INTENTIONALIST: Woman-Owned Businesses in South Seattle

by Kristina Rivera

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters

Women’s History Month begins this Monday, March 1, and the Intentionalist team is excited to kick off our celebration by highlighting some of our favorite woman-owned businesses in South Seattle. 

This month is all about commemorating, acknowledging, and celebrating the vital role women play in history and present day. March also marks one year since the pandemic shut down small businesses throughout Seattle, disproportionately affecting women and women of color in particular. This month, especially given the events of the past year, it’s important to continue showing up for the woman-owned small businesses at the heart of our communities.

Whether you’re into sweet, savory, or all of the above, here are three Intentionalist suggestions for woman-owned businesses you can support in the South End.

Tess Thomas standing inside her Hillman City restaurant, Emma’s BBQ. (Photo: Intentionalist)

Emma’s BBQ

Tess Thomas opened Emma’s BBQ in Hillman City in 2016 to honor the life of her mother, Emma, and her passion for cooking and for people. Tess’ mother always put her own twist on recipes, could smell something and know exactly what ingredients to put in to make it delicious, and never turned anyone away from her table. Today, Emma’s BBQ is a true family-owned and operated restaurant, serving a type of barbecue that doesn’t fit into one box, which Tess calls “Emma’s style.” What makes their food distinctly Emma’s is the flavor, seasonings, process, and love they put into it (which is how specific Tess is going to get). The restaurant is also a place where Tess hopes to leave a lasting legacy of Emma’s life and cooking that will be in her family and community for many generations. 

Though you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, Tess’ favorite dish at Emma’s BBQ is the brisket because of its melt-in-your mouth quality, and she understands the hard work it takes to get the brisket to the table. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, the tender pulled pork sandwich, fluffy cornbread, and ribs smothered in their tangy, smoky, and sweet barbecue sauce should do the trick.

“What I love most about owning this business, is it’s visible to future generations. I am merely trying to build something that future generations can see and know that if this 72-year-old woman can get up and make full days, I can do something with the talents I have. That’s what it means to me. Every day that I get up, I love coming here. I told my husband, ‘I love it so much, I could sleep here and wake up the next day and be ready to go to Emma’s.’ That’s how much this little place means to me.”

—Tess Thomas

Resistencia Coffee manager Shizuno Wynkoop and owner Coté Soerens holding her baby inside the South Park cafe. (Photo: Dennis Diaz)

Resistencia Coffee

Resistencia Coffee in South Park is a cafe for the community by the community. Owner Coté Soerens and manager Shizuno Wynkoop, who has been with Resistencia since it started as a small cart in the neighborhood, built the cafe as a place where people can connect with their neighbors in a radically welcoming environment. Shizuno describes Resistencia as hyperlocal — the cafe displays art from local artists, features food from South Seattle businesses like Umami Kushi and Global Chill, and gets their coffee just blocks up the street from Cafe Umbria. Everyone who walks into Resistencia Coffee is considered a neighbor, whether they’re from South Park or not. 

Coté’s favorite drink at Resistencia is the cortado because it reminds her of Chile where she’s from, while Shizuno is a big fan of their iced teas. In addition, Resistencia works with The Urban Fresh Food Collective, spearheaded by Monica Perez, and has been providing South Park with access to quality, fresh produce throughout the pandemic. They even named one of their signature drinks after Monica — the La Xingona (Spanish for a badass woman), a cinnamon sugar latte with a kick of cayenne.

“Resistencia is a love letter to South Park. This neighborhood has so many challenges, but the people who are in this neighborhood are so incredibly creative and faithful around trying to overcome these challenges. We are the youngest neighborhood in Seattle. We are a neighborhood of immigrants. We’re a neighborhood with very different people within the same square mile. And just that alone, it’s an incredible asset to the life of the neighborhood.”

—Coté Soerens

Donna Chan, co-owner of Macadons in White Center. (Photo: Macadons)


Eight years ago, Donna Chan didn’t know what a macaron was. Fast forward to today, she’s perfected her own macaron recipe, ships her macarons across the United States, and her business is Yelp’s top dessert spot in Washington. Macadons, or Macarons by Donna, in White Center offers unique flavors of macarons and ice cream inspired by Donna’s East Asian heritage, like Thai tea, Vietnamese coffee, durian, and ube. Her love for baking macarons began when her mom, an avid baker, asked if she wanted to help make macarons one night. Their first attempt failed because macarons are notoriously finicky to make, but Donna kept baking, determined to get it right. She started selling macarons to family and friends and then started taking orders through her Instagram page. Soon after, she started making them for weddings and was even approached by restaurants interested in selling her macarons, giving her the confidence to eventually open Macadons with her business partner, Michael Huynh, in 2013.

Macadons also offers macaron towers, macaron ice cream sandwiches, and you can even get custom images printed on the classic French dessert. Donna’s favorite flavor of all time is Nutella, which was one of her original recipes.

“I love our community because we have such diverse businesses and community members around the neighborhood. I’ve been living here for about 10 years, so I just decided it would be really good to be a part of the community. We’ve been in this space for six or seven years now. When we started here, there were not a lot of new restaurants, and when we moved in, all of these new businesses popped up over the years. It’s definitely nice to see how all the businesses are growing here.”

—Donna Chan

Kristina Rivera is the marketing and communications coordinator at Intentionalist. She graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in journalism and public relations and has worked with organizations ranging from local nonprofits to global PR firms.

Featured image: Stacks of ice cream macaron sandwiches from Macadons. (Photo: Macadons)

Before you move on to the next story …
The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. 
If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. 
We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!