When moms see a need, they fill a need – it’s human nature. Knowing the need for casual apparel, spiritwear and custom apparel for businesses, teams, clubs, and events, Sheryl Obegi said they initially started the business as three moms with a lot of love for their little town. “We were brought together by our shared love of sports, Camas, and great design,” she said.
Moms Sheryl and Karen Gibson, along with Kaiwi Crabb are the proud owners of Papermaker Pride and for the last 16 months, they followed their dreams and are providing the community with much-needed supply. “We’re passionate about creating casual apparel that’s all about Camas Pride while also giving back to our local community,” Sheryl said.
When asked what made them choose to invest and locate in Downtown Camas, she exclaimed, “The hometown pride … Camas’ spirit, energy, and history make it a wonderful place to start a business.” In addition, she credited the Downtown Camas Association, the local support of shopping small business, and the charm of Historic Downtown Camas for being a gracious host to their new business. “Camas has become a shopper’s and diner’s must-do and see for many out of town travelers and passers by.”
With a leap of faith and humble beginnings, Papermaker Pride started in a pop up tent with just a handful of t-shirts and a few stickers. “We had no idea how we would be received or if our efforts would be successful. We have spent many hours vending in the extreme heat and bitter cold,” Sheryl said. One of their challenges they faced was “figuring how to grow the business, how to get our brand known, and how to establish ourselves in the community … and to find space to get out of our pop up tent!”
Finding a space was paramount and “with the support of so many great people … friends, family, and fellow merchants,” they were very lucky to find a SMALL (emphasize small) retail space above Arktana. “By having a central retail location and more regular business hours, we were able to build our retail base, as well as, our custom business. Right when we thought we were hitting our stride with our first brick and mortar, Covid struck,” Sheryl said.
Covid forced Papermaker Pride to get creative with their social media marketing, focus on the expansion of a custom business, and form collaborations with their fellow downtown merchants. “The Downtown Camas Association (DCA) has been such a positive force for all of us here in Camas trying to survive these unprecedented times,” she added.
In August, an even larger retail space opened up and they were able to relocate to what Sheryl called “a premier retail space on 4th Avenue. The foot traffic and large windows have been priceless!”
In between their expanded retail shop (which carries from infant to adult sizes, home good accessories, and even pet gear), to their social media posts, from their online store to their growing business to business section, the Papermake Pride team are hopeful for many more years of growth and success.
One thing the merchants of Downtown Camas commonly say when asked about the consumers of Camas is that “customers are like family.” Sheryl echoed that statement.
“Our customers are friends, our customers are family. We want to greet you by your first name, we want our customers to know we appreciate their business and their support.” she said, “We love to strike up conversations with our customers and truly get to know them. We feel like we’ve created an environment where folks come in to chat, laugh, and just say hi and value the customer experience and want to exceed their expectations.”
Their customers love Camas, love to support local and small businesses, love the PNW, and love that Papermaker Pride are “paying tribute to the industry that built this little town.”
Our area is visited daily by out of town folks and having Papermaker Pride in town offers visitors something unique. “Many out-of-towners come in looking for a special souvenir and are surprised at the variety of merchandise that we offer. Camas is very special and the fact that it has its own store dedicated primarily to Camas gear is remarkable – where else do you find that?,” Sheryl said. “Out of towners are a valuable piece of growing our business due to word of mouth alone. Because we have a strong social media presence and an online retail store, our retail and business to business customers extend all across the nation.”
Beyond their day-to-day business, Sheryl said that for Papermaker Pride, it’s been “extremely difficult to watch families and businesses around us struggle. In fact, due to the Covid crisis, we formed Camas Unites as a way to give back to the community and help Camas families in need. To date, with the help of local merchants and residents, we have been able to donate approximately $15,000 to the Camas Family Community Resource Center and the Treasure House Backpack Program.”
Be sure to join Papermaker Pride for their Grand Opening November 6-8th! Ribbon Cutting at 5:30pm on First Friday the 6th. 339 NE 4th Avenue. (Hours are:Monday-Friday 10 – 6, Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 12 – 4)