tPC Member Spotlight: Rachel and Alison of Emily McDowell

After a battle with cancer, Emily McDowell launched an empathy card that was irreverent, emotional and unlike anything on the market.  Her eponymous company leveraged the success of that card to build a successful and beloved brand.  The company has since expanded into greeting cards, gifts, totes, notebooks and more.

Alison Keefe and Rachel Powell work for the company in Seattle, and when they are in town, get work done at the Pioneer Collective.  We caught up with them for this month's member spotlight.

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WORK STUFF

First of all, what do each of you do day-to-day for the company?

 

[Alison] I am the production and supply chain manager for Emily McDowell Studio -- which means I wear a lot of hats from inventory management, to designing catalogs and marketing materials, to coordinating with all our domestic and overseas vendors. (For context, we're a team of 7, located in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Illinois, plus a baller warehouse crew in Las Vegas.)
[Rachel] I'm the wholesale account coordinator for EMS, which basically means I do all things customer service on the wholesale part of the business. My duties range from order entry, phone calls to and from customers with questions, coordinating large orders from our distributors, and managing a territory map to make sure that none of our stockists are too close to each other.

 

While reading about the history of the company, it seems like Emily McDowell's empathy greeting cards struck a cord and received an enormous amount of press attention and earned media right away.  That seems like any small business' dream, but I imagine it can also be hard to respond to from a production standpoint.  Was it difficult for the company to keep up with demand initially?

[Alison] The Empathy Card release was actually before both of our times with EMS, but I joined the company shortly after. It was truly an explosive moment for the brand. At the time, the team was still fulfilling orders from a studio in downtown LA (we hadn't yet expanded to our Vegas warehouse). It provided some logistical challenges, for sure, but fortunately we work with a great local LA printer and had a dedicated team of people to make it all happen. Also, I know everyone was really encouraged by the massive out-pouring of people who contacted Emily to express their gratitude for creating a line that was so lacking in the greeting card world.

 

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It also seems like a massive wave of press could lead to a sort of "sophomore slump", where it's difficult to match that initial fever of interest.  How did the company maintain a sustainable wave of demand?

[Alison] Emily's voice is what drives this brand. She has a real insight into how people think, feel, react. It's what makes the line so relatable. In our catalog, we have a line that says that "we find it creepily satisfying whenever a customer asks if we’ve been reading their diary, because it means we’re doing something right." People gravitate to things that make them feel understood. It's a reminder we're all in this together.  
[Rachel] I agree with Alison that Emily's voice (she's so clever!) is definitely the driving force of the brand. I'd also add that expanding into gift items after beginning with just greeting cards has kept customers excited about what's coming next! Part of any successful brand is knowing what people want - and being able to capture the same "feel" of the greeting cards in fun things like gift bags, pouches, and enamel pins, I think, has been a great move.
 

 

My aunt has spent her entire career in the greeting card industry.  I remember asking her about threats to the industry when CreateACard kiosks started popping up and again with websites like Paperless Post and eVite gained traction, yet it seems that tactile paper cards are still the medium of choice for expressing grief, empathy, thanks, congratulations etc.  Will there always be a place for that level of thoughtfulness and formality, or will we eventually submit to sending valentines written by a neural net?

[Alison] As a paper-lover myself, I am probably somewhat biased, but I think there will always be something special and more meaningful about a tactile object you send to someone. Our customers seem to agree! And the fact that there are so many amazing brick and mortar stores we work with all over the country -- and the globe! -- further proves there's tons of us paper freaks out there. 
[Rachel] I'm pretty biased towards paper goods also, but I do think that anything that takes more effort than typing on a computer/phone will always feel more meaningful to the receiver. Handmade items are having a resurgence because everything else is so available, and while we love that (thank you, Amazon!), there's nothing like opening an envelope and seeing someone's handwriting on a card, even if it's just their name. 

 

How much of Emily McDowell sales are online vs wholesale or brick and mortar resale?

[Alison] Interestingly, it varies from product category to product category. Our online retail site definitely drives a lot of revenue, but our wholesale brick and mortar sales are a real backbone of the business, and what helped launch it all to begin with. I'd say stores have a stronger drive for our dimensional products (tote bags, canvas pouches, magnets, pins, and so on), and online cards are definitely king.
 

Where do you see the industry in five years?  Ten years?  Eleven years?

[Alison] Both Rachel and I get to travel to trade shows where we meet tons of amazing entrepreneurs from across the country. I think with this number of hand-working, creative minds, the stationery and gift industry will only continue to grow, and of course adapt where it needs (iPhone covers, which we sadly do not produce, were all over the place the last few years). 
[Rachel] I'm always amazed by the creative people in our industry. Just when I wonder "what's coming next?" someone has a great idea! I'm still pretty new to this job (it'll be a year for me in November) so I'm not sure I can say I see where it's headed in 10 years, but I definitely plan to be along for the ride!

 

FUN STUFF

 

What are your favorite unknown hangout spots in Seattle / WA?

[Alison]  I'm a big fan of Georgetown, having made my first real 'home' in Seattle there. Full of great dives, art studios, funky wares. (Plus, free pool at Seattle Tavern on Sundays, but I'll fight you for a table...)
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[Rachel] Well I wouldn't necessarily consider these "unknown" spots - but my 2 favorites(being a Ballard gal, through and through) are Sunset Hill Park and Golden Gardens Beach. One caveat though, is that both of these places are MUCH better in the fall/winter. I love bundling up and heading to either one to stare at the water, mountains, and boats, and sit on a bench and think about how we live in the most beautiful place ever.

The best meal in the city can be found at ________

[Alison] ...Ciudad (also in Georgetown). 
[Rachel] ...Picolino's (also in Ballard!). Their homemade pasta is to die for, and I love the neighborhood vibe. It never disappoints.
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If you had a surprise four week vacation handed to you, you would _____?

[Alison] I would travel to southeast Asia. It's been on the list, just have to make the time!
[Rachel]   I'd do a tour of Scandinavia. I am so fascinated by those cultures and would love to learn more about them. Plus, I could probably get some great yarn for more knitting projects!

 

Living and working in Seattle is great because _____

[Alison] Living and working in Seattle is great because, as cliche as it sounds, the natural beauty is just so unparalleled. Commuting via LightRail is also a huge bonus, having moved here from Los Angeles via New York.
[Rachel] ....it both feels like a small town with all the different neighborhoods, but also has things I couldn't find outside of a city (great restaurants, art museums, etc.).

Living and working in Seattle would be better if ________

[Alison]  Living and working in Seattle would be better if there were less tech-bros crowding me on the train (sorry). 
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[Rachel]  ... I honestly can't think of anything. I really love it here!

I am currently reading_______

[Alison]  The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. 
[Rachel]  I am currently reading too many books about babies (our first is due in December), the most recent of which is "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin.

 

The most underrated show/movie of all time is ________

[Alison] The most underrated movie of all time is Jaws -- seriously, I'm crazy about Jaws. I watch it every 4th of July. 
[Rachel]  The most underrated show/movie of all time is "High Society" with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, & Celeste Holm. I'm a sucker for old movies, especially musicals, and I've never understood why this one doesn't get the same response as others like "Singin' in the Rain." 

_____ is better than people think.

[Alison] Vegetarianism is better than people think (ahem, Ryan...)
[Rachel] Knitting is better than people think.

What coworking tools and software does the Pioneer Collective use? Part 1 of 2

Running a successful shared workspace involves the management of many discrete systems and processes.  Access control, member communication, membership management, billing, room-booking, and IT are all vital components of a thriving space.  If you're a coworking space owner, manager, you've probably spent some time thinking about shared workspace space management software.  The coworking forums on Google Groups and the coworking Wiki are full of people asking this question:  "What is the ideal software for running my space?" 

There are differing opinions, but they generally fall into three camps.  In the first camp, are operators who pay a recurring licensing fee for an all-in-one SaaS solution to manage all administration processes.  In the second camp, are space operators who build (or pay someone to build) a custom, proprietary all-in-one solution.  Finally, in the third camp, are space operators who use a patchwork of stand-alone solutions specifically designed for each task. 

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18 months into our journey at the Pioneer Collective, we began re-evaluating the need for management software, as membership increased and our team grew from two owners, to two owners, one staff person, and multiple community leads.  Each approach has its merits, and the right strategy for a given organization is largely dictated by the complexity, size, and culture of the space.  Ultimately, we opted for a hybrid of the second and third approaches.  I'll explain our systems in detail in the second part of this post, but first, I'd like to highlight some of the more impressive all-in-one solutions we looked at, and why we ended up passing.

 

All-in-One Coworking Software Solutions

 

The Nadine Project - free / open-source

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Nadine is an open source solution built by Jacob Sayles and team at Office Nomads in Seattle.  These guys are some of the OGs of the coworking movement, and they really know what they are doing.  You can bet that all of the features built into the software were included for a very good reason.   The software is free, but it's also open-source, meaning you'll need to deploy it and support it on your own for the most part.  At some point we'd like to deploy Nadine at tPC and try running the space with it, but when we were getting started, we decided it would be too difficult, as we didn't have any Python/Django developers on staff to help out, should we break something.  Jacob, Alex and team just pushed on a massive update to the platform that is designed to allow other spaces to adopt it.  We're excited to check it out!

 

HappyDesk $199 / month per location

We demo'd WUN's HappyDesk during the first few months after tPC opened.  Their product support was good and their pricing was acceptable, but we found the product completely overwhelming.  There were so many features that weren't relevant to our space at the time (e.g. selling conference room hours or print jobs to members and the public) that it was hard to cut through the noise and imagine using the product day-to-day.  From what I've heard, they've simplified the design in the 18 months since we tried it, but at the time, it was over-engineered for our needs.

Meshwork - 3% of all sales (in addition to regular payment processing charge)

Last month, we played around in a Meshwork demo account and came away thoroughly impressed.  The UI and color schemes are sleek and beautiful.  All of the features are intuitive, and it feels like thought was put into where everything is placed and why.  Meshwork includes basic space management features (membership and billing, member onboarding, CRM) and also a business intelligence and reporting component.  We were actually considering implementing the software on a trial basis until we got to the pricing discussion.  Unlike other SaaS providers, which charge monthly or annual license fees, Meshwork opted for a percentage of sales approach.  The company takes 2.5-3% of all revenue which goes through the system depending on volume.  This is in addition to any payment processing fees you already pay.  I totally understand why they structured their pricing this way.  It allows upstart coworking spaces to afford the license, and grow with the software.  It's also probably very fairly priced for what you get.  The argument could even be made that you could make up that 3% in incremental sales, by having a more organized space.  At the end of the day however, we just couldn't get used to adding another variable expense to our income statement.  With a monthly fee, even if it's steep, it is a fixed cost that allows you to achieve an economy of scale once you meet a threshold amount of revenue each month (I.e. you pay $399 per month whether you book $15,000 in revenue or $30,000).  On the other hand, the Meshwork pricing amounts to a 3% tax on revenue, shrinking profit margins now and for all revenue you bring in as long as you're on the system.   In other words, if we booked $15,000 in revenue, we would pay $450 that month for the service.  If we sold $30,000 in revenue, we'd pay $900.   This didn't make financial sense for us, even with the obvious benefits and impressive design of the software. 

Other coworking software solutions we haven't tried:

  • Nexudus
  • Cobot
  • Optix

 

 

Part 2 of 2  - In the next installment of this post, I'll detail what software does tPC actually uses.  The benefit of this approach is that each solution is really good at doing exactly the task it was designed for.  The downside is that it makes training and process building a huge pain in the ass, as we have to show every new trainee each piece of software, manage logins etc.  We're working toward building a custom portal on top of these solutions that ties the workflows together more intuitively.  

Door Control - RFID readers + key deposits

Membership Management - Stripe + Proprietary App

CRM - Streak for GMail.  (awesome)

Internal Members Database - Memberfindme

To-do - Google tasks, Google Calendar.  We're also working on a dynamic task list feature for our staff portal. 

Room booking - YaRooms

Communication

  • Staff to staff - Slack, email
  • Member to member  - Slack and Memberfindme
  • Staff to member - Slack (fun things), Mailchimp (important things e.g. holiday hours)

WiFi - Unifi UAPs

Seattle Small Business Spotlight #1 - Division Road

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At the Pioneer Collective, we focus on providing an atmosphere where local entrepreneurs and small companies can grow their businesses, meet new people, and build skills.  We attempt to supplement that experience with this blog, covering topics that are relevant to our membership base and our supporters.  Since starting our business in 2015, we have come to realize that there is a lack of local media coverage of small businesses.  

If I wrote a press release today about an app that summoned idle Lyft drivers to your house to clean your dirty dishes on demand (Dysh...), I'd probably get a write up in The Seattle Times, Geekwire, and The Stranger.  No matter how outlandish the idea, consumer tech is sexy right now and the press eats it up.  The Times has dedicated writers for technology, Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing, yet small businesses, with the exception of trendy restaurant openings, get little to no coverage in its pages.  

Articles about small businesses probably don't sell a lot of ads, but the scrappy little store is one of the only forces left between us and a Gary Shteyngart dystopia where Amazon is the fourth branch of government.  Fortunately, we don't have to monetize this blog, so until someone else steps up to fill the role, we will cover as many exciting mom & pop shops as we can through this recurring feature.

For the first installment, we interviewed our neighbor and proprietor of Division Road Menswear Boutique, Jason Pecarich.    He opened a retail location of Division Road on 1st Avenue South in Pioneer Square last year.  His goal was to "create a post-modern industrial haberdashery for a man who wants to shop without a stopwatch, hang out with his coffee, or just come by to speak the goods."  We caught up with Jason to learn more about the state of retail, the city, and what exactly the term heritage means.

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What does heritage mean?

Good question. The term heritage is ambiguous to some, but fairly concrete to those of us who have a passion for products that fall under that category. In short, it refers to brands that are manufacturers first and those that make products to old world standards of quality. Some associate it with workwear, but while we at Division Road look for items that have workwear durability, we try and create and select items that are more refined classics and can be worn by a wider audience. First, we look for brands and manufacturers that have a legacy in producing a certain category of clothing for decades (at least 50 years): Dehen 1920 has been doing pretty much the same knitting and outwear pieces, Gitman and New England Shirt Co are classic Northeastern shirting manufacturers, and Private White has been doing Britain’s best outwear. In footwear, our youngest company is Viberg which was founded in 1931, and our oldest is Tricker’s that is coming up on two centuries of footwear production, and all of our brands in that category remain wholly family owned businesses hence the reference to legacy. Even the younger brands we bring in and work with are producing items with older techniques and to quality standards that are not common in manufacturing.

 

For those of us who don't know, how does a large chain brand go about making a pair of jeans vs one of your heritage brands?

 

Well this is a long explanation; I’ll try and shorten it so people don’t pass out from too much information. During the 1960’s and 70’s most manufacturing in the US was starting to be outsourced and offshored. One of those industries was garment and fabric production. Up to that point the US had the best denim manufacturers and denim textile production, which was largely the same since the late 40’s.

 

In the 70’s and 80’s the vintage levis market exploded in Europe and Japan specifically. The Japanese began purchasing shipping containers worth of worn denim and started buying the old shuttle looms from the shuttered mills of the US manufacturing complex. These looms are older, narrower and run slower. The biggest difference is quality: self-edge (now called selvedge) denim is run on looms that can handle thicker yarns and produce fabric at higher tension in narrower widths. Not only that but the Japanese took what we were doing with denim and perfected it with a technical and artisan approach, making some of their denim the best in the world, period.

 

Most denim in the major marketplace is made from commercial loom fabric that’s about three times the width of a vintage shuttle loom. The fabric made on these looms has a lower tension and a lot of material in the middle which has “dead-slack.” Jeans that are cut out of this material wear quicker and fall away from the body over repeated wearings and washings. That’s why most commercial denim looks best the first couple of wearings and washings while selvedge denim looks better with age and forms to the wearer better over time.

 

There are a lot more qualifiers to quality differentiation than just the material used such as yarn development, rope dyed indigo, chain-stitched production, re-enforcements, finishing material, and a ton of details that quality selvedge jeans companies use that are not employed in a jean made by major market brands.  That is not to say that any jean made with self-edge material is great. It’s probably better in comparison to mass market brands, but there is also a lot out there that promises quality when it’s not, especially in the entry self-edge market of $100-200 that sells the idea that you can get the same product as a $200-$300 jean, which is generally a fallacy.

 

The shop.

The shop.

In your experience, does the buy once principle hold up financially over time?  Other than being happier because I have nicer stuff, will I also have more money in my pocket?

 

This depends on the individual, but in general, if you run the math it works out.  The best example for this principle is footwear. Say you buy 1-2 pairs of boots/shoes per year for work/dress/casual purposes and after a year or two they are garbage and look bad, so the buying cycle starts again. Conversely, you can buy a product that’s built more for lifetime wear, produced by manufacturers that offer re-soles and re-building, and never really wear them out. Say you pay $200 for a disposable shoe, that’s $200-400 per year, so we’ll split the difference and call it $300 a year.  A pair of Tricker’s will last for literally decades and cost $525 or so. Thus if you compare your disposable purchase of $300 per year to $530 once, in two years you have more money in your pocket. Approximately every two years you can send the shoes back to the factory for a full re-sole/build for $100 +/- depending on the sole you want, and in five years you could buy two pair and still be saving money. I will say there is a lot in the $300-$500 category in footwear that uses the term “lifetime” and offers the ability to be re-soled but is still junk within several years, so one has to find a resource and brand they can trust before running the math.

 

Furthermore, it’s the math of sustainability: the only real method of such is to buy goods that are made in developed nations with better environmental regulations and fairer worker rights, and buying those goods once versus disposable items that wear out and literally devolve to trash. Products that have a heart and soul to them like those that are crafted with purpose, quality, and intention have a way of making you feel better about both what you’re buying and how you look. Conversely, products created for conspicuous consumption have less yield hence they make people buy more in order to obtain that feeling of gratification, which in turn fuels an endless cycle of buying more at cheaper and cheaper price points with less longevity and less satisfaction to the consumer. That’s how they make money.

 

Contrary to prevailing trends, you've committed to operating a storefront in addition to your online business.  Has that decision paid off?

 

The physical flagship is a portrayal of the brand and creates that connection with our customers, which is an important facet to the Division Road approach. Having that representation match in our virtual store is important: when our online customer comes and visits the brick and mortar location, they have a different yet consistent experience and take that home with them. One of the reasons we wanted a destination shop was so that when we have customers come in we can give them the time and attention they deserve and that we feel is necessary with our products. Our customers come by to just hang out and talk the goods sometimes, which creates a community around this niche industry and those who appreciate these goods. It’s interesting because we have just as many visitors from around the country and foreign nations that have shopped with us or know about us who make a point to stop by when they’re in Seattle, as we have locals who know about us. Once more people in Seattle find out about what we’re doing that percentage may change, but we see our business as based in Seattle with a broad approach to impacting menswear in our sphere. Regardless, our shop makes an impression on customers and they keep coming back for further experiences, which is really what shopping should be about. That is a reward in its own right.

 

I've worried lately that Seattle as a whole has stopped valuing small businesses, especially when compared to cities like Portland.   It seems like a lot of people hate the abstract idea of chains taking over all retail, but don't actually care enough to seek out innovative businesses, especially if it's less convenient or costs more.  Do you think that's the case or am I just being cynical?

 

I think you are at once correct and somewhat cynical, but then again I’m a cynic so I might not be the best to offer perspective on this point. I think there is a lot of talk around local, but less action in supporting those businesses. That starts from the top with regard to how big corporations are valued, given market opportunities, tax breaks and concessions from the local government, and small businesses are punished. Local publications do very little to prioritize the dissemination of information to the local market about small and local businesses, and all of that affects the community.

 

Seattle also is not an overtly entrepreneurial environment and many residents are employed at larger companies so I think some people have a hard time understanding that, without small businesses being supported locally, they will cease to exist. I see that a lot of people in Seattle show full support for local corporations like Starbucks, Amazon, Nordstrom, etc., but not the local innovator who’s trying to do something out of the box. I’m not sure if that behavior is new or old, but there are both new and established locals that do support local businesses and they should be commended. I think they’re keen to explore the great opportunities to connect with the decision makers, see more of what they want, get personalized service, and keep the businesses they want around for the long-term.

 

I will say that locally and broadly we all need to be challenged on putting our money where our mouth is. If we want more sustainability, less environmental destruction, fairer labor practices, and future opportunities for our nation, then we need to stop buying future landfill items from developing nations like China. If we want more local businesses that care about their customers and employees and that realistically know where their goods are sourced down to the components, and if we want to support families and generations of people who actually produce and make things, then we need to support the individuals and businesses that are offering those products to the marketplace.

 

What were you doing before Division Road...you mentioned Vancouver?

 

In a prior career I had a design-build architectural firm, but as a merchant I’m an old hat in the industry and have worked at almost every level in retail and product development over the last decade. A big part of my career has been at the contract and consultant level with branding, design, buying, merchandising, and management for retailers. I used to describe my business as the anonymous Jack of all trades for retailers. My passion has always been in product and retail, and I maintain that one cannot live without the other: this may seem simplistic but it’s often forgotten by the industry. This has afforded me the opportunity to live all over the place including Vancouver for four years, working for a number of brands and retailers up there. All the while over the last seven years I was working on strategy and the business plan for Division Road, waiting for all of the necessary components to come together and to launch the business in the best possible way, and in the area in which I believed it to be well-suited, hence Seattle.

 

What brought you here and how has the neighborhood treated you so far?

 

I looked at and assessed every neighborhood and possible situation in Seattle. The search started and ended in Pioneer Square after everything else was ruled out, and as in all I do there was a lot behind the decision. The historic nature of the neighborhood spoke to our brand, but we also knew that it meant there would be development. The likelihood of that development to fundamentally change the fabric and character of the area, however, seems fairly implausible. Being on the front end of an area’s emergence rather than the back-end was important. We want to create an impression and have a positive impact on PS, rather than just get lost in the spin cycle of expansion. Being a destination and having ease of access for our customers was important, hence the reason we’re on a block with more parking than others, yet accessible to major transportation. Lastly, we wanted to be in a place where there are like-minded people and businesses that support each other. We definitely get that in PS, and there are few places in Seattle that have retailers working with each other’s business in mind to create a broad experience for customers. Retailers like Clementine’s, Velouria, E. Smith, and Ebbets all foster a sense of community by sending customers to each other’s locations and thinking about future opportunities, which I think will only grow in the future. The Pioneer Square Alliance has been extremely supportive, and seemingly unrelated businesses like the Collective have been very helpful in getting the word out and appreciating our position. Most importantly Pioneer Square is a pleasant and cool place to be. Sure, it has an edge to it, which being from an inner city on the East Coast I enjoy, but it’s calm, engaging, nicely paced, and purposeful down here. With all of the great eateries, bars, galleries, and shops there is no better place to spend a Saturday afternoon in Seattle all while soaking up the history and cool vibe down here.

 

I don't want to make any more decisions.  I'm a business owner and rarely need anything formal. Choose the bare essentials for me that will get me through Seattle's two seasons.

We’ve got you covered.

Ah, well, I think you are familiar with New England and one of my favorites is this Black Gingam, that you really can use and style with almost anything yet is unique:

or a Gitman Overdye Oxford, perfect all year long…

A good Reigning Champ Hoodie and Crewneck sweatshirt can give you endless layering options, perfect for Seattle almost all year around:

You can never go wrong with a nice Henley instead of a Tee or Button down, and the wings+horns Base Slub is perfect in every way:

The most important categories are Outerwear and Footwear to present being put together regardless of everything else, and whether your style is casual, formal, or whatever. Look at footwear as the foundation and outerwear as the punctuation mark.  When those are right, everything else doesn’t matter. Choose classic styles for something that will take you through most seasons like:

A modern Bomber from APC:

Or a classic (totally Waterproof, yet breathing) Harrington Jacket from Private White aka The Best:

And finally, yet most important a Pair of boots that will work with just a t-shirt in summer, or fully layered in more dress clothes in winter:

___

 

Blog archive

Awesome autumn! Fall classes at tPC.

Fall isn't just about pumpkin flavoring and football.  As the leaves change and the weather chills and the days grow short, it's time to head inside, have a drink and learn something.  We have two great classes for you in October and November.

Oysters and wine class with Taylor Shellfish

Thursday October 20th, 6:30pm

Enjoy a glass(es) of wine or bubbly as you learn to shuck and eat oysters from around the northwest.  Tom Stocks, tPC member and regional operations manager at Taylor Shellfish will be your animated guide as you learn about the tasty bivalve molluscs you're devouring.

Free with RSVP.  Feel free to bring the family (21+ for wine)

RSVP Form

Name *
Name

 

 

Introduction to digital photography

Sunday November 6th, 11:00am

Whether you'd like to start using that DSLR that's been sitting on the shelf since last Christmas, or just want to take better iPhone photos, professional photographer Lindsey Miller will teach you the basics you need to know.  

RSVP here.  $24 for general public.  tPC members get in free!

 

Schedule:

  • 10:45am Doors Open (holler at your new friends and say hello to your host)
  • 11:00am Lesson Begins (get your cameras out, it's fumbling w/ buttons time)
  • 12:15pm Practice Time (it's time to bowl baby ... with bumpers!)
  • 1:00pm Last Call / Q&A (squeeze every ounce of info out of the pro)
  • 1:15pm Doors Close (you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here)

About the teacher:  Lindsey has a Masters in Digital Photography.  She is based out of Seattle but shoots around the country.  In the past, she has taught semester courses at universities, private classes and workshops.

 

tPC Member Spotlight - Chris Brownridge of Discovry

Discovry is a growing startup based out of Seattle. The Discovry platform creates value between the world's premier performance advertisers and the influential creators. Founders Chris Brownridge and Andrew Allison are bringing user acquisition expertise to the influencer (think YoutTube celebrities) marketing space.  The aim to help performance advertisers extract value from their influencer advertising, while supporting the creator community with high value content.  You can see an example of their implementation below. 


In this example, the team helped artist Juan Andres de Corte create a sponsored video to drive downloads of the game Mobile Strike.

 

Discovry founders, Chris and Andrew met in San Francisco and recently relocated to Seattle. This month, we caught up with Chris to learn more about his background, how Discovry began, and how he is enjoying his time in Seattle.

How would you explain Discovry to your uncle who knows nothing about modern advertising?

My uncle works for Land Rover in the auto industry so I'd have to tie it to that. It's like Land Rover asking the F1 driver Lewis Hamilton to drive the new Range Rover and review it. 

You work with some pretty unique influencers.  Who are some of your favorites?

We see some weird and wonderful folks. It's amazing what draws an audience on YouTube. About the most perplexing to me is a gentleman who scratches off lotto scratchcards on camera - he has developed an extremely loyal audience and now people seem to look forward to the suspense of watching him win/lose each video! Personally, some of the coolest ones we have worked with are cooking & baking channels - I like cooking and it's incredible what these channels create in a short period of time.

 

What are your and Andrew’s backgrounds and how did you get into this industry?

We both worked together at a startup called Vungle in San Francisco - both of us started there when it was a tiny company under 10 people and by the time we left over 3 years later it had grown to around 190 people worldwide. At Vungle we were working with game developers helping them acquire new players through in-app advertising - now we are working with the same customers again but helping them acquire new players in a different way than before: through branded content on YouTube.

Late last year you were walking around with a VR headset and working long hours on another idea.  Did that morph into Discovry, or was it more of a blow-it-up-and-start-over than a pivot?

Well, the name morphed into DiscoVRy! That's about all that morphed though - I'd say it was a blow it up and start over type thing. I think VR is great and will be a massive industry but it was (and maybe still is) too early. There realistically won't be mass market adoption for a while and any business needs to be extremely well funded early on to ride the wave until the userbase gets to a point where you can make money from it. The idea for Discovry came about at Christmas last year when Andrew and I were having a few beers in London and it quickly turned into reality as we signed customers quicker than I think we imagined we could!

 

 

Where do you see the company in August of 2017?

12 months seems a long way away! We are only around 6 months in so far and it's been a real roller coaster. We are looking to hire our first team members right now and I'm hoping that by 12 months time we are a bigger team. Hopefully the business growth will continue to necessitate that. So far we have been hustling to put things together and managing the business in a ton of Excel sheets, by this time next year I'm hoping that we have built some technology to take us out of Excel sheets and allows us to scale much quicker.

You and your wife just purchased a house in the area.  How is home ownership going?

It is our first house purchase so we are embarking upon home ownership for the first time; it presents a whole set of different challenges to just renting! We were used to just calling the landlord when things went wrong or we needed a repair. Now we have to do it ourselves! Luckily there are a ton of YouTube influencers with 'How-To' channels that I've been learning some DIY from!

What are some of your favorite things to do around Seattle?

We try and get out and about as much as possible. We live in West Seattle so we have some great trails for running and biking down in Lincoln Park. We also love to kayak and both Alki and Lake Union are great for that. We're still (relatively) new to the area so are still figuring out what we like to do and what is around - we can definitely do a better job of getting out of the city on the Eastside to hike etc. And of course skiing when the season comes around! 

What’s one thing you miss most about England?

Friends and family definitely. It's hard being so far away from home and it's even tougher for us because my wife's family is away too so we do not have any family nearby. We don't have kids yet, but I think that it might become more difficult when we do and we don't have built in babysitter grandparents nearby! (I also miss the pub - there are no pubs in the USA like we have in England!)

 

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How many times have you had to talk about Brexit in the past few months?

Haha - A LOT. In the few weeks after the vote I felt like I was asked by everybody what I thought about it. It actually surprised me how much people seemed to be interested in it. I won't say much else for fear of starting a political debate in the office, but I did vote to remain (and my parents voted to leave!)

You worked in the Bay Area previously.  Seattle’s obviously a much smaller startup scene, but are there any advantages to being based in the PNW?

I think there's a lot of advantages and that's why we are seeing so many Bay Area companies open up Seattle offices and Bay Area natives move up to the area. For starters, the obvious is the cost of living. It is significantly cheaper than the Bay Area for the employee; property is a better value (my wife and I were paying $3,500 rent per month for a 1 bedroom apartment in SF!), general everyday living costs are cheaper, and the tax rate is far more favorable to the individual with no state income tax. For an employer, this means that human resources can be cheaper than the Bay Area. There is a large talent pool in Seattle with some of the largest tech companies in the world headquartered here - and hopefully a lot of talent ready to jump into the startup world. I think there is more of a risk averseness in the PNW compared to the Bay Area but with some more local startup success stories I think we will see that change. In SF it feels like everyone has a friend that made a fortune from a startup blowing up; it's definitely less common in Seattle but as soon as those stories become more common I think we'll see a lot more people prepared to make the jump!

Getting to South Lake Union from Pioneer Square

Whether you're craving a $16 sandwich, needing a glimpse of Bezo's Balls, or meeting a friend in Amazonia, sometimes you can't avoid a trip to SLU.  If you're heading there from Pioneer Square, choose one of the below routes:

 

 

Metro Bus - Route 40 to Northgate Fremont (20 min / 5 calories burned)

I know, yuck!  But the bus is still the fastest way to get between most neighborhoods in Seattle.  To get to South Lake Union from Pioneer Square or the International District:

  • Walk to 4th Avenue South between Jackson and Main Street.  You'll want to wait on the northbound side of the bus island in the middle of 1st Avenue South, not on the east side of the street.
  • Wait for the northbound #40 bus.  It will say 40 Northgate Fremont on the marquee.  
  • Board the bus and swipe your card or pay cash $2.50.
  • Ride 7-8 stops north.  Depending on traffic, this will be a 15-20 minute trip
  • Disembark
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Link Light Rail (25-30 min / 50 calories burned)

  • Walk to the International District/Chinatown station or the Pioneer Square Station.  
  • Board a northbound train
  • Disembark at Westlake Station
  • Walk north to Stewart, turn right
  • Turn left on Westlake

Uber (15 min / 0 calories burned)

  • Open phone
  • Open Uber App
  • Set pickup location and then book car, pool, hop, or x
  • Enter destination as Westlake Whole Foods, Amazon Building X or another SLU landmark
  • Chill

Walk (33 min / 200 calories burned)

tPC Member Spotlight - Ryan of iRepair Seattle

In this month’s tPC member spotlight, we catch up with Ryan, owner of iRepair Seattle.  Ryan has set up shop inside the Pioneer Collective and specializes in diagnosing and repairing Apple products, specifically iPhones and iPads.

iRepair business questions:

Tell us a bit about how you got into the Apple repair business.

Well, it all started with a broken iPad.   A few years ago,  my wife dropped hers face down on a tile floor and the glass shattered.  We checked Yelp and decided to take it to a place called “iRepair Seattle” which at that time was located in lower Queen Anne and owned by a couple named Victor and Yanira. They repaired the iPad and it was as good as new.  A few years later I ran into them and found out they were selling the business and moving back to California.  I kept in touch over the next few weeks and ultimately decided to buy it and jump into the world of device repair.

How did you decide upon Pioneer Square as a location?

Pioneer Square is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle.  Its vibrant, (especially on event days), has beautiful architecture and lots of history.  Seattle’s oldest bar (The Central) and it’s oldest café (Merchants Café) are both here and historical places like that are mixed in with new exciting restaurants such as Altstadt and Radici.   Also, Pioneer Square is centrally located between downtown, the stadiums, and the 90 freeway which connects the east and west to Seattle. 

Let’s say someone reading this just dropped their phone and cracked its screen.  What is the best way to set up an iRepair appointment?

All forms of communication are fine with me.  They can call, text, or email me to setup an appointment.  Also, they can walk in to The Pioneer Collective at 100 S. King Street, Suite 100 and I’ll take care of the repair as quickly as possible while they wait. 

How long should a customer plan to be without their phone?

The three most common repairs I do are are screen replacements,  charging port replacements, and battery replacements.  I can do these repairs in about 40 minutes.   Water damaged devices take more time as I need to fully dry them out before I start to identify and resolve the issues. 

Are there any iPhone or iPad problems that you can’t fix?

I often get calls from customers asking if I can unlock a locked or disabled iPhone.  I can’t do that. Also, I have received some water damaged phones that I just could not save. Outside of that, I can pretty much fix it all.

Do you have plans to expand your services into other Apple or non-Apple products in the future?

At this time, I am staying busy with iPhones and iPads so I have no plans yet to offer services on non-Apple devices. 

 What are the busiest times of the week for you?

I have learned that it’s pretty unpredictable.  I could have a busy Tuesday and a slow Saturday or the exact opposite.  I have noticed that I tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, and then right before closing.   

Entrepreneurship questions:

Are you a first time entrepreneur? 

No, I started my first business when I was 16, selling earthquake preparation kits in Southern California!   That didn’t last long.  I started another when I was 21, repairing optical inspection equipment.  That was the business I did for many years until I decided on this venture.   

What is your assessment of the climate for small business owners in Seattle right now?

I think it depends on the type of business.  Seattle is growing fast and the population is increasing, and that growth can obviously be good for small business owners.  However,  there are other issues such as the decrease in easy access parking and the increase in the price of storefront space that can make it difficult for some small companies.

What has been the toughest lesson you’ve learned since taking over iRepair?

I think all of the toughest lessons have been directly related to the actual task of device repair.  It takes awhile to experience all the surprises that an iPhone or iPad can present when you open them up.  Older phones can be especially problematic at times.  The iphone 5 series is still a fantastic smartphone but they have been in circulation awhile so most have experienced their share of drops and light moisture which can affect the repair process.  In addition, the adhesives and internal components can get more rigid over time which can present unexpected issues.  Fortunately, those lessons have helped me understand where to take precautions when doing a repair and how to easily manage the things that used to surprise me. 

Where do you see iRepair Seattle in May of 2017?

I have been increasing my customer base slowly and steadily for the past few months, and I would like that pace to continue.   By May of next year, I hope for iRepair to be handling a significant increase in volume due to good word of mouth, positive reviews, and customer referrals. 

Personal questions:

Why did you decide to make Seattle home?

For me, Seattle is just about the perfect city.  Its big, but not too big.  It has a lot of history which is preserved through it’s architecture.   It’s a beautiful city too, in a dramatic setting surrounded by water, with the downtown situated low and the neighborhoods perched on the hills.  The Space Needle and Pike Place Market are icons known worldwid, and they add to the cultural richness of the area.  It has many neighborhoods, all with different vibes and personalities which makes the city constantly interesting and engaging.

Also, I actually love the weather.

In your opinion, what is the most underrated place in Seattle?

There is a pizza parlour in First Hill, on 8th ave, between Seneca and Spring.  It’s called Primo.  It’s a small place with an ancient Roman décor and it sits at the bottom of an old building.  It has all these one & two star Yelp reviews because the service is not that great, but the pizza is incredible.  I don’t get up there often because it doesn’t open until 5 and it’s not near the neighborhoods I work and live in, but I still go occasionally and I’ve never been disappointed.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the city?

I pretty much just like roaming around Seattle with them, enjoying and discovering the city.  I moved a lot while growing up and don’t want that for them, so I look forward to them knowing the city well and considering it their hometown. 

Know someone with a broken iPad or iPhone?  Go to iRepairSeattle.com and make an appointment of drop into 100 South King Street Suite 100 during regular business hours.

 

 

 

How the ULink Light Rail Extension Affects Pioneer Square and the Rest of Seattle

You probably heard that ULink, the latest extension of Link Light Rail, opened last weekend.  It extends the Sea-Tac / Downtown Seattle line to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.  It represents a major milestone in bringing 21st century mass transit to Seattle, but many people we've spoken to don't realize it's impact on Pioneer Square and other neighborhoods along the line.

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We jumped at the chance to ride the new line on opening day and were thoroughly impressed.  Not only were the stations beautiful and the trains bustling with energy and excitement, the ride times to Capitol Hill and UW were almost unbelievably short, opening the door for residents and workers of Pioneer Square, Chinatown International District, Capitol Hill, and Montlake to move freely between neighborhoods, for lunchbreaks, shopping, work, and nightlife.  

Approximate ride times - tPC's closest stop is International District/Chinatown

Approximate ride times - tPC's closest stop is International District/Chinatown

 

For our coworking business, proximity to the light rail line means we can pull coworkers and staff from Rainier Beach, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, and University District without ever having the difficult conversation about finding parking in Pioneer Square.  Students commuting to UW can live as far south as Rainier Valley and travel to campus in under 30 minutes, without a car!  

On Saturday, we tested the line to UW and back, stopwatch in hand.  Here are the ride times from our closest station.  There is a Pioneer Square Station, and an International District Station within walking distance of The Pioneer Collective, but the ID Station is closer, about a 5 minute walk.

Ride times [Northbound] - from International District Station

  • Downtown Westlake Center - 6 minutes
  • Capitol Hill Broadway Station - 9 minutes
  • University of Washington / Husky Stadium - 15 minutes

Ride times [Southbound]  - from International District Station

  • Beacon Hill - 6 minutes
  • Mt. Baker - 9 minutes
  • Columbia City - 12 minutes
  • Othello - 16 minutes
  • Rainier Beach - 19 minutes
  • Sea-Tac Airport - 31 minutes

 

Early press and Twitter reaction was overwhelmingly positive as well.

If the new ULink extension has you excited for the future of transit in Seattle, there are some key organizations and upcoming milestones you should be aware of.  First, the Seattle Transit Blog and the hard working folks (and tPC members) at Seattle Subway are the go-to resources for all things transit related in Seattle.  Seattle Subway is made up of advocates, engineers, transit geeks, and passionate citizens, working within the system to push Sound Transit to build the interconnected system Seattle missed out on in the late 1960s and in 1912.  Seattle Transit Blog is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that covers transit news for the greater Seattle area. 

Both groups are pushing for ST Complete, their vision for what they call a "once in a lifetime opportuntiy for high capacity transit in Seattle and the Puget Sound Region."  This issue will be on your ballot this November.  In the meantime, how can you help further the cause? 

1.  Email the Sound Transit Board and tell them you support going big on ST3, including a Ballard/UW line.

2.  Tell your friends about the upcoming ballot measure and volunteer to help Seattle Subway get the word out.

3.  Vote to fund the ST3 plan in November!

Helpful links and further reading - Want to get caught up with a deep dive into our transit present and future?  These links provide a good place to start.

South Seattle Light Rail commuter?  Check out our Link Coworking Pass for Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach, Columbia City and more!

tPC Member Spotlight - Erin Anacker of Betwixt

tPC member Erin Anacker is a passionate and energetic designer, entrepreneur, and people enthusiast.   In the middle of a successful design career, she changed directions to found Betwixt, a company that cultivates the relationships between designers and their clients.  We sat down with Erin to learn a bit more about her business and what drives her.  


Tell us a little about your professional background and the path that led you to where you are today.

I graduated with a degree in visual communication from Seattle Pacific University. After school, I worked for a couple companies doing web design before starting my own business, Pixology. I ran pixology for about five years until I no longer felt connected to the work itself.  Through working with a coach, I realized an important detail about myself: design is my talent, people are my passion.
So I shifted gears and started to create projects focused on working more directly with people. Eventually that morphed into a new business—called Betwixt—where I work with other women in design to build their businesses and connect with one another. It's sort of group coaching and community building combined.

You have a good amount of technical proficiency with dynamic languages and databases. How important has that been to your career? Is this becoming a prerequisite for all designers now?

I am self taught in web development and have found it incredibly useful. In my earlier years, I didn't have a strong handle on how to articulate the value of design. Development is, in a way, a more tangible skill set that I found to be more lucrative because I could control the scope more easily. I formed partnerships with other designers to come on alongside their web projects in addition to doing my own full spectrum projects. In addition, it has been useful in my businesses to be able to create the web presence and tools I need if/when I didn’t want to hire out.
However, while I believe designers should have enough understanding of coding to communicate with developers and clients, I do not think they need to know it in order to be successful. Design is so much bigger than making widgets. It is a way of thinking about the world and problem solving. The prerequisite for all designers is the desire and ability to improve the way you think. If that involves learning to code, that’s great. If that involves learning more about how we collaborate in person, that’s great too. Both could be advantageous in solving technical / digital problems. 

What are some of ypur favorite podcast episodes you've produced?

Below the Fold — a podcast drawing out the stories and voices of women in design
In Good Company — a podcast exploring business partnership

What are three things that are different today than when you entered the industry?

The web has totally and completely taken over.  Design is more broadly accessible and better understood by the average person, at least on a basic level.  There seem to be a growing number of small studios and freelancers in the space and the silos that used to exist are beginning to be dismantled.

Outside of having an established network, why did you decide to start your business in Seattle?


I actually started my business while living on the east side of the state, in Richland, WA. However, location for me has been largely irrelevant as most of my work has been online.

Favorite books: one non-fiction, one fiction

If I say Harry Potter, is that too easy? I listened to the entire series before going to bed for about a year. It was like I had Jim Dale conducting story time every night! He does an outstanding job as a narrator, hence the Grammy Awards he’s received. I highly recommend listening to these!
I can’t say that I have a favorite but one I am really digging right now is called Positioning for Professionals. It’s a must-read for anyone who runs a business or freelances on the side. It walks you through how to differentiate yourself and carve out a market space that is all your own, essentially eliminating any competition. I am also really enjoying another book from Wiley called Implementing Value Pricing. These are two books I wish I would have known about when I was running a design business.

When you get a day off, what is your favorite thing to do in the PNW?

Adventuring outdoors with my husband and dog! Which could be as simple as walking to the coffee shop. We love to travel, hike, bike, road trip, ski, etc. 

Our changing city has been a constant topic of discussion in the media this year, from economic inequality, to Bertha, heroin, Amazonification, homelessness, rising rents etc. We like for focus on the positive though.  What are some ways Seattle is better now than it was a decade ago?

Hmm, I think the same things I loved about the city then are the same things I love about it now. People rave about The City Who Must Not Be Named that sits just three hours south of us. It’s a lovely city with a thriving creative community and amazing food. However, what makes Seattle a better place to live for me, are three things:
  1. Ambition. People here do not stay in the realm of ideas too long before taking action. It’s the sort of action that makes things happen but also holds space for other priorities. Unlike the east coast, work here is not all consuming—perhaps for a few but not as a whole.
  2. Independence. Whether in thought or in business, there is an indie vibe here that I’ve not found in any other city in the States. Combined with ambition, people in Seattle seem to value self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
  3. Quirk. While there are a couple cities competing for the title of Weirdest, I find Seattle content in being itself, whatever that means. It’s not trying to be anything for the sake of it. I love seeing people all over Seattle being expressive and unabashedly themselves, but it’s genuine and not in your face. 

In 2020 Erin Anacker will be _________


I have no idea! I used to think I had an idea and then I realized, I’ve not a clue. Life does what it does. I am learning to take it one day at a time, appreciate the nuances, and continue to make a positive contribution where I am able.

Top Lunch Spots Pioneer Square Part II

Now that I’ve eaten a year’s worth of lunch in Pioneer Square, I've  decided to ammend Audrey’s list of top lunch spots with some picks of my own.  I’ve eaten everywhere on this list multiple times, and narrowed the list down to places where you can escape for under $10.

 

Gaba Sushi

Fresh, quick, delicious, and inexpensive sushi.  I get the combo #2 with a Mermaid Roll,  seaweed salad, and spicy miso.  I’ve heard the bowls are good too, but I have hard time declining a variety pack.  The sprouted rice purportedly tastes better and is packed with nutrients.  Gaba also has a serious sauce bar with wasabi aioli, ginger soy sauce and the like.  It feels a bit heretical to slather flavored mayo on fresh sushi, but it sure is tasty.   Settle in with the latest Stranger and enjoy your lunch at the bar or upstairs in the loft.

Pizzeria Gabbiano

From the owner's of Il Corvo, comes Pizzeria Gabbiano, a lunch restaurant that serves Roman style pizza and sandwiches by the kilo.  Seattleites might feel a bit uneasy cramming in at the communal tables, but after they taste the delicious flavors emerging from the oven, they'll settle in quickly.  Our Roman friend Andrea gives his stamp of approval, so it must be good.  Gabbiano is only open from 11:30am to 3:00pm for lunch and lines can be long, so plan accordingly.



Take a moment to reflect on this sandwich.

Take a moment to reflect on this sandwich.

Tat's Deli

This place feels like it was picked up and moved from the east coast on a truck with an oversized load escort.  If you crave vegetables in your lunch, you should probably steer clear.  The Tat'strami is a monstrosity of bread, slaw and pastrami.  I’ve never tried anything else on the menu, and I never will.  Go on a Friday and take the rest of the afternoon off for a nap.

 

Sprout

Sprout serves surprisingly filling and interesting salads against a backdrop of wheatgrass planters and subway tile.   Choose one of their well-researched combinations, or venture out and build your own.  You can also order by calorie, which would be great if you stumble upon this place while lost and starving.  When they ask for your dressing preferences, be brave and ask for heavy, rather than ordering light then asking for three top offs.   The salad of the month is usually pretty good, but if you order it early in the month, your salad artist will have to double check the ingredients and slow the line down, causing you to push the 25% tip button on the Square reader out of shame. Your salad should come in at just over $10 with tax assuming you avoid the previous scenario.  They also serve something called Froyo.

 

El Camión

While not technically in Pioneer Square, this taco truck is worth the short walk into the stadium district.  Located on Occidental, just across the street from the WaMu Theater and Events Center (Why is it still called that?), the nice folks at El Camión serve up tacos, tortas, tamales and burritos daily, from late morning to early afternoon.  Try any item with cabeza (beef cheeks), and make sure to load up on sauce.  Habanero and chipotle are superb.  Like their truck in SLU, this location backs up to an empty warehouse area with nothing but the bare essentials for eating:  napkins, plastic silverware, picnic tables and a Costco jug of hand sanitizer.  If you stick around to enjoy your meal, you’ll get to enjoy the talking heads of the MLB and NHL networks.  They seem to rotate to whichever league is off-season, maybe in an effort to encourage turnover.

 

 

Trucks in the park

If you aren’t feeling tacos, there are plenty of otros camiones in Occidental Park year round.  They rotate daily, but regulars include Off the Rez, Snout & Co, Helluva Falafel, New York Style Chicken and Rice, Nosh, Bomba Fusion, and Poke to the Max. These mobile restauranteurs have staked their claim early, testing their offerings in anticipation of the thousands of new workers who will begin streaming in and out of the new Weyerhaeuser mothership next year.  If you feel particularly sporty, try out a game of corn hole, ping pong or foosball provided by the Alliance for Pioneer Square.  TIP -  Avoid the park during July and August when it's overrun by hungry tourists trying to pretend that folk singer isn’t on stage.



Honorable Mentions

  • Want to try but haven’t yet - Nirmal’s (Indian)
  • Too expensive for this list, but great - Casco Antiguo (Mexican)

Bon Appétit!



tPC Member Spotlight: Seek Architecture

This installment of the TPC Spotlight is long overdue.  We pick the series back up by interviewing Sam Kraft of Seek Architecture.  The team at Seek includes Sam, Eric Brooks, and Katherine Jacobs.   They have been TPC members since October and have the coolest looking desks in the space.

These images were taken from an entry Seek made into the perFORM competition for Hammer and Hand.  See the full boards here.

Tell me a bit about how the three of you met?

We all met in grad school and discovered we had a shared interest in architecture that combines nature and technology.

When was Seek founded?

The company was  founded in the summer of 2012.

What is the ethos of Seek?  Your website says "naturally responsible architecture" how do you set out to achieve this?  Is it a more of a high level commitment or does it play in to the every day details of the job?

At our core, we want to do a good job for our clients, but also for the earth.    "Naturally responsible" is a hardworking phrase because it speaks both to our innate sense of duty to our projects, but also our duty to the natural systems that we owe our existence to.

What are some of the challenges of running a small firm?

There are so many challenges!  But ultimately, we like a small firm because it allows us all to be both generalists and specialists.


I always picture Seattle as very conservative and unimaginative when it comes to what actually gets built.  Obviously there are many factors that can influence this, but what would you say the general attitude toward architecture and development is in Seattle versus other cities?

I am not sure about comparing it to other cities, but I think there is a lot of the same-old going on here, but also plenty that is new and exciting.  New materials and methods, a lot of youthful energy, and a strong economy create a climate that supports creative design.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  

Cook, run, garden, & carpentry Editor's note:  Sam likes to run 6.5 miles from Othello to Pioneer Square for his morning commute.

Out of all the places you've worked, why is the Pioneer Collective your favorite by far?

I know this is a joke question, but seriously, I value the fact that you guys present a polished and professional space and service, but you are attentive and friendly in a mom & pop way.  Its how we try to run our business and I think its a knock out combo.


What’s your favorite place to eat in Seattle?

Right now, its Maneki.   (A Japanese restaurant in Seattle's International District)

Where do you see seek on November 10th of 2016?

Whatever form Seek will be in one year, we will certainly be rapidly learning and evolving because it's one thing we do well.

 

How to care for indoor plants: succulents, ferns and mosses

Those who have spent time at The Pioneer Collective know indoor plants are part of the decor. Caring for plants and gardening have been linked to healthier lifestyles and longevity. In the world's Blue Zones,  where people live longest, (Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, California, Nicoya, Costa Rica, and Ikaria, Greece) tending a garden is a common activity among inhabitants. Inspired by flora rich urban environments such as Barcelona, here at TPC we are striving to bring the outdoors in. Below we have compiled a list of care tips for indoor plants based on our experiments at TPC.

Succulents

  1. Succulents do not need a lot of water
    • Water when soil is dry to the touch. In our northwest climate, this equates to roughly 1x/week in the summer and 1x/month in the winter. A sprayer and/or watering can are the most effective way to avoid overwatering. The thicker the leaves on the succulent, the more water they need.
  2. Succulents love sunlight
    • Succulents prefer six (6) hours of sunlight per day. Keep succulents near windows. Harsh, direct sunlight can cause succulent sunburns so be wary of south facing windows. 
  3. Succulents need well draining soil
    • Use cacti or succulent soil, or, modify regular soil with grit or coarse sand.
  4. Problem signs
    1. Plant sulking = not enough sun
    2. White crust = mineral build-up likely from tap water. Try collecting rainwater to use instead.
    3. Black/rotting stems & wrinkled leaves =  overwatering
    4. Shriveling and no new leaves = underwatering
    5. Mealy bugs: apply rubbing alcohol to their furry white homes
  5. Want more? Propagate!
    1. When plants begin stretching or become leggy, pop off some of the bottom leaves making sure to get the entire leaf from the stem.
    2. Allow each leaf to dry out in indirect sunlight for a couple of days before relocating to new pot.
    3. Using cacti/succulent or well draining soil, place the old leaf on top of the soil and spray with water infrequently.
    4. Once pink roots form, you have yourself a new succulent to begin caring for all over again!

Ferns

  1. Keep soil moist, not wet
    • Ferns like humid, moist environments so their soil needs to reflect this. Ferns should be watered and misted regularly, though they should not sit in water. Soft, tepid, H2O satisfies ferns best. Keep plants away from fans or vents that could dry out air conditions.
    • If you want to create a natural humidifier for your fern, place a tray or container with wet pebbles underneath your potted fern. Add a little water to the pebbles regularly without letting the fern pot get wet. 
  2. Find indirect light
    • Ferns like low light conditions. Direct sun can cause leaves to die or turn yellow. Too little light can also cause fronds to yellow. North facing windows are best, and direct, harsh sunlight from south facing windows should be avoided.
  3. Use free draining soil
    • Porous, organic compost or soil is best. Including peat moss is particularly beneficial. The soil should never dry out. Adding moss or mulch around the base of the plant can help keep moisture in.
  4. Keep ferns happy
    • Cut back damaged fronds to encourage new growth
    • A dd a light fertilizer 

Mosses

  1. Mist moss regularly
    • Mosses thrive in moist soil. They do not however, need a lot of water at any given time. Therefore, misting versus watering is the preferred method for quenching their thirst. The container you choose to grow your moss in does not need to have a drainage hole, assuming you do not overwater.
  2. Mosses prefer shade
    • Most mosses do not need direct sunlight and do well in the shade. They do vary depending upon the species though, so take good notes on where your particular species seems to do best.
  3. Moss gardens are simple to create
    • As far as soil, mosses do not have roots so their soil needs are not as particular. Simply use a layer of crushed stone or gravel in the base of your vessel to allow water drainage. Add a top layer of potting soil and you have yourself your moss garden home. Arrange moss however you like and feel free to add any stones or other plants you find appealing!