As Women’s History Month continues, so does Fresh Chalk’s partnership with women founders and CEOs to share some of their favorite women-owned businesses. This week, we’re featuring Ambika Singh, the founder, CEO and “Chief Boss Lady” of Armoire, a sustainable, subscription-based clothing rental service that has kept women’s wardrobes fresh since 2016. The service not only helps members look their best while trying out more sustainably-made threads from high-end designers like Stella McCartney; it also keeps them from buying less. In addition to empowering their members with confidence and style, Armoire partners with Dress of Success Seattle, a program that provides professional work attire for women trying to secure employment. So when it comes to the boss lady businesses in Seattle, Ambika Singh certainly knows who to support.... more
Long before I knew co-founders Naomi and Fran personally, I admired their “underwear for all” call. It's so intimate and powerful. These two women do an amazing job of translating their brand through imagery, and really making people feel something. As a small business owner, if you're in it for the money, you're in it for the wrong reasons — in actuality, we're all in it to make people feel something good about themselves. TomboyX embodies that with their clothes - they make their customers feel good about who they are and their place in a loving community.
Boma is a Seattle company that is run by this amazing female entrepreneur. She has a Thai background, and like her, the company is based in Seattle, but the artisans are in Thailand. The company's mission of female empowerment really waves all the way through the business. They have great products, and they take some of the proceeds from their business and invest it in girls' education in Thailand. They've got a really strong C-Suite that has a bunch of amazing women on it. And to boot, the jewelry is amazing. I have these little “Vote” earrings that they did around the election, and I know the election is over, but I can't take them off because they're super cute.
Dry Soda’s CEO Sharelle Klaus is one of the godmothers of female-owned businesses in Seattle. She has four children and by personality, she's a really gregarious, fun loving woman. She was tired of feeling left out from the alcohol scene while she was making these babies, so she did something about it and created these amazing sodas. People do use them as mixers for cocktails, or you can make beautiful mocktails with them, or just kind of drink them on their own. The company has really endured—it's 15+ years old. They've been a pillar for a lot of us in terms of being a role model and a source of encouragement and advice. And Sharelle, just on a personal level, is very giving with her time and advice.
First of all, the product is amazing. My perception of catered food is that you're looking for quality, but I'm not expecting to have a catered meal that’s really inventive and unique and different and delicious and an experience in that way. That Brown Girl Cooks really turned that on its head because everything that she cooks is inventive and it's full of spice. It really packs history into the food because she brings influences from so many different places. Over the course of the pandemic, she took that business and turned it into a restaurant called COMMUNION, and the restaurant is amazing. We went by there the other day—all socially distanced, inside and outside. They had a deejay in the corner and it just really feels like a part of the community in the Central District. And the food is out of this world.
Oula is really inspired apparel. The designer, Erica, is from this amazing multicultural family. She's married to a person from Sierra Leone, she comes from Miami, and she's infused the clothes with her and her husband's history. The silhouettes hearken back to the Black is Beautiful movement, and her memories of her mother and grandmother with big house dresses with elaborate sleeves and big prints in wild colors. She's tried to recreate and modernize those, and the twist that she's taking is that the fabrics all come from Sierra Leone and India and places where she's able to find those textiles in their own environment and then incorporate them into this modern take.
Over the pandemic, I personally have been wearing them quite a bit because a lot of them are that house dress style, which basically means something that you can wear without shoes. It's got an easy going silhouette; it doesn't need any special undergarments, and it really screams comfort. Also, these dresses make you look like you are a queen. When we've all been staying at home for a year, it's a real improvement to be wearing a queen dress in my home environment.
These are beautiful handmade cards and notepads, and the artist and business owner, Yeganeh, draws her inspiration from amazing women that she knows personally or is inspired by from history. Through her Instagram, Yeganeh pairs a beautiful illustration and a little bit of a history about the women she features. Then she turns those pictures into cards and notebooks. It's a really thoughtful gift, and it's fun to have a notepad that actually makes you smile and means something to you.
For two holiday seasons in a row now, I have given most of my gifts in a Tokki. It's so fun and gratifying for me to see them reemerge and continue to be loved. Tokki is reusable gift wrap and I love seeing how my gift recipients continue to use them - two years later. I see them being used as makeup bags, lunch boxes, or, in the case of my nieces, as the best hiding place for all of their little treasures, like their nail polishes and whatever they've collected, zipped up safely. People really enjoy them and they truly are a gift that keeps giving!
Harper Coats has beautiful styles of really warm winter coats. Think of an $800+ down jacket being sold for about $300. It's a high end coat at a much more affordable price, and it's a timeless silhouette. We love having them at Armoire this season because people were able to rent them and try them on and then purchase one in they really fell in love. These coats align with our quest for sustainability and simplicity, because this is the kind of coat that could stay with you for a decade, easily. Finally, they are 100% cruelty-free, so you can feel great while wearing them for more reasons than one!
This is a really cool story. The hero product is called a Topper, and it's an incredible brocade style coat. It’s like you're from some different world, a different era, when you're wearing them. The two women who started the brand have been friends for 25years. Their kids grew up together and they go on long walks, and have basically been dreaming about doing this the whole time. Their idea was that they wanted to create something that wasn't restricted to a young, aspirational look and create something that was built for a Queen. They use incredibly high quality designer curated fabrics. The coats are built by a local tailor who they have a personal relationship with. They're all handmade to order. I can tell you without hesitation that the quality is amazing. It's such a statement piece, and I just absolutely love them. You'll never get tired of wearing something that looks like this - and we’re so proud to carry them at Armoire.
This is a sort of dog walking/day care service. They have a farm in Snohomish and they pick up your dog from your house in the morning and drive them to the farm where they play. It's a pack of dogs, and all the dogs know each other. Everybody has a day where they go, so it's not like it's a bunch of random dogs. The dogs all have their Tuesday friends and their Wednesday friends, and they play on the farm off-leash for most of the day, and then they get dropped off back at your house. It's frankly just the best thing for everybody involved.
Wish You Were Northwest is a t-shirt and sweatshirt company based in Woodinville. It was started by two sisters and it is such an ode to the Northwest. All the taglines are catchy phrases like "Meet me in the fog", “Long Live the Adventure". The colors and the taglines are very Northwest, but the best thing is that the sweatshirts and t-shirts are the most comfortable thing ever. Frankly, they could say whatever and I'd still live in them, but it's even better that it's such an ode to home.
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