Customize This — Maywood Native Opens New Design Store

Thursday, September 2, 2021 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Keara Beal said she happened to be driving down Madison Street, when she spotted a ‘For Rent’ sign in the window of a familiar storefront.  

“That was a Wednesday,” Beal said. “By that Saturday, it was mine.” 

Beal signed the lease on July 1 and hasn’t looked back since then. She opened her business, Krafty Keys — inside of the former Canvas Junk Art Café, 1115 Madison St. in Maywood — on Aug. 18.  

Beal specializes in the art of customization. She adds personality and pizazz to anything — t-shirts, jackets, crocs, hats, bags, even basketballs. What the Harlem haberdasher Dapper Dan did to Gucci clothes, Beal does to pretty much everything. 

On a recent Thursday afternoon, the 33-year-old former CNA was wearing a  stylish bucket hat adorned with a glittery Chanel logo that Beal customized. 

Keara Williams working on a shoe she’s in the process of customizing inside of her new Maywood store. | Michael Romain 

“I do customized t-shirts, I bling out shoes, anything that you bring in here asking me to customize,” said the Proviso East graduate. 

Beal said in addition to customizing, she sells her own items and is open to allowing other business owners the space to sell their products in her store. 

“They pay me a monthly rate and they can have a shelf,” she said. “We’ll have a designer here, another designer here, another designer here. So, it’s not just about me.” 

The road to opening her own brick and mortar store was littered with obstacles, Beal said. 

The biggest one came weeks before the store was due to open, when her business partner, Frederick Williams Jr., was murdered in Chicago. Williams was best friends with Beal’s fiancé, Elliot Hall, 36. 

Williams’ death was a blow to Beal, Hall and the business itself, since Williams had invested money in the venture.

“I’m like, ‘What am I going to do now? I have to come up with all this money by myself. What am I about to do?” Said Beal, who pursues her business full-time. The Proviso East alum said her graduating class was a big help. 

Your support is welcomed!

We are accepting donations so that we can continue bringing you quality reporting on the issues that matter most to you and your community!

Make A Donation

Keara Williams looks at a banner showing photos of her late business partner, Frederick Williams Jr., inside of her new store. | Michael Romain  

“But my support system has been crazy,” she said. “The Proviso East Class of 2006 have shown me the most love. They have shown me so much love. I have people just sending me money to express how proud they are.”

Hall said the new store is a manifestation of a vision they’ve had for some time now. 

“We’ve been talking about this — my whole house is a workshop,” he said.“I’m like, ‘Baby, it’s time.’ She even has an office in our house and still my living and dining rooms look like workshops.” 

Hall, who proposed to Williams the day the store opened on Aug. 18, lauded his fiancé’s dedication to her craft. 

“I do tattoos and cut hair and that’s really tedious and technical,” he said. “But when I see what she does, it trumps what I do 10 times.”

Elliot Hall working on a t-shirt design inside of Krafty Keys in Maywood. | Micheal Romain 

But Williams said she doesn’t want to keep the knowledge and skill to herself. She also teaches classes on both the craft and the business of customization. 

“I taught myself everything I know,” she said. “I’m teaching exactly what I do. I sit down with you one-on-one and I will tell you what I know so you don’t have to get it out of the mud like I did.” 

Williams and Hall, both Maywood natives and East graduates, said they wanted to open a store in their hometown in order to set an example for the young people who live here. 

“I’m always looking for high school models for my clothes and I think about the kids, because they don’t have much out here,” she said. 

Hall said they’ll be giving away free food and haircuts at least once a month, as well. 

“This is about me putting something back in the community that is helpful,” Williams said. 

For more information on Krafty Keys, call (708) 382-1352, email [email protected] or visit the Facebook page: 

Your support is welcomed!

We are accepting donations so that we can continue bringing you quality reporting on the issues that matter most to you and your community!

Make A Donation

Leave a Reply