, which brought in a lot of holiday sales. “People are excited and ready to support local businesses and that’s one positive thing that came out of last year. I’m looking ahead this year and have hopes to expand the store and the store’s hours sometime in the late fall of 2021,” she says.
At Ponnopozz Studio, Hawthorne currently offers an array of clothing, accessories, books, puzzles, stationery, cards, cosmetics, and home goods—besides her own artwork, in both prints and originals. Her prices are affordable, considering nothing in her shop is mass-produced. Clothing prices range from $35 to $175, masks average $12, and accessories cost $5 to $100. Hawthorne’s own art prints start at $25, and original works at $100. She also sells pillows, stationery, clothing (in collaboration with local brand Lilla Barn), and iPhone cases featuring her designs, which often depict abstract plants and landscapes in bright colors paired in unexpected ways. Some of the brands Ponnopozz carries are Nooworks (clothing from San Francisco, California), Piecework Puzzles (from Indianapolis), Night Moves Atelier (accessories from Ontario), and Halo (skincare from Port Washington, Wisconsin). There are a lot of items from Chicago as well; Hawthorne highlights the work of local, Black-owned brands like body butters by Olije Body Care, earrings by Vintage Royalty, and leather jewelry by K~FLEYE.
“I always look for things that are colorful, fun and playful,” she says. “I don’t carry things from large brands—everything in my shop is from a small brand or a local, independent maker. I strive to carry a range of products and to spotlight women-led and BIPOC-led businesses.” Hawthorne is excited to offer such a selection: “I am grateful that I can express myself through my art and through my curation of an experience—a shopping experience. It’s very fulfilling and a creative outlet that I cannot imagine living without. Owning a shop has been eye opening, fun, scary and very satisfying—I’m thrilled that I finally did it!”
Ponnopozz Studio and Store, 4824 North Damen, Suite 1, Thursdays 4-7 pm, Saturdays 10-5 pm, Appointments by request via email
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.