Photo by Jose Trujillo

Give the Gift of Looking Good While Doing Some Good

Simple & Just offers designer shopping for a cause.

Queen Anne Avenue is home to many upscale, one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques for women, but one affordable newcomer offers something the others don’t: an opportunity to support girls who have been victims of trafficking and exploitation.

In the former Video Isle space, Carolyn Quatier, a former manager of tailoring and alterations at Nordstrom, has opened Simple & Just (2213 Queen Anne Ave. N., 588-0257), a high-end second-hand clothing and accessories nonprofit shop whose dollars go to providing care to survivors ages 13 to 17 from Seattle and Portland. The organizations that benefit from dollars spent at the store cover all aspects of what a survivor needs to get back on her feet, from housing and health care to mentoring and education, and include Door to Grace, Real Escape From Sex Trafficking, Organization for Prostitution Survivors, Northwest Children’s Outreach, and Unbound, among others.

Quatier has been working in the nonprofit sector for 15 years. In 2009 she started Door to Grace in Portland and organized a community of volunteers, mentors, and staff trained in treating trauma and abuse with a faith-based component. While building that organization, she was witness to the difficulties involved in allocating staff time to working with the girls and fundraising. That is where Simple & Just comes in. The store, which opened on October 1, is a sustainable source of funding that gives people not aligned with the world of philanthropy a way to contribute. “Not everyone can afford expensive tickets to an auction, not everyone is part of a foundation, but everyone can participate here,” she says.

By participating, she means the donation and purchase of clothes, handbags, jewelry, and other accessories available in the lovely, on-trend space that has nary a hint of the musty grandmother’s-closet look of many resale shops. Simple & Just presents a clean, fresh aesthetic with its rustic wood walls, gold geometric art, faux fur throws strewn on dressing-room chairs, cowhide rug, and succulents dotted throughout. The clothing, for women and men, leans toward designer labels (though Quatier insists she won’t turn down an item from, say, Old Navy if it’s cute and trendy). There’s even a “sparkle shop” in the back—a rack of blingy holiday pieces that includes party and cocktail dresses—that is perfect for high-school girls looking for an affordable but fashionable homecoming outfit or perhaps someone gearing up for a night at the ballet or symphony. You might even snag a Coach or Ferragamo handbag or some designer denim, all of it generally offered at a third of its retail price.

Quatier chose Queen Anne for the flagship store because she lives in Queen Anne and “there wasn’t a place here to donate to regularly… . I was always going to Ballard. I wanted somewhere that had had foot traffic and had both the shoppers and the donors nearby.” And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the high-income zip code has plenty of women and men who are prone to buy—and donate—expensive wares.

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