Friday, April 5, 2019

Discovering Epilogue in Long Grove and an Interview with Rachel Perkal

Exploring handmade art at Epilogue: A Store of Extraordinary things in Long Grove, Illinois
Epilogue: A Store of Extraordinary Things. Image courtesy of Epilogue.
Discovering Epilogue: A Store of Extraordinary Things

An adventure to Epilogue: A Store of Extraordinary Things located in Long Grove, Illinois touches visitors with inspiration, whimsy, heart, soul, imagination and discovery. On each of my visits to Epilogue, I have found myself delighted, uplifted and amazed by the store's collection of unique handcrafted American art. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with owner Rachel Perkal to learn more about this amazingly unique small business. Welcome to Epilogue:



Visiting with Rachel Perkal owner of Epilogue: A Store of Extraordinary Things in Long Grove, Illinois.
Visiting with Rachel Perkal owner of Epilogue.
Why Epilogue?

Rachel and I started with discussing the origins of Epilogue and its magnificent cache of handmade art. Owner Rachel Perkal found herself at the beginning of her third act when she developed the concept behind Epilogue. Starting with a corporate background, Rachel moved to consulting and then to owning a variety of stores. She came to a point of self evaluation wondering: "Now what?" Her childhood dream of opening a store of beautiful things lingered. She just had to find the right time and right place for this dream to be realized. She reached a point in time when it was right. Cue Epilogue.

I asked Rachel about the inspiration behind the name Epilogue: A Store of Extraordinary Things. She credits her husband with crafting the perfect name for her store. Epilogue fits perfectly because Rachel is writing her last chapter and she gets to call how the story ends. At first, she was not quite sure about adding "A Store of Extraordinary Things." However, not a day goes by without a shopper remarking that Epilogue is certainly a store full of extraordinary things. I definitely concur!

Rachel was an English major in college and moved towards business in graduate school. She grew up with Marshall Fields. As far as customer service, positioning products and merchandising, no one taught it better than Marshall Fields. While working for Hallmark corporate, she learned about emotion, beauty and quality as well as product development and working with artists. She brought all of this experience to Epilogue. Epilogue is Rachel's canvas. Epilogue is her joy.

A few of my favorite Noah's Ark pieces at Epilogue -- they are adorable and you can store treasures inside!
A few of my favorites at Epilogue -- they are adorable and you can store treasures inside!

How do you choose artists and items for Epilogue?

The focus at Epilogue is on handmade. Every single item from a simple scarf to a hand poured candle to carefully molded clay has a fingerprint. Rachel expressed: "Everything has fingerprint. Everything has a story. Everything has a soul. Everything has a human connection and I love that."

Epilogue presents art that you may not necessarily come across. Rachel travels all over the country to discover artists. She has items in a wide range of media including wood, glass, ceramic, jewelry, textiles and more. Additionally, she has items in all price points so everyone can find that little treasure or gift.

What is it like to shop at Epilogue?

Epilogue has created a friendly, no pressure environment. Customers come in to explore and they leave as friends. Service is very important at Epilogue. Rachel detailed, "We want people to be proud of what they buy."

For Rachel, it is important to connect with her artists. She explained, "If there isn't a great juju, a great friendship -- it isn't going to work." It is important for Rachel to transfer that love to her staff which can then be transferred to the customer. Without that connection, the art is just something static on the wall.

Houston Llew's Spiritiles grace one entire wall at Epilogue in Long Grove, Illinois
Houston Llew's Spiritiles each has a unique message.
How do you see the role of art in the community?

Rachel expressed, "For me, art is self-expression and self-expression can come along with happiness, can include sadness, it can be healthy, it can be challenged but at the root art is about the human experience. Kindness, mindfulness and stewardship -- those to me are life lines of a community and a community can only flourish with a healthy flow of all of these factors. So, art needs to live; it needs to be taught and fostered."

Tour of Epilogue Arts:

I asked Rachel to take me on a little tour of Epilogue to highlight a few items. Epilogue truly is a treasure chest. There is so much to see and experience, so there is so much more than I am sharing. Plus, Epilogue is always adding new handmade items. There is always an adventure to be had at Epilogue!

Adorable Noah's Ark Set full of whimsical animals at Epilogue in Long Grove, Illinois.
Adorable collection of animals aboard Noah's Ark!
One of Epilogue's most popular items happens to be the Noah's Ark set. The piece is absolutely adorable down to the little skunks in the towboat. My photo does not do it justice! The little animals with little treasure spaces above are from the same artist.

Spiritiles pair beautiful images with inspiring messages at Epilogue in Long Grove, Illinois
Spiritiles pair beautiful images with inspiring messages.
From here, we take a peek at the walls. Artist Houston Llews crafts enameled wall art that tells stories called "Spiritiles." In away, Spiritiles look like books to me, each telling a special story. So, each one captures a moment of life. Each image is paired with an inspiring message sgraffitoed -- a special glass technique -- around the edges.

History becomes art as Marie Roth combines wood salvaged from old barns and historic flags found at Epilogue in Long Grove, Illinois.
History becomes art as Marie Roth combines wood salvaged from old barns and historic flags.
While the art at Epilogue truly takes you on a journey around the U.S.A., there are a few local artists featured like Marie Roth. Marie salvages old and weathered wood from barns primarily in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. The salvaged wood becomes Marie's canvas for painting historic American flags. The finished flags are accompanied with a short bio of the barn and the history of the flag painted upon it.

Lyman Whitaker's Wind Sculptures blend into the environment. Image courtesy of Epilogue.
Lyman Whitaker's Wind Sculptures blend into the environment. Image courtesy of Epilogue.
If you have wandered around Long Grove, you are surely familiar with the moving Wind Sculptures of Lyman Whitaker. The sculptures are beautiful and I am always amazed by how fluidly they meld into the environment.

Gem and mineral bracelets with a special message
Gem and mineral bracelets with a special message

Epilogue also has quite a collection of jewelry to peruse for a special new wardrobe item or gift. I particularly like these bracelets crafted from special gems and minerals and include a special message or thought.

A Journey Through Extraordinary Things:

No journey to Epilogue will surely be alike. Each time you visit, you will see new art. Each time you are different, so something new will touch you. Epilogue strives to be a home for their customers. So, each visit is a visit with friends whether ones you have newly met or ones you have known for awhile. If you are looking for a new adventure, Epilogue offers a wonderful exploration. I can't think of a better reason for a little day trip!

**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Discovering Epilogue in Long Grove and an Interview with Rachel Perkal exploring American handmade art






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