Shannon Koyano is back at work in the former Salt House Mercantile retail space in Madison Valley, but this time it’s as the owner of the Hella Happy! gift boutique.
“I feel like this is kind of my backyard,” she said, “because I’m a third-generation Seattleite, and that’s very rare.”
Koyano opened Hella Happy! in August, and calls her return to the space at 2812 E. Madison St. “a magical story of redemption.”
She worked at Salt House Mercantile three years ago, but said she was let go close to the holidays, which was hard for the single mother-of-three.
The retailer closed quietly earlier this year, and Koyano happened to see the for-lease sign one day while walking in the neighborhood.
“Interestingly enough, I was making gourmet pickles by day and doing standup comedy in the evening,” Koyano said, “but I’d always had retail and interior decorating as other aspects of things I was doing professionally or interested in on my own.”
By the time the space became available, Koyano had checked spaces in Capitol Hill — where she grew up — and Pike Place Market, but they all needed a lot of work.
“I always loved this space,” she said. “When I worked here at Salt House, I thought this space was very beautiful.”
Koyano stocks Hella Happy! with mostly locally-made items created by artists, focusing on environmentally friendly products and socially conscious producers. She also likes products that come with a great story.
“A lot of things I sell are women-ownership or women-made, which I think a lot of people want to support, right now,” she said.
Koyano said she’s a proud woman of color and mother.
She wants people to feel welcome at Hella Happy!, and is hella happy to share the stories behind the gift items she sells.
“I feel like gift giving is one of the last traditions that we still hold onto that strictly makes people feel good,” Koyano said.
The Hella Happy! owner had to briefly close her business in September, following the death of her father. She’d last seen him on the opening day of Hella Happy!
Her mother died five years prior, also in September.
“A lot of what I like came from her style too,” Koyano said. “My mom really liked color and she really liked fashion.”
Koyano said she’s been keeping busy and finding happiness in her store.
“I really hope I’m making them proud,” she said. “That’s very important to me.”
Hella Happy! is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Find Hella Happy! On Instagram @hella_happy_shop.