Jill Wenger is the Seattle-based owner of the highly tasteful store Totokaelo. A wise mix of minimalist and edgy clothes, from major designers to upcoming talents,and home décor pieces with a whole furniture line designed by Jill herself in collaboration with local talents. We had a chat with this pragmatic yet creative woman who explained to us her idea of fashion.
Tell us about your background and roots.
My background is unsensational. It doesn’t explain or make sense of how I landed where I did. Then again, that might qualify it as sensational?
When did you decide to found Totokaelo and what did you bring to this choice?
I founded Totokaelo in 2003. It was a quick and easy decision. I wanted an inspiring place to work, something I could invest myself in. Something with a sense of purpose.
Why did you choose this name? What does it mean?
The roots are Latin, Toto = total and Caelo = sky. Total sky. The western translation is “the sky is the limit.”
What is your own idea of fashion? What does it represent for you?
Fashion represents self expression. It enables us to convey our values and ideas. It provides insight to others about what’s important to us. It helps us find people like ourselves.
What role has Seattle got in your life and work? Are there other places in the world that influence you and why?
In Seattle I learned why people purchase clothing. I learned that real businesses are built on real relationships with real people. Embracing Seattle’s underlying attitudes and sensibility enabled me to see through trends and hype and focus on what’s universally and timelessly good.
What has influenced your personal taste besides your interest in fashion and design?
My pragmatic nature. My understanding of how the world works. My desire to be and build something exceptional.
Your store selection has got a very defined, sophisticated yet subtle taste. How would you describe the typical Totokaelo person?
They are intelligent, well-traveled, open minded and confident.
How does the search for new talented and independent designers you represent work?
I’m not proactive about finding new talent, I'd rather wait to see what falls in my path.
What are your plans for the future?
To grow Totokaelo and expand our global presence — more stores and an evolving e-commerce presence.