A downtown is as strong as the rock on which it is built. And for nearly two decades, upscale women’s boutique Lily Atelier has been a rock, a cornerstone, for Downtown Camas.

Whether the need was for casual weekend wear or black tie affair party dresses, this sophisticated shopping destination offers the exquisite and essential for the discerning shoppers in the region.

Marilyn Reed bought the longtime institution six months ago, and has made quite the investment in growing the business and helping usher in another era for commerce and women’s boutiques.

She said it was Dawn Stanchfield who took the risk and opened Lily Atelier in the heart of downtown back in 2003 just as revitalization efforts were starting. Marilyn remembers when she moved back to the Pacific Northwest after living in New York for many years that Camas felt like it was such a sleepy little town. That was in 2006, when she first began to call Lily Atelier her favorite place to shop.

Marilyn said her “addiction” to the store grew over the years, “as I came to trust the amazing team of stylists working at the store to always know what would work for me and make me feel great.”

The stylists at Lily Atelier coordinate exquisite jewelry, beautiful handbags, shoes and accessories to complement a customer’s total look.

“Over the years, the store became even more than that to me,” Marilyn said. “It became a gathering place for women (and men) because people always felt ’embraced’ when they walked in. Now, as downtown Camas has become a thriving community, Lily remains one of those ‘go to’ destinations whenever people come to visit. I love this community and pinch myself when I think about the opportunity that I have been given to move the store forward!”

Marilyn explained that becoming owner of Lily Atelier was a perfect fit for her. “It’s a fast moving and exciting environment that allows me to use my business background to expand our demographic and product offerings. Dawn (Lily Atelier’s founder) used her creative eye and fashion talents to build a very solid business. I will use my business and technology background to grow and expand our reach, adding business processes, a web site that will include online sales, new social media platforms such as a YouTube channel and last, but certainly not least, a Point of Sale system and other automated tools to streamline daily workloads.”

During her career in corporate America, Marilyn said she was fulfilled by her involvement in women’s organizations. “I love to mentor women in business. I mentored many 20, 30 and 40-somethings in the technology business, which is still very much a man’s world, and I encouraged women to look at careers in STEM — Science Tech, Engineering and Math. Being in this new position, I have an opportunity to make an impact helping women in business, and getting involved in new local, regional and national women’s organizations.”

Most important to her is making a difference in the local community – both on a business and a social level.

“Lily Atelier is about WOMEN! All Women. All body types,” Marilyn said. “Our clothing is specially selected to fit a wide range of shapes and sizes so you can rest assured that we can find exactly what you need to wear to that special occasion. We sell quality, classic clothing and accessories that are on trend today and will still complete your outfits 10 years from now.”

The whirlwind of the women’s boutique world began as Marilyn closed on the sale of the business November 11th of last year. “Since I purchased an existing and successful business, opening the doors was not my challenge. We were immediately thrown into an extremely busy event and holiday season. Shortly after the first of the year, my first project of renovating the store was under way. We love the outcome and reopened the doors with a great deal of excitement.”

But then, the challenge of the pandemic set in. “The first few days after (the Covid-19 outbreak), we were forced to close our doors for the quarantine … I was basically shell shocked. It took me a bit of time and multiple pep talks, but we then got back on the horse and decided to make the absolute best use of our time while closed and we were able to get a new inventory control and point of sale system implemented.”

With the remodel complete and new tools acquired for more automation, Marilyn said the Lily Atelier family is looking forward to a return to a thriving downtown environment once again. “As we prepare to reopen our doors, we are thrilled to see our Camas community again. There’s nothing in the world like it. Our clients are very diverse and are all like family. Many of them have been shopping here at Lily since the doors opened in 2003. Our staff and clients get to know each other on a personal level and truly care.”

You’ll be able to find the latest summer styles and the perfect outfit when Lily’s e-commerce site is launched very soon! Stay tuned to www.lilyatelier.com.