small is beautiful: drygoods design

It's time for another installment of Small is Beautiful! For those of you who missed the first one, SIB was born out of a desire to document and share some of the amazing independent businesses and creative projects near and dear to my heart. I also want to provide a space where small business owners can talk about how they got started and the challenges and joys involved in running your own business. Whether you're contemplating taking the leap into setting up shop yourself or just looking for cool places to check out in Seattle, I hope you enjoy hearing their stories.

This week, I'm featuring Drygoods Design. Owner, Keli Faw's ebullient spirit combined with the expertly curated selection of beautiful fabrics and notions makes this a space I love to stop into whenever I'm in Pioneer Square. I've taken several classes here and am always thrilled (and as a novice seamstress--somewhat amazed) at the beautiful garments and accessories I leave with!


An interview with Keli Faw, owner of Drygoods Design fabric shop and sewing studio

Mad lib time! People could describe your business as Pinterest meets reality.

What is your background? 
I came out of college during an economic downturn so I headed back to retail and then as the economy improved I moved to corporate communications, PR, and marketing.

How/when did you get the idea for your current venture? 
Strangely enough, the current version of Drygoods was not originally in my mind's eye or plans. I started out as an online-only shop where I also made things to sell. I couldn't find fabric locally that I loved on a regular basis for my own line of goods so I decided I could take matters into my own hands. From there, it became more about getting the fabric to customers than the line of goods and then creating a retail experience that was not found elsewhere. After watching the power of our customers learning from each other, it just made sense to launch the studio and classes.

On a scale of one to shitting-your-pants, how nervous were you about starting your business?
Initially, it was a three because the growth and expansion were very organic, all the while keeping my day job for a couple of years. I launched Drygoods a month before my second child was born knowing that it was now or never. And at that point, it was just me. When it came to opening a retail outpost a little less than a year later, it came at one of the worst possible times in my life. My father was terminally ill but I knew that if I didn't go for it, I would always wonder what if. He passed away a month before I opened the shop. It was crazy and dark, especially with two young children and frequently traveling husband but it's strange how adaptable we are. 

The first few months of having a retail presence were almost a blur. Then it became easier, but it's taken years to get a true handle on all that I need to do and do it well. As Drygoods has grown, the stakes are higher. Knowing that you have people relying on you for their livelihood, it's much more sobering.  Since then though, the scale has shifted much more to stress and freaking out, especially when it became clear we had to move from Ballard to another neighborhood. However, our move to Pioneer Square was a really good move. Not only is it a beautiful space, it's also central to so many parts of the city and we were incredibly fortunate that so many of our Ballard customers kept coming to see us.

What's the greatest challenge with your business? 
Managing the manic nature of retail. One day is amazing, the next can be the worst. In this city, we're competing with the weather, city events, and the purchasing behaviors that major online retailers are driving. We have an amazing customer community but we are not invincible.

What do you love most about your business? What brings you the most joy? 
I love watching our customers and students react the same way we feel about fabric and/or completing a project. Watching someone catch the sewing and/or craft bug is so rewarding. And making the buying decisions around fabric. It's almost always like Christmas morning when a shipment arrives.

What's on your bedside table (be honest)? 
A few travel books for the US (my kids and I are scheduled to go on a four-week road trip this summer), the Hillbilly Elegy, the Alexander Hamilton biography, a bunch of receipts, my current knitting project, and my tarot decks

Secret hobby and/or obsession? 
It's not so secret but my cathartic moments away from the shop are found knitting, cooking, and working in our yard.

Favorite city? 
That might be the hardest of questions. In Europe - Paris, Stockholm, and Lisbon. The US - NYC and San Fran

If you could get in a time machine, zoom back into the past and give yourself one piece of advice before starting your business, what would it be? 
Okay, this is the hardest question :). I think it would be to start it earlier and diving in sooner with a more concrete version versus going from an organic, "let's see how this goes" point of view. However, at the same time, it's hard to wish for another directive. I think of all the incredible people I've met through this all and I would hate that all the good and the bad didn't potentially happen because I took a different course of action about the business.

What other local business/project do you think is Small and Beautiful? 
Some of my favorite places to shop are Re-Soul in Ballard, Phinney Books, Velouria, Clover Toys, and The Palm Room

oil-poached salmon with roasted beets and garlicky cauliflower puree

Hello!

I landed in Glasgow a few hours ago and am now writing you from the the corner of a wood-paneled Scottish pub. I’ve crossed eight time zones on zero sleep--so I’m feeling simultaneously exhausted and hopped up--and I’m starting to wonder if chasing a huge coffee with a glass of red wine is as effective a jet lag cure as it seemed at the outset!

When I first arrive in a new city with no clue of how to get around or where to find a good meal or what to do with myself, I am beset by a panicky sense of dread. Right now, for example, I’m surrounded by gentlemen leafing through the local paper, sipping pints and speaking in a Glaswegian accent so thick I can barely make out what they’re saying. Not only do I feel like a crazy person from the jet lag, I feel completely out of my element. 

But, I think getting outside my comfort zone is important. 

I always come back with new ideas to incorporate into my Seattle life and new creative inspiration. Which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about how to incorporate a sense of exploration into my life even when I’m not traveling--how to experiment and take risks and step outside my comfort bubble at home. 

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with my photography, trying out new techniques to figure out what I find most compelling. Just like traveling, shooting this week’s recipe was uncomfortable at first. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of which direction to go. But once I started trying out different color schemes and compositions and lighting, it started to flow and feel more like an adventure than a nerve-racking foray into uncharted territory. 

It’s a good reminder that taking risks and venturing into the unknown keeps me growing and moving forward, even when I fear I’m sticking out like a sore American thumb and want to slink back to the hotel for a nap.

I’m heading to northern Scotland in a few days for my friend Natasha’s photography workshop. So I’ll be checking in with you next week from the Highlands. Until then, I hope you keep exploring--whether in your own living room or half-way around the globe.


Oil-Poached Salmon with Roasted Beets and Garlicky Cauliflower Puree

  • 1 lb wild salmon (I used king)
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil (amount will vary depending on the size of your pan)
  • 1 spring onion, halved lengthwise
  • 2-3 sprigs each parsley, tarragon and dill (feel free to substitute other herbs)
  • 4 1-inch strips lemon zest
  • 1 recipe Garlicky Cauliflower Puree (see below)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Beets (see below)
  • 2 tablespoon roughly chopped dill, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallion (green part only), to serve
  • 1 tablespoon, torn mint leaves, to serve

*Notes: This technique works well with any flaky fish. Cod and halibut are good choices if you prefer whitefish. Feel free to use whatever herbs you like.

Place the salmon in a single layer in a deep saucepan or saute pan. Cover with olive oil and add the spring onion, herbs and lemon zest. Cover and cook on low heat until the salmon is just cooked through. Times will vary significantly depending on the thickness of your salmon, so start checking after 15 minutes or so. Remove the salmon from the oil and transfer to a large plate or platter. Salt generously and set aside to cool. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. (You can use the strained oil in the cauliflower puree and the roasted beets. Refrigerated, the oil will keep for a day or two. Freeze or discard any strained oil that you don’t use within this window.)

When you’re ready to serve, spread the cauliflower puree on a serving platter. Arrange the sliced beets and salmon over the puree. Sprinkle with salt and top with the dill, scallions and mint. Can be served warm or at room temperature. 

Makes 4-6 servings.


Garlicky Cauliflower Puree

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cut into ½-inch pieces 
  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (can be the strained olive oil leftover from poaching the salmon)

Place the cauliflower and almonds in a stock pot and add ½ cup water. Bring the water to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very tender, 30-35 minutes. Remove the lid in the last 5 or so minutes of cooking to allow any water in the bottom of the pot to evaporate.

Transfer the cauliflower and almonds to a blender or food processor along with a generous pinch of salt, 1 clove of garlic and the red wine vinegar. Process on high speed, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary, until very smooth. Taste and add the other garlic clove if your puree isn’t as garlicky as you’d like. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil into the blender or food processor in a thin stream. Process until the oil is completely emulsified and the mixture is smooth. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Set aside.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Roasted Beets

  • 4-5 medium beets (1 to 1 ¼ lbs), greens removed
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Place the beets in a non-reactive baking dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt. Place the cinnamon, allspice and garlic in the dish. Add the water and vinegar. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender at the center when pierced with a paring knife. Set aside. Strain the cinnamon stick, allspice berries and garlic from the juices in the bottom of the baking dish. Discard the solids and keep the beet cooking liquid.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skins (use latex gloves or paper towels to avoid staining your hands) and cut into quarters or large dice. Place the cut beets in a non-reactive bowl and toss with their cooking liquid. Adjust seasonings, adding more red wine vinegar, salt and olive oil to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings.

the love list

Hello!

If you read my last post, you know my trip to Palm Springs left me motivated to be more present in my online and real-life existence. I even decided my word for the year is REAL. (I know it's a little late in the game to be setting goals and intentions for 2017, but we all know late is better than never and all that jazz.) So shit is about to get as real around here as I can manage!

There's so much hyper-curated fakery floating around on the internets, I sort of feel it my duty to share with you--in addition to things I find beautiful and wonderful and inspiring--what my life is really like. This includes the fact that our bed currently looks like a tangled rat's nest of sheets, book, pyjamas, and kitty litter that we can't seem to vacuum out completely. And that, despite all the travel I do, I'm freaking out about my upcoming trip and feeling like I should cancel it all and just stay home and binge-watch Harlots on Hulu (#guiltypleasures). It includes, too, how I pitched such an infantile temper tantrum this morning, I threw a blanket over my husband's head. Like a three year old. No joke.

(Luckily, my real life also includes the fact that I came back to my senses and I have a very chill husband and he forgave me and we ate lunch outside on a picnic blanket under the spring sunshine and shared half a bottle of rosé.)

So my life, like all our lives, vacillates between crap and delight, sometimes multiple times per day. I'm learning to roll with the punches a little better, which is why I'm dedicating this week's Love List to something I'm trying to weave into my life more fully: mindfulness. This week, I give you the resources, articles, apps (and cocktails) that have been helping me feel happier and more present in my life. Enjoy!


- First up is my new crush/hero: Dan Harris. My best friend told me I needed to read his book, 10% Happier. She's a life coach and a pretty savvy lady, so I generally follow her advice. I'm so glad I did. I loved this book! As an over-achieving, stressed-out, skeptical, child of the seventies, I feel like it was written just for me. Dan talks openly about his history of drug use, his all-encompassing ambition to make it in the broadcast news business, the on-air panic attack that led him to meditation, and how mindfulness practice has allowed him to be calmer, happier and more successful in life. It's all served up with a generous amount of wit, humor and self-deprecation, leaving you feeling that if this self-described "fidgety skeptic" can do meditation, so can I. 

 

 

- Which leads me to my next favorite thing lately: Headspace. I've been using this app since reading Dan's book and it does what it says it does: makes meditation simple and helps you clean up all the clutter in your mind and create a little more space for the thoughts, activities and people you want to focus on. Setting aside 10 minutes/day to focus on being mindful is already paying dividends for me in terms of better sleep and stress-management (blanket-throwing tantrums aside). It's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in meditation, but are turned off by all the woo-woo surrounding it and/or don't know where to start.

 

Image by Amanda Paa

Image by Amanda Paa

- Amanda over at Heartbeet Kitchen wrote a great post about her recent trip to Paris. She and her husband booked tickets spontaneously, did very little research and hopped on a plane. They discovered that wandering a city without a to-do list ten miles long is one of the best ways to enjoy a new destination. They wandered the streets on foot, stopped to check out whatever caught their eye and interacted with locals as much as possible.

Here's my favorite part of what Amanda wrote: "Perhaps one of the things I was most moved by was their communication. Simply put, phones were obsolete when people were with one another. Whether that be a bar, restaurant, coffee shop – I literally never ever saw someone with their head buried in a device. They were solely focused on the conversation, the moment. What a wake-up call to the lost beauty of personal connection here in the United States." 

This sounds like the perfect sort of mindful travel to me--being in the moment rather than racing around ticking off the sights you "must" see and the food you "have to" eat. For my upcoming trip to Scotland, I'm going to take a page out of Amanda's book and spend more time wandering without specific goals or destinations in mind!

 

- Since my phone (a.k.a. Devil Device) is often the main thief of my ability to be in the present, I've started using the Moment app to track my usage and set limits on how much phone time I log each day. The non-intrusive notifications it sends after every 15 minutes of me checking social media and/or falling down a wikipedia rabbit hole have really prompted me to put my phone down more often. 

 

 

- Instagram feed of the week: Nitch. Inspiring quotes from amazing people. Plus, beautiful black and white portraits. Always seems to provide little gems of advice at just the right moment.

 

 

- And (of course) a cocktail recipe to help your weekend feel a touch more chilled out. Rhubarb + fennel + vermouth? Yes, please. Head on over to Honestly Yum for the recipe. 

 

Happy weekend and XO!

Olaiya