NORTHAMPTON — Two women entrepreneurs with a passion for artistry and design have opened shops in Thornes Marketplace, one offering Bohemian home décor and the other, women’s lingerie and loungewear.
Cigdem “Chi” Turkomer, the owner of Le BonNton, originally located on Old South Street, moved into Thornes last June, relocating several times within the building over the past year and recently settling permanently on the second floor.
In its fifth year, Le BonNton offers linens, furniture and other décor, which Turkomer also provides for a fee to couples through her wedding design service. On June 10 from 5-8 p.m., Thornes will host a fifth-anniversary celebration for Le BonNton in the shop, with music, local art displays and Turkish Delight sweets prepared by Turkomer.
Ali Ingellis, owner of Ooh La La, opened her boutique on the first floor of the historic shopping center in downtown Northampton in May. The lingerie and loungewear she designs and produces are inspired by history and nature, and she describes her shop as, “Beautiful, unapologetically feminine, intimate — like your best friend’s closet.”
Both women said they chose Thornes Marketplace for the downtown location, foot traffic and ambiance, and they are thrilled with the support they have received thus far from management.
“The merchants here are carefully selected,” Turkomer said. “There is a balance. And management is very professional, kind and warm-hearted. It’s a privilege to be here.”
Said Ingellis,“as a first-time shop owner, Thornes has the safety net I needed. I have experienced this in my opening week, receiving so much support and encouragement from everyone in the building. The management team has created a place where businesses thrive. They support, encourage and work together to help you get started right.”
Turkomer opened Le BonNton in 2017, offering everything from clothing made from hand-woven fabrics and other quality textiles to jewelry and home accessories such as rugs, brass candlesticks and lamps, and cotton pillowcases. Educated in a French missionary school in Istanbul for 12 years, Turkomer named the business by combining “Le Bonton,” which means “elegant form or style” in French, with the abbreviation for Northampton, “Nton.”
Drawing on the connections she made with vendors in the film industry, Turkomer buys her inventory from suppliers offering ethically manufactured products as well as from women-owned vendors. Many of her products are custom-made.
Ingellis holds a degree in philosophy from Mount Holyoke College. She grew up hearing the stories of familial female role models who were entrepreneurs. Her great-great grandmother ran a guest house on Martha’s Vineyard, and her great grandmother, Dorothy Darling, ran two restaurants in Oak Bluffs into the 1960s.
In her shop in Thornes, the first thing customers see is a photo of Darling as a child, and she has named her first collection of lingerie the Darling Collection in homage to her. Her loungewear is inspired by evenings spent on the beach on the Vineyard; it is called Menemsha Collection after the fishing village with the world-famous sunset.
“I have always loved lingerie and the incredible way it transforms your essence in a very private way. When you wear something beautiful close to your skin, it changes your perspective on your day, and even on yourself,” said Ingellis, who worked for various small businesses in the area—including Paul and Elizabeth’s—after graduating from Mount Holyoke.