Anne-Marie Faiola owns Bramble Berry, a soap making supplies company, and she loves Bellingham so much it was in her wedding vows! We chatted with her just before she took the Bramble Berry team on a Christmas shopping spree for local kids.
I came to Bellingham because my ex-husband went to Huxley Environmental College, and I fell in love with Bellingham to such an extent that when that marriage did not work I still made it my life’s work to stay here. In fact, when I re-married we wrote into our wedding vows that we would stay in Bellingham.
I love Bellingham as a home for Bramble Berry because there’s such a large amount of smart, motivated people especially those straight out of college. We’re lucky to have such a high level of energy and thought here, and I think it puts a very positive mark on Bramble Berry to be headquartered here.
I feel very lucky to live here. I have been here through the boom, and bust, and now revitalization of downtown. I’m very impressed with work that the Downtown Bellingham Partnership is doing, and I’m excited to see what the future of Bellingham looks like.
What’s your favorite spot to relax in Bellingham?
The Chrysalis spa with a friend. I don’t relax easily, but if it’s a social event—like a pedicure with a girlfriend—I do great.
I also like Vinostrology downtown. That’s another place I can go with a friend to socialize and unwind.
What is your perfect Bellingham weekend?
I would start at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and then go for a walk or jog in the Chuckanuts. I would probably finish Saturday with dinner at Pepper Sisters with my two young children and husband. Pepper Sisters and Fiamma Pizza are the two very kid-friendly places that we like to go.
On Sunday I would meditate—I meditate everyday—and make a big breakfast for the kids and invite some of their friends over for a big play date. Then we would do something outdoors with the kids like a walk along Boulevard Park.
What do you love best about your job?
There’s a lot that I love about my job, but the thing I love best is that it’s a different job every year. Since I founded Bramble Berry and it’s grown, I’ve done something different every year—I’m running different departments, I’m learning something new, I’m becoming an expert in a new area that I never thought I’d work in. For example, today I’m doing a live soap-making broadcast on Perisocpe. Last year that technology was not even available. Every year my work changes so dramatically that I stay on my toes.
What do people not understand about Bramble Berry?
Many people think that we sell finished products—beautiful bars of soap. But actually we teach people how to make bath and beauty products and then we sell them the supplies so they can make it themselves.
From a local perspective I don’t think people understand that almost all of our revenue comes from outside Whatcom County. Those dollars enter Whatcom County through Bramble Berry and get reinvested into our community.
What new business, organization, or thing would you like to see in Bellingham?
Please! Someone open a blow dry bar. Either that or a Nordstroms.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I read 1 book a week. I’m already over 50 books for the year. I should end the year with 54 or 56 books.
I just finished a book called Fates and Furies. It was very interesting and chilling in the way that it portrays a marriage. It’s a fantastic reminder that no matter what we might think, we never really know what is going on inside someone else’s reality. It was my favorite fiction book for the entire year. It was heavy subject matter, and made me very contemplative and reflective.
My favorite business book of the year was The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard. In a stern but non-judgemental way he reminds the reader that in order to achieve great things you actually have to take action. When I finished that book I actually thought i could go conquer a small country—so motivated and so inspired
Is there a Bellingham restaurant or business that the world needs to know about?
Vinostrology is underappreciated. They have little plates to eat, but they also have 16 different wines on tap every night that change. Whenever I go in, there’s not enough people there. It’s a wonderful spot.
I also love Lulu which is right next door. They have great clothing and great jewelry.
In Fairhaven there is a new business called Perfectly Paired that offers great cheese and wine.
And Old World Deli, same thing.
I like food a lot.
If you are free on a sunny day in Bellingham, how would you spend it?
My perfect afternoon is a 7–10 mile hike or run in the Chuckanuts.
Do you have a favorite spot downtown?
I’ve already said how much I love Vinostrology. The other place I spend a lot of time is the Bellingham Athletic Club.
Also, I have a lot of business meetings at Terra Organica because they have the juice bar, lots of great food options, and then you can do your grocery shopping after the meeting.
What are people always surprised to learn about you?
That I was a correctional officer because that’s the least likely thing for a chipper, blonde girl to be.
If you could enroll in Western today, what would you go study?
English. Probably literature.
Despite the fact that I’ve written 2 books and blog nearly everyday, I still find writing a struggle.
Do you have a special local charity or cause that you’re enthusiastic about?
There’s 3 right now that really tug at my heart.
Blue Skies for Children—they grant little wishes for children like after school programs that cost money but make a big difference. They sponsor children to go do things like that.
The Boys and Girls Club—they do amazing work for our community and we are lucky to have them.
Common Threads—a non-profit that focuses on nutrition in children, especially early-childhood, so they have the best start for their best future.
Closely followed though by the Public Schools Foundation.