Meet Kaitlin Uemura and Kaitlin Madriaga, the dynamic duo bringing together style, expert design, and Nihonmachi (or Japantown) history at Sairen, their modern boutique in Seattle’s International District. Sairen features a hand-crafted pottery, unique clothing and accessories, and one-of-a-kind cards and gifts with the goal to uplift and highlight local Asian-American and POC designers and artists. Opened in 2020, Kaitlin Uemura and Kaitlin Madriaga also showcase works by local artists on their shop walls and seek to spread the knowledge about Seattle’s Nihonmachi community.
Get to know more about the Kaitlins behind Sairen in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What’s your favorite part about the International District where Sairen is in and why?
KU: That everybody knows everyone. We’re humbled by how people have heard about us because of the community being so supportive, and they’ve been able to spread the word about us. We’re humbled that even Uwajimaya gave us a shoutout on Instagram like, ‘Hey welcome to the neighborhood!’ We’re so thankful that people have been so welcoming.
What’s your favorite way to #SpendLikeItMatters right now?
KU: We eat out a lot! I just went and picked up Plum Bistro to go. We love supporting all of the local businesses that are minority owned. It feels like we’re ‘allowed’ to do it, in a way. Before when I got takeout I felt bad, like ‘Oh, I really shouldn’t, I should make my own food.’ But now I’m like, ‘Well, I’m supporting businesses by getting takeout, it’s okay.’
KM: Definitely food. We’re always buying for our store, so we get to scroll through Intentionalist or other Seattle blogs to find new small business owners and find new places to get accessories or earrings, too.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
KM: When people spend like it matters and when someone purchases something that you made for a small business, that brings life to that artist. Someone is valuing the hard work you put in, maybe from the years of practice you’ve had and this person appreciates the feeling you’ve put into that art or into accessories. When people can connect to stories about makers, that’s what people are looking for, too. It’s such an important thing to put a face to a product. As we were going through the holiday season, unable to see people, people wanted to come in and see the community and support small businesses, and they wanted to put a face to a product instead of clicking a button from a big website. Valuing people. That’s what we want at the end of the day.