‘Hippie-chic’ boutique Haute Hibou makes Pike/Pine move from Ballard


574576_643542129006975_70971169_nA longtime design office on 11th and Pike next to Sam’s Tavern is being transformed into a new space for “hippie-chic” Seattle boutique Haute Hibou.

“It is a little nerve racking… and I am taking a pretty big risk because the rent is so expensive but it was one of those things where I either had to move forward and just do it or stay forever,” owner Rachel Brown said of her shop’s move from Ballard to Capitol Hill.

The new shop is expected to open by the coming weekend.

In addition to the high cost of a Pike/Pine lease, the move has come with other risks for Brown. As word of the new shop spread, Brown was taken to task for some of Haute Hibou’s social media including an image of a white woman wearing a Native American-style headdress. Brown said she’s open to criticism and interested in finding ways to connect better with the culture of her shop’s new home.

At Haute Hibou, Brown said she is really trying to go for a repurposed and recycled feel. Haute Hibou means the high owl in French, Brown says, and she wants to keep her materials natural and organic.

Under construction on 11th Ave (Image: Haute Hibou)

Under construction on 11th Ave (Image: Haute Hibou)

It is nice that I am actually leasing from somebody smaller…

Brown said she is also taking a look at how to lower her prices with her move to the Hill. A lot of the brands that Brown carries are not well known and only carried in small boutique, she said. Brown also says she depends on repeat customers who like that they aren’t going to walk around and see somebody else wearing the same thing. Most of the clothes are unique and, Brown hopes, one of a kind in Seattle.

“Moving to a new neighborhood is definitely going to be a test and I am going to have to grow and adapt but I think it will be good and having an actual storefront and being in a busier neighborhood is going to make all the difference,” Brown said

Brown said she decided to move to Capitol Hill due to the centrality of the location, and the vibrancies the neighborhood has to offer. She is also excited about having and actual storefront because her old location was hidden inside a coffee shop and was hard to find. She opened in Ballard last September, but it was only a sixth month lease, and month to month after that. Brown took the short-term route so she could test the market and see if people would be receptive to her shop.

Her landlord at the Capitol Hill location Hugh Saffel has owned the property for about 15 years. He has been running a marketing firm out of the space, but recently wanted to downsize. He didn’t want to have a bar in the location because the neighborhood is already so saturated with bars, and he really wanted a retailer to diversify the business area, he said.

“It is nice that I am actually leasing from somebody smaller because the other landlords that I had worked with were big organizations that owned these multimillion dollar spaces and so it is nice to know that it is a bit more personal and that my rent is going to somebody that is in the neighborhood,” Brown said.

Haute Hibou is planned to open by the July 11th weekend. You can learn more at hautehibou.com.

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30 thoughts on “‘Hippie-chic’ boutique Haute Hibou makes Pike/Pine move from Ballard

  1. Will not be supporting a business that advertises with a white woman wearing a native headdress. I guess some people will be excited to pair hippie chic accessories with their technical cashmere from that other place. Also, “Brown also says she depends on repeat customers who like that they aren’t going to walk around and see somebody else wearing the same thing”…good luck with that. Looking forward to seeing some repeat outfits like these at Block Party!

    • This extremely negative response to a new small business is troubling. It sounds like she made a mistake with the marketing and is learning from it. Give her a chance.

      • I’m also suuuper not on board. This is some (almost certianly) expensive derivative shit custom made for garnering likes on instagram. I personally don’t want to see too much of the Lulu-wearing frappucino hordes in the good parts of Seattle. Go to Ballard, got to Vancouver, hell, go to Aspen. Keep your upmarket urban outfitters away from Cap Hill pls.

      • Oh, that’s right. The Hill is yours and you get to dictate who can be in the “good parts” of Seattle. I’ve been here 35 years. Smile. Everyone is welcome. Even you.

  2. “she’s open to criticism and interested in finding ways to connect better with the culture of her shop’s new home.”

    It’s not a matter of better connecting with the culture of your new hood, rather acknowledging the way your merchandise appropriates other cultures.

    • Agreed. I just looked at their website and they still have models with headdresses, despite the criticism. I thought this stupid appropriation was on its way out, but now boutiques like this one are trying to keep it alive. Ugh. Nope, not going to buy anything from this store. Hopefully they change their ways or they don’t last long.

      • I think it’s a matter of not knowing any better and then not really understanding why people are upset about it. Then you add into the mix a neighborhood that is already in defense mode due to other aggressions taking place, and it’s like, oh boy…let’s watch this blow up.

      • I didn’t find any headdresses when I looked on their site. I found one picture that was kind of headdressy but it was more like a hippie headband with colorful (like a costume boa) feathers. Were the images taken down?

  3. What is it with these pseudo French names that butcher French grammar? First there was Bakery Nouveau and now this. Hibou is French for owl and it is masculine. So it should be Haut Hibou without the “e”. It means High Owl or Top Owl.

    • Apparently they haven’t mastered English, either. “Draft Beers, Not Wars.” Huh? How do you go about drafting a war..to fight a war?

    • Almost as bad as the one shop where the man behind the counter had a rather strong French accent and I asked where he was from in France.
      He remarked, “I’m not really French; I just speak with a French accent because the shop has a French name and people expect it.”

    • I think it’s supposed to be a play on words… Haute meaning elegant but also being similar to Haut. Or maybe I’m just giving her the benefit of the doubt.

  4. Welcome to the neighborhood. It is great to have another independent and interesting store in the neighborhood.

  5. You know what actually is”repurposed, recyled, hippie-chic” fashion? Buying your clothes from thrift stores and rocking your own style. AND the white woman in a headdress is up there with wearing black face – completely inexcusable. You can’t make it past sixth grade without learning about racism not to mention we live in a place named after a Native American Chief. Boggles the minds really.

  6. except the owner literally was not open to criticism. she deleted and blocked everyone who was calling her out, and the only 2 things she addressed were her use of the racial slur ‘gypsy’ and then the photograph of the thin white woman in the headdress. she blocked over a handful of individuals from both her Facebook page and her Instagram page from addressing all the problematic stuff on her website and her business model of co-opting Indigenous culture and making $ of it.

    • Do you eat Thai food? Or maybe we shouldn’t do that because it co-opts their indigenous culture. Do you practice yoga? Some feel that this is co-opting a religion. Give me a break. I’ve read the owner’s responses to people in other media and she sounds genuine to me. How about we on Capitol Hill, so proud of our non-judgemental nature, wait and see what this store is like. See what she is like. I read about her on another site and she is a barista who always has had a dream of opening a business. Let’s give her a chance.

      • Maybe you’ve never looked in the kitchen but at most Thai restaurants the food is being prepared by Thai people. It’s not cultural appropriation when it’s actually their culture. DUH!!

      • Thanks for the “duh.” That certainly underscores your sensitivity to opinions other than your own. Well, I’ve actually worked in restaurant kitchens and I see a lot of Hispanic people cooking in Italian, French and Thai restaurants. The point I was trying to make was that our country is a melting pot of people and cultures and traditions. When does honoring something transition to co-opting a culture? Pretty subjective. It’s just really easy to jump on here and paint people with a broad brush reinforced by a preconceived notion of who this store owner is and what she represents. Drop in when they open or don’t. You have a choice in where you shop. I bet you wouldn’t appreciate people judging you before they meet you.

      • you must have ignored the part where I said that the owner HAS BLOCKED everyone on social media who has called her out. She’s just some fragile white lady and I don’t give a shit about giving her a chance. Sorry, this neighborhood has been going to shit for a long ass time and this is like the nail in the coffin and I’m not about to give it a pass. You also should google cultural appropriation and, also, no, I don’t practice yoga.

      • Change is constant. I’ve lived on the hill over 35 years. It changed before that and it has gone through cycles of change while I’ve been here. And will change after I’m gone. I’m sorry you feel so helpless in this current state of the hill. Next time the economy goes in the toilet and property values plummet it will change again. Make it a good day.

    • she removed comments from people that were harassing her on the page. Constructive criticism shouldn’t be mean. In addition, she has removed images/words from her page as well as apologized for her ignorant mistakes. People make mistakes. don’t crucify the woman without giving her a chance to make progressive change

  7. Looked at her site. That big white sweater with the pompons(yes, I spelled it correctly) for $195.00 was available at Ross, last year for $14.50. I’m not going to be buying an acrylic sweater for $195. Go next door to Out of the Closet and get a new (tags still on) cashmere for $18 and it goes to a good cause. Sorry, but, don’t think the boutique is going to make it in CH.

    • Despite the protests, I actually think this shop is totally in line with the new “Cap Hill” and will find its audience just fine. There are clearly plenty of people here who don’t mind spending ridiculous pots of cash on imitation bohemia.

  8. The negative comments on here are why Capitol Hill is a crappy neighborhood. You can’t even give someone a chance. All your canned buzz words. Get a life.

    • I agree. We are going through one of those militantly PC phases of the cultural cycle. It goes to the extreme, and then there is a backlash. Respect is good, but self rigorous hyper-sensitivity is oppressive. The level of hostility in these comments is disturbing. Stop being so conservative in your liberalism.

    • The negative comments here are from people who CARE about the neighborhood, and don’t want it turned into a place where pretentious, overpriced boutiques are the norm.

  9. Small businesses are the heart of Capitol Hill. Get to know the brands she carries, many are independently owned by hard working women who have made it in the garment business all on their own… which is exactly what this store owner has done. She has worked her a** off to make this store happen, and we should all applaud her for that. Many of the brands she carries aren’t available in any other store in Washington, this store is hardly another “urban outfitters”. The brands she carries are expensive because they extremely unique….doesn’t the hill preach about diversity? It’s nice to have something new. EVERYONE is welcome, and we should be accepting. People make mistakes and people should be forgiven, especially when the mistake is not malicious or intentional. She was misinformed about the word… educate her… don’t bully her.