Retail Spotlight

Meet the Shopkeeper: Scenic Drive Factory

Set aside your notions of retail for a moment. (Grab your sewing notions though, if you’d like.) Meet the operators of a creative endeavor.

By Nico Ortega May 16, 2011

Rachel Ravitch, one half of Scenic Drive Factory in Capitol Hill, can help you fix your jeans, buy and sell stuff, and, maybe, meet a DIY mate.

What do you get when you take a fleet of rent-by-the-hour recommissioned sewing machines, a neighborhood full of empowered projecteers, a monthly-or-so art show, and some market-style happenings here and there in which the products of all of the above, and others, are bought and sold? Why, a Scenic Drive of course. Nikki Mazzei and Rachel Ravitch’s Factory fosters community among Seattle designers and stuff-makers, and those who are interested in handmade art and style.

What song or album is playing on your store’s sound system right now?
Ravitch: The Cure: Standing on a Beach; The Singles (And Unavailable B-Sides), on cassette tape.

What was your first job in retail? What did you love or hate about it and how does it compare to what you do now?
Neither of us have really worked in retail. What we do is more of a creative endeavor than a retail atmosphere, in any case. We invite people in to create and are forming a network of independent designers. Later this spring, we will launch a mini-collection of ready-to-wear made from salvaged fabrics.

What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
We just found a new-to-us-sewing machine at the Goodwill: a Viking Husqvarna from the 70s. It’s a tank! It just needed a tiny bit of elbow grease and it runs like a dream! We now have three in the shop available for rent (among a plethora of other home sewing machines as well). We also just got an industrial serger machine that is super cute! It is from the 60s and is bright avocado green. It’s called a “Baby Lock.”

Where do you shop when you’re not at your store?
We love a good thrift. We won’t reveal our secrets, but we find a lot of our treasures at the Goodwill. All of the clothing and accessories we make are “remade from salvaged parts.”

What do you love about your store’s neighborhood? What nearby restaurants, coffee shops, etc do you recommend?
Our local Stumptown on Pine is a daily morning (and often afternoon) haunt for us. Sometimes we embroider or work on computer stuff before the shop opens. We also love lunching and snacking at Travelers Tea Co.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
Wayne Coyne walked through in a giant clear plastic bubble rolled along by woodland elves! Yeah right, but that would be awesome. Men are sewing! Lots of men are sewing. They want to fix their own things and have ideas about how their clothing could fit better. It’s great! We are thinking of starting a sewing singles group…we’ll keep you posted!

NOTE: Scenic Drive’s next indoor marketplace goes down on Saturday May 28 from 2 to 9. See the store’s event page for more information.

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