When a Collab is More Than a Collab: Our “Decolonizing Partnership” with Starbucks

We’re excited to announce our newest collaboration with a global brand—Starbucks! In a capsule collection for the Seattle Starbucks Reserve Roastery, five Coast Salish artists drew inspiration from their tribes’ traditional art to create this line of limited-edition home goods. This collaboration with Starbucks represents the first global company Eighth Generation has brought into our ground-breaking Decolonizing Partnerships program, where we set the gold standard for how brands align with Native businesses. 

The Collection

Nooksack artist and Eighth Generation's Founder and CEO, Louie Gong, is well known for incorporating traditional Salish weaving designs into modern art and housewares. His Coast Salish Pattern design adorns several Eighth Generation products—from wool blankets to tote bags—and was reimagined for this collaboration with Starbucks. In this “Community Capsule” collection, Louie’s design is found on a wool throw blanket, a tumbler, and a demi mug.  

The collection, featuring the jacket, blanket, print, tumbler, and demi mug set

“We really paid attention to texture in this collection,” said Louie. “The patterns we used are found in traditional Coast Salish weaving and basketry, so we wanted to replicate that tactile experience on the mugs in particular.” In the Coast Salish Pattern Double Wall Ceramic Tumbler, Louie’s design is debossed—white glaze on black ceramic—for a striking design with a unique feel. 

Embossing on the Coast Salish Pattern Demi Mug Set

The embossed Coast Salish Pattern Demi Mug Set also includes a textural element. In this set, four Coast Salish tribal designs are represented in the work of five artists. Though modern, the green Coast Salish Pattern by Louie Gong (Nooksack) shares a pattern that could be replicated with traditional weaving methods. The blue New Light design by Gail White Eagle (Muckleshoot) shares a depiction of spring growth. The light pink Gill Net by Andrea Wilbur Sigo (Squaxin Island) incorporates both fish net and star designs from traditional Skokomish weavings. And the tan Basket Weave by Jaime Martin (Snoqualmie) and McKenna Dorman (Snoqualmie) is inspired by the traditional Snoqualmie basket weave designs. (Our Connections Wool Blanket by Jaime Martin and McKenna Dorman also features this pattern.) 

Four of the pieces in the collection

While the demi mug set can be purchased on Eighth Generation’s website, in our Pike Place Market storefront, and at the Seattle Starbucks Reserve Roastery, while the other four items in the collection are available exclusively at physical stores. Visit our flagship store at Pike Place Market or head to Seattle’s Roastery to try on our Happy Hummingbird Jacket or pick up our Coast Salish Pattern Double Wall Ceramic Tumbler. The final other items in the collection—a wool Coast Salish Pattern Limited Edition Throw Blanket and a limited run of hand-embellished Happy Hummingbird Mini Prints—are only available in the Roastery. 

The Decolonizing Partnerships Model

Eighth Generation has helped hundreds of small brands and businesses work ethically and respectfully with Native artists. The Decolonizing Partnerships Model distills that wealth of experience into five core principles that disrupt exploitative business practices that have been carried forward from times of extreme power imbalance. These principles ensure that cultural artists and arts entrepreneurs retain ownership of their art, are fairly compensated for their talents, are true sales partners, gain access to industry knowledge, and control the storytelling around their work. 

“Starbucks represents the first global business to join us in a Decolonizing Partnership,” said Louie. “Meeting these progressive standards required Starbucks to flex or change fundamental components of their processes for product development, sourcing, and distribution.” Eighth Generation is the first non-Starbucks store ever to carry products with the Starbucks Reserve logo. In another first, Eighth Generation produced these products and sold them to Starbucks, completely flipping the script on how big brands work with small businesses.   

Starbucks Reserve logo and Eighth Generation logo appear on all products. Eighth Generation is the first non-Starbucks to ever carry products with the Starbucks logo

“Starbucks was ready and willing to make adjustments,” said Louie. “They just needed us to point out alternative ways of doing things, which we were able to do because of our business experience. The relationship is about mutual education and uplifting one another as global brands.”

What’s the next big Decolonizing Partnership we have planned? “Stay tuned for 2022,” says Louie. “We have something big and exciting planned with another Seattle staple: Brooks.” 

Press photos for our Decolonizing Partnerships collaboration with Starbucks can be found here

Adriana Perrusquia (Yupik), Project Manager, and Louie Gong (Nooksack), CEO and Founder, managed the project with Starbucks