small is beautiful

small is beautiful holiday shopping guide

Small Is Beautiful holiday shopping guide

Hello and Happy December!

Also, how is it December!?!? How did the year go by so fast? But now that I think about it, it was kind of a shitty year (at least here in the US of A), so maybe I should be saying good riddance and seeyalaterbyeeee to 2018!

I can’t complain about too much at present since I’m writing this poolside in Palm Springs. (Because sunbreaks = mental health when you live in Seattle.)

I’ll be back in the Rain City in just over 6 hours though. My weekend plans involve chasing away the grey and perpetual drizzle with some serious holiday cheer. Greens will be foraged for one of these wreaths. Cookies will be baked. Cheesy Christmas music will be played. I might even test a batch of holiday punch. (Strictly in the name of research.)

If I’m feeling like Superwoman (which I might just be after 3 days of Palm Springs sunshine), I’ll start my holiday shopping.

When it comes to gift giving, I’m a big fan of starting early to avoid last minute shopping trips and the crazed shoppers that come with them. The mall can start to look a lot like an MMA battle royale in the week before Christmas. Trust me, you’re much better off at home, wrapping packages with an egg nog in hand.

Because we’re also big fans of supporting independent businesses around here, I’ve put together this Small is Beautiful shopping guide to help you make sure your holiday dollars, pounds, euros, yen and riyals are supporting people working hard to provide beautiful, artisan crafted objects and create community.

At a time when big box stores are churning out disposable garbage at a distressing pace, owning an object meant to last and that (sometimes literally) bears the fingerprint of its maker, reminds us that things are still made by people. People with complex lives: loves and losses and joys and heartaches just like ours. It reminds us that their work and their stories actually mean something. Just like ours do.

By purchasing small-batch and artisan products curated with love by small businesses owners, we create a little thread of connection that benefits us all.

And shitty year or not, there’s nothing that brings the holiday cheer like making the world a little bit brighter place.



P.S. If you're looking to for an extra-special gift for that extra-special someone in your life (or even your own extra-special self), registration just opened for our May 2019 retreat in Alentejo, Portugal!

Small Is Beautiful holiday shopping guide
small is beautiful holiday shopping guide

small is beautiful: blue sparrow coffee

Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land
Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land

I'm super excited to introduce you to Jeffrey Knott, the owner of Blue Sparrow Coffee in Denver, CO. Jeffrey contacted me last year to shoot some images for his website. When I set foot inside BSC, I fell in love with the space. This cozy coffee shop has a beautiful decor, anchored by a deep cyan blue banquette and studded with brass accents throughout. They also serve first-rate coffee (we're talking homemade nitro cold brew on tap!) and have some of the friendliest baristas around. (Having lived in Seattle for over a decade, where baristas sometimes take themselves a little too seriously, I always give massive bonus points for friendly baristas.) 

When Jeffrey told me about his unconventional path to owning his own coffee shop, I knew I wanted to share his story with you. If you've been dreaming of opening your own small business, read on for Jeffrey's excellent advice. And if you live in Denver or are planning a trip there, don't miss this gem of a coffee shop.


An interview with Jeffrey Knott, owner of Blue Sparrow Coffee.

Mad lib time! You could describe my business as my experience traveling the world meets how I like my coffee

What is your background? 
After a stint in the military, a degree in finance, and a cubicle in NYC I decided it was time for a change. I “gave it all up” and became a barista. As much as I love coffee, and loved being a barista, I needed more. After managing my first coffee shop, I had an opportunity to help open, and manage a new café in town. That experience was unbelievably challenging--I did a pretty good job faking it until I made it. I've helped open the doors to the seventh café in half as many years. I own, open, and operate coffee shops. And it’s my dream job. 

Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land
Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land
Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land

How/when did you get the idea for your current venture?
Coffee is universal. It’s something that is shared all across our little blue dot. When I travel I've always sought out cafe’s, experiencing coffee in new ways, a reflection into local culture. BSC is a direct reflection on what I've experienced—what I want to experience. We feature coffee roasters from around the world, sharing these cultural reflections with our community while keeping it simple, friendly, and tasty.

On a scale of one to shitting-your-pants, how nervous were you about starting your business? 
.5? I’ve had the opportunity to open several coffee shops for others before my own—some much larger than BSC. In comparison this was a walk in the park. 

Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land

What's the greatest challenge with your business?
Letting go. Stepping back, and letting the team takeover. I want to create a very specific experience for our guests, and it’s most challenging making sure each and every team member knows what that experience is, then shares it with hundreds of customers day in and day out. 

What do you love most about your business? What brings you the most joy?
Owning a coffee shop is so often over romanticized. Everyone want’s to own and coffee shop because they envision sitting around drinking coffee all day. It’s a lot of work—not all of it’s fun. I love the challenge of building a team that can deliver amazing products and amazing experiences to our guests. I love working my ass off behind the scenes, so it seems effortless from the outside looking in. 

Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land

What's on your bedside table (be honest)?
Apple Watch charger
Kiss my Face chapstick
Air plant
Soy candle No. 05 : Spruce by P.F. Candle co. (A little out of season, I’m thinking nightshade next)

Secret hobby and/or obsession?
Golf. I started playing to spend time with my granddad. He’s in his 80’s and still plays every single day #goals. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. Part of me wishes I put as much time, effort, and money 🙄 into something more useful for humanity, but it’s my escape. I don’t know what I would do without it. 

Favorite city? 
Lisbon

Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land

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? 
Start social media sooner. This time around I decided to keep quite on the new café until we were open. It took much longer for people to find out about us than expected. Create your social media accounts early, reach out to the press, be active, build the hype and hope you can measure up to it! 

What other local business/project do you think is Small and Beautiful? 
Small coffee shops gotta stick together, I’d check out Little Owl and Lula Rose. Food: To the Wind Bistro. Bar: Bread Bar

Blue Sparrow Coffee. Shot by Olaiya Land

small is beautiful: marine area 7

Image: Olaiya Land

I'm back with another Small is Beautiful profile! This week I want to introduce you to the super-talented Jim Henkens. I first discovered Jim's gorgeous food photography via A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus, the cookbook he shot for Seattle chef, Renee Erickson. When I found out he owned an event space/shop featuring vintage cookware, wine and other objects from his world travels, I knew I had to learn more about this multi-faceted individual. I've been following his work and travels ever since.

If you're in Seattle, you need to stop into Jim's magical shop. If you're lucky, you'll catch him cooking up a pot of stock or sharpening his knives like I did the day I went in to shoot this post. As someone who always seems to be in motion--working on a current project or dreaming up a new one--Jim is a constant source of creative inspiration.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

An interview with Jim Henkens, owner of Marine Area 7.

Mad lib time! People could describe your business as culinary retail shop meets event space.

What is your background? 
Professional photographer since 1989

How/when did you get the idea for your current venture?
About 7 years ago while traveling in Europe I was inspired by all the small creative shops, and of course the food.

Image: Olaiya Land

On a scale of one to shitting-your-pants, how nervous were you about starting your business?
I would say about a 2. There are way bigger things in life to be nervous about than a small business.

What's the greatest challenge with your business?
The greatest challenge is all the red tape that the City, State and Federal governments force small business owners to spend time on.

What do you love most about your business? What brings you the most joy?
What I love most is when a customer comes into the shop and completely gets it, and spends time looking and asking questions and shows a true interest in what I’ve created.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

What's on your bedside table (be honest)?
A stack of books and magazines that I can’t seem to finish. I tend to start a new one before finishing the first. Currently I’m reading The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty.

Secret hobby and/or obsession?
My hobby/obsession is cooking outdoors over fire. It’s no secret.

Favorite city?
Rome

Image: Olaiya Land

If you could get in a time machine, zoom back into time and give yourself one piece of advice before starting your business, what would it be?
My advice would be to have a clear vision of what you are creating and more importantly, why.

What other local business/project do you think is Small and Beautiful?
I have always admired small farmers. They work so hard and rely so much on things they can’t control, such as weather, flooding, insects, etc. Jason and Siri from Local Roots are an amazing example of this.

Image: Olaiya Land

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