Get to know Harold Fields, owner and okazu pan prodigy at Umami Kushi in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood. Harold talks about his love for Rainier Beach, his favorite places to #SpendLikeItMatters, and the importance of supporting minority-owned businesses in a Q&A with Intentionalist.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood Umami Kushi is in and why?
My favorite part about the neighborhood is that it’s unpretentious. I think there’s a certain realness to Rainier Beach. When I moved in and I had worked here for a year by myself, I was so proud that I had my own business, that I was in the community, and I would see other African-Americans. You can sit here, and you’re in the heart of the neighborhood. There was a sense of feeling successful and finally feeling comfortable in Seattle. I didn’t feel like I was trying to fit in an area of the city for a change. I could just be myself and concentrate on making something unique.
Where do you like to #SpendLikeItMatters?
The Station because I support a lot of the businesses that support my business. A lot of the coffee shops that I go to are coffee shops that buy from me. If it’s people who don’t do business with me, it’s Edouardo [Jordan] of Junebaby because he’s a great chef and Island Soul. I support Hood Famous, Seattle Fish Guys. A lot of the places I’ve done business with or like, it’s just comfortable talking with them. When you’re a small business owner, you are a minority in the business world. There’s a certain amount of fight you have to have for your business to survive. I think there’s a lot of commonalities a lot of us share, like with Coté from Resistencia. We have a lot of the same shared ideals about business and we’re in the same boat as minorities.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
[Minority-owned businesses] sustain the cultural growth of the city. They sustain diversity, foster economic growth, and it rejuvenates interest within those communities — and I’m specifically speaking about African-Americans. When you spend with me, you help my business continue to grow in an area that has a large presence of African-Americans. That large presence saved my business, sustaining its success. [Umami Kushi] encourages them, it motivates them, and gives them belief and hope. When you intentionally spend your money with me, you’re developing a culture of people who believe they can be successful too.