The daily grind for most people averages out to an overflowing schedule of back to back meetings with little time for a decent meal or two. With so much focus on high pressure career demands, it is hard to fathom that life can disappear all within a single heartbeat. For Wicker Park store owner and founder, Julie Erdeljac, her life did just that. At the tender age of 20, Erdeljac suffered from heart complications and died unexpectedly in her parents’ home. With an active past of competitive cheerleading and frequent workouts, the fatal congenital disease was a shock to friends and loved ones who intimately knew her. Three defibrillator shocks and approximately eight minutes later, Erdeljac was revived by paramedics only to go into a medically induced coma. When she awoke three weeks later, she found herself with a pacemaker and implanted defibrillator–but most importantly, a new zest for life.
Fast forward eight years later and Erdeljac has gotten more than just her groove back. The young and vibrant entrepreneur tapped into interior decorating and ultimately channeled her skills into her newest venture and recently opened store, Wicker Park Home. Situated in the quaint shopping district of Allen’s Watters Creek, the family-owned home décor and gift shop is changing the lives of its customers one heartbeat at a time.
We caught up with the revitalized store owner to browse her new digs and to inquire on her current health condition. From charitable giving to simple living, Erdeljac dishes exclusively to DFW Style Daily why the finer things in life (like many of the Wicker Park products), come in small, meaningful packages. Read on for more inspiration from one of our newest gift-shopping obsessions.
DFW Style Daily: After your recovery from what was initially a fatal illness, what changed most for you in your life?
Julie Erdeljac: “The biggest thing that changed for me was my outlook on life. I went from someone who put friends first, to where friends were the last thing I cared about. My family was who I wanted to spend my time with. We value the little things that most people push under the rug. We knew that if we had a chance to create something like [Wicker Park], we would give back in any way that we could.”
Speaking of giving back, Wicker Park carries eight charity lines in store. What can you tell us about some of these products?
NEST: “There are three candles that either support breast cancer research, AIDS research or autism research. We carry all three at Wicker Park.”
S’well: “This is the best water bottle hands down and worth every penny. It can hold liquids and keep them cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. The purchase of a S’well bottle gives back to various charity organizations.”
Lokai Bracelet: “This rubber bracelet has many beads, with one black bead and one white bead on its strand. The black bead is infused with mud from the Dead Sea and the white bead is infused with water from Mount Everest. All in all, the bracelet represents your highs and lows in life. Net profits from the sale of this bracelet are given to several charitable alliances.”
Out of all of the gifts that are available at your store, what are your top sellers?
“The S’well water bottle and the Lokai bracelets. I wear [the bracelets] with my fancy outfits, and with jeans and a t-shirt.”
There are so many unique products exclusive to your store. Which one is your favorite?
“Chew Beads are one of my many favorite products. They are brightly covered rubber necklaces designed so moms can stay fashionable but their babies can chew on them. They are completely safe, non-toxic and you can throw them in the dishwater to sanitize them.”
With a wealth of clever merchandise on hand, what does the future hold for Wicker Park?
“We’re going to start a spousal registry. When a husband or boyfriend wants to get a special gift, they always turn to a gift card. We’re going to start a book for spouses or significant others where the wife or girlfriend can come in and show us what they like…and we will communicate that to the husband or boyfriend.”
You’ve poured your heart and soul into the success of your store. What do you do in your spare time?
“What is spare time? If I do have it, I love to go out or eat dinners on a nice patio. Entertaining is definitely big for me, with the most important aspect being the time I spend with family and friends.”
For more information on Wicker Park Home, visit here. Top images credit Wicker Park. Final image credits to individual retailer.