Posts tagged pioneer square
Interview: E. Smith Mercantile

I know I say this every time, but I'm really excited about this interview! I sent the lovely ladies of E. Smith Mercantile some questions, and Jessie Poole kindly responded. E. Smith really is my happy place.

(You may remember our trunk show in August.) Everything inside is perfectly curated, and they serve coffee in the daytime and cocktails at night in their back bar. I can't overstate how much I love this store and these ladies!

Q: What inspired you to open a retail shop in today's economy?
As a family business, we were very excited about the opportunity to create a space that allowed each of us an outlet for our many interests. We're also so lucky to be participating in a resurgence, if you will, of Pioneer Square business. It's important for us to create a community space and offer services for this great, historic piece of Seattle.

Q: You're a family business through and through. What is it like, working so closely with family?
We've always been very close. The vast majority of the time it's a truly spectacular experience. We've found it helps people feel like they're in our home, they can be comfortable and feel taken care of because they truly are our guests.


Q: What have been your biggest challenges at the shop?
I think like any small business finding the right balance of obsessing over what you do and maintaining your outside interests can often be a challenge. Luckily there's more than one of us so we can all take turns picking up the slack.

Q: What have been your biggest joys?
In the beginning it was watching people's faces the first time they came in. Now people tell us that they want to live there. It's heartwarming and continues to be inspiring to have other people inspired by the space.


Q: Where do you go for inspiration? (Your decor, products, and food/drinks are very obviously inspired!)
Personally, I love my nature time. There's nothing like a weekend in the woods with a fire place and friends. For a quick afternoon pick me up the Pacific Antique Galleries is a wonderful place for inspiration.

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle? (Other than E. Smith, of course!)
I love to wander through Elliott Bay Books, and while I'm up there, might as well stop into Totokaelo and touch the pretty things, right?

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle?
We're big fans of the Walrus & the Carpenter. Also wouldn't say no to a dinner at Lark, a brunch at Toulouse Petit, or the entire menu at La Carta de Oaxaca.

Glasses, Now 100% More Awesome.

I want to sit down and have a talk about glasses. (I'm feeling silly today, so this may be more dramatic than usual - but seriously, read the whole thing. There's a COUPON at the end!)

I went to the eye doctor for the first time in third grade. I'd been getting a lot of headaches, and it turned out that I had astigmatism in one eye. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but it meant that I needed to wear glasses. I was really excited about getting glasses. But I quickly realized that being a bossy, know-it-all kid with huge glasses (and later braces) gave me the distinct pleasure of being a NERD.

I wore some pretty horrible glasses for five years, and then in 8th grade I got contacts. Oh, contacts! The quick solution in every bad makeover movie for turning a nerdy girl into a hot chick. My contacts were uncomfortable at times and not always great for my vision. But it was clear in popular culture (and in my own personal experience) that pretty girls don't wear glasses. I'd rush home at the end of the day and take them out, replacing them with some ugly glasses that I only wore at home. In my glasses' defense, they were the best ones the eye doctor's office had in my price range. (Getting glasses from the eye doctor is EXPENSIVE!)

I went through high school, college, and a few years of my career wearing only contacts. I just didn't feel like I had any options. But then, the internet! (Huzzah!) I did my first online try-on, bought a new pair of glasses, and get this... I WORE them. All the time! And I got compliments! It didn't break the bank, I could actually see well, I was comfortable, and I felt good about myself. This first positive glasses experience really got me thinking. Why do I only have one pair of glasses?


I'd seen Rivet & Sway's name floating around the blogosphere and their frames were very cute, so I ordered a few pairs to try on. Later that day, I heard a knock at my studio door. It was two of Rivet & Sway's team members, dropping off my order! I had NO idea that not only is Rivet & Sway located in Seattle, their office is less than 3 blocks away. We're neighbors! My jaw hit the floor. It meant so much to me that they saw my address and took the time to walk over and introduce themselves.

AND THEN I opened the package. I have never seen a company put this much thought an energy into every part of their packaging and customer experience. It felt really special to open the box, see the kick-arse artwork, and try on 3 super gorgeous frames. (I ended up buying two of them!) Rivet & Sway has created a line of glasses that are beautifully designed and function like accessories. They're way more like jewelry than corrective eyewear! I get up every morning and pick out my outfit, jewelry and which pair of glasses I want to wear. I work a really messy job, so I don't get to dress up very often. But with my sassy new glasses, I feel 100% more put together when leaving the house. Why shouldn't my glasses be as colorful as my personality? There's really no reason.

I have had a wonderful experience with Rivet & Sway, and i've blabbed about them so darn much to my friends & clients that they've asked me to be an official brand ambassador! It's not something I ever considered before, but I am more than happy to continue to support and talk about this amazing company - especially since they are our neighbors here in Pioneer Square!

Do yourself a favor and head over to Rivet & Sway's site, and order your own try-on package. It's easy, it's FREE, and it will feel like Christmas. Their frames (with lens included) are really reasonably priced, and they're all SO fun. I want a pair for every day of the week! And when you go to purchase your gorgeous new glasses, use the coupon code SARA-RIVETS for $25 off your order! (The coupon will expire, so don't wait too long!)

Trunk Show at E. Smith Mercantile!

Last night the lovely ladies behind E. Smith Mercantile hosted our sneak preview trunk show!

We packed up what we have of the new card & gift line and carried it on our backs (not really) the three blocks to our favorite Pioneer Square shop. We set up in the (soon to be) E. Smith Back Bar and welcomed the neighborhood to come see what we've been working on. (It was a low light scenario that was lovely for shopping but tough for photos, so please pardon these instagram-esque photos that I actually snapped on our real camera.)


It was a lovely summer evening, with lots going on in the neighborhood! Our friend Meggie came to help me carry things and set up.


We were lousy with cards for sale!


Lots of friends came to shop and hang out!


Our baby presses were in attendance to remind folks that everything is letterpress.


Wine was served, conversations were had.


There was a special guest performance from Eric Freeman, who played everything from Jimmy Buffet to Johnny Cash, and had us dancing in the aisles.


Can we talk about how cool E. Smith is? Really cool.


Bad mirror selfie with my baby sis - the wall & display look great! ;)


Hello friends!

Thanks to E. Smith for being very gracious hosts, and thanks to everyone who stopped by! We had a great night, and we hope you did too.

Constellation Goes Old School at Klondike Penny's

I have two things for you guys today: 1) an awesome date idea, and 2) some big news!

Klondike Penny's is an awesome old time photo studio a few blocks away from us in Pioneer Square. I've been asking Brad to get old timey photos with me for years, so for my birthday last month he gave me a super sweet "coupon" for a photo adventure! I redeemed my coupon this weekend, and we had so much fun playing dress up in their gold rush era costumes! It was like stepping right into Pioneer Square's past. Can you imagine me operating a printing press in this dress? Too funny.

I would seriously suggest taking your sweetheart over there for some old timey Valentine's Day photos! The folks at Klondike Penny's are super friendly and their costumes are so beautiful. I wanted to wear everything! (Especially the hats!)

Now here's the extra exciting part: the great folks at Klondike Penny's are looking to expand the mercantile section of the shop and have given us the opportunity to join them! Their shop is a such a great fit with the era of our presses and the feel of our products that we've agreed take them up on the offer! A large selection of our products will be available for retail purchase at Klondike Penny's just in time for art walk this coming Thursday. If you're here in Seattle, make sure to come out and buy something for your sweetie!

Don't Miss Cosmic Sans!

Cosmic Sans has sprouted legs and taken off running!

Submissions are coming in every day, and we are so impressed by what our fellow space lovers are coming up with! This show is going to knock your proverbial socks off. Just look at this sneak peek!


Insane, right!? Yes, that is Zoidberg! (Left by Zac Schwiet, right by Lisa Schneller) And that's just the beginning. We've got light sabres, space monkeys, and Gordon Freeman's crow bar coming your way!

So here's what you're going to do.

1) Plan to come to the show. And then do it!

2) Print out this flyer and hang it up somewhere that nerds cool people will see it.

3) RSVP that you're coming on our Facebook event so we can make enough space snacks for you.

We can't wait. We'll see you there!

We're in the Seattle Times!

We were so excited to zip down to our local bookstore and pick up Sunday's paper - because look, it's us!

(Well, it's our logo, Josephine the printing machine, and Sara...sweeping.) The Seattle Times has been in touch with us and our studio mates since before the big move, and it's great to see the story finally come out. If you missed the ink and newsprint version, you can read the article online here. There are also several more photos and an audio clip here.


We weren't sure exactly what the article would be about, but were pleasantly surprised by the content when we finally got to read it. A few quotes and thoughts:

"Despite or maybe because of its shabby condition, the 619 offered affordable work space for artists both starving and successful in the bustling center of town, cheap parking and a loading dock for art projects."

619 was exactly what we needed when starting our business. For us (and for so many artists), 619 was the only option we could afford starting out. Sure, it scared our friends and family (which everyone admitted after we moved), but it was our little slice of Seattle. It was a foothold that allowed us to grow our business. We scrubbed and painted and decorated and made it ours. It was special.

It was a lot of work and a leap of faith to find a new place, make moving arrangements, get things moved, settled, and reestablished. We lost months of client work in the shuffle, which could have been devastating without the help of the DOT. But we did have their help, and they have our gratitude.

"(Jane) Richlovsky used her (reestablishment) check to set up shop in a historic building nearby at First Avenue and Cherry Street. She renovated an entire floor's worth of commercial spaces in a project known as the '57 Biscayne artist studios. About a dozen of her former neighbors from 619 Western have since followed.

Have I told you lately that Jane is awesome? Our new space in '57 Biscayne is amazing, and she's the one to blame. It's really wonderful to see Jane's hard work and selfless service to our little community shown to city at large. Nothing about the '57 Biscayne project was easy - but Jane tackled each challenge with skill and poise. We are very thankful for her, and for the opportunity to be a part of the community at '57 Biscayne.

"In Seattle, artists have to be developers, landlords and mom-and-pop entrepreneurs, marrying a right-brain sense of creative possibility with a left-brain business savvy that's more common in an MBA."...It might seem nuts to think that an artist, the very definition of unconventional living, may want what bankers, engineers, teachers and corner grocers do, that they might measure their success with benchmarks embraced by the 9-to-5 cubicle crowd. But it's not such a stretch. Serious artists struggle to find a place to work, earn a living from what they do and manage their money like everybody else. In fact, they are small businesspeople, and many, like Richlovsky, believe it's crucial for artists to establish themselves in the same way that other professionals do."

This idea of small business in the arts was on our minds a lot when it came time to move. "Where do we fit?" was a question often asked. We didn't want a storefront, were too messy for an office building, and considered "too much of a business" for certain arts buildings. At '57 Biscayne, we fit right in. We're all "small business artists," making a living doing what we love. It's a great place to be.

Our craft is archaic and often inefficient, but we've chosen to build our business around letterpress. It's not just another job, but an art form that allows us to work closely with the people of our city at integral parts of their life. We're part of weddings, announcing new babies, and branding new businesses. We're in local shops, sharing the visual arts via ephemeral cards and gifts. We chose Seattle. We live here, work here, and aren't going anywhere. We've only been in Seattle for 3 years, but this city is our home. We'll raise our kids here. And our business couldn't exist anywhere else - it's so inspired and supported by Seattle, I wouldn't dare try to move it. (Plus, we physically weigh a lot in cast iron.)

Okay, okay. Time to wrap up. But first, some sappiness: it's really exciting to be in the paper in the city we love. Once upon a time I stared at a glossy poster of the Seattle skyline, hoping for a chance to live here. A picture in the paper may not be a big deal (but come on, i'm a Newsies girl...King of New York, anyone?), but today I just feel honored to be an artist and business owner here in this city. It's an honor, Seattle. I wouldn't live anywhere else.

(Oh, and just in case anyone had the impression that what we do is glamorous, that photo seals the deal. It's a dirty job. See Sara sweep! Sweep, Sara, sweep!)

Updates: New Stores! Upcoming Events! Etcetera!

We have been busy bees over here at Constellation & Co. (Hence the blog silence. "Update blog" is on my Teux Deux every day, but it tends to get neglected for other tasks.) But here I am, and here are some highlights.

Visit our new stores! Our card & gift items are available for purchase in several new stores! It's been a great month since we launched our wholesale catalog, and we've enjoyed seeing orders coming in from lovely shops in fun cities.

[McNally Jackson Books, NYC]


The Curiosity Shoppe, San Francisco

Our friends in Seattle have shopping options in new neighborhoods, and we're excited to make new friends in NYC, San Fran, LA, and Des Moines! (Hooray for friends!) We are honored to be a part of so many great shops. For our full list of options, check out our stores page.


Attend an event! The Spring & Summer are shaping up to be busy and fun! We love Seattle (and have have some things planned for our local friends this summer - stay tuned), but we're also hitting the road!

Want to shop, chat us up, and get some high fives? Come out to one of the following events near you:

Tacoma! Wayzgoose!: Letterpress and Book Arts Extravaganza King’s Books opens it's doors to the local letterpress and book arts crazies for a day of creative activities, shopping, and steamroller printing! When? Sunday, April 22, 11 am – 4 pm

Portland! Crafty Wonderland: Super Colossal Spring Sale The Oregon Convention Center transforms to become home to over 200 handmade vendors! The event sports free admission, and welcomes all ages. This is our first Crafty Wonderland - we're super excited to be a vendor and we hope to see you there! When? Saturday, May 12th, 11 am – 6 pm

Seattle! Pioneer Square First Thursday Artwalk See us on our home turf! 57 Biscayne (our studio's fabulous home) throws open all it's studio doors to the public! Our studio will be open, presses running, cards & gifts for sale, and refreshments served! Come see where we do what we do, and ask us a hundred million questions! (We'll tell you everything we know.) When? Thursday, June 7th, 5-9 pm

Then & Now

Brad and I wandered into our favorite Pioneer Square antique store, Fairlook Antiques, on lunch break the other day. We knew better. We knew it was dangerous. But we did it anyway. And, as usual, we walked out with goodies.

We were really excited to find this Seattle postcard (left), showing the view up Cherry Street from 1st Avenue. The first building on the left is our new building! I took this iPhone photo (right) from approximately the same spot. I love seeing how little has changed!


We also picked up this awesome postcard from Sarasota, the city in which Brad and I met, attended our Alma Mater, and got married! The postcard features the Ringling mansion, which is just down the street from the Crosley mansion, where we got married. It was so fun to find it here, 3,000 miles away. Of course, we had to take it home. We'll be returning to Sarasota for the first time since our wedding (two years) in November - it will be so good to see all of our old haunts, and hopefully lots of old friends, too. We have lots of sweet Sarasota memories, and as much as we love Seattle, it's always nice to go home. (And it will still be decently warm in Florida in November... can you say BEACH!?)


According to this site, both cards are from approximately 1915 - 1930, the "White Border" era, when most postcard publishers left a white border around the image to save ink. I'm thinking about estate sale-ing some small frames to cluster these with these and some of my other vintage favorites. They'd be so fun above my desk.

New Studio Location

Constellation & Co. has officially found a new home! We will soon be moving with several other 619 Building artists to another historic building in Pioneer Square.

Our new studio will be located on the 2nd floor of 110 Cherry Street, on the corner of 1st and Cherry. The new floor of studio spaces will be named "57 Biscayne," a clever and timely nod to a line of Joni Mitchell song lyrics. 57 Biscayne also has available studio spaces, if you're looking. Join us!

[Photo from an article on the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerence]

110 Cherry is an ornate brick building, built in the wave of new construction after the 1889 Seattle fire. I'm having trouble finding historical information on the building - but be assured, we'll hunt it down! We're looking forward to bringing our presses to their new home, and creating lots of fun historic prints together. (We're also looking forward to lots of DIY interior decorating projects, which you can look forward to seeing here on the blog.)