What do Intentionalist, Frelard Tamales, Terra Plata, Salare, and Hood Famous all have in common? A love for our communities and a drive to make the world more equitable, inclusive, and intentional. 

On April 30th, we invited four amazing restaurant owners and the Intentionalist community to a dinner party and virtual event celebrating Intentionalist’s three year anniversary — and it was an evening to remember.  

Food-lover, Seattle-lover, and Intentionalist-lover Ruchika Tulshyan and Intentionalist founder and CEO Laura Clise hosted the virtual celebration, featuring a panel discussion with business owners behind the four course meal, and wrapped up with a fireside chat between Ruchika and Laura.

As Ruchika kicked off the event, she pointed out the diversity of people in attendance, which included small business owners, community members, local journalists, community-based organizations, and partners. The common denominator? People who love Seattle, love small businesses, and believe in the power of intentional spending. 

Laura began her conversation with Dennis Ramey and Osbaldo Hernandez of Frelard Tamales; Linda Di Lello Morton of Terra Plata; Edouardo Jordan of Salare and JuneBaby; and Chera Amlag of Hood Famous Cafe + Bar, noting her appreciation for the ways that each business looks out for and takes care of the community.

“You all serve some of, truly, my favorite food in the city,” Laura said. “Yet when I talk about why I love you, I don’t usually talk about the food first.” 

With that in mind, Laura asked the business owners to share something people may not know about them already. They shared origin stories, stories of resilience, and even a lesson in Italian. 

Salare is chef and owner Edouardo Jordan’s first restaurant. When it opened, he said people expected him to serve Southern food as a nod to his heritage. Instead, Salare began as a nod to his culinary journey. 

Before Salare opened, Edouardo had the opportunity to go to Italy, where he learned how to make fresh pasta and the art of curing meats and salamis.

“I was in the butcher shop with the butcher and he kept saying, ‘Salare, salare,’ and I was like, ‘What are you saying?’” Edouardo said. “And salare means to preserve, to cure. That’s where the name came from.” 

During Intentionalist’s three year anniversary celebration, Laura also took the opportunity to look forward. She asked the business owners about their visions of what communities can create as a new normal as they start to come out of the COVID-19 shutdown. 

“All we could do was barely keep our head above water and try to get oxygen and survive this pandemic,” Linda said about the early weeks of the shutdown. “Everybody in the community somehow found the energy and the time and the love to just help each other more than they ever have.”

Going forward, Linda wants the community to continue to show up for each other and to create a community-driven economy. 

Osbaldo and Dennis have proven the power of a community-driven economy and noted that they were able to facilitate $75,000 worth of flower sales for Hmong family-owned flower growers. The two partners shared how Frelard Tamales has partnered with over 25 different minority-owned small businesses, providing an additional platform to sell products and expand their customer base. 

Chera chimed in and noted the way communities organized to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have more power in numbers, and we have more power when we do things collectively,” Chera said. “I don’t want to go back to normal.” 

She stressed the importance of prioritizing the most marginalized small businesses because those will be the first to close their doors. 

“If we lose small businesses, we are going to lose what Seattle is all about,” Edouardo said. 

Edouardo echoed how his community stepped up to support him and added that he wants to make sure the inequalities in the restaurant industry are not ignored after COVID-19. He wants to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the industry and to Seattle, and he knows no one can do it alone.

“We are little pebbles, but mound them together, we are a huge mountain, and we can shine,” Edouardo said. 

These visions of the future are a real possibility as long as we understand how our everyday spending decisions shape the community around us. Just as much as we rely on small businesses, they rely on us. 

Intentionalist three year anniversary
Photo credit: Jeriel Calamayan

“We aren’t just stuck with the world as it operates around us,” Laura said. She also noted that while the past year has marked a shift in culture regarding how we show up for each other, Intentionalist’s mission is still the same: harnessing consumer spending to support our community. 

As the event drew to a close, she encouraged people to visit a small business, have a conversation with the person on the other side of the counter, get to know them, and be the reason their day is a bit brighter. 

Although the celebration wasn’t in person, attendees weren’t shy in sharing their love and excitement. The Zoom chat was full of business suggestions and heartfelt messages of thanks and appreciation for the leadership of Laura, Osbaldo, Chera, Linda, and Edouardo throughout the past year.

During Intentionalist’s three year anniversary celebration, Laura also announced the launch of the Intentionalist membership program. There are four membership tiers: Community Connector, Community Builder, Community Champion, and Community Innovator. Each tier helps support the Intentionalist mission and gives members early access to new features, exclusive monthly intentional offers, events, and giveaways, and the good karma of helping Intentionalist stay free for small businesses.

“Over the past few years tens of thousands of people have used Intentionalist to discover, learn about and spend like it matters at the diverse small businesses that are the heart and soul of our communities.” Laura said. “We’ve been reminded that every day decisions, seemingly incidental decisions, about where we eat, drink, and shop truly shape the community around us. As we think of what’s to come we know we have to do more and we know that autopilot isn’t the answer. We truly need to be more intentional.”

Thank you to all who helped us celebrate Intentionalist’s three year anniversary. 

Thanks for all that you do to #SpendLikeItMatters! Discover awesome brick + mortar small businesses in your community, suggest your favorites, and be sure that you’re following us on social media (InstagramFacebookTwitter).

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters

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