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The first words that come to mind when walking into
Edmonds’ c’est la Vie (pronounced Say La Vee) are
colorful, eclectic, and fun. The entry walkway and
surrounding walls are artistically lined with quotes
that range from the funny to the heartfelt, setting the perfect
mood for what you’ll find in the store. “There’s always something unexpected when you come in here,” c’est la Vie’s owner Colleen Bowman said.

It’s no wonder, as Bowman traverses the world traveling
once a month to find every unique item under the sun, including jewelry, clothes, glassware, books, and furniture. “I go to the trade shows to see where everyone is going,
and I go the other way,” Bowman said while chatting about how she stays diverse. “If something we have saturates the market, we move on.”

Bowman, who grew up in Portland, wanted to bring a
bit of Portland’s unique boutique vibe to the greater Seattle
area. Equipped with that experience and 16 years of working
for Nordstrom, she opened c’est la Vie in April of
2001. Bowman chose Edmonds for its small-town feel and great downtown core, and has since opened a second location
in Renton.

You feel good shopping at c’est la Vie—Bowman chooses
to work with companies and people who either give back to
their communities in some way, or stand for something good
in the world. She carries brands like Los Angeles-based Good
hYOUman, which specializes in telling the human story of
love and loss through all of life’s ups and downs in a positive
way. Bowman also partners with local organizations like
Operation Military Family (OMF) and the Domestic Abuse
Women’s Network (DAWN) through fashion shows and seminars that they host and run.

c’est la Vie will continue to surprise you with not only the
brands they carry, but with an ever revolving door of new
products. The staff keeps their eye out for regulars and makes
courtesy calls that feel more like chatting with a girlfriend
about an outfit.

A current favorite among the customers and staff is the
customizable Heather B. Moore jewelry. For now, c’est la Vie
is the only shop in Washington State to carry her work. Each
pendant or piece can be hand designed to feature everything
from a drawing one of your children created, to a handwritten
message from your mother, or a special sentiment from
your partner. Many customers collect several pieces that tell
individual life stories through their jewelry that then become
prized heirlooms.

When talking about Heather B. Moore jewelry in the back
room with Bowman and Leslie Storey, the Edmonds store
manager, a customer popped her head in and asked, “Have
you started yours yet? You start with one, and it just becomes
addictive,” as she showed off the many meaningful pendants
she wore. This type of casual back room banter personifies
c’est la Vie’s open environment. “People become friends here,”
Storey said. 

The familiarity of friendship in the atmosphere was most
notably demonstrated on September 11, 2001, when they
were one of the only shops open in downtown Edmonds that
day. Bowman said she opened not to do business but to be a
place for people to gather and talk. “I just needed to be there
for people,” Bowman said. 

c’est la Vie continues to be a place where hugs are given
out, tears are shed together, and laughter is enjoyed by staffers
and customers alike. “It’s all about the conversation
here,” Colleen said. “It’s the most important thing about the
store for me.”

c’est la vie translated from French to English means “such
is life” or “that’s life,” and the people here seem to be doing
more than shopping, they’re sharing life together—just one
of the perks of shopping in the North End.

clvcatalog.com
Edmonds Location: 320 5th Ave. S., Edmonds
Renton Location: 911 North 10th Pl., Renton
Check store website for each location’s hours.

"You feel good shopping at c’est la Vie—Bowman chooses to work with companies and people who either give back to their communities in some way, or stand for something good in the world. She carries brands like Los Angeles-based Good hYOUman, which specializes in telling the human story of love and loss through all of life’s ups and downs in a positive way. "