Friday, November 2, 2012

Favorite Friend Friday: Cat & Chika of Velouria

cat wilcox and chika eustace of velouria boutique in ballard seattle
Chika (left) and Cat in front of Velouria (pre-remodel).

Cat Wilcox and Chika Eustace are a delightful pair that we have had the pleasure of getting to know better over the past month or so. A hardworking duo, they have revamped Seattle clothing and accessories boutique, Velouria, into a wonderland of sharp design, bright color and modern style.

Tell us about how you two met and what lead to the decision to buy Velouria.
Velouria: We both worked at a bike messenger bag-making workshop in late 2007. I moved on to pie-baking and Chika and her business partner, Jean, became busy with R&L Goods. Fast forward to 2011 when Chika found out Velouria, a shop that had sold R&L Goods for years, was for sale. While Chika was interested, she had her hands full with her business and also knew she wanted to start a family soon with husband, Jared. A mutual friend let her know that I was interested in having a shop featuring goods made by people I knew in Seattle. We joined forces and the rest is very recent history!

cat wilcox and chika eustace of velouria boutique in ballard seattle
A new logo, plus pretty wallet scraps made into an in-store art installation.
Velouria remodel opening night party in ballard seattle with chika eustace and cat wilcox night time
Remodel opening night party, starting up!

The space looks amazing! What was your inspiration for the transformation?
After about a month in the shop, we realized it was time for a change and thought our merchandise would look better against a simpler background of white and grey. We then brought on Nick and Isabelle Robertson of Piano Nobile to help us plan a re-design. A lot of it ended up happening as a matter of course. I found a massive, ten foot cabinet I couldn’t pass up that Nick was able to work into the plans by building a jewelry display wall to go on top of it; it naturally became a way to give more privacy to the previously-exposed dressing rooms. My friend Kris found pictures of the clothing racks online and we built a prototype that with the help of friends, we were able to replicate three more times: we liked the idea of having movable racks for events and as a way to have flexibility over time in the space.

There was also a lot that didn’t work in the previous arrangement: the old shop had an entire back room that was unusable. By reclaiming that space, we were able to move most of our office operations to the back and pull our counter out, creating a more inviting atmosphere for customers entering the shop! We’re pretty pleased with how much space we have now and how much it allows our designers' goods to really standout.

cat wilcox and chika eustace of velouria boutique in ballard seattle

What do you look for most in the designers and artists you carry?
We really like lovely things, first and foremost. Thoughtfulness and detail are incredibly important to us, and we appreciate designers that show a progression over time. In terms of our aesthetic, Chika and I are a little more drawn to contemporary fashion than the vintage styles that have historically filled the shop, so when you come in, you’ll see a broader range of styles now, geared to a slightly more mature audience.

Who are a few of your favorite designers?

The newest thing in the shop usually moves to the top of the list of "favorites." Jessalin Beutler, a local print artist we just started carrying, sent us some amazing jersey scarves as well as this one-of-a-kind triangle print silk scarf that we love.

jessalin beautler scarves textiles patterns from velouria boutique ballard seattle
Jessalin Beutler scarves.

UNA is a customer favorite and we can't get enough of this fox print Ayla top.

susan UNA delilah top at velouria in ballard seamless in seattle
UNA fox print Ayla top

In terms of jewelry, the Dorothy Cheng brass tier necklace is a shop darling currently.

dorothy cheng brass tier necklace jewelry at velouria boutique in ballard seattle
Dorothy Cheng brass tier necklace.

Personally, I’m in love with the new Nikki Jacoby Persei necklace. It’s really hard to choose only a few!!!

nikki jacoby persei necklace at velouria boutique in ballard seattle jewelry
Nikki Jacoby Persei necklace.

Anything exciting planned for the upcoming holidays?
We’re excited about the Christine Chaney trunk show coming up on Sunday (November 4th, 2-4). She’s recently designed these fantastic coats out of vintage military blankets and has also been working on some incredible knit pieces. The way her clothes drape is really quite lovely. She was named best emerging designer in this year’s Seamless in Seattle competition, and she is definitely somebody to keep an eye on.

Our next artwalk is second Saturday and we’ll feature prints by Seattle paper-goods designer Herman Yu as well as the jewelry of Dorothy Cheng--one of our newest local designers.

We are also inviting artists and designers to create and donate a Christmas ornament as our December “art.” We will give all the proceeds to a yet-to-be-determined charity.

Now that the space is uniquely you, what is your mission for Velouria?
To continue to offer our customers handmade, independently-designed goods that are always lovely and often locally-produced. We see retail--and fashion especially--as a constantly-changing endeavor. Keeping our shop fresh and exciting for our customers is critical to our vision and keeps us engaged and excited as well!

On to the silly ones! What do you like to do in your off-time?
Cat: I love biking, having dinner with friends, and baking sweet things. I have spent a lot of time lately trolling thrift stores for display pieces in the shop...which is both on and off time. There really is no off-time when you have a shop!
Chika: I have a new baby, so my "off-time" is...hard to identify. While he's still easily portable I like stroller-ing along routes with good coffee shops and bakeries, and dining with friends. Is it ok to admit that I like watching TV shows in my off-time?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Cat: Often I think I’d like to go back to Texas—-but not to my hometown, maybe Austin or the hill country. I miss the sunshine and the friendliness of strangers. And a good portion of my family would be close by as well.
Chika: If there was a place where I could have some good land, and a sewing studio, and a ceramic studio for my husband, and all our friends and family could live nearby, and there was good espresso and treats in walking distance--that would be it. I think my dream is to live in an industrious Shaker community, but with cocktails and uh, coitus.

If you could eat at only one local restaurant for a year, where would you go and what would you order?

Cat: Presse! Brunch favorite: croque madame. For lunch and dinner: any of the seasonal salads, seasonal soups and always an order of fries to share. They are reliably great and it feels so cozy in there!
Chika: I'm going fancy pants--the bar at Canlis! The bar menu is fantastic, plus there's a piano player who covers R&B and pop songs all night long! And the valets are super nice even when you drive up in your 16 year old pick up truck. Realistically though, I'd eat the Pho at Monkey Bridge all day, any day.

If you could have one famous person purchase their entire wardrobe in your shop, who would it be?
Cat: My first thought was Lena Dunham. She’s so cool! And a normal-lookin’ lady! We love cool, normal-lookin' ladies!
Chika: Lady Mary or Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey. Sorry, Lady Edith. Wait, no--Lady Cora!

What's your dream job, besides what you are doing now?
Cat: A fiction editor. But in a really casual, low-pressure way. Could I have a fictional job as a fiction editor?
Chika: This is going to sound silly or just weird, but I think it would be a lot of fun to write humorous recaps of TV shows for Television Without Pity. I'm picturing most people on the planet thinking: "That is not a real job."

Thanks, Cat & Chika! We ♥ you!

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