KINGSTON — Local illustrator and graphic designer Kelsey Hanson was looking for a new office/studio space when she stumbled across a location in downtown Kingston, next to Mora Iced Creamery.
“I wasn’t looking to do this,” Hanson said. “I went looking for an office-studio space for my design business and found the retail spot. So I called my sister that day and said, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’ and she was like, ‘Heck, yeah!’ ”
Boutiques run in the family for Hanson and her sister, Emily Young. Both of their grandmothers owned and operated boutiques in Seattle and Spokane in the 1950s.
“Our grandmas are like our spirit animals,” Hanson said.
But the siblings didn’t picture themselves as shop owners until they signed the lease.
“When I found this space I was like, ‘Why don’t we just open up a little shop and see what happens’,” Hanson said. “The idea is basically a gift shop, cute stuff that we love that you couldn’t find otherwise.”
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 2, Hanson and Young opened their shop, “Black Eyed Rascals,” to the public. The soft-opening event featured cookies and music, and shoppers mixed, mingled and perused the sisters’ cute and quirky merchandise.
The name originates from their grandmother, Merna Soper, who referred to her grandchildren as “little black-eyed rascals” because of their big brown eyes.
To the siblings — now in their 20s and 30s and with children of their own — the name stuck.
“She used to call us ‘rascals’ for short,” Hanson said.
Hanson, who designs logos and markets brands through her design shop “Vocal,” will feature her water-colored sketches and linoleum block prints.
Young, who creates jewelry and items with an “edge,” says her and her sister’s various styles seem to complement each other in a fun way.
“This is like our own little clubhouse,” Hanson said. “It’s filled with a bunch of stuff we like and we hope others enjoy it too.”
The shop features created and curated paper goods, gifts, decor, accessories, and “whatever else we feel like,” Hanson said.
Of the artsy-edgy merchandise, Hanson added, “sometimes it has bad words on it.”
She laughed, “We wanted to bring cute stuff to Kingston for people to make them smile.”
Mora manager Lauren Williams said of her new neighbors, “I’m excited to have a fresh business in there.”
Hanson signed a one-year lease, and hopes to extend it if the business is good.
“I want this to be a good resource for locals,” Hanson said. “We grew up here. We wanted to have a cool local shop full of fun, artsy, trendy, and interesting stuff.”