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
pop up dinner via

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
pop up dinner via
pop up dinner via

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
pop up dinner via
pop up dinner via

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
pop up dinner via
pop up dinner via
pop up dinner via

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
pop up dinner via
pop up dinner via

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
pop up dinner via
pop up dinner via

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

wanderlust guide: capitol hill

wanderlust guide: capitol hill //

In the last couple of years, I’ve made travel a priority. I spend less on clothes and meals out and things in general. And more on exploring the globe. And it has definitely made me happier. 

Sharing my favorite places through culinary tours has magnified that happiness. So much so, I’m planning all sorts of new culinary adventures: Belgium, Brittany, Charleston, San Francisco, Morocco. 

I’ve also been thinking about how I can share my favorite places with more of you through the blog. So in the spirit of encouraging travel and exploration and the pleasure they bring, I’ve decided to start a series of Wanderlust Guides. These little glimpses of my favorite cities reflect nothing but my own tastes and proclivities and certainly are not intended to be authoritative or all-encompassing. But I do hope they’ll lead at least a few of you to discover new places and make them your own. 

I thought I’d start with Seattle. My home-sweet-home and city I find maddening (that rain!) and delightful (that view, though) by turns. This week, I’m kicking things off with arguably the most vibrant and unconventional part of the city: Capitol Hill.

I hope you enjoy this Wanderlust Guide. I’d love to hear back in the comments what you think!



Barjot is a little gem of a coffee shop/cafe/bar/bakery/slice of awesomeness that I discovered only a few weeks ago. How it took me so long to stop in, I have no idea. Because Cafe Barjot is the perfect spot to work or meet up with friends or spend a few hours reading or daydreaming and sipping a cup of True North coffee. This tiny cafe has a cozy, mid-century vibe and super-friendly staff. Plus locally-sourced, organic breakfast, lunch and dinner and a great happy hour. The only caveat in sight: parking is tough on this side of the hill, so plan accordingly.


Volunteer Park Conservatory
Opened in 1912, Volunteer Park Conservatory is home to an awe-inspiring collection of plants from around the globe and a great place to spend a relaxing hour or two (especially on a rainy day). I particularly love the succulents room with it’s otherworldly cacti and desert plants. The Conservatory is a plant-lover and photographer’s dream. If the weather’s nice, I recommend packing a picnic lunch to eat in Volunteer Park then wandering the neighborhood around the park, with its grand turn-of-the-century houses.


Some (including the venerable NYT) claim there isn’t a decent bagel to be had on the West Coast. I beg to differ. Though hardcore purists might scoff at Eltana’s honey-water-boiled and wood-fired bagels, I say they are a thing of beauty. With just the right ratio of golden crust to dense, chewy interior, Eltana's hand-rolled bagels are some of the finest I’ve ever had. The Everything and Sesame-Wheat are my personal faves. The housemade spreads are nothing to scoff at either. I recommend a dozen bagels for the freezer and a half pint of the date-walnut and the za’atar-scallion spread for the road. 


Ok. Everyone and their uncle is serving cold-pressed juice these days. Juicebox, however, is really killing it with their creative juice combinations and chef-driven menu of light, bright lunch and brunch fare. Run by Brandin Myett (former chef at La Bête) and Kari Brunson (who honed her chops at numerous Ethan Stowell establishments), Juicebox offers flavors like spiced yam and turmeric gold and a selection of creamy house-made nut milks that attract the health-conscious and culinary aficionados alike. Their creative, seasonal soups, salads, wraps and scrambles make Juicebox one of my favorite places to stop for a meal or a healthy pick-me-up when I’m on the Hill. 


Kurt Farm Shop
Kurt Timmermeister, farmer, author and cheesemaker extraordinaire, is bringing us more creamy goodness with his artisanal ice cream. Made from milk and cream produced by Kurt’s herd of Jerseys and served out of his tiny shop in the new Chophouse Row building, this is some of the best ice cream in the city. There are subtle flavors like rose geranium and bay laurel and classics like the deep, rich caramel that was my favorite, as well as a selection of farmstead cheeses. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to dairy heaven.


Elliott Bay Book Company
One of America’s iconic bookstores, the Elliott Bay Book Company is right up there with Powell’s in Portland, The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge and the Strand in New York in my opinion. I could spend (and have spent) hours upon hours wandering the aisles with their creaky wooden floorboards and towering bookshelves, discovering new and inspiring books and journals. This is a must for bibliophiles and one of my very favorite spots in the city. P.S. They host excellent (and frequent) author talks. Check their schedule to see what they have planned.


Let’s be honest: no one needs anything in this shop. But you’re going to want almost everything in sight if you visit. With a delightful, hyper-curated selection of clothing, jewelry, toiletries and goods for the home and office (plus a giant taxidermy grizzly bear), Glasswing is one of Seattle’s most original shops. Also, the location, next door to Taylor Shellfish and the magical Melrose Building, can’t be beat. You could spend all day in this one block stretch of Capitol Hill alone.


Marigold & Mint
Oh, how I love this shop! The flowers are some of the most beautiful and distinctive I’ve ever seen. And they are locally sourced from owner, Katherine Anderson’s, organic farm. The carefully selected soaps, books, candles and other bits and bobs on offer are always super-dreamy. The staff is lovely, especially Ayako, the genius behind Ayako and Family Jam, who occasionally works in the shop creating magnificent and whimsical floral arrangements. (P.S. Her jam, sold in the shop, is amazeballs and you need to buy as much of it as you can stuff in your suitcase and take home!) Basically, I would live here if they’d let me.


Sitka & Spruce
Located right next door to Marigold & Mint in the Melrose Market, Sitka & Spruce is my favorite of Seattle super-chef, Matt Dillon’s, empire. The space is bright and spare with that classic Matt Dillon touch in the details that makes it feel nostalgic and modern at once. The food is the best kind of Pacific Northwest Fare imaginable--local ingredients, some from Matt’s Old Chaser Farm on Vashon Island, thoughtfully combined and in portions modest enough every meal can be a sort of tasting menu. I especially love Sitka & Spruce for a weekend brunch. There’s always a wonderful hot grain bowl on the menu along with a beautiful egg dish and lots of other imaginative veg-heavy plates. And their scone is one of the best in the city. Start your meal off with one of those and a pot of their excellent French-press coffee and you can’t go wrong. 


Rainshadow Meats
Also in the Melrose Market, Rainshadow Meats offers the highest quality meats and charcuterie in Seattle. Hands down. If you have access to a kitchen during your stay (or of course, if you live here) you absolutely should stop in for one of their excellent dry-aged steaks or housemade sausage links or a double-thick, bone-in pork chop! Also, their chicken liver mousse is to die for. 


Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
It’s not exactly cool to patronize Starbucks while living in a city that boasts so many small, independent coffee shops and roasters. But Beau and I wandered into Starbucks’ Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room one evening shortly after they opened and were completely wowed. The space is gorgeous. It’s all huge brass roasters and polished wood and soft leather chairs. The pneumatic tubes that whizz coffee beans from roaster to grinder are so much fun to watch they make you feel like a little kid in a chocolate factory. I’d consider all of this a one-time-only thrill if the coffee weren’t also very good. This is where you can taste some of Starbucks rarest coffees, small-batch roasted on-site. Even more fun, you can order your coffee brewed via pour-over, Chemex, French press, siphon, espresso machine or Clover. You can order a tasting flight of various beans brewed the same way or 1 bean brewed via different methods. It’s a coffee-lover’s dream! Definitely worth a stop if you’re visiting from out of town or if you just want to learn more about coffee. 


Seattle, and Capitol Hill in particular, has no shortage of fantastic restaurants. Stateside, opened last year by Chef Eric Johnson, is one of Seattle’s best tables at the moment. The perfectly executed, Vietnam-inspired menu, superlative cocktails and lush decor recalling the jungles of Vietnam add up to a beautiful experience and my favorite dining spot on Capitol Hill. I strongly recommend one of the cocktails served in a young coconut. They a) are delicious and b) allow you to imbibe while also having the impression you’re heading off a massive hangover by drinking coconut water. Brilliant!


I hope you enjoyed this little guide. Don't forget to leave me your thoughts in the comments below as well as any spots you think I should add!