You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Seattle, WA

One of Many - Photo Essay 8 of 12

Story by Wesley Verhoeve February 4th, 2016


What: One of Many is a monthly series of photo essays about twelve American cities and their creative communities.

Who: Designers, woodworkers, chefs, engineers, illustrators, writers and anyone else making something that moves people.

Why: To inspire and be inspired by the independent creative movement that is reshaping our economy and culture. To encourage others to make the leap. To empower those already there, and let them know they’re not alone.

Why Now: The growing creative independent movement, along with renewed interest in life outside the big cities, is rapidly reshaping our economy and culture.

Read much more at and find below the ninth of twelve One of Many essays.

Many thanks to the good folks at Squarespace for helping make this project possible. I highly recommend using Squarespace to build your own website. Use the code “oneofmany” to get a 10% discount, and you’ll be supporting One of Many in a small way.


The Start Of Something

Megan Thomas Cronin is a photographer and doula, or baby catcher as she likes to say. We spoke about birth, and death, and our tendencies to want to control both. Two years ago, she became a mother herself, which strongly impacted her work as a doula. The way in which she can now help mothers has broadened beyond her doula experience into a unique example of intimate relation and connection. Megan hopes to become a midwife in the next five years, and to volunteer with an organization that helps people in the last phase of their life as well. Note: Megan and family have since relocated to Charleston, SC.

David Conrad is designer who likes to get involved early on. He co-founded of both Design Commission, a digital product design agency, and prototyping tool UI Stencils. He’s also the long-time host of Seattle’s Creative Mornings chapter, serving the local creative community in ways that brings people together and inspires them to grow and collaborate. Truth and magic were the two words that came to his mind when talking about designing products for the internet. Simplicity was another. David is also a father of two, married to a children’s book author. I can only imagine what a wonderfully creative home environment his son and daughter get to grow up in, and I have a feeling that many years from now they might earn their own profile.



William Van Hecke is a designer who likes his art baroque and his design respectful. He has partnered with Jon Bell to create UX Launchpad, where they teach one-day, hands-on design courses. Jon is also senior product designer at Twitter and the author of a book that he only sold to 100 people, on purpose. William also wrote a book, titled “Learning iOS Design”, which he successfully sold to far more than 100 people, by accident.

The way these two gentlemen played off of each other was both entertaining and inspiring. The fluidity with which they changed in and out of archetype roles in conversation made clear that ultimately there was no Batman and no Robin here, but rather two individuals able to see things from the other’s perspective with ease and for the greater good.



Danielle Hammer is a dancer. It’s easy to tell by the way she moves. Her presence is confident and elegant, tough and energetic. Danielle grew up in Washington state, where she rode horses and motocross. Gymnastics segued into dance during her teens and it eventually brought her to Chicago where she earned her degree and first started working as a professional dancer. She toured nationally and produced her own work in the midwest, until the time was right to return to the Pacific Northwest in 2014 where she now trains others and helps them get in shape as a FlyBarre instructor.

Jordan Hanssen is an author and adventurer. He wrote “Rowing Into the Sons” about rowing 3,200-nautical miles across the North Atlantic, in memory of his late father Jim, after who the boat was named. The book outlines how due to unfortunate miscalculations the four people on the boat only brought enough food to cover part of the trip. This led to tense moments about about 147 pounds of collective weight loss between the four men on the boat. But they made it, and they set a record. As far as covering large distances goes, Jordan also biked across Australia, rowed around Vancouver Island, and canoed 200 miles down the Rio Grande. Jordan is cut from a different cloth.



Lithuanian-born Victoria Wright is a photographer. Her palatable sense of wonder allows a different frame of reference for familiar stories. She has kind heart and an adventurous soul, sometimes hidden away behind a protective layer of mystery. Her imagery can appear detached yet still ring true in beautifully honest ways. When digging a little deeper, you can spot little pieces of herself buried between the lines.

When in the moment, Victoria’s smile lights up the room, and one can imagine it creating a calm and comfortable environment for her subjects and models. An environment in which they can be themselves, and feel safe. It can be tough for a photographer to be on the other side of the lens and let go, but once our friends wandered off, and an honest conversation was had, we found the same place for Victoria.


Leap And The Net Will Appear

Stacia and Dan Cumberland are partners-in-crime and co-founders of Sparkfly Photography. We spoke about the benefits and challenges of working, living, and loving together. Where Dan is the ideating dreamer, Stacia gets down to business to create a sustainable practice based around the ideas. They balance each other out, but like in any partnership, there is the occasional challenge. To ensure their balance remains healthy, the couple has individual creative outlets and side gigs to focus on part time as well. Stacia teaches choir and piano, while Dan writes and speaks about creativity, bolstering both their income diversity, and the way in which they inspire each other outside of their work together.

Gary and Kari Kirkland are, respectively, the owner and the GM of Emerald City Trapeze. Gary was introduced to flying trapeze while on vacation seven years ago. Two years later, he founded Emerald City with the support and assistance of many people, and “above and beyond the call of sanity“. His partner Kari was born into a family of traveling musicians. She focuses on the business aspects and works as a bungee and flying trapeze instructor. Thanks to their unique indoor space and 40 foot ceilings, Emerald City is able to organize classes and shows year round, including extravaganzas like a Halloween show that entertains many previously unfamiliar with the art form. Gary and Kari are spreading joy in the way they know best.


Let's Toast

Holly and her husband Ben Capdevielle are the co-founders Captive Spirits, a distillery specialized in gin. Although Captive has only been around for four years, they’ve already won prestigious international awards for both their Bourbon Barreled Big Gin and their flagship Big Gin. Ben is a third generation distiller, proving once again that no success is overnight. After putting in 15 years of bar industry work, learning the craft, he partnered up with partner Todd Leabman to start his own company. Big Gin is now available in 12 states and 4 countries, with more coming. Step by step.

Dave and Haley are the couple behind Peddler Brewing Company, a beer brewery and tasting room in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Around the time they started dating, Dave was a Boeing engineer while Haley taught math. After many a beer drinking and bike riding date, these lovebirds decided to make the leap and combine both of these passions professionally. A successful Kickstarter campaign enabled them to dive head first into a new career as small business owners. Just to prove that they’re in it for the long haul, they both sport Peddler logo tattoos, so you know it’s real.

Captive Spirits Couple.jpg

Designing The World Around

Joel Fariss is a designer and strategist that is part of a 9 person post-disciplinary design studio called Studio 07. Joel’s entry point and views on architecture and design broadened my understanding, as he talked about applied research, digital-physical design, and brand activation in the real world. Joel also explained that physical spaces are paradoxically increasingly important in a world where more of our lives moves online. He believes that more than most any other field, architecture is perfectly positioned to make a positive impact in the near future, and he made a believer out of me.

Sara McNally and her husband Brad are the co-founders of letterpress company Constellation & Co. After a career as a graphic designer, Sara felt a strong urge to leave her computer screen behind, to focus on making with her hands again. Every day she shows up at her studio in the Fisherman’s Terminal, switches on the light, and starts using machines that are over one hundred years old, pressing greeting cards, invites and other gorgeous typography and design.

Letterpress Gal 336A6511.jpg

Take Your TiME

Caroline Renkin moved from New York City to Seattle ready for a change. As a true outdoors person and a passionate athlete, the Pacific Northwest speaks her language. Before NYC, she studied theater at the University of North Carolina, and these days she brings that same ability to enthuse to a completely different work environment. In her role as a paraprofessional at the University of Washington’s Experimental Education Unit, she teaches kids with an early diagnosis of autism.

Caroline’s fiancé Mike works for swimwear company Blueseventy, where he handles sales for a large swath of the US market. A pretty serious triathlete since childhood, Mike first caught the brand’s attention when they sponsored him for a period after college. A few years later, while working at a bike shop, Mike got back on the company’s radar as an top seller of their products. Having built up an organic relationship over the course of many years made for a natural and easy fit, and the company brought him on board as staff at their seven person US. Five years later, the relationship is still going strong.

Caroline's BF.jpg

A Cup Of Joe

Lindsay Field is a barista at Anchored Ship Coffee and the fiction editor of the Pacifica Literary Review, a small literary arts magazine based in Seattle, WA. She married a man of Dutch descend and intends to look like a pirate at some point today even though eye-patches are seemingly sold out in all of the Ballard.

Chelsey Walker Watson and her brother Keenan founder Slate Coffee Roasters in 2013, and have since expanded to three locations across Seattle. Their emphasis is on showcasing diversity in coffee, sourcing from a variety of countries around the world and using exposure roasting to bring out each unique flavor. The family team takes a collaborative approach, and an informative one, sharing as much information about the origin and process with customers and partners alike. The original Ballard location felt like being invited into a living room. The Seattle rain hit the windows in a steady rhythm, with the steam wand providing percussive accents that signaled yet another beautiful cup of coffee was ready for a member of their extended family.

Anchored Ship.jpg

Late Nights In The Ballard

Nearly every night I spent in the Ballard neighborhood, I made my way over to The Walrus and The Carpenter for some late night oysters, a cocktail, or a full meal. The atmosphere and staff made it into my home away from home, and the food nourished my stomach and soul. A true neighborhood spot by design, Walrus was started in 2009 by chef Renee Erickson, Jeremy Price, and Chad Dale. There’s now a cookbook, a sister bar next door called Barnacle and generally a good wait to get a seat during prime hours. Well worth it, and I can’t wait to go back.


The Bee's Knees

When I first met Lauren Herrick she was a barista at Stumptown’s Capitol Hill location. When I returned for a second time she managed charming and bustling Oddfellow’s Cafe + Bar, and when I returned a third time she had moved over to Oddfellow’s popular sister restaurant The Smith. Lauren must be doing something right.

Also pictured: Alex Wilson, chef at Oddfellow’s Cafe + Bar, and a Blue Smoke alumni who made his way to Seattle via NJ some years ago.


Turning Ideas Into Images

Melanie Richards is a fresh transplant to the city of Seattle. I originally met her at the Fuzzco office in Charleston, where she was a senior designer. She has since moved over to Microsoft, where she works on the browser platform team. Melanie also runs Bad Ass Lady Creatives, where she honors women in the creative field.

Will Foster is a photographer and videographer who specializes in food and adventure. I caught up with him while he was shooting for the aforementioned Slate Coffee Roasters, with his giant American lab Samson in tow.



Katharine Andrews is a designer and maker of utilitarian clothing, including a line of handmade wool bicycling clothing called Telaio. While that sounds like a funny combination, Katharine actually explained that wool breathes the best and does not rely on petroleum industry like most synthetic exercise clothes. That was not the only new fact that I learned, let alone the most interesting. That would actually be that bicycles paved the way for women’s rights through increasing mobility, and helped introduce the idea of women wearing pants. Katharine also makes beautiful dresses and a variety of custom clothing where the motivation is more artistically driven, including some spectacular oversized, Victorian-inspired newsprint-and-cardboard dresses for public performance and gallery display.

Woman 336A6073.jpg

Seattle Vignettes

Mara Winter was mostly a mystery when we met. She stood outside in the rain, covered in a scarf and somehow not getting wet at all. A musician and teacher, and a particularly kind presence outside a coffee shop. That’s all that I know, and sometimes that’s enough to leave a lasting impression.

Ava Ryerson is a music person. She currently works as DJ assistant at KEXP, an influential local Seattle radio station that has gained a fanbase around the country. She moved to Seattle after a period working for various music companies in New York City. The Pacific North West is more her speed,

Phil Nellis is a Mexico-born pastor, educator, and wood worker who made his way to Seattle via Chicago about ten years ago. He is also a husband and father of three who loves to romp through the many forests around Seattle, and digging through crates of vinyl. All of these culminate in an emphasis on the idea of living simply, creatively and intentionally in community.

Mara Winter.jpg

Big Heart, Open Eyes

Dan Cole is a photographer and video game designer. He sees patterns, vanishing lines, and unique perspectives that go unnoticed to most. With a wide open heart, the manmade structures captured in his lens resemble nature. Quietly teasing stories out of silhouettes, Dan can be a quiet man, but one with a lot of stories right below the surface. His eyes will sparkle when given the opportunity to geek out about camera gear or adventures. A kind, talented soul if I ever did meet one.



|| More To Read and See ||

|| Visit for the story behind this project, and information on upcoming cities and essays.
|| Find more photos on Instagram and by searching the hashtag #oneofmanySeattle
|| Find outtakes on Tumblr, published on a regular basis.

PREVIOUS ESSAY: Detroit, MI - Published November, 2015.
NEXT ESSAY: Austin, TX - March, 2016

Follow along in real time via Instagram. Many thanks to the good folks at Squarespace for helping make this project possible. I highly recommend using Squarespace to build your own website. Use the code “oneofmany” to get a 10% discount, and you’ll be supporting One of Many in a small way.