By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe
Growing up in Oak Park, Krystal Williams was shy, but dance lessons, modeling school, and pageants turned her into a social butterfly. Now she’s giving other girls that same sense of poise, confidence, and purpose at her new business, Cygnature Girl, located at 911 S. Lombard Avenue in the Oak Park Arts District.
Krystal entered her first pageant at age 11. “I went in with long gloves, a fancy gown, and satin shoes. We had no idea what we were doing. I didn’t place. The judges said that I was very robotic. But I decided to keep competing.” Krystal was awarded Miss Congeniality at most of her pageants and finally won her first title, Miss Central Illinois, when she was a freshman in college at Illinois State University. She went on to compete in Orlando for the national title of Miss American Coed. “Although I didn’t win, I loved meeting new people, building my confidence, and soaking in the beauty of pageantry.”
After that experience, Krystal moved on to coaching and mentoring other pageant girls and providing them with foundational modeling techniques. She also worked with different pageant systems where she planned and hosted pageant weekends as an Assistant Director and Pageant Production Manager. “Pageantry was great, but I kept thinking about the girls who couldn’t afford to or didn’t want to do pageants or the girls I saw out with their families who weren’t holding their heads high. They didn’t look confident and it broke my heart a little.”
After college, life took Krystal in different directions. She worked in communications and public relations, lived in different cities, and experienced some life events. But she never forgot her desire to empower girls to be their best selves. By 2020, Krystal was back in Chicago and ready to realize her dream.
In May, she was running her usual route up Lombard when she passed a paint and sip studio. Krystal was intrigued by the space and went in to check it out. A few months later she ran by again and saw that the studio was gone and a For Lease sign was in the window. It felt meant to be. “Here I was in the middle of a pandemic, having been furloughed from my job a few weeks earlier, and I was signing a lease. But I’ve always been one to just go for it. I don’t think about what could go wrong. I live my life thinking about what could go right.”
Krystal struggled with what to name her new business. “Back in college, I took a magazine class and named my magazine Cygnature Girl. I knew that poise, confidence, and purpose were the pillars that I wanted the name to represent and a friend suggested that I resurrect Cygnature Girl. As soon as she said it, it was obvious. I’ve loved the name for fifteen years!”
Although she is still planning the experiences that she will offer, Krystal has the basics down. “I knew I wanted to create a safe space for girls to become who they were created to be. I want to empower them in all aspects of their lives. I’ve had lots of ideas over the years so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with the studio. But I trusted that if I give God something to breathe on, then He’ll make everything work out for me. And I’ve been busy since I signed the lease!”
Cygnature Girl’s first event was vision board parties the first weekend of January for three different age groups – tweens, teens, and women entrepreneurs. Krystal partnered with three outside speakers: Bea Flowers of In Full Bloom who helped the girls identify what they loved to do and how they could achieve their ambitions and LaKisha Janay of Sereniti Life and Dishenda of Jaz Mo Consulting who helped the women set their business goals and strategies for 2021.
In February, Cygnature Girl will kick off monthly community service projects by packing snack boxes for Ronald McDonald House. And beginning February 20, the third Saturday of every month will be “Cygnature Girl Pop-Up Day” when customers can come in to shop items from girl bosses.
Currently, Cygnature Girl’s marketing is all on social media, but Krystal is looking for ways to become more of a presence in Oak Park and to serve more local girls. “I’m looking forward to bringing a new level of empowerment to girls in Oak Park and am open to partnering with other organizations that share my vision of creating the ultimate girl experience.”
Cygnature Girl is located at 911 S. Lombard Avenue. For event information or to learn more, visit the website at www.cygnaturegirl.com or contact Krystal Williams at 312-248-9982.