Seattle

let's do this: the first ever milly's meet-up

Image: Olaiya Land

When I was laid up with the über-flu over the holidays, I spent a lot of time thinking about the direction I want this blog to take. (Funny how shitty circumstances can have positive outcomes.) One of my goals for 2018 is to make this space function like more of a community and a catalyst inspiring us all to design creative, beautiful and satisfying lives for ourselves.

I asked you to reach out and let me know what sorts of events, activities and content you'd like to see more of. Tons of you generously took the time to respond. You asked for more international retreats, Seattle- and US-based workshops, and talks with other kick-ass women on how to craft your ideal life. 

Image: Olaiya Land

First of all, I love all these ideas--thank you! Also, I want to let you know I have all of the above projects in the works for this year. (High five!)

While I'm working on recruiting a roster of amazing women to come talk about their lives and career paths, I thought I'd kick things off with a cocktail hour meet-up so those of us who live in/near Seattle can get to know each other.  

Image: Olaiya Land

So on March 15 I'm hosting the first ever Milly's Meet-Up. We'll gather at Book Larder in Fremont for an after-work happy hour featuring natural wines and bites provided by yours truly. The price is $10 and 100% of the ticket price will be donated to Facing Homelessness.

So grab a friend or two who's into food, photography, travel or just meeting new folks and come say hi at Book Larder on the 15th! 

Image: Olaiya Land

The Details...

Date
March 15, 2018

Time
6.30-7.30pm

Location
Book Larder
4252 Fremont Ave North
Seattle, WA

What
This meet up is for lovers of food, travel, photography, for those interested in crafting a creative life or who just want to meet new people. Your donation entitles you to one drink and an assortment of light bites (provided by yours truly). 100% of the ticket price will be donated to Facing Homelessness. People of all ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations are welcome.

See you on the 15th!

Image: Olaiya Land

small is beautiful: drygoods design

Image: Olaiya Land

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

Image: Olaiya Land

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.

Image: Olaiya Land

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.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

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.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

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

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: 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? 
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

Image: Olaiya Land

my kind of summer fun

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

I’m going to level with you. 

After all my talk about summer fun and more play in the month of August, I’ve been dragging through this week like the walking dead. Last Saturday I hosted the pop-up dinner I’ve been telling you about. It was a huge pleasure to have such a diverse and interesting group of people gathered around my table. And this first big party felt like the perfect way to baptize our new house.

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

Kyle and I prepared a table for twenty in the back yard with white linens, dahlias from the farmers market and vintage silver and glassware I’ve been collecting for over a decade.

We served radishes with spicy tuna butter and salted watermelon cocktails to start. (We Seattleites are notoriously socially awkward, so I make a point of starting all my dinners with a little kick to get the conversation flowing!)

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

Then there was king salmon crudo with pickled blackberries and creme fraiche. Grilled zucchini with homemade ricotta, honey and toasted barley. Smoky lamb on a bed of tomatoes and grilled cucumbers with a killer walnut-herb sauce. And we finished the evening with an Eton mess featuring fragrant grilled peaches, peach sorbet and pistachio ice cream. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty proud of the meal. 

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

But the best part came late in the evening, after dessert had been served and the coffee had been poured. I stood back and just watched our guests enjoying themselves. Their faces glowed in the candlelight as they talked and laughed. I floated around taking photos and catching bits of conversation as they drifted up into the summer sky. 

And felt an immense sense of satisfaction. 

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

Earlier in the evening my friend Sharon had explained how she feels out of balance if she goes too long without cooking. How returning to her kitchen and the meditative act of preparing food steadies her somehow. I told her it was the same for me.

But later I realized that wasn’t quite right. Cooking does restore me. My kitchen is a space to create and play and nourish myself. But I start to feel a little off-kilter if I go too long without cooking for others. When I worked in restaurants, this was a daily occurrence and I took it for granted. Now that I mainly cook at home, I feel a kind of compulsion to gather people around my table. The longer I resist it, the stronger it gets. Until I find myself planning elaborate Fourth of July barbecues and Moroccan-themed potlucks and five-course pop-up dinners.

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com
pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com

That moment standing there watching the smiles pass over our guests' faces was worth all the planning and shopping and schlepping and prepping it took to make the dinner happen. It was worth spending last Sunday on the couch too tired to do anything more than watch Parade’s End and order takeout. It was it’s own kind of summer fun. 

It may not have been as relaxing as swimming in Lake Washington, eating ice-cold slices of watermelon and working on my napping skills, but I don’t regret it for a minute. 

pop up dinner via millys-kitchen.com