With Everyday Music happily ensconced in its new home across the street from its old home, the 10th Ave space neighboring Elliott Bay Book Co. got the butcher paper treatment last week as work began inside to transform the shop into its next form — Totokaelo. CHS talked with founder and CEO Jill Wenger about the store and her plans for bringing a new retail experience to Capitol Hill.
Can you give us a more clear picture of what Totokaelo Capitol Hill will be? As I understand it, this will be an expansion of your existing retail effort on Western Ave. So, in what ways is the vision expanding?
The new store will continue to represent the fashion categories and style it’s become known for, along with introducing: furniture, lighting, linens, ceramics, vintage textiles, rugs, objects and art. The brand off-shoot “Totokaelo Art & Object” launches with the opening, and will encapsulate these new non-apparel related products.
Also on the launch docket is the unveiling of Totokaelo’s in-house furniture line. The initial collection of six pieces (dining chair, lounge chair, ottoman, sawhorse desk, dining table, credenza) will be unveiled on opening day. The line was designed by myself and built mainly by local woodworker Joel Kikuchi. We also had help from metalsmith Kirk Lang, and leathersmith Tamara Clammer. Materials are all PNW native and all hardware is custom. It’s pretty dope. But I’m biased.
How do you see the store fitting into/complementing Elliott Bay Book Co and Oddfellows? Rancho Bravo?
The neighbors (listed above) were a big draw of the space. I’ve heard Oddfellows referred to as the living room of Capitol Hill, and I agree. Elliott Bay is a major draw. And who doesn’t love Rancho Bravo’s chicken tamales.
Capitol Hill is where myself and the majority of the my team live and spend time after work. We are looking forward to being part of the community.
What about the CHS commenters who will say pffft to an expensive boutique, I’ll never shop there, blah blah bah? Anything to say to sway them? Or just tell them to fuck off?
Totokaelo is a specialty shop. It doesn’t proclaim to have something for everybody. If you can’t tell the difference between a 20.00 pair of pants and a 200.00 pair, then fuck it, buy the 20.00 ones, right?
But for the person that can tell the difference, the person that wants to discuss Raf Simmons’ final collection for Jil Sander, or French seaming, or the Antwerp 6, Totokaelo won’t disappoint. We love what we do. We are enthusiasts.
In my mind, there’s a commonality between enthusiasts of any kind. Whether it be coffee, farm-to-table food, fixed gear bikes, etc. I appreciate it when someone finds something that gets them excited. Hopefully the feeling is mutual.
As the butcher paper above reads, the new Totokaelo is on course for a June opening. You can get a look at the Totokaelo “look” and shop the online store at totokaelo.com. According to this interview on the Seattle PI site, the original Totokaelo grew out of the success of the online store. The article also notes Wenger’s humble start in the business selling handmade items on consignment from Portland and Seattle designers. According to the Totokaelo site’s about page, the name derives from toto caelo “a Latin phrase that means ‘reaching to the edge of the stars.’”
Corrections: Two updates to this post. Due to a production error, we accidentally placed the end of Wenger’s second answer at the beginning of her third. We also misstated the nature of Wenger’s early business venture from the PI article. She sold items on consignment — she didn’t sell her items in consignment shops. Sorry for the errors.