A Visit to Totokaelo

We were very excited to chat with Jill Wenger, owner of Seattle-based Totokaelo, one of our favorite shops. We’ve been long fans of its clean, simple design and its focus on minimalist and edgy fashion, from Rick Owens to Jil Sander to Issey Miyake. A few years ago, Jill expanded the shop to include a sister store, Art—Object, that focuses on handmade and unique home decor and art objects. The latest expansion is Totokaelo Man, focused on men’s fashion and accessories, creating a trifecta of awesome that we can’t get enough of. Read on to find out where Totokaelo will go next…


Why did you pick this city/neighborhood?

It’s my favorite neighborhood in Seattle.

Where did you get the name for the store? How do you pronounce it? Why is the “l” silent?

My friend, Mark Kincaid came up with it. (TOH-toh-KYE-oh). The “L” being silent is a long and goofy story.


What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?

Rapid growth is incredible. It’s exciting. But at times it feels like being strapped into a non-stop Gravitron.

What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?

Totokaelo is my first job.

Jill's favorites

Jill’s favorites

What’s your favorite item in the store right now?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Undercover Plaid Bomber
Correll Correll Velvet Circle Tee
Helen Levi Gilded Eye Cup

What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?

I prefer a constant evolution to seasonal themes. I don’t think people change seasonally, so their tastes and wardrobes shouldn’t shift that rapidly either.



What’s been a consistent best seller?

Some of our best sellers include a men’s Jil Sander Confetti Sweater, Shaina Mote Lucid Dress, and an A.P.C. No.4 Orange Flower Scented Candle.

Does the store have its own line?

Yes, we have a furniture line I designed in collaboration with some great local talent.

Any special events/exhibits/pop ups/collabs coming up?

I hired a new Creative Director and some new creative talent so we’ve got lots of change in the works, ranging form the store to an editorial overhaul of all three websites.


Do you have anything from the store in your own home?

Yes! Everything in my house is from Totokaelo. With some vintage and found objects mixed in. And lots and lots of books. Totokaelo Art—Object is a reflection of my space and personal taste.

Why did you decide to launch a men’s shop?

My vision for Totokaelo was always to grow into an inclusive specialty shop that spans women’s and men’s fashion, home and art—object. The point of view is specific. But we want to explore as many different mediums and categories as possible. We are expanding into cafes and hotels next.


Photos courtesy of Totokaelo.

Visit Totokaelo at 1523 10th Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98122 or online here.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.