‘Come On, Barbie, Let’s Go Party’ at Boho Barbie Ken

Mattel’s Barbie has done it all — she’s been an astronaut, a paleontologist and a Major League Baseball player, according to Time magazine. Now, she’s bringing bohemian (boho) chic to Rogers Park in the new vintage store Boho Barbie Ken, which opened two weeks ago.

Mattel’s Barbie has done it all — she’s been an astronaut, a paleontologist and a Major League Baseball player, according to Time magazine. Now, she’s bringing bohemian (boho) chic to Rogers Park in the new vintage store Boho Barbie Ken, which opened two weeks ago.

Boho Barbie Ken is located at 1736 W. Greenleaf Ave. half a mile off the Morse Red Line stop and approximately 1.5 miles north of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. This vintage shop blooms with charms and eccentricity thanks to owners Anna Marie Skalicki and Xander Kazanowski. 

The couple resides in Avondale but said they “practically live” in Rogers Park as they tend to the store four or more days a week.

There’s always something new to find in every nook and cranny of the store — like a children’s search-and-find book.

“I like that kind of stuff where you look really close and there’s something you didn’t expect, and you look far away and it’s like another picture,” Skalicki said. “So that’s kind of my idea with, you know, some of these smaller things we find and making something with them.”

Unique trinkets are piled high on colorful, retro furniture — some hand-painted by Skalicki herself — and the walls are lined with art of all styles. Colored glassware dot the shelves and plants’ leaves delicately brush against stacks of books.

Boho Barbie Ken is co-owned by Anna Marie Skalicki and Xander Kazanowski. (Catherine Meyer | The Phoenix)

Passersby may notice the doll head-shaped gardening pots in the windows, and patrons are watched by the all-seeing eyes of the Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy in the corner. The eclectic nature of Boho Barbie Ken provides a sense of vibrancy, as each vintage item brings its own life into the small store.

“It’s really fulfilling filling the space with things that make you happy and that make other people happy,” Skalicki said.

The shop’s name, Boho Barbie Ken, comes from Eve Raine, an interior designer who hired Kazanowski’s moving, junk removal and cleanout company to move some higher-end art pieces. She told the couple they were like the boho version of Barbie and Ken. 

“At the time, I had no idea that was something that would stick,” Skalicki said. “But the branding is what it is and it will just grow from there.”

The two hope to someday expand the name to Boho Barbie Ken & Baby to include their infant daughter Dorothea in the family business.

Skalicki and Kazanowski acquire most of their vintage items from house clean outs, trades and garbage dumps.

The couple started their vintage shop business in the summer of 2021 and sold wherever they could — Facebook Marketplace, pop-ups and markets. But with the adorable addition of Dorothea, now just over three months old, Skalicki and Kazanowski realized they needed a change in scenery. 

“With the baby it was increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to do those pop-ups unless I was to do it alone,” Kazanowski said. “So then we got the opportunity to get this space, and it’s just great to hang out with the baby and still be nice and productive and gain value.”

Common thrift shops have been counteracting their original frugality with rising prices, according to The Wall Street Journal. Boho Barbie Ken challenges this trend through “reasonably” priced, durable antiques. 

“We’ve got a lot of nice vintage stuff with real materials of wool, cotton and silk, which is hard to come by,” Kazanowski said. “And people are astonished when they hear how reasonable our prices are.” 

The shop emphasizes having certain pieces speak to you — finding goods that make you happy. 

Boho Barbie Ken offers a curated selection of vintage items and is open Thursday through Sunday. (Catherine Meyer | The Phoenix)

“People like to express themselves in different ways,” Skalicki said. “Sometimes they need some shoulder pads or sometimes they need that really frilly, patterned skirt.”

Skalicki and Kazanowski said they enjoy the community of having regulars and a neighborhood to lean on. As they settle in and the weather warms, they hope to set up different classes like painting and yoga to bring people to the store. 

Kazanowski said his late grandmother’s upbringing as an enslaved person in Illinois shaped his sustainable approach to clothing.

“When it came down to it, there wasn’t any excess, so they were making their clothes out of scraps and whatnot,” Kazanowski said. “But now I see dresses and stuff from that era, something they would’ve never had, and it pains me to just toss it when someone can find value.”

In an effort to avoid waste and overconsumption, the couple recycles and repurposes items otherwise headed to the dump.

“Everything has a story and value, and I think that’s really fun,” Skalicki said. 

In the next couple months, the couple hopes to expand their business to a second, currently undetermined location. The increased square footage will be primarily used to carry larger items like furniture, since the shop’s current location isn’t big enough to accommodate bigger pieces. 

However, anxious shoppers shouldn’t worry about these moving plans because Boho Barbie Ken plans to stick around for a while yet.

“We’ll be here for as long as we can be,” Kazanowski said. “That’s for sure.”

Boho Barbie Ken is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Featured image by Catherine Meyer | The Phoenix

Catherine Meyer

Catherine Meyer