Jamilla Yipp Photography

Jamilla Yipp Photography

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

Jamilla Yipp has honed her craft as a photographer for fifteen years. Now, after four years in the Oak Park Arts District, she is moving to a new space just down the street. When Jamilla first considered moving her business out of her home, she wanted to be on Harrison. “I live on Taylor and I wanted to be able to walk to work and to be available to my kids. The Arts District was where I wanted to be. And now this new studio is in my dream location.” Jamilla is excited to be moving to the heart of the Arts District and hopes to have the new Jamilla Yipp Photography studio up and running at 136 Harrison Street in January.

Growing up on the southside of Chicago, Jamilla took an interest in photography at a young age. Then when she and her husband had three children in less than four years, she felt that she wouldn’t make enough money at a traditional 9-to-5 job to justify putting them in childcare every day. So she became determined to turn her passion into a career. “I told myself that this hobby had to become something real or these kids weren’t going to eat,” says Jamilla.

While she had always loved photography, she wasn’t a professional. Jamilla contacted her wedding photographer and asked her if she would take Jamilla on as an apprentice. She agreed and Jamilla spent the next eighteen months learning everything that she could. After that, she focused the first five years of her business on wedding and newborn photography. But weddings were exhausting and took up her entire weekend and Jamilla realized that her true love was photographing newborns.

“When I first started my business, I told myself that I would never shoot families because it didn’t seem like me and then it became my niche,” Jamilla laughs, “I found that I liked shooting families over weddings.”

But being a lifestyle photographer has taken a toll on her body and Jamilla is now looking to transition to more branding and corporate work. “I will still keep working with my families, but I’d like to supplement that with more corporate clients. Families are wonderful, but my 40-year-old knees can’t keep chasing toddlers through parks. After fifteen years, I have a ton of injuries. During outdoor shoots, you’re carrying equipment, you’re bending, lifting, and lunging. People don’t realize how physical it is.”

The years of the pandemic have also taken a toll on Jamilla. She moved into her first studio in 2018 and spent the next year working in the space and fixing it up. Just as she got to the point of being ready to promote it more, it was 2020 and COVID hit. “I paid for a space for two years for a business that was going nowhere.” Jamilla survived by using her savings to pay the bills and because of a corporate client who still needed work done during the pandemic. Finally, in 2021, lifestyle photography picked up again and this year, “I am finally breathing easier,” says Jamilla.

Jamilla has seen a lot of changes in the industry since she started fifteen years ago. “Newborn photography was just becoming a thing,” says Jamilla. “Anne Geddes was the one who started the trend. Her style was really posed babies with props. That’s how I started, but about eight years ago when my fourth child was born, I transitioned to the way that I shoot now.”

Jamilla describes herself as a hybrid photographer. “I tell people that I’m not 100% posed and I’m not 100% lifestyle. I’m both. I pose my clients, but then I have them interact so that it comes off as a lifestyle picture. I’m a coach. I don’t leave my clients to their own devices.”

In her newborn shoots, Jamilla believes in baby-led posing. “I still wrap newborns, but if a baby fights the wrap, then I will only try a specific pose one more time. I’m not going to force a newborn into a pose because that can lead to injury. At the end of the day, the baby is in charge of the session.” Although she no longer does birth photography (“too stressful”), Jamilla does do Fresh 48 sessions in the hospital that capture a newborn in its first few days of life.

When asked about the explosion in lifestyle photography in the years since she started her career, Jamilla points to the shift from film to digital photography as a major factor. “When DSLR cameras became more accessible and affordable, women could tap into that. And because a woman is more willing to let another woman photograph her birth or her newborn, lifestyle photogaphy took off. And women photographers are now a huge part of the industry.”

To see a gallery of her work, visit www.jamillayipp.com.

Jamilla Yipp Photography is located at 136 Harrison Street and Jamilla can be reached at 773-320-7558.

D.M. Burton has arrived!

D.M. Burton has arrived!

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

Darien Marion-Burton is passionate about many things but seems to have found a niche with his marketing agency, D.M. Burton. After only a few years in business, they needed more space to grow and he recently moved his six-person team to 140 Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District.

A self-proclaimed “Lifelong Buzzer,” Darien has spent half his life working in the Arts District. At age fourteen, he got his first job as a dishwasher at Buzz Café. “Laura at Buzz is like a second mom to me. She hired me even though I was late to the interview,” laughs Darien. He continued to work there in various capacities for fourteen more years.

After earning his degree in Business Administration from Augustana College, Darien started his career as a personal stylist at Nordstrom and then worked for a financial technology (fintech) start-up. Through it all, he continued to work at Buzz. “I like money and I like to buy pretty shoes. And you don’t make a lot of money in an entry-level job. So I kept working weekends at Buzz. I only quit my job there last year.”

Four years ago when Darien decided to abruptly leave his job at the fintech company, he needed to decide what to do next. “The day I quit my job, I made a list of options—work at Buzz, get a big-boy job, or start a business. I was only 25 and figured that I could take a chance, possibly fail, and still rebound before I turned 30. So I decided that day to start a business.”

D.M. Burton grew out of Darien’s love of fashion and originally offered personal styling services. But he was also interested in marketing and had added a tagline to his website saying, “We can style your business.” That inadvertently led Darien to his first client when an Augustana alumnus contacted him and asked for a marketing plan. “It was the hardest I had ever worked in my life. I put together a sixteen-page proposal in two days. They were impressed and said yes pretty much instantly. Suddenly, I had a real client and decided, ‘We’re going to do more marketing stuff.’”

At first, D.M. Burton was simultaneously a personal styling company and a business marketing company. And then in March 2020 the pandemic hit. “Marketing was a strange industry to be in, because although we initially had a slight dip in revenue, our business exploded as companies started to reinvent themselves as they had to shift from in-person to virtual services. I’m still really uncomfortable saying that COVID was good for us.”

D.M. Burton continued to grow and Darien had to move the business out of his house. “I like to work and if I’m not careful, I’m working all day, every day. It wasn’t healthy or sustainable.” He moved into CrossFunction on South Boulevard, but within months, they had outgrown that space too. “We only had about 120 square feet and there were four of us sharing the office.” Darien started a search for a new home for D.M. Burton and in October landed in the Oak Park Arts District.

“Being in the Arts District is like coming home. I know so many faces from having worked as a server at Buzz for so long. And it’s nice to meet the other business owners and get involved,” says Darien. “I think we are sometimes overlooked as a shopping district. Yes, we’re off the beaten path, but I think we need to sell that scrappy, charming essence.”

Darien takes his ties to Oak Park seriously. “This community gave me and my family so much when I was a child. I was born to an incarcerated mother and raised by my grandparents on a fixed income. Had it not been for the people here, I would not have survived.” As another sign of his passion for the area, Darien is starting the second year of his term as the Board President (the “youngest, blackest, and gayest” President as he likes to say) of the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce.

In the short-term, Darien is focused on settling into his new office space. “I’m going for an upscale rainforest vibe,” he says. And in the long-term, he’s got a 25-year plan. “I have a lot of passions and envision four pillars for the business: fashion, food, technology, and entertainment. The marketing agency will anchor it all, but at the end of the day, I want a portfolio of businesses that works to lift up Black and Brown people. And I want to create generational wealth so that I can send my nieces and nephews to college someday.”

“Yes, I’m focused on the day-to-day, but it’s fun to think about the future. From crack baby to billionaire,” he says with a smile.

D.M. Burton is located at 140 Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District. The office phone number is 708-967-6349. Darien Marion-Burton can be reached at [email protected].

So much to celebrate at Bead in Hand!

So much to celebrate at Bead in Hand!

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

Bead in Hand, located at 145 Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District, has two reasons to celebrate this November: the kickoff of their 30th anniversary celebration year and the 10-year anniversary of Kim Humphrey owning the store.

As a child, Kim was taught to do things with her hands. She remembers being five years old and her mother sitting her at the sewing machine to practice stitching on paper. “My grandmother lived with us until her death. She was an artist and it was considered a valuable skill. I realized later in my life that not all families see it that way.” But it wasn’t until she was a mother with young children that Kim started beading. “I had little kids and I needed something that didn’t talk back and didn’t move and it really fit the bill,” she says with a laugh.

Although she can’t pinpoint the date, Kim thinks she started patronizing Bead in Hand within a few years of their 1993 opening. She took a few classes and was soon working at the store on weekends. As her kids got older, she was able to add more hours. When Doris Weinbaum, the then-owner, announced that she was planning to retire and wanted to sell the store, Kim worried what it might mean for her future. “I loved the shop, the customers, the beads, my job, all of it. I didn’t want that to change.” And so ten years ago, Kim took a leap of faith and purchased the store.

Kim is honest that being the owner of a small business has its challenges. “People today have so many ways of spending their money that I think it lessens the amount they have for any one place at any one time.” But Bead in Hand also has a unique market niche which draws people into the store. “It’s a tactile business. It’s so much more helpful for people to see the product in person before they buy. We’re one of very few bead stores in the area so we draw customers from all of Chicagoland.”

They can also offer more personalized service than a chain craft store. “It’s nice to be able to provide that service. To be able to explain to people what their options are. We aren’t just scanning items at a register. Most of our items don’t have a price tag so all our employees have to know our inventory and be able to answer questions.” Jewelry repair is another unique service that Bead in Hand offers. “There are very few places where you can take your favorite necklace from your grandmother and have it restrung,” says Kim.

Classes are one of the best ways to educate potential and current customers. Prospective students can view the current schedule and register for classes online. Classes are taught by Kim or by employee Kate Linne and include Basic Earring Design, Basic Stringing, Beginning Bead Weaving, Bead Embroidery, Knotting, and Kumihimo: Japanese Braiding. Classes vary in length from 1½-2½ hours and in cost from $35-45. Materials are generally not included.

Bead in Hand is kicking off their 30th anniversary year with special events throughout the month of November starting with a November 11 trunk show of semi-precious beads. On November 18, the staff jewelry show begins, and on November 25, the traditional snowflake ornament drop-in event returns for the first time since before the pandemic.

On October 11, Kim was honored by the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce as a Community Titan “for championing the small business community … with might and ferocity.” The Community Titan Awards were presented to individuals this year in lieu of the traditional Spotlight Awards that focused on small businesses. The Titans were nominated via online submission and according to the Chamber of Commerce are “those who have worked tirelessly, relentlessly and whole-heartedly for the well-being of our business community. Their strong and wide shoulders support the rest of us to grow and flourish.”

Being a small business owner is a tremendous responsibility, but Kim is still passionate about the art she discovered almost 30 years ago. “One of the great things about beads is that it is a never-ending learning experience. You can string beads on wire, you can do bead weaving, you can embroider with beads. There are so many different ways to incorporate them that you are never really finished learning. There’s always something new. It’s amazing.”

Bead in Hand is located at 145 Harrison Street. They are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11-6, Wednesday from 1-6, and Saturday from 10-5. They are closed on Sunday. They can be reached at 708-848-1761 or [email protected].

Steve Fisher Arts Now on Harrison

Steve Fisher Arts Now on Harrison

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe


For years, Steve Fisher’s art studio has been in the basement of his home behind the Friendly Tap in Berwyn. “I’d been thinking of getting a dedicated studio space, and I finally said, ‘If not now, when?’” says Steve. “But I needed a place that was as quick to get to as my basement.” That “place” ended up being 301 Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District, the new home of Steve Fisher Arts.

Steve has been painting since he was a child and was particularly influenced by his family’s visits to the Art Institute of Chicago. He always liked the Impressionists, and then, in the mid-1960’s as he about to start high school, Steve took in his first Picasso exhibition. “It was a wake-up call. I walked from one end of that show to the other and back again. From then on, my art was never really the same. Before, I had done the kind of art kids do to get a pat on the head. After, I went my own way. The experience opened doors for me.”

While he has focused throughout his life on different art forms, primarily painting and printmaking, Steve is interested in how these different mediums can coalesce into something new. “Instead of working in different compartments, I want to put them together and see what happens,” says Steve. He’s excited by the possibilities of his new studio space where he’ll have more room to work the way that he likes to—bouncing from one project to another instead of staying focused on one piece at a time.

Steve compares his work as an artist to a physicist working on equations on a giant blackboard. “They start with a hypothesis and different ideas. But then things start to mesh. That’s what I do with my artwork; I push things around until my ideas crystallize.”

Other artists continue to be an influence too. “I love the artist Matt Lamb. He dipped his canvasses in a proprietary emulsion to create textured, multi-colored surfaces. I’m creating the ‘poor man’s version’ by pouring polyurethane, floating acrylic on top, and sandwiching glitter in between. The result is a standard painting that takes on a different quality.”

Steve talks a lot about influential artists who opened doors and how today’s artists shouldn’t see those doors as shut but should continue to walk through them and expand upon their ideas. He references Robert Henri who wrote in The Art Spirit (1923), “When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. … Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible.”

While Steve intends to use his new space as a studio, he also plans to display a rotating collection of paintings that will be available for purchase. He is tentatively planning to have regular hours on Wednesdays and to have tie-ins with Arts District events. “I’ve been flying under the radar for a while, but I’m trying to get into more shows and branching out online. But it all starts with doing art that you have a connection with. If you do that, then the work speaks for itself.”

Steve Fisher Arts is located at 301 Harrison Street. Steve can be reached at 708-788-1709 or at [email protected].

Mosaic Counseling & Wellness Fills A HUGE Void

Mosaic Counseling & Wellness Fills A HUGE Void

By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe

Carey Carlock believes she was born to be a therapist. “I believe in recovery and healing and I’ve always been a good listener,” she says. Now after working in mental health for more than 25 years, Carey is excited to be opening the new flagship office of Mosaic Counseling & Wellness at 215 Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District.

Carey grew up in Indianapolis, graduated from Purdue University where she studied psychology and law and then moved to Chicago where she worked at R.J. Grunts in Lincoln Park. “I learned so much working in the service industry. I loved it. I still have dreams about waitressing,” she says. Graduate school at Boston College brought her to the East Coast, but she’s a “Midwesterner at heart” and she and her husband decided to raise their three children here.

Carey and her family moved to Oak Park in 2008, the same year that she started working at Riveredge Hospital, the largest psychiatric hospital in Illinois. She resigned as CEO in 2021 to co-found Mosaic with her business partner Jeff Bergren. “I was at Riveredge for thirteen years and I loved our mission of serving the underserved. But more and more people would say to me ‘You work at a psychiatric hospital, you’re on the board of NAMI, you must know a therapist that I can get my kid into.’ But my Rolodex was woefully thin. And that was very troubling to me.”

She felt called to focus on quality integrated therapy in her own community. “The calling kept pulling me—psychiatry and therapy within one team; creative arts therapy and traditional talk therapy within one team.” That call led her to be the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mosaic Counseling & Wellness. “Our mission was to build something in our community that reflected our community. We have four BIPOC clinicians, two LGBTQ clinicians, three art therapists, a dance/movement therapist, and a yoga instructor therapist.” For Carey, a key to integrated therapy is psychiatry and therapy under the same roof with providers that will “actually talk with each other.”

To help make mental health care accessible and affordable, Mosaic is in-network with several insurance companies including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and Medicare. “If we are not in network, then I try to refer people to places that will take their insurance. And I always say, ‘If you don’t get a callback, then call me back and we will troubleshoot together.’”

Mosaic currently employs fifteen clinicians, eight of whom are full-time. Carey is proud that they have availability and can get people in right away. “I am currently hiring so even if one therapist’s schedule fills up, then I’ll bring someone else in. We can see you next week,” she says. They provide care for all ages and can treat a variety of conditions. The prescriber on staff, a psychiatrically-trained advanced practice registered nurse, does psychiatric evaluations and medication management.

When Carey and Jeff started looking for space, they thought they would move into an existing office suite. “When we first saw the building on Harrison, it was available for lease or for sale. We ultimately decided to get a small business loan and purchase the building. So we were suddenly faced with having to create a space that would appeal to our clients and our staff and our community.”

The building was built in the 1940s and used to be a grocery store. It has a beautiful bowstring truss ceiling that they wanted to highlight while still ensuring privacy for clients. The solution was a “doughnut” layout that has enclosed therapy offices and an open foyer and hallway. Light fixtures that also illuminate up draw attention to the ceiling. “We wanted to create a space that felt earthy and soothing and natural. It’s a nice juxtaposition to the industrial design of the building.”

And while being in the Arts District might not seem like a natural fit, it is for Carey. “I have an unbridled bias toward the creative arts. I worked with dance/movement therapists before it was in fashion because I believe in the mind-body connection. I think that our services are a complement to the area. We hope to get to know some of the artists here and learn how to support, lift up, and celebrate our shared community. Because that’s what integration is.”

Mosaic Counseling & Wellness will open its new location at 215 Harrison Street in mid-September. To learn more or to make an appointment, call 708-628-8000 or visit www.mosaiccare.com.