Meet Anisha Kili and Millie Phung, the owners of Only in Downtown Seattle.
Not only are the clothing garments at Only timeless and chic, they’re also sustainably made and ethically sourced. After noticing how difficult it was to find high-quality closet basics, founders Anisha and Millie decided to start a brand of their own. In 2023, after years of hard work, they opened their first pop-up location in Downtown Seattle.
A participant in the Seattle Restored activation, Only’s minimalist pieces are designed with quality and versatility in mind, suitable for any occasion. Each garment is ethically and environmentally sound, so you can feel good about what you wear and look fabulous doing it.
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Learn more about Anisha, Millie, and Only in this week’s Business Spotlight.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in & why?
Downtown Seattle is the heart of the city – surrounded by public transportation, the Pike Place Market, local businesses, art, venues, and a short walk to the beautiful waterfront, attracting a diverse crowd – which makes downtown the perfect representation of Seattle. We love that we are able to walk around and easily discover new boutiques, restaurants, and events.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
People vote with their dollars and by word of mouth on the type of businesses they want around. Local and small businesses tend to be invested in their communities, providing safe places to gather, resources, and products and services people can rely on. Through the support of our community, we are able to reinvest in the neighborhood by hosting events and supporting other local small businesses.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
In December 2021, we released our first collection and shortly after, were invited to share our line at New York Fashion Week in February 2022. The craziest decision we ever made was accepting the invite with less than a month to prepare and with no prior experience with fashion shows, especially one of this magnitude. Unfortunately, with the short timeframe, we had to work tirelessly for two weeks straight to put together marketing content, mood boards, product photos, an accessory partnership, audio, visuals, and more. We were fortunate to have product photography support from friends.
Fast forward, we arrived in New York City a week before the fashion show and immediately jumped into model casting calls for two days. One day leading up to our show, one of our models canceled, so we had to scramble to find a backup. Luckily, we had created a roster of models and were able to secure one.
A couple of hours prior to our show, we were informed one of our models was to walk for the designers presenting before us, so we adjusted the order of the outfits for a more seamless transition. Our model had just enough time to zip up her pants before walking out onto the runway. Despite the unforeseen moments leading up to the fashion show, the show went smoothly.
The experience as a whole was very humbling and we are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to walk at New York Fashion Week.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Something our customers may not know about us, is that we design our clothes and do the fabric sourcing in-house. Our clothes are also manufactured responsibly in the US at a non-profit organization in Missouri, empowering women through professional growth opportunities.
What are some of your favorite local businesses and why?
Dyme Designs – Our favorite jewelry brand specializing in jade and gold. A family-owned business that does a wonderful job of sharing the legacy of Chinese culture, and are truly an advocate for the community and other local businesses. | www.dymedesigns.com
Rikini – Our favorite bikini brand offering quality, handmade crocheted pieces made to perfectly fit every body type. | Instagram: @rikinisbyrisi
Blue Note Soaps – Our favorite sustainable soap brand handmade in Tacoma. Their hand soap bars are super moisturizing and smell heavenly! | Sold at Only
Phocific Standard Time – One of our favorite restaurants offering a unique modern spin on classic Vietnamese cuisine. The upstairs speakeasy transports you into “Việt tree house”. | Instagram: @pst.seattle
Anything else you’d like us to know about you and your business?
Only is also an event space! Join The Circle or check out our website for upcoming events.