[How long have you been running a furniture business?]
Kayla Benedict: Well, pretty much since we met about 11 years ago. When I met Erick he was doing this on the side. He had just moved back from Los Angeles, living with his mom on the Southwest Side, finding furniture and fixing it up and flipping it. He introduced me to it and we just started doing it more and more. I quit my job . . . he quickly moved in with me. We did it from our garage in Avondale.
Erick Pausz: Half of a garage. The upstairs neighbor parked in the other half.
Kayla: We lived for the moments when they would move their car and we could back up and take a picture. But after about a year, we moved into a space called the Beehive. It was a collective space with vintage dealers in East Garfield Park. We did that for about a year and then we got our first storefront on Montrose, where we were for over 8 years.
[So what made you move to North Park as a business and as residents?]
We were having a baby, so we found a house. You know, we still wanted to stay in Chicago. North Park is like the last little bit of the city that we could afford. So we found a cute place on Spaulding and then saw this place come up for sale. It took us a few months to get a hold of the person who was selling it. It was very difficult to buy this building.
[So you moved into the neighborhood before you moved your business here?]
Yeah, we're very much like, “We live here, so we should work two blocks away, right?”
Erick: We love this neighborhood. We love the river, the parks in the area. We have a three-year old daughter and her first three years were just going to a lot of parks. So that's why we moved here – and for the breakfast places, the best breakfast in Chicago.
Kayla: We strategically placed ourselves between Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club and Tre Kronor.
Erick: We would come to this neighborhood for Tre Kronor and Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club when it was in its old location. So that's kind of why we visited to begin with. And then there's all these hidden secrets around the neighborhood.
I'm obsessed with Peterson Park and the history of the tuberculosis sanitarium. We want to make a map at some point for the store of places to go to that are kind of hidden. I think that would be fun for people visiting our neighborhood that aren't aware.
[What else would be on that map?]
Erick: Well, the breakfast places to start, and . . .
Kayla: . . . the bike trail. The river where there’s a “Y” [the confluence with the Channel] where you can see the night herons.
Erick: When she was pregnant, that was our walk. We weren't even living here. One day we just started walking down the river and we're like, “Oh, my God, this is amazing.” And then we would go there almost every night. We realized you can see night herons at a very specific time. And that would be on the map. I think this neighborhood is like the best kept secret in Chicago. We definitely invested in this neighborhood. We want to be here.
Kayla: Our three-year-old asked if we will “please always have the shop.”
Erick: Kayla and I traveled for a few years. We were going everywhere, visiting friends in Austin, Texas, . . . we almost moved to Nashville like five years ago when it was affordable. We were in Oregon, California . . . . We were just looking for our forever home and where we were going to start our business. We always dreamed of a neighborhood where we could actually afford to buy a building and renovate it and have a community. And we chose this neighborhood.
We see nothing but potential on Bryn Mawr; we're very excited by it. I don't think it happens very often that a neighborhood in a big city has charming buildings and just has a lot of great appeal.
Kayla Benedict and Erick Pausz were interviewed by a neighbor in July of 2023. They own Spaced Out Studio on Bryn Mawr Avenue.