Uncommon James store opening a homecoming for Kristin Cavallari
Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will be alongside his wife for the opening this weekend of her shop in the West Loop.
It’ll be a “Very Cavallari” weekend in Chicago as reality star-turned-jewelry design mogul Kristin Cavallari returns home to open a new brick-and-mortar store for her accessory line, Uncommon James, in the bustling West Loop.
“I obviously have such an emotional tie to Chicago. Not only just from living there when I was younger with my mom in Barrington, but obviously that’s where [husband and former Chicago Bears quarterback] Jay [Cutler] and I met, and where all three of my kids were born. Chicago has always been and will always be a very special place to me,” Cavallari says of choosing the second location for her popular Nashville, Tennessee-based shop. It officially opens its doors at 849 W. Randolph at 10 a.m. Saturday. The store will feature some items from her Little James baby and kids clothing line (including Chicago-influenced designs) and limited shoppables for home decor, but will primarily feature her “effortless and affordable jewelry” line (all priced at under $100).
“I just never thought that anybody needs to spend a ton of money to look and feel great,” she says of the overarching theme of the line. “Style is really subjective and what you make of it. And that’s why I love Uncommon James — everything is so effortless and dainty and minimal so you can mix and match it to create your own individual style.
“I’m really designing for modern women. We’re busy, every woman has a million things going on, no one has time to try on jewelry for 10 to 15 minutes every morning when they’re getting ready,” continues Cavallari, who in addition to being a mom of three, is also a New York Times bestselling author behind her healthy eating cookbook, “True Roots” as well as the style bio, “Balancing in Heels: My Journey to Health, Happiness, and Making it all Work.” She also contributes to fashion commentary on the E! Network during awards season, from which she gets some of her design inspiration, calling Kate Moss one of her eternal style icons.
“I do have a hand in that higher-end world, that celebrity world, and I look to some of the higher-end designers for inspiration, because I’m curious as to what they are doing. But you can’t always afford those pieces and I wanted to try to make everything accessible and affordable for everybody,” says Cavallari, adding that Target is one of her favorite stores and fondly remembers buying her clothing there as a suburban teenager. Later, while living on the Gold Coast, she says she also shopped routinely at Intermix and Barney’s and now looks forward to bringing Uncommon James to the “exploding” West Loop.
“It’s the hippest area in town, and it’s always been great for restaurants. Jay and I have been going over there for Girl & The Goat and other restaurants for years and years, but now all these retail shops are starting to pop up and I feel like that is the place to be,” she says. “I honestly got there at the perfect timing though; had I waited another couple of weeks I don’t think I would have found a location because I was looking at the same time as all these [other] brands were. I lucked out, everything aligned and came together for me and I couldn’t be more excited.”
While Cavallari started the business during her time in Chicago, she and her husband now live in Nashville where the flagship of Uncommon James is based and has become the subject of a popular reality series on the E! Network called “Very Cavallari.” Production of the show has been spotted around Chicago as the new store is a big part of the storyline this season on the series, according to the star who famously first got her start — and not always as the most favorite character — on MTV’s docu-drama “Laguna Beach” and the offshoot, “The Hills.”
“I wasn’t dying to get back into the reality TV world,” she admits. “That was not my intention. When I first pitched ‘Very Cavallari’ I was barely going to be on it. The show was going to be more along the lines of ‘Vanderpump Rules’ and it was supposed to be primarily about my staff. But I looked at it as a business decision to get the Uncommon James name out there, and am really happy I did it,” she says, admitting she has tried to refine the show to focus less on the “cattiness” of drama among her staff and more about the brand. One of the more surprising cast members has been Cutler, whose witty goofball remarks have been a highlight and garnered strong reactions from many Chicagoans.
“I think Jay has been pleasantly surprised to the response he’s gotten and I have been, too, because I’ve known Jay and this side of him and who he really is, and I don’t think Chicago got to see that,” says Cavallari. “Anyone living in Chicago when Jay was playing football knows the scrutiny that was placed on him by the media and that made it even worse, so he went into his shell. But it’s been nice for people to see Jay and how funny he is and know that he’s a normal down to earth funny guy. I’m glad that people finally get to see that.”
Cutler will be alongside for the opening this weekend. “It’ll be a fun experience,” says Cavallari. “We’ll have a DJ, some drinks and treats, and Jay and I will be there on Saturday. We encourage everyone to come out and say hey.”
Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.