A 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.
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.