COVID, Community and Canna: A spotlight on West Seattle locals supporting essential workers!
By: Canna Babe
It was only a couple months ago that the rumors of the coronavirus were starting to spread like the virus itself. It seemed far enough away to not seem real, but the passing weeks fared fast and quickly we faced the truth. The virus is in fact very real and has fiercely changed how we live our lives.
Our friends and family are now facing heavy financial burdens, health scares, all while our economy takes its hardest hit since the Great Depression.
Living in Seattle, the first region where the virus appeared in the US, I’ve watched several of my friends, family and neighbors lose their jobs as thousands of businesses across the state have boarded up their doors until further notice.
Quarantine. Lock down. All is quiet.
There are only a few of us still working. The essential workers in retail and medical, grateful to still have jobs but very alert to the risks we now face.
A special shout out to all the medical professionals who walk into the fire for all of us everyday! You are saving lives! You are all heroes! Thank you!
Heroes are all around us. I want to spotlight those in the community who are behind the scenes, utilizing their time, resources and talents supporting our essential workers and giving back to the community.
Last week we had two West Seattle businesses donate handmade masks and hand sanitizer to the Canna West Seattle team; Tom and Amber of Ugly Yellow House and James Elliott of Filigree & Shadow. Their kindness and generosity was warmly welcomed.
Ugly Yellow House
Tom and Amber own local bow tie company Ugly Yellow House. Following the guidelines of the CDC and Providence, they handmade and delivered masks to our Canna West essential team. I was inspired by their selflessness and wanted to learn more about them. Who are Tom and Amber and what is the story behind Ugly Yellow House?
It had always been their dream to own their own business, and both being creative people found the inspiration to start Ugly Yellow House after making bow ties for a friends wedding.
“Tom mentioned that there weren’t a lot of bespoke bow tie options available, especially in Seattle. And the ones that were available weren’t exciting and were usually made of a fabric that may not be suitable for everyday wear.”
Amber continues “So we decided that we would design the perfect bow tie and use fabric that is light, breathable and on trend. A bow tie that would be perfect for the casual bow tie wearer and bow tie devotee at an affordable price point. I love to hunt for trendy fabric and Tom is devoted to up-cycling as much as possible. So there’s always a little something for everyone. And that’s how Ugly Yellow House was born!”
Amber and Tom moved from Albuquerque, NM to West Seattle in 2014. Seattle had always been their vacation destination, even getting engaged here back in 2010!
“We immediately fell in love with West Seattle and knew that one day we would need to make our dream a reality and buy a house in West Seattle, which we did in 2015. Now we run our little business out of our Ugly Yellow House basement. We don’t have a traditional brick and mortar store but sell our bow ties, pocket squares and pet bow ties at Seattle markets, like the local Flock Collective Market and on our website.”
So far Amber and Tom have made 207 masks and have donated a majority to the essential workers at small businesses in West Seattle and White Center. The number is growing daily but so far they have donated to West of Chicago Pizza, Paperboat Books, Ampersand Café, Seattle Candle Co, Canna, Alexandra’s Macarons, Alair, Resting Waters, Wildwood Market, Baked, Mission, West Bay Coffee and Smoothies, Youngstown Coffee, Indulge Deserts, Zeeks West Seattle, Macadons and Moonshot Coffee.
I asked what their inspiration was. “We had this moment weeks ago, when Covid-19 started to hit Seattle hard, where we realized that our traditional way of selling, local markets, probably wouldn’t happen until late summer, if at all. It was devastating. But what was more devastating to us was the amount of people this was affecting in our community, from essential workers to business owners. We were very lucky because we could stay home, but others still had to go to work, not only to help provide for our community but for their families.” She continues with the concerning facts that there is a shortage in safety supplies. “Where can 2 people working out of their basement make the most difference, where could we help? Honestly, it was a no brainer. We can help protect our community with masks. We have fabric just waiting to become bow ties, but no one needs a bow tie right now, they need masks! And this would be our way to give back to a community that has embraced us, supported us and we’ve grown to love so much”
If you are a small business or essential worker in West Seattle or White Center, Tom and Amber want you to have a mask.
“These workers are putting themselves at risk every day so that we can not only have the things we need but things that bring us joy. And we all need a little joy right now. We’ve had incredible support from the community and many people are now asking to buy them, not only to support our cause but to protect themselves. So, while we’ll begin to sell a small portion of these on our website, our focus remains on getting the majority of our masks to those who need them most, at no charge.”
Filigree & Shadow
The support from the community continues as more locals put their expertise to work to provide for Seattle’s essential workers. James Elliot, perfumer and owner of Filigree & Shadow produced several single bottles of hand sanitizer for all Canna West employees.
“I am a self-taught perfumer and I produce everything myself. My fragrance collection is the result of my synesthesia to smell music and hear scent. I have both natural and conventional (natural materials and aroma chemicals) fragrances that are inspired by music. All my perfumes are genderless and certified vegan and cruelty-free. I mostly sell my collection online on my website filigree.co.”
James lives in West Seattle with his husband and cats. His husband Justin is owner and proprietor of Sound & Fog.
“I’ve been selling hand sanitizer spray in his store for local Seattleites as well as my online store. I have no intention of capitalizing on a crisis, so I’ve kept the price of the hand sanitizer spray to my production costs. In an effort to help other small businesses keep their doors open, I’ve been selling bottles to business owners for them to sell to their customers. (No one is allowed to charge more than $5 a bottle.) For anyone that is furloughed or recently unemployed, I’ve sent them a bottle for free. That inspired some of my customers to buy bottles for the purpose of paying it forward, so now I’m able to donate bottles to a local women‘s shelter.”
The entire team at Canna West Seattle and the Culture Shop sends a very warm and grateful “Thank You” to Amber, Tom and James for your generous donations. Thank you for thinking of us!
Help us support these local heroes by sharing this story, visiting their websites, supporting their business and following their journeys on social media.
Thank you Seattle. We love our community. We love you.