Maya Banatwala of Chicken Lays an Egg

Maya Banatwala is one of the three owners of Chicken Lays an Egg, the Northside clothing boutique that offers quirky and stylish vintage clothing, housewares and accessories.

Why did you start your business?
Dana Hamblen was the original owner for a year before she brought me and Jessy Baum in. We decided to move from the original location in Camp Washington to Northside, where we've been for over three years. We opened in Northside on Halloween 2009. Dana has always been a collector of all things vintage and the unusual, and had a similar store called Daughter Judy in Northside, circa 1998.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Opening a vintage shop is not a new concept for us. Fashion and dressing up are ingrained in all three of us. What makes Chicken Lays an Egg original is taking the fashion to a performance art level, which we strive to do even in our daily lives. Our theme colors are yellow, lime green, loud pink, orange, hot blue and black and white.

What local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
All three of us have always been involved with the Cincinnati community for some time now. We like to collaborate with small businesses every chance we get.

Among the three of us, we work at four bars in Cincinnati—Japps, Mayday, Arlin's and Neon's. Cincinnati, and Northside in particular, have a thriving art and music scene and we recruit free spirits to join up and collaborate, do videos, choreograph dances, paint murals, write jingles and build sculptures. We are also very involved in the music community, being musicians ourselves.

What would you do differently if you started your business again?
Choose a larger location so that we could have art shows and other creative events, plus an opportunity to sell furniture.

What's next for you and your shop?
In the near future, we are planning for our annual Northside 4th of July Parade extravaganza. This will be our fifth year participating in the parade.

Also, we are collaborating with the Barnyard Burlesque troupe on a project for the Rock N Roll Carnival. Plus, plans are in the works for a fall fashion show at Hoffner Lodger and a super secret pop-up shop.

Also, we will be open for business all summer for the Second Sunday on Main events, further testing our Over-the-Rhine presence.

We have been hosting fashion shows around the city for four years now. We hope to make them bigger and better and more extreme. And it would be lovely to have a larger location so we could hold all the merchandise we dream of, as well as hosting musical acts and art shows.

Interview by Sean Peters