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Seattle Boutique Goes Global as Tourism Rebounds

August 8, 2022

Flora and henri is a Seattle boutique that acts local and thinks global. The Seattle boutique curates ethically-produced, sustainably-made products crafted by artisans local to Seattle and from around the world.

Launched in 1998 as an elevated children’s clothing brand, flora and henri expanded their product line in 2017 to cater to the entire family — women, men, children, and their homes. A larger concept shop opened in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood on First and Jackson streets in the historic Schwabacher Hardware building.

“We look to bring small producer artisans from all over the world that meet my design aesthetic and my business standards,” said Jane Hedreen, owner and designer of flora and henri. “Most of them are positive impact producers on some level, focused on sustainability or elevating employees. It’s fascinating how many brands in our store are focused on ethics.”

Hedreen designs and curates an inventory that allows anyone who walks into her store to experience “the joy of simply beautiful things.” She draws inspiration from nature; good, nourishing food enjoyed around the family table; the women in her life who have and continue to influence her; and Seattle itself.

Growing up in a family who worked in the hotel industry in Seattle, working with customers comes naturally to her.  

“Hospitality is part of being in retail,” she said. “When you travel to other cities you look for unique opportunities to see specialty stores that you don’t see every place you go.”

Flora and henri is one of those stores.

Cruising through Seattle

After two challenging years during the pandemic, Hedreen said she can feel business bouncing back, particularly during the summer influx of tourists and cruise passengers roaming the city.

“In general more people are in the store and it feels like people are traveling again,” she said. “We are always enthusiastic to receive people from out of town.”

The return of cruise ships to Seattle in 2022 will bring a record-setting 1.2 million passengers on 296 ships departing from Seattle. The cruise industry brings nearly $900 million in economic benefit to the region, fueling businesses in the downtown core like flora and henri.

Hedreen said the Pioneer Square neighborhood is also evolving as the Seattle waterfront changes and brings more travelers to the neighborhood.

Tourists are coming to the area surrounding the boutique for many good reasons: the popular General Porpoise Donuts, other building tenants like cafes and wineries, popular restaurants like Il Terrazzo Carmine and London Plane down the street, and proximity to the busy ferry terminals. And that means more business for flora and henri.

“I really hope to be a part of the next chapter for Pioneer Square as it becomes part of the expanding waterfront and greening of the streets,” she said.  

Building resiliency

During the pandemic, flora and henri pivoted its already existing web business and leaned on the support of a loyal and generous customer base and a supportive landlord, who provided 24-hour security to keep the building safe.

“We had a Bainbridge Island customer who told us ‘I don’t need anything but sell me something because I want you to be there when COVID is over’,” she said.

Flora and henri already had a virtual presence so during the pandemic Hedreen and her staff worked on maximizing the ease and feasibility of shopping online. They relied on their website, increased email marketing efforts, and offered drive-by pick up. And even started a service where customers could select items online, then try the outfit on in the store's dressing room that was stocked for their arrival.

Back to the store

In 2022, Hedreen is enjoying the return to in-store shopping.

“My Seattle in-store sales are up from June last year,” she said. “From what I’m  reading and seeing, in addition to a return to tourism, more people in the area who were shopping online are coming into the store as well.”

She said flora and henri offers customers a beautiful, light-filled, airy space with a Nordic feel.

“They are often really struck by the curation of objects,” she said. “Our products are always changing; we are always bringing in new things.”

Some popular items this summer include:

*Top photo credit: Rafael Soldi

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