Benita Smith, curator and owner at Adorned Abode in Tacoma, WA.

The idea for Adorned Abode began with a rolling pin. 

Not just your average rolling pin — one that was crafted in Poland and embossed with an intricate pattern that imprinted on dough when rolled out.

It was specialty products like this that gave Benita Smith the idea to open her gift shop, Adorned Abode in Tacoma, WA. She was constantly searching for special items she could never find in stores. Why was it so hard to find the unique gifts she was looking for locally?

Lavendar Geranium shower steamers at Adorned Abode from a woman of color-owned business, Thulisa Naturals. (Photo: Adorned Abode)

Adorned Abode is located in Tacoma’s historic Freighthouse Square, which Benita calls “an introvert’s paradise.” The old hardwood floors and kitchen hood left from the restaurant that used to rent the space gives Adorned Abode its character and signature sense of home. The shop is filled with a wide range of thoughtfully-sourced products — from astrological candles to travel journals to fry bread kits — all hand picked by Benita. 

“I would describe [Adorned Abode] as unique, eclectic, and thoughtfully curated,” Benita said.

Originally from Missouri, Benita went to college in Arizona where she earned her degree in family studies and social work and then moved to Washington with her husband. She had a career in merchandising before opening Adorned Abode, but deep down she always knew there was something more in store for her. 

One day, a lightbulb went on as she was searching for her next opportunity: she should open a store. But what would she sell? It was when she found her embossed rolling pin that the answer became clear — a gift shop filled with unique things she loves. 

Benita has always had an affinity toward the eclectic. She started Adorned Abode by doing pop-ups in the greater Seattle area to help build her brand. She sold her coveted rolling pins and 1950’s-style body powder — the ones with fancy powder puffs and all. But she always had a vision of seeing her products in a physical space.

“The one question everyone was asking was, ‘Do you have a store?’” Benita said. “The timing was good, and things just fell in place.”

Within a few months of her successful pop-ups, she opened Adorned Abode in a 400-square-foot space in Freighthouse Square in 2016. She’s since upgraded to a storefront next door with twice the square footage where Adorned Abode now resides.

When looking for new products, Benita likes to strike a balance between what her community requests and what she’s interested in. She’ll often get ideas from vendor markets and looks for well-packaged, unique products she hopes will resonate with people.

“I like to just add a little whimsy and wow,” Benita said about her store.

At Adorned Abode, Benita makes gift giving easy. She works with people and really gets to know them to find the right gift that perfectly suits their personality. 

“I work really hard to bring a well-curated shop, and I like to make shopping easy for people,” she said.

Balsamic vinegar sold at Adorned Abode from Native-owned company Seka Hills. (Photo: Adorned Abode)

But Benita doesn’t just care about what she’s buying — she cares about who she’s buying from. A lot of the products at Adorned Abode are from small makers, people of color, and local makers in the area. She’s continuously working to support PoC makers and makers who align with her and her customers’ values. 

“It’s an energy exchange in some ways,” Benita said. “If someone has an art or an idea and they work their fingers to the bone to produce it, you’re going to get a part of them with that.”

Benita says she loves how advocacy driven her community is for underrepresented groups, small businesses, entrepreneurship, and education. She also serves on the board of the Tacoma Women of Color Collective that’s mission is to create a space for professional women of color to foster community, collaborate, and share professional, educational, and life resources.

“As an African-American woman, there were a lot of times in my family where they pursued being entrepreneurs but hit roadblocks,” Benita said. “I know the struggle of my relatives and even extending to other people of color — we have a struggle with people respecting our brand and seeing us as an authority. It’s important for me to represent for future generations to let people know you can build something out of nothing.”

And that’s exactly what Benita has done with Adorned Abode. Through her strong vision and keen eye, Benita has managed to build a truly unique place where people can find one-of-a-kind gifts for any occasion. 

You can shop Adorned Abode’s website for all your gift-giving needs, or schedule a personal shopping appointment with Benita where she can help you find the perfect gifts for any occasion.

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Intentionalist is your local guide to small businesses and the diverse people behind them. We believe that where you spend your money matters, and we’re sure glad you do too! Whether you identify as a localist, activist, or just a good neighbor, we make it easy for you to connect with, learn about, and support small businesses in your community through everyday decisions about where you eat, drink, and shop.

By Kristina Rivera

Federal Way

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