Two women walking independently along their own paths eventually came together with a common interest.
Melissa Parkos and Juliet Polonus, owners of Jori & June boutique in Geneva, met while trick-or-treating with their kids. The two moms “gravitated toward each other,” says Parkos.
“I say that is when I developed my girl crush on her,” Parkos says with a smile.
Parkos had a treasured upbringing with inspiring and supportive parents. She spent her childhood in Minneapolis before climbing the corporate ladder in marketing and supply chain management – a journey that allowed her to live in Shanghai, Istanbul and Mexico City before pausing for motherhood in Florida. Eventually her journey brought her back to the Midwest, but – this time – to Geneva.
She itched to work again, and it was that drive that immediately bonded her with the bohemian and creative spirit of Polonus.
Polonus is a self-proclaimed free-spirit with a solid background in retail, which ultimately led her to a job at Anthropologie in the Geneva Commons. It was while she was working at Anthropologie that she decided to start her own graphic T-shirt business, Behöva. That independence gave her the confidence to take the next step in her career – to open her own boutique.
Jori & June opened this summer, in the space once occupied by C’est La Vie by Sylvie. The store features women’s clothing and accessories that are “practical, comfortable, unique and affordable,” according to the boutique’s website.
The shop’s name, Jori & June, has quite a story, as well.
The “Jo” in Jori was inspired by Parkos’ mentor and stepfather, John – a sergeant in the Marines, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad. The “ri” in Jori comes from the name of her son, Richard (her first pregnancy), who was a stillborn at 8 months old.
“Both were significant to me and represented the ‘past and the memories,’” she says.
The duo further explained that the Jori element in the store is expressed as, “more simple, chic and basic,” says Parkos, who seeks items that are universal and plain, but can be dressed up with accessories.
The “June” comes from the letters in her sons’ names, Parkos says. “They are the future – our hope.”
The “June” part of the store represents the free-spirited woman.
“She will not shy away from patterns or colors; she sometimes is a little more daring and has a little bit of an ‘edgy’ side,” Parkos says.
“I’m, for sure, June – the [bohemian] free spirit,” says Polonus, who sells T-shirts from her Behöva line in the store. “My artistic touch is sprinkled throughout the store, from the logo, the signage, labels packaging, merchandising and all around vibe that I’ve been able to create. I believe it all stems from my graphic design background.”
Together the two women have formed a bond and share themselves and their vision in the form of Jori & June. Their venture is designed to provide an experience and then to empower shoppers to leave feeling better.
Jori & June
25 S. Third St. | Geneva