Since 1993, Circles Boutique has been a locally-owned clothing store offering global fashions in Downtown Champaign. CCP spoke with owner and buyer, Danelle Jameson.
Tell us about how you decided to start your own business and open Circles Boutique here in Downtown Champaign.
I grew up in Decatur and came to Champaign for school. I stayed in Champaign after graduation and started working under the original owner of Circles to manage the store while she opened a café next door (Café Kopi). Within the first month of working for her, she suggested I sell shoes in the store, so in 1993 I started a shoe company called Spoons. [The sign for Spoons shoes is still in Circles Boutique’s bathroom]. Then, when she moved in 1998, I bought the store from her and made it my own. It fell into my lap, and I liked doing it and was good at it, so I kept at it.
We hear you got a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois. What did you study?
I studied art history. I use art history skills now when looking at historical costuming, repeated references, and when designing the storefront windows.
We hear you like to travel to places like Gambia. What do you like about travel and where have you visited so far?
I travel a lot for trade shows. There are a number of fashion markets and trade shows in several different cities like Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta. I always go to New York just because I feel that the trade shows there are bit more international. New York feels more like home to me because I can walk anywhere there and it’s more “me.” I’ll try smaller trade shows after Fashion Week, too, just to see something new and to see what other designers are doing. Now with the internet, if someone tells you about a designer they like, you can actually reach out personally. I don’t like to buy online because I need to touch and see the quality of the clothing in-person as much as possible. I also spent 3 weeks in Gambia to design my own clothes. I met amazing people. I would love to go back to Bali someday and produce my own line.
How would you describe the style at Circles?
I tend to be drawn more towards designed pieces more than fads or trends. I like things to be designed to a point, but there’s also a limit where it’s over-designed. I like to mix and match unique and high quality pieces; I put things together that you normally wouldn’t think to do. Overall, I would describe the styles here as being high-quality, simple, and correctly-fitting!
You were a main stakeholder in the Downtown Champaign Wine Walk soon after you joined CCP. What was that experience like and why do you think it’s important to be involved in the community?
I was on the planning committee and encouraged attendees to shop during and after the event. It was lots of fun with lots of foot traffic! I like being involved in my community. Champaign is a great town: financially feasible to live in, close to international airports for easy travel, and you can still walk or bike everywhere. It’s the best of a small town with the culture of a larger city.
Finally, what are some things you’d like to share with our readers about Circles?
We are international! We have great brands that you may have never heard of and high-quality pieces that can be in your closet for decades.