Meet Shannon Koyano — stand-up comedian, podcaster, mom, and owner of her gift shop Hella Happy! in Madison Valley in Seattle. Shannon’s socially-conscious, eco-conscious, and unique gift boutique is on a mission to make people, well, hella happy since opening in 2019. You’ll find a little something for everyone at Hella Happy! — including a variety of eccentric and vibrant gift items like cards, clothes, jewelry, home decor, and more. Born and raised in Seattle, Shannon makes a point to source 40% to 50% of her products from local artists and makers, and proceeds from select products support social justice initiatives like Black Lives Matter and organizations in LA working to stop AAPI hate.
When she’s not in her store, you can find Shannon recording Dank Moms, her comedy podcast she hosts with her best friend where they discuss being single moms doing stand-up comedy, relationships, weed, and being Asian American.
Get to know more about Shannon and Hella Happy! in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
A side thing that I do is stand-up comedy and I also co-produce, co-creator of a podcast. I’ve just always loved making people laugh and I come from a pretty funny family. And it just always made me feel good, and I think it makes other people feel good — I feel like laughter is medicine. After I got past my freak out of if I should try [stand-up comedy] or not, I went to a few open mics here in Seattle, and on the third one I just said, “OK, I’m just going to go up here and do it and see what happens.” And luckily, I did OK! [She laughs]. When you can make a room full of people feel really good and really happy and have a great time, there’s something kind of magical about that.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
I feel like the name of my store is something that people always comment on. I brainstormed a lot, and I definitely wanted a name that stood out. I got some advice from a friend of mine that also owns a small gift shop in Seattle, and she was like, “There’s pretty much two routes that are the best options to take when naming your store. It has to either be really weird or crazy in some way, and the other route is to name it exactly what it is.” And she has two stores, Monster and Ugly Baby. I definitely wanted to go the unique route because that’s everything to me. I was like, “What name can express what I want people to experience when they’re in here?” And that’s what I fell upon, Hella Happy.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
I think that, especially due to the pandemic, because I was born and raised here in Seattle, I feel like I know most of the businesses that have been here for a long time. I have been there, I’ve shopped there, I’ve eaten there, so when I see them closing, it’s like a part of the city, to me, is dying. And I know that’s happening everywhere. Small businesses are really struggling due to the pandemic, and I just feel like small businesses are the character of your city. Those are the people typically that are born or at least somehow associated with that city, so that is your community. That is your culture. That is what sets your city apart from anywhere else.