Whether or not you know the name Barbara Malone, you probably know something about her. For years, she’s been a prominent cultural force in Seattle and in the rapid changes of the Pike/Pine corridor. She is co-owner — along with her husband, Hunter Capital’s Michael Malone — of the Sorrento Hotel, where she and curator Michael Hebb created events such as Night School, Drinking Lessons, and the Silent Reading party. She’s also an arts philanthropist, involved in organizations such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum, Town Hall, and SIFF. She’s the kind of person who probably gets adorned with such titles as “maven” or “doyenne.” Now, with a secret headquarters along E Pike, she’s starting a movement. In your closet.
Closet Rx is the creation of Malone and her business partner, Julienne Kutell. They recently set up offices at 501 E Pike, in half of the former home of C-K Graphics—the half where for years a sign facing outward comically requested that you PLEASE DO NOT TAP ON THE GLASS. (Tim Burgess’s mayoral campaign headquarters currently occupy the other half). The property was purchased by Hunters Capital with plans for an eight-story development and preservation project that will transform the old H.E. Holmes building.
Malone and Kutell have a manifesto where they lay out their three-part mission: “Renew, Reuse, Refuse.”
Says Malone, “We want to get people to really think about what is in their closet and what impact it has on themselves, the environment and how it is shared with the community. We see the closet as a metaphor for many things.”
To Renew, Malone and Kutell offer closet reorganization and personal styling. They’ll comb through clients’ closets, sorting out the good, the salvageable, and the best-to-let-go. They promise that you’ll “see and wear what you have, buy less and make better choices.” They’ll also suggest storage solutions and offer referrals on seamstresses and cobblers.
Next is Reuse: Those items that don’t make the cut will be offered for re-sale, with proceeds either going back to the client, the charity of their choice, or banked for use at Closet Rx. Malone and Kutell feel this purging is a “liberating gesture,” as clients have the opportunity to let go of items that will be enjoyed much more by someone else. The final element is Refuse, which Malone and Kutell feel has an “educational component,” in which the client breaks the cycle of environmentally careless purchasing and closets bursting with unnecessary baggage. “The movement of living a sustainable existence and stopping the cycle of mindless over-shopping is a key message, and it’s the reason we have jumped into this business after years of helping friends and family purge.”
The E Pike office will act as a base of operations and a place to process garments and accessories, but most of the time, Malone and Kutell will be in and out of the closets (ha) of their clients. At the office, clients’ items will be sorted, photographed, and steamed. Many will be shipped for donation or recycling, and Malone notes that a charitable affiliation is in the works. Other pieces will be stored at Closet Rx for eventual sale; they’ve got plans for a pop-up shop of the garments and accessories they’ll be rescuing, due sometime in mid to late May.
For now, Malone is thrilled to be starting this movement she really believes in in the neighborhood that she’s been so integral in shaping. “We cannot imagine having the office in any other location. Pike/Pine embodies our spirit, and we hope many on the Hill will appreciate the ‘movement’ and what that focus means.”
Closet Rx is by-appointment only; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.