NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WWLP) – Two women entrepreneurs that have a passion for artistry and design have opened new shops in Thornes Marketplace, one offers Bohemian home décor while the other offers women’s lingerie and loungewear.
Le BonNton was originally located on Old South Street and moved into Thornes last June. The shop has relocated several times within the building over the past year and recently settled permanently on the second floor. Le BonNton offers furniture, linens and other décor, which shop owner Cigdem “Chi” Turkomer also provides for a fee through her wedding design service. On June 10th, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Thornes is hosting a fifth-anniversary celebration for Le BonNton in the shop, with music, local art displays and Turkish Delight sweets that will be prepared by Turkomer.
Turkomer was born in Istanbul, Turkey and came to Northampton in 1990 to learn English. She returned to Istanbul after studying film production at San Francisco State University. In Istanbul, she launched a career as an interior designer as well as a set designer for documentaries and commercial films.
After returning to Northampton with her two children in 2016, she used her skills and experience to open Le BonNton in 2017. The name of her business comes from combining “Le Bonton” which means “elegant form or style” in French, with the abbreviation for Northampton, “Nton.” Turkomer went to a French missionary school in Istanbul for 12 years.
Many of Turkomer’s products are custom-made while the rest of her inventory comes from suppliers offering ethically manufactured products and from women-owned vendors. Her customers began asking if she would rent her products for events such as weddings. Turkomer began to offer wedding design services that were complete with décor from linens to rugs.
The pandemic made Turkomer close her physical shop in 2020. She opened a kiosk in Thornes to manage her retail sales as well as offer elopement wedding services.
“I don’t like big cities and consuming too much in the malls,” she said. “I don’t like plastic or synthetics, so what I have in my store is my lifestyle. I believe in making your own space with your soul—for your mind, body and health. We need texture and color in our lives. We need things that make us feel special.”
Turkomer still remembers her first time at Thornes decades ago. “I love the Middle Eastern-bazaar feel of it,” she said. “I love the connection with my customers. I love that this is communication, friendship, neighborhood. I feel like I’m home.”
Ooh La La
The owner of Ooh La La, Ali Ingellis, opened her boutique on the first floor of Thornes Marketplace in May. The lingerie and loungewear she designs and produces are inspired by history and nature. She describes her shop as, “Beautiful, unapologetically feminine, intimate—like your best friend’s closet.”
Ingellis was originally from Martha’s Vineyard, but now resides in Amherst. She has a philosophy degree 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. Her great grandmother, Dorothy Darling, ran two restaurants in Oak Bluffs into the 1960s.
In Ingellis’s shop in Thornes, the first thing customers see is a photo of Darling as a child. She has named her first collection of lingerie the Darling Collection in homage to her. Her loungewear, the Menemsha Collection is inspired by evenings spent on the beach on the Vineyard and named 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 has worked for various small businesses in the area—including Paul and Elizabeth’s—after graduating from Mount Holyoke.
She is also an accomplished equestrian and founded the Amherst Equestrian Center, which she still operates.
Ingellis founded Ooh La La in 2020. Thornes marketplace is her first location. “The connection to women and those shopping for women fuels my creativity,” she said. “I love hearing what drives someone to choose their garments.”
Both of the women chose to set up their shops in Thornes for the ambiance, downtown location and foot traffic.
“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.”
Ingellis said, “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.”