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Totokaelo brings New York-by-way-of-Seattle boutique chic to Capitol Hill

On the rack at Totokaelo (Image: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

In case you were wondering how to say it, it’s pronounced Toh-toh-kye-oh. In case you were wondering what Totokaelo is — it’s the new high class boutique to hit Capitol Hill featuring an array of designer clothing, housewares, furniture, lighting and art from all over the world.

Jill Wenger, the boutique’s founder, manager, and creative director, gutted the space and created almost a gallery atmosphere: white walls, wide open space, purposeful hangings. Wenger said she approached the design of the space as part retail, part art installation.

“I was a dreamer and admirer of the entrepreneur,” Wenger said.

There’s a cold sheep in Iceland (Image: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

“Throughout the process of figuring out how to successfully run a retail business, I absolutely fell in love with specially shops, lifestyle brands, fashion, art and design,” she said.

While Totokaelo is new to the neighborhood, it’s not new to Seattle— a much smaller incarnation of the store resided over in Pioneer Square. But like its new neighbor, Elliott Bay Book Co., Totokaelo moved up the Hill.

The new store resides on 10th avenue in the space that used to house Everyday Music.

The shop trades in high design — selling many different items under the same auspice: it has to look immaculate. Finely tailored blouses, Japanese silverware, visual art from all over — it doesn’t matter as long as it look impeccable.

While the store currently only has women’s clothing in addition to art and housewares, the upper level of the building will add a men’s clothing section sometime next January. 

Will the upscale finery fly on Capitol Hill and its celebration of most things Value Village? There are smaller, more local, cheaper design and vintage boutiques already dotting the Hill. Doesn’t matter. This Seattle glossy practically squeels as it notes 80% of Totokaelo’s well-heeled clientele hail from New York.

To check out a selection of Totokaelo’s upscale wares, head over to

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7 thoughts on “Totokaelo brings New York-by-way-of-Seattle boutique chic to Capitol Hill

  1. On a recent visit to see my son on capital hill, I stumbled upon this delightful boutique. I loved everything about the look and merchandise and am thrilled with the two pieces I acquired. What everyone should know is that not everything is outrageously expensive but everything is finely made. I hope the store is a great success so it will be there upon my next visit.

  2. This store scares me. Not becos of is items or design or display. And I have spent much time in NYC in stores like this. No, it scares me becos it
    Is crazy-expensive, pretentious and so oit of price reality, ($300-600 shoes?!),
    That I fear for my beloved Capitol Hill. The expensive endless hipster bars and restaurants are rising in popularity and I do enjoy them when I can, but this kind if crazy expensive store could be kicking the notch higher and really, who can afford this pn the Hill except for a few high paid IT folks?! Do we wanna end up like a Melrose Ave or
    a “new” East Village? Come on, people!

  3. Yes, absolutely.

    #1 – I’m really happy businesses continue to thrive on CH. It just means that our neighborhood will continue to grow, change and be better. Look at Belltown. That place is dying. I don’t want that to happen here. It’s great that businesses WANT to come here and open stores and restaurants that draw not only the local CH crowd, but also everyone else including visitors.

    #2 – With that change comes new, creative things. Those things usually cost more. But you get such amazing quality and fun things to entertain yourself with. Melrose Market has been excellent, so has 10th and Pike and 15th. Those new restaurants and stores are worth every dime.

    #3 – The demographic in the neighborhood is changing — and for the better. It’s really great people with higher incomes want to live here now. We’re getting some excellent new things out of that — because the new businesses know they can cater to that new demographic. It’s not a bad thing — just a new reality. Plus, it’s more money to reinvest into our community. I’m happy I have local stores to spend my money in rather than feeling like I need to head to downtown or Bellevue even…

    I’m all for it. Hope it continues.

  4. I see both sides to this. I don’t fear this price-point of store will become the new normal. There will always be some people who can afford to drop a bundle on things that other people think is overly extravagant and/or they can’t afford themselves. That doesn’t mean that kind of store “doesn’t belong”. There are only just so many people with that kind of money. I don’t think the demand is there sufficient to push out all the other mainstream-priced stores. There just aren’t that many people with that much money. Wait a year before you panic– wait to see if A) this store is even still open; or B) there are a ton of other new high-priced stores around. I’m betting “nope”.

  5. the ‘problem’ is when the demographic scale tips to the side of ‘people who CAN afford and WANT to spend this kind of money on material things’

    While that can be seen as ‘good’ for the neighborhood, it tends to raise rent prices not only for residents, but also for business owners. When the businesses that cater to the resident on a budget can’t afford their rent anymore, that’s when these stores become the norm. I mean, how many times is Everyday Music going to be displaced?
    And what about Elliot Bay? It moved here a few years ago because P Square was too pricey.