Seattle is a chilly place.
Yes, there are moments of sunny calm. Times when the breezes die down, the rain subsides, and the local faun — birds, squirrels, people — leave their nests and office buildings and ranch-style homes to play outside sans coat or jacket or wind muffler. A rare thrill, a temporal pleasure.
But much of the time this is a city under siege. The elements turn their attentions toward the residents, inverting their umbrellas with tempestuous winds and soaking their Patagonia jackets and REI pants, both made of rip-stop, locally sourced materials, as they try to go about their day.
Seattle is a place of high ideals. Well-funded recycling plans, sustainability a factor in every business discussion, radical income legislation, the legalization of illicit substances, hormone-free meats, meat-free diets, ultra-local, hand-made, artisanal.
These ideals sometimes run perpendicular to the growing tech economy, however. Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Boeing; there are many jobs to fill, many people to house, and that housing market, as in so many other cities where high-speed success lasts for a decade or more, those who came before are beginning to feel the pinch. Not everyone makes microchip money. Not everyone is part of the otherwise largely beneficial wave of movements that have come to define many cities north of San Francisco.
Here, as in other places I visit, I like to explore and learn through the people. In Seattle, I had the chance to talk to Aimee, the owner of a downtown landmark, Monorail Espresso. I also spoke with Felicia, a hologram designer for Microsoft, travel writer, and boutique owner. Then I caught up with Jean, the VP of Sales for a sustainability-focused brand called Miir, which makes everything from water bottles to bags to bikes, using a ‘buy one, give one to someone in need’ business model. And then I visited the Seattle Pinball Museum and chatted with the owners, Cindy and Charlie, about their passion for pinball, and how the gaming industry is shifting around them.
Welcome to Seattle! Bring a jacket and coffee money. You’ll need both.
Hologram Designer, World Traveler, and Owner of Black Hound, Felicia Williams
The first interview I conducted in Seattle was with a very good friend named Felicia Williams.
Felicia is a marvel, working full-time at Microsoft, designing holograms and working on advanced projects (like their well-received and futuristic HoloLens) while at the same time running a side-project called Black Hound, through which she travels the world, collects interesting and beautiful things, and sells them to interested folks, the stories of where they came from and who made them a valuable add-on to the piece. She writes travel guides and designs clothing on a whim; a very multifaceted individual who’s kicking a lot of butt.
I spoke to Felicia, in her beautiful downtown Seattle apartment, about travel and creativity, how to decide on which projects to tackle, and what it’s like to work with a major corporation while also running your own side projects. We also spoke about how she’s managed to not just operate, but flourish, in many different traditionally male-dominated industries, and how she’s made her ‘otherness’ work to her advantage, rather than her detriment.
Black Hound: http://shopblackhound.com
Black Hound on Instagram: http://instagram.com/huntwithblackhound
Felicia’s personal Instagram: http://instagram.com/cheersfelicia
Felicia on Periscope: http://periscope.tv/cheersfelicia
VP of Sales at Miir, Jean Powell
My third Seattle chat was with Jean Powell, a woman with impressive professional credentials who currently works for Miir in Seattle, a company that makes beautiful and ethically produced products like water bottles, bikes, and bags.
We talked about work-life balance, the key moments that resulted in her working in sales, and working for a company like Miir in a place like Seattle.
Owners of the Seattle Pinball Museum, Charlie and Cindy
My second Seattle interview was an excuse to check out an amazing establishment as much as anything else.
Charlie and Cindy are the owners of the Seattle Pinball Museum, a unique arcade that houses over 55 pinball machines, dating from the mid-20th century all the way to the present day. The machines are organized chronologically, and have information about the maker and time period listed above the backglass.
I spoke to Charlie and Cindy about their own passion for pinball, the industry itself and how it’s evolving, the major players in the modern day pinball field, and how the International District has been evolving over the last six years since they first set up shop.
Seattle Pinball Museum: http://www.seattlepinballmuseum.com/
Seattle Pinball Museum on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seattlepinballmuseum/
Seattle Pinball Museum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Seattle-Pinball-Museum-131237786915560
Owner of Monorail Espresso, Aimee Peck
My final Seattle conversation is with Aimee Peck, Owner-Operator of Monorail Espresso in downtown Seattle. I asked her about the coffee industry, running a small business in a sea of corporations, and how best to focus on people — both your employees and your customers.
She shared her thoughts on how to stand out in a competitive market, how to attract and maintain top talent, and explained a bit about how the modern coffee industry works.
Monorail’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/monorailespresso
Monorail’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Monorail-Espresso-117657621584837/?fref=ts
Monorail’s Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/monorail-espresso-seattle
Monorail’s Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monorail_Espresso