Meet Wazhma Samizay, the owner of Retail Therapy in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. A music lover and from a family who immigrated from Kabul, Afghanistan, Wazhma has been running her wonderfully quirky boutique since 2002 — the first boutique on Capitol Hill’s Pike Street corridor. The unique boutique specializes in clothing, gifts, jewelry, cards, art, and accessories with an emphasis on supporting small independent artists and designers — something Wazhma has been doing since she first opened her shop. With 19 years of being in business, Wazhma has created a community-driven space that proves anyone can benefit from a little retail therapy.
Fun fact: Retail Therapy is one of the recently announced recipients of the Comcast RISE award!
Get to know more about Wazhma and Retail Therapy in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A!
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in and why?
I mean, I love Capitol Hill for a lot of reasons — the big one is the diversity. I love the arts community here. I love that it feels like a small town in the middle of the big city because most of us up here know each other, and I love the sense of community with my neighborhood. I know also the business owners, we all look out for each other, we support one another. Those are some big ones for me.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
I think intentionality makes a huge difference. I talk to people all the time about the $5 T-shirt — there’s no such thing as a $5 T-shirt. There’s effort and resources and work that comes from so many other people long before it lands in your hands. […] Yes, the $5 T-shirt or the Amazon thing might be the easiest, quickest, least expensive way to do things, but the greater cost of it is so much more than having some intentionality and spending in a place that has more consideration of the bigger picture — consideration for the wellbeing of not just myself, but the people who make the clothes and what impact it was environmentally at a global scale. All these different things, they’re made by hundreds of people and hundreds of hours and their dreams. […] I think that’s the biggest part of why it matters.
What are some of your favorite local businesses and why?
I love Life on Mars. It’s probably my favorite local neighborhood bar that I go to. I love the music, the wall of records, the sense of community in there — I love that people know my name there. I appreciate that they’re the first bar to do a dry night, exploring, offering drinks that aren’t driven strictly by alcohol. I love Communion. That’s an incredible restaurant. I love all the good that Kristi [Brown] does by helping feed the community, but also the space just feels lush and rich and it’s a space I want to be in. In terms of retail stores, I love SugarPill, I love Retrofit — they’re all great, woman-owned businesses. I love Sweatbox Yoga, which is around the corner from me. All these places exhibit a sense of love for their community and their surroundings.