SYCAMORE – Eric and Rosanna Vorel came to Sycamore six years ago to visit his uncle and instantly fell in love with the town. They packed their bags, bought a home on Pioneer Street and lived happily ever after.
Now they’re taking that fairy tale inspiration and using it to build a mobile artisan shop, Ever After Enchanted, selling homemade artisan soaps, candles, lip balms, barn wood home décor, coffee and other seasonal items, to pursue their dream of owning a business together.
“When we moved here, the place needed to be decorated because it was all white,” Eric, 41, said, sitting on an old church pew at his kitchen table next to Rosanna. They have two sons, Logan Vorel, 8, and Ethan Piper, 21, and have been married for 10 years. He said they always wanted to live in a farmhouse, so Sycamore was a good start.
“But everywhere we looked, we knew we didn’t really want [big-box] stuff, and couldn’t find candles anywhere. So we started designing our own candles. We wanted cool, whimsical.”
Eric plays guitar and sings in a punk band called TLB and has toured across the U.S. and United Kingdom, he said. In addition to starting his own landscaping side business, he’s working with Rosanna to handcraft items for the shop, which began as an Etsy business Rosanna created in 2015.
They’re close to cementing a deal to set up a semi-permanent spot in Sycamore to park their mobile shop, which is a trailer they haul across the Midwest (they’ve also been to Indiana and Ohio) to reach their customers. Sales also can be made 24/7 on their Etsy shop. They also accept commission – contact them through Facebook message or through Etsy to get a quote – and can custom-design party décor or favors for weddings, showers and other events.
Rosanna said with fall upon us, seasonal items such as pumpkin spice and apple-scented items are all the rage.
“I started with the soap and stuff while I was at my other job,” said Rosanna, 42, who used to work in an office job, but now works as a server at Ellwood Steak and Fish House in DeKalb. “I worked in an office for 13 years and I wasn’t really happy. I kind of had skin issues, so I got into making skin care, and then I started my Etsy shop while I was still working there.”
A self-proclaimed “people person,” Rosanna created the Etsy shop to share her fragrant soaps and candles. The married duo like to use only organic and clean ingredients in their products out of a desire to be able to use products in their home that are also healthy, they said.
For her personal care items and candles, Rosanna uses ingredients such as soy and coconut wax, vanilla-bean infused avocado oil, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, organic African shea butter, almond oil, goat milk and essential oils and fragrances.
Rosanna admits the business didn’t pick up for the first year or so, but says you can’t be successful if you don’t love what you’re doing regardless of how much money you make.
“You have to be very patient and just little by little work on your dream, creating,” Rosanna said. “You can’t expect to make money right off the bat. So you have to love to do it. It’s not like about money for a long time.”
Eric hand burns distressed barn wood (which he sources from area farmers in Malta or from Old Barnwood Salvage in Genoa) and cuts it into shapes such as hearts, to make signs or indoor décor. He also is perfecting his coffee roasting skills to add to the shop, and helped Rosanna design a men’s line of candles, with scents dubbed Bonfire and Flannel.
He said he took bits and pieces from his travels with the band to use as inspiration for his wooden décor designs.
“I think we’re a good representation of Sycamore because we’re country,” Eric said. “We love that small farm-to-table stuff, and I think our business has all of that. It’s really elegant. We put a lot of time and effort into making stuff quality and beautiful.”