The Hilpp family

The Hilpp family were frequent visitors to Norton Commons long before they moved there or opened a business there. Amy and her husband, Kenny, both 47, and their two daughters, Emma, 16 and Grace, 14, were in the habit of coming over weekly to visit Karem’s Deli or to enjoy the Thursday night street parties with music and food.

“We loved the whole idea of being able to walk around and go shopping or enjoy food or music. We didn’t live far and we found ourselves spending a lot of time over there,” said Amy Hilpp. Kenny was the first to want to make the move, and soon Amy and the girls decided they wanted to do it, too.

It’s been six years since that day. “We all love it. With the girls being teenagers, they have a lot of friends in the neighborhood they can walk around with,” she said. Eldest daughter Emma attends a home-school based program at Christian Education Consortium, and Grace attends Ballard.

With a new house, it’s a family affair

When the Hilpps first moved to Norton Commons, they lived on Blazing Star Road. Two years ago, the family decided to build a house on Butterweed Court. “When my mother became ill, we thought she might need room for her, and we didn’t have a first-floor master,” said Hilpp. The family built a traditional, two-story house with five bedrooms and four and a half baths to accommodate the extended family.

In fact, for the Hilpps, it’s a family affair with Kenny’s brother and sister in law, and their four children who live down the street. It was with her sister-in-law, Stephanie Hilpp, that Amy decided to open her boutique, Seven Southern Giraffes four years ago. Amy explained the origin of the boutique’s moniker. “My husband’s sister Lisa, passed away four years ago and we wanted to honor her memory, and she loved giraffes. With my sister-in-law Stephanie’s four children and my two, plus Lisa, we came to the number seven, and southern? Well that’s just fun,” said Hilpp.

Seven Southern Giraffes

The boutique sells apparel, handbags, jewelry, home décor and wedding gifts. The co-owner said the personality of Seven Southern Giraffes is a “chic boutique with a little bit of sass.” Hilpp, a former teacher, said she had never run a boutique before. “When we moved here, everything just fell into place – we found the right spot and my sister-in-law was looking for a job. We researched it and started it together.” The boutique owner said that the boutique has grown with Norton Commons.

Owning a store had always been a passion and a dream,” she said.  “My husband told me I just buy things I want for our house, and that’s not totally wrong,” said Hilpp. “I just say, ‘Well, if it doesn’t sell, I might as well take it home.’”

Having such a diverse and walkable neighborhood where work and family meld means the family spends most of their time within Norton Commons. “At least once a week, we visit restaurants and the YMCA, our neighborhood doctor, get our dog groomed at Pet Station.” said Hilpp. “We were just laughing about this the other day,” said Hilpp. We may need to get out of our bubble sometimes.”

Businesses supporting businesses

Hilpp said she has found the business community congenial and is involved in supporting other local businesses including boutiques like Set the Stage for home décor, and Something Blue and Lulubelles for clothing. “The boutique owners just all got together to talk about moving towards working together, offering joint events to get more people out,” said Hilpp. The neighborhood business association also gets together monthly to discuss ways to promote the local businesses here.

Amy and Kenny Hilpp have a tradition of spending Friday nights together at Norton Commons restaurant Mercato Italiano with a glass of wine, a cheese plate, and splitting an entrée. It’s one of our favorite things to do,” said Hilpp.

The couple also visits Commonwealth Tap on a weekly basis. “It’s a neighborhood gathering spot and we connect with tons of friends there.” One family tradition for the Hilpps each summer is to set up a tent and make food for the amphitheater concert series. In-laws, aunts and uncles all come out to enjoy.

Hilpp said one of her favorite parts of Norton Commons are the parks, the girls love to ride their bikes in the neighborhood, and her husband loves the people.

“I feel like it was a really good move for our family,” said Hilpp. You see multiple generations living here, and no matter what age you are, you can feel comfortable here. You feel like you’re on vacation living in your own neighborhood. It’s a community way of living.”