Partner Spotlight: Amy Jermain of XXcelerate
The Partner Spotlight is an interview series highlighting local business support partners. In this Partner Spotlight, meet Amy Jermain, Executive Director of XXcelerate. XXcelerate is a non-profit that provides Oregon’s women entrepreneurs with business support, education and pathways to funding to help grow their businesses, connect with resources and peer support, and scale profitably.
What do you do at XXcelerate? I help navigate Oregon's entrepreneurs to the various resources they need to grow their businesses. We work with a large variety of business owners who are seeking to grow their companies and need education, mindset growth, mentorship, community and access to the resources it takes to grow like capital, expert guidance and networks. We are a community that convenes existing resources so we can navigate women to those resources and/or provide access to trusted and quality programs within our own organization.
Besides interfacing directly with these business owners, I work to build partnerships in service of our mission, convening like-minded individuals and corporations to support this work. I fundraise to support the operations of the organization. I work closely with a talented Board of Directors to create a sustainable and resilient hub of resources for the region's women. I also advocate and contribute to public policy by giving legislative testimonials, sharing best practices in inclusive economic development, offering education on the needs of women, signing on to key legislative or strategic initiatives and sitting on a few city and state committees that help problem solve for historically marginalized business owners in our state. I work with other actors and partners in the ecosystem to brainstorm new and modern ways of offering support to our state's women and BIPOC-owned businesses. I wear many hats and find myself doing a variety of things to keep our organization in good running order but also ensuring that the needs of women are heard and met.
What got you interested in the work you’re doing? I have always been interested in seeing small businesses thrive in a world where corporations seem to benefit more. After a decade and a half long career as a chef, I became a restaurant consultant in my 30s and quickly grew to encompass all small businesses when I realized that women often really struggle under the weight of all matters of obstacles that men do not, especially in the small business sector. I began to focus my attention on building the capacity of women to run effective businesses as a consultant.
I decided to elevate my work by doing Masters level studies in Europe and learn more about gender inequities via degrees in Public Administration, Sustainable Business and International Development Economics. I ended up working for the United Nations and have spent the last decade of my career kicking around SE Asia, Africa and Central America understanding how to build economic infrastructure that is inclusive of vulnerable populations, including women and especially in post conflict or fragile contexts, where women are often ignored and/or forced to remain in home labor. I am passionate about elevating the needs of women and communities of color in this country because despite us being a modern Western country, the US shows massive disparities in the equitable advancement of women and people of color, especially those further marginalized by race, sexual orientation, gender identification and disabilities, who have been ignored by dominant culture.
What do you like most about your job? I love meeting all the incredibly talented folks who have businesses in this state. I get to hear all the amazing ideas and dreams of women owners throughout my day. The hope and promise that entrepreneurship brings is illuminating, the challenge and sacrifice it brings is real and palpable and scary, the innovation and desire to create solutions for our communities is exciting and uplifting - I get to be a part of this every day. And when women overcome some of the most difficult barriers, including realizing their own abilities, it is one of the most rewarding jobs.
What do you find challenging? Well, running a nonprofit is not easy. Funding quality services requires resources, and funding can be hard to come by. Public funding can be scarce, competitive, trend based and extremely unpredictable. Keeping the programs funded and also being flexible and agile enough to be responsive and meet everyone where they are at can be hard, especially with limited resources.
What do you like most about your organization? XXcelerate is an organization that is learning and growing with the strength and resilience of an ox. We are putting in the work and grinding to till the ground for women business owners so their pathway can be clearer and easier. We lead by example, role model successful behavior, ask questions when we are wrong, challenge the status quo, take the time to build new structures that are not harmful and are the epitome of community led and built.
I am proud of those accomplishments and what we stand for and that we are led by women for women. And to do so within a challenging model such as a nonprofit makes us gritty and resilient. I am also astounded by the love and care that has been put into this organization and into our community of support - folks showing up for each other, learning together, dreaming together, lifting each other up and helping each other through, despite race, socio-economic status or upbringing. Community is a beautiful thing and XXcelerate embodies that word well.
What type of help can your organization offer Tigard businesses? We offer peer mentorship groups where owners can get business therapy, education, and accountability in community with other women owners going through what they are going through - you are never alone. We support owners with coaching and mentorship from subject matter experts that can teach, inspire, or guide on a number of topics important to the growing entrepreneur - from financial, strategic, marketing/branding, storytelling, food and beverage related, pricing, scaling, road mapping - we have an expert for navigating the various challenges for any early or growth stage owner. We also host workshops and seminars on all kinds of educational topics, we convene meet and greets, socials and listening sessions - a place where you can be heard and seen and meet others like you.
We also provide quality gender and culturally competent legal support and mental health services to vulnerable business owners who do not have access to these high-value resources and need help navigating an issue that is holding them back from growth. Any women business owner can call and receive navigation if they are feeling lost, overwhelmed or are not sure where to go - we are there to help.
What are you looking forward to next? I am really excited for the next iteration of XXcelerate. We continue to evolve and grow, and this excites me because it is in response to the needs expressed by the community. I am thrilled we are able to be responsive. And so, we will be rebranding and re-messaging our core values and standing up to be the organization that the region's women owners need. I hope that the community can link hands around us and support us and show solidarity with this cause by opening their pockets, extending their resources or abundance, and leveraging their privilege to support inclusive economic growth that all our local cities desire. We are building relationships into rural areas to ensure that urban resources become rural resources and we need all hands on deck to extend the chain of hands that bind our state - I am excited about this, and can't wait to connect with those of you that also want to help me do this work. The City of Tigard is an excellent example of the power in linking together as connective tissue to bind resources and communities together - we look forward to more of that.
How can business owners get in touch with you? The best way to get a hold of us is to email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We often schedule 30-minute phone calls in response with either myself or the Programs Manager so you can talk to a human right away and we can navigate you to the best resource given your needs. Since we are an ecosystem builder and partner, if those services are not with us, we can connect you to the place that can support you. That is a guarantee. I also encourage folks to follow us on social media and don't hesitate to connect there either. We always have events and drop ins that any women owner can attend without any restrictions. Connect with us!
Local Business Spotlight: Selfie WRLD
While the concept behind Selfie WRLD is simple – grab your phone or camera and start snapping away – what sets it apart is its “booths,” immersive three-walled installations that provide entertaining backgrounds for visitors’ photographic escapades. It’s billed as a “selfie museum,” but owner Dawn Saul also likes to refer to Selfie WRLD as a “DIY (do it yourself) photography studio,” a place where people with no photography experience can come and take professional looking photos of themselves, their friends and family.
With 25 booths scattered throughout Selfie WRLD’s expansive space in Washington Square Too, there’s a lot of selfies to be had. Each booth is vibrantly designed and has a different theme. One looks like an old school diner, complete with antique jukebox and fake burger and fries. Another is painted a vivid green and adorned with rainbow Slinky toys hanging from the ceiling, while another has a 1960s vibe, featuring a psychedelic background emblazoned with the words “Nothing Is Real.” It’s all designed for maximum sensory impact and maximum fun.
Before opening Selfie WRLD, Dawn worked as a wardrobe stylist and event coordinator. Seeing an opportunity to combine her interests, Dawn opened Selfie WRLD in June of this year and has had a fun time unlocking the potential of her space.
“One of my favorite things about this business is its versatility,” Dawn says. “We have people of all ages coming in and having a blast. It’s impossible not to smile and feel like a kid again when you start playing around in here.”
In addition to hosting groups of friends and families, Dawn has also been renting the space for private gatherings while following state safety protocols, including business events, bridal showers, and a local artist’s music video premiere. Selfie WRLD has also hosted model and influencer photo shoots and photography workshops.
“So far, the best thing about opening this business has been the community,” Dawn says. “Everyone has been so supportive so far and we couldn’t be happier to have located in Tigard.”
Dawn plans to soon host more workshops and start rotating in seasonal booths, starting with a spooky, fall Halloween theme. In the meantime, Selfie WRLD continues to be open for individual/group visits and private events of all types.
Selfie WRLD is located at 10154 SW Washington Square Rd. For more information, visit https://selfiewrldpdx.com
Kenechi Onyeagusi of Professional Business Development Group
The Partner Spotlight is a new interview series highlighting local business support partners. In the first Partner Spotlight, meet Kenechi Onyeagusi, Executive Director of Professional Business Development Group (PBDG) and PBDG Foundation.
PBDG is a construction industry trade association whose members are minority- and women-owned businesses. Their staff and members are experts in every trade and phase of the built environment, and their partners include housing developers, large contractors, public agencies (including the City of Tigard), the business community and other nonprofits.
Please tell us about your organization and its services
PBDG is about more than design, demo, and development – we are about the people who construct an industry. For far too long, minorities and women have struggled to break into the field, let alone become entrepreneurs in their own right. PBDG was built to support those business owners who have frequently encountered harassment and discrimination in the construction industry. We provide resources, educational opportunities, networking, and advocacy to the most underrepresented communities in the Pacific Northwest.
What do you do at PBDG?
Someone once described me as the air traffic controller. I work to ensure that all of our work as an organization is serving and providing the needed value to our members and partners. I spend a lot of time listening to the men and women that I represent in order to advocate with understanding, to the issues that impact them. I also bring coffee for my team, so I wear multiple hats.
What got you interested in the work you’re doing?
I spent my first career in commercial lending and while I enjoyed that work, I always wanted to work for and within my community. As a Black woman, I was hungry for a way to help communities of color build generational wealth and spent a lot of time serving on boards of micro-enterprise development agencies. After the birth of my children, I finally got to a point where I fully understood what the word “generation” meant. I wanted to live a life of legacy that they could be proud of. To invest in an organization that builds businesses owned by people of color and women was the opportunity that PBDG offered me.
What do you like most about your job?
I love my team! My colleagues are men and women who get it. They understand that building equity within this industry is hard work but they show up everyday, with passion, ready to get it done. PBDG is extremely entrepreneurial and innovative in spirit, no 2 days are the same.
What do you find challenging about your job?
I joined this organization in February 2020, right before the pandemic and have not had a chance to do a lot of in person meetings. I miss the personal interactions and it has been challenging to work 100% remote for so long. I am excited about doing more in person meetings and implore everyone to please get vaccinated so that we can go back to life as we know it. PBDG has been working with Oregon Health Authority and Washington County to offer vaccination clinics and provide outreach to ensure that everyone has access and feels comfortable getting vaccinated. I am personally motivated for us to finish the job and beat COVID-19!
What do you like most about your organization?
I love that PBDG is a community of people who care about equity. I also really like the fact that we are industry specific. Construction is a complex industry with a history of sexism and racism. I happen to feel the impact of both. However, with every policy we help enact or change to further equitable outcomes, every business owner we help connect to opportunities for their next project and provide support to grow, I feel a sense of pride. I see the construction industry changing for the better and I know that we are part of that change. When we worked with the governor’s office to pass HB2266 that provides access to capital for underserved and marginalized construction business owners, I knew we were changing the game. My heart is happy doing this work and I get a huge sense of fulfillment out of it.
What type of help can your organization offer Tigard businesses?
We are excited to be partnering with the City of Tigard to provide construction specific technical assistance such as helping firms get their COBID certification. At the end of September we will be doing a COBID certification assistance workshop for Tigard business owners that I hope businesses who are interested will attend. We also work to provide information and networking opportunities that can help small business owners get to the next level.
What are you looking forward to next?
We have some amazing programs that will be rolling out in the fall and some key initiatives that we are looking to launch. As a non-profit, we never have all funding we need to support the minority- and women-owned businesses we hope to serve but I am hoping that as people learn more about our work, they can join us to invest in the future of construction.
How can business owners get in touch with you?
The best way to reach us is through our website, there are several opportunities to connect with different members of our staff who can provide immediate support. My email address is Kenechi@pbdgweb.com if you need to contact me directly.
Zanjabiel Mediterranean Catering
Speaking with Hadeil Bujezia, co-owner of Zanjabiel Mediterranean Catering, it’s easy to understand why she chose “from our home to yours” as her business motto.
“Coming from a big family, my grandma’s home was always a full house,” says Hadeil. “Picture gatherings like in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding! That was my grandmother’s home—loud and abundant with people, food, and laughter.”
This convivial atmosphere is what inspired Hadeil and co-owner Reem Tamour to start Zanjabiel Mediterranean Catering. With a goal of passing on the rich cultural heritage experienced throughout their upbringing in Syria and Libya, Hadeil and Reem offer authentic middle eastern cuisine served traditionally family style. Each of their recipes has been handed down for generations and they seek to keep their food as authentic as possible by using Halal and locally sourced ingredients.
“The dishes we offer are not typical entrees found in any Mediterranean restaurant but are more traditionally from our families’ kitchens and also include classic street food and special baked delicacies,” says Hadeil. “We also offer a unique selection of traditional Mediterranean beverages you won't find anywhere else.”
With their business reliant on community gatherings, Hadeil and Reem had to pivot during the COVID shutdown. Unable to cater large events or office lunches, Hadeil and Reem instead shifted to online sales and building partnerships with local vendors. When possible, they also started hosting small, socially distanced events including their “Evenings of Elegance” event with live music and small groups of attendees.
While this business pivot came out of necessity, Zanjabiel is all about community and Hadeil and Reem can’t wait to get back to large events.
“Our favorite part of this business is meeting with new and old clients and sharing our cuisine with the world” says Hadeil. “Tigard has such a wonderfully supportive community and people here are very open to trying new cuisines and tasty treats that they typically won’t see anywhere else.”
For more information on Zanjabiel Mediterranean Catering, visit www.zanjabiel.com
New Impressions Flooring & More
With more than 20 years of industry experience, Norberto Gaona decided to strike out on his own and opened New Impressions Flooring & More in March with his partner, Maria Santiago, and their son, Jake Gaona Santiago. As an exterior and interior home remodeling company, no project is too big nor too small for Norberto and his team. And as the “More” in New Impressions & More implies, they’re a jack of all trades business, specializing in everything from wall repair to tiling to flooring installation to painting to complete home remodels.
“I love seeing the transition of fixer uppers,” says Norberto. “It's amazing how great things can look when we’re done. Our clients are left in awe by the new impression that their house gives them.”
Opening a business during the COVID pandemic has not been easy. Norberto and Maria worked extra hard to get things up and running safely. With heightened social distancing protocols in place, they take pride in their attention to detail and ability to earn their clients’ confidence and repeat business.
“Opening New Impressions has helped us move forward and create trust with our clients,” says Norberto. “As a business, that's what we want - the community’s trust, so that they feel comfortable opening their homes to us, especially during these times.”
Only open for a few months, New Impressions has already built up a steady clientele from around the region and completed dozens of projects. Norberto and Maria were guided by local non-profit Adelante Mujeres as they set up their business and took their first steps starting out.
Established in 2002, Adelante Mujeres serves Latinx community members and families through holistic education. Adelante Mujeres’ Empresas program helps Latinx entrepreneurs, offering low-cost business education courses in Spanish, one-on-one advising, access to capital, and access to market opportunities for startups.
Norberto and Maria worked with Adelante Mujeres Empresas Small Business Coaches Daniela Ortiz and Javier Urenda throughout their startup process. Daniela assisted Norberto and Maria with business registration and general business guidance; connected them with an IDA matched savings account which is helping them save for a trailer and tools for their business; and helped them enroll in finance and business education courses that set them up for success.
Daniela and Javier also connected Norberto and Maria to the City of Tigard’s Los Empresarios de Tigard program, which connects Latinx entrepreneurs to a network of support to help them launch and grow successful businesses. New Impressions Flooring & More was also the first business to participate in the City of Tigard’s new business license fee waiver, which offers a one-time fee waiver for new businesses that complete a business-focused training with an advising partner like Adelante Mujeres.
With the training provided by Adelante Mujeres under their toolbelts, Norberto and Maria have their eyes to the future. They have already hired two employees with plans to hire more soon and are already planning to expand their business. In the meantime, they plan to keep enjoying their work and being a part of the Tigard community.
“I love getting to know a diverse group of people here in Tigard and around the region. Helping people feel good in their homes makes me feel good too,” says Norberto.
To learn more about New Impressions Flooring & More, contact Norberto and Maria at email@example.com. For more information on Adelante Mujeres, visit www.adelantemujeres.org/. Adelante Mujeres recently released a video about Norberto and Maria’s journey starting New Impressions, which can viewed here.
Yalla Mediterranean Market
In the absence of foreign travel, Yalla Mediterranean Market is bringing worldly cuisine to Tigard. Yalla, which had its grand opening April 3, is a small but mighty grocery store stocked to the brim with a variety of culinary favorites and new treats from Lebanon and Eastern Mediterranean countries.
Owners Osh and Nada Khatib and David and Zeina Coomes opened Yalla as a playful take on Middle Eastern grocery and a welcoming environment for culinary discovery. Zeina and Nada’s father ran a popular and successful Mediterranean market in Portland, giving them a sense and love for the business. Seeing a niche to be filled in Tigard, Osh, Nada, David and Zeina opened Yalla as a convivial place where people can come find foods from back home and those with adventurous tastes can learn about and try something new. This last point is key, as educating customers and helping them craft meals using only the ingredients on their shelves is one of the owners’ favorite things about running the business.
“We love guiding people through the food, recommending things as we go and explaining things one-on-one,” says Osh. “This welcoming, personal experience is what drove us to open Yalla in the first place and what really sets our market apart.”
The owners estimate that ninety-nine percent of Yalla’s products are imported from outside the U.S. A tour of their shelves reveals fascinating foods at every turn and they’re quick to point out the versatility of the products – many can be used in multiple dishes and some also have alternative uses, such as cooking ingredients that double as skincare products.
Walking around Yalla you find a cooler full of Mediterranean cheeses and labne (a fermented dairy product that’s tangy like yogurt and spreads like cream cheese); shelves dedicated to different varieties of dried beans; an aisle of Middle Eastern ingredients like ghee (a clarified butter commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine) or culinary herbs like za’atar; and, not to be overlooked, a section of sweet treats ranging from baklava to Turkish Delight. Coming soon, Yalla will also offer fresh produce like okra, zucchini, Persian cucumbers and grape leaves.
They’ve only just opened, but the Yalla team are already seeing a positive reaction from the community and love doing business in Tigard so far. Plans for the near future include offering online shopping and a free delivery service to neighboring cities to expand their reach, as well as offering their products for delivery via services like Door Dash. For now, Osh, Nada, David and Zeina are excited to grow the business and meet the Tigard community.
Yalla Mediterranean Market is located at 12950 SW Pacific Hwy. For more information visit www.facebook.com/yallamediterraneanmarket
Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas
After losing her job due to COVID-related cutbacks, Cindy Lopez seized the opportunity to strike out on her own. Equipped with a longtime passion for cooking, Cindy and her son Keven purchased a food cart and opened Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas in Downtown Tigard last summer.
One of the newest additions to Tigard’s food cart scene, Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas specializes in a creative fusion of Mexican and Salvadorean cuisine, all devised by Cindy. Cindy’s expansive menu sets Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas apart, offering a wide array of classics like tacos and pupusas alongside creative dishes like yuca a la Mexicana and sopes platters.
“We like to refer to everything we make as ‘food of the moment,’” says Keven. “We use fresh ingredients and have come up with a special blend of Mexican and Salvadorean food that makes our recipes unique.”
With the weather warming up, Cindy and Keven plan to keep offering their signature food and hope to keep growing their business in Tigard. Their favorite part about doing business in Tigard is all the new people from different nationalities they get to meet on a daily basis, so be sure to stop by and try some of their delicious food next time you’re downtown.
Tacos y Las Pupusas Locas is located at 9295 SW Electric Street. For more information visit http://orderpupusastacos.com/
Taqueria La Fuente on Main Street
If you live in Tigard, chances are you’ve been to Taqueria La Fuente. This Downtown staple has been serving up authentic Mexican food on Main Street for 17 years.
“Food was always our passion,” co-owner Aldo Ruiz Jeronimo says of La Fuente’s origins. “We started La Fuente to share our third-generation family recipes with the community.”
Aldo grew up just a few blocks from Downtown Tigard and graduated from Tigard High School in 2003. Shortly after graduating, Aldo started La Fuente with his aunt Elvira, cousin Elizabeth, uncles Eusebio and Ismael, and Ismael Jr. making the restaurant a family-run business.
With freshly made corn tortillas, local ingredients and third generation family recipes, La Fuente specializes in traditional homestyle cooking from Michoacán, Mexico.
Like other businesses, things have not been easy for La Fuente during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aldo especially misses the customer interaction. “My favorite thing about running this business is meeting new people every day. We try our best to treat everyone like family and provide the best service we can.”
With fewer or no customers allowed inside the restaurant, Aldo has faced the challenge of attending to customers safely by pivoting and adapting La Fuente’s services to the times. In addition to limiting seating when indoor dining is allowed, Aldo has stepped up La Fuente’s social media presence, introduced smaller menus, created an online digital menu platform that uses QR codes, and has started working with delivery services like Doordash and Postmates. Next up, Aldo is looking to continue expanding the business and someday add a second La Fuente location.
While challenges still lie ahead, Aldo is optimistic that support from the Tigard community will get La Fuente through the pandemic.
“We'll always be local. We support local Tigard businesses and we look forward to being here another 17 years,” Aldo says. “Tigard is like our family.”
Taqueria La Fuente is located at 12198 SW Main Street. For more information and to place a takeout order visit https://lafuente.orderanywhere.io/menu
Dirt by Design
“Nature is my sanctuary and sanity,” says Chelsea Dahlquist, owner of Tigard’s newest plant shop, Dirt by Design. “When the weather goes south, indoor plants become my outdoor fix.”
Nature as sanctuary guides the design of Chelsea’s 72nd Avenue retail space. Nature has taken over and plants occupy every square inch. Chelsea’s dog, Pepper, wanders amongst the abundant florae, adding to the natural vibe. Dirt by Design is first and foremost a plant shop, focusing on a vast variety of species and specializing in indoor exotic tropicals. Beyond plants, Chelsea specializes in everything customers need to maintain a thriving plant atmosphere at home, providing everything from repotting and general solutions for plants customers already own to in-home consultations and installs of anything from large potted plants to living art pieces.
While Chelsea is clearly a horticulture expert, she hadn’t originally planned to get into the plant business at all. As she describes it, it just kind of happened that way. Chelsea’s foray into the plant world began in 2016 when she took on a few gardening clients as a side hustle. Garden work evolved into dabbling in landscape design and collecting/selling indoor plants of all kinds.
Soon, Chelsea was spending all her free time searching for interesting and exotic plants for her growing client list. In 2018, she made plants her full-time occupation, opening Dirt by Design’s first location in January of that year and later moving her shop to Tigard in June 2020.
Chelsea’s evolution as a plant connoisseur has been both educational and eye opening. “The things plants do are absolutely fascinating!” says Chelsea. “Not just that, but the ones I find, where I find them, the things I learn about them and what people teach me about them is all so incredible. Importing plants is also interesting; it took me to Thailand this past year and has me interacting with people from all over the world.”
Opening a business in the midst of a pandemic has presented its share of challenges. Chelsea’s first test was opening Dirt By Design three months later than anticipated due to the statewide business shutdown. “My inventory can’t exactly be boxed up and put into storage,” Chelsea says. “You’d be amazed at how many plants can fit into a studio apartment!”
The next challenge has been the overall change to the shopping landscape. “Ï was counting on people coming in and spending time soaking it in, enjoying the nature overload,” says Chelsea. “Browsing, shopping to just look around and checking out new places just for fun has kind of disappeared indefinitely. Now there’s more of an agenda behind shopping.”
But with these challenges have also come opportunity, as demand for house plants has sharply increased as people spend more time at home during the pandemic. “Luckily I’ve been doing this plant thing since before it was cool and have an amazingly loyal clientele who have been with me this entire journey,” says Chelsea. “People also tell me they’re so glad they don’t have to go to downtown Portland to find specialty shops.”
To cope with the shifting world of retail, Chelsea is actively adapting and retooling her business model in the time of COVID. In the near term, she is transitioning to an online e-commerce shopping experience and adding flexibility in order to providing a safe and enjoyable shopping experience during this stressful time. “If you’d like to come shop alone outside of business hours or want to do a class with a few people, I’m always open to meeting before or after hours, especially for those who are at a greater risk during this time,” says Chelsea.
In terms of doing business in Tigard, Chelsea is very pleased to have found a location for her business in the Tigard Triangle. “Not only is my shop close to my house, but it’s also such an up and coming area,” Chelsea says. “I’m excited to be a part of it and watch its transformation. From what I’ve seen in the works, I’m lucky to have gotten into this location when I did.”
“The Tigard community is a very supportive place for small businesses,” Chelsea adds. “This past year’s challenges have proven that this is a community willing to lean in, give a hand and support each other.”
Dirt by Design is located at 11714 SW 72nd Avenue. For more information, visit https://dirtbydesign.com/.
Like most entrepreneurs, Aero Teardrops co-owners Janice Levenhagen-Seeley and Brian Seeley feared for the worst when the COVID-19 pandemic started. “At first we were sure this was the end,” says Janice. “The first part of the crisis came at what is usually our busiest sales season, and we received no orders for two months.”
But as a trailer manufacturing company specializing in teardrop-style camping trailers, Aero Teardrops has been uniquely positioned to weather the storm. “In June we were suddenly swamped with interest,” says Janice. “People started to realize that camping is the safest way to vacation right now, and they were looking for a way to get away from home while not putting their family at risk.”
Camping has saved Aero Teardrops for now, and it’s also the reason Janice and Brian started their company in the first place. Both are outdoor enthusiasts who love camping. But they also know it can be a lot of work and wanted to help create a camping experience that’s more relaxing and less work. With this in mind, Aero Teardrops was born in 2015 during a camping trip to celebrate Brian’s birthday.
In addition to manufacturing teardrop-style trailers, Aero Teardrops also builds custom trailers, renovates damaged trailers, provides rentals, and sell parts to people building their own trailers at home. Beyond this multi-faceted business model, Janice and Brian are also always looking to their next venture. Currently, they are continuing to grow the business across the U.S. (including recently expanding their rental offerings to Denver and Virginia), looking into exporting their trailers to Europe, and are also designing new trailer models for manufacturing. As Janice points out, “Ironically, running a small business is perhaps the opposite of our ideal camping experience.”
Nonetheless, Janice and Brian couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve built with Aero Teardrops. “We love creating something that brings people so much joy and helps to create so many memories with family and friends!” says Janice. “We also love our community; when people buy a trailer from us, they become part of our online and offline community and often personal friends.”
Aero Teardrops is located at 7320 SW Bonita Rd. For more information, visit http://aeroteardrops.com/.
Stumptown Escape Games
Tucked into a nondescript Main Street building in Downtown Tigard, Stumptown Escape Games transports visitors into a series of four rooms, each containing an alternate reality. Each room is outfitted with an immersive set conveying a unique storyline. Recent examples include a prohibition-era speakeasy and Nicola Tesla’s lost laboratory. The room’s contents are scattered with hidden puzzles and clues that players must use to solve a series of objectives. The challenge is do so within one hour. While these spaces are typically referred to as “escape rooms,” Stumptown Escape Games co-owner Matt Hutchinson points out that the goal is not necessarily to escape the room, but more importantly to complete the storyline using materials on hand.
As an immersive game, players are participants in a world created by Stumptown’s staff, primarily comprised of Matt’s extended family. Staff members known as Gamemasters assist visitors throughout their hour in the escape room. They text clues and help players solve puzzles if players become stuck. With a 40 percent success rate, Matt notes that most players become stuck at some point.
Though the games are challenging, Stumptown’s focus is on fun. “The most fulfilling aspect of this business is getting to see people having so much fun in the rooms we’ve created,” says Matt. “We’ve seen multi-generational families playing games together and having a blast. This type of positive interactivity is why we do what we do.”
Although he grew up in Tigard, Matt’s road to owner of Stumptown Escape Games began in Atlanta, where he helped a friend open an escape room business. This first escape room was a hit (and is still operating today). Matt longed to return to his hometown and moved back to Tigard a year after the business opened. Having achieved success with the Atlanta escape room, Matt jumped at the opportunity to open an escape room in Tigard with friend and co-founder Wade Golden when the Main Street space became available in 2018.
“Coming back to Tigard was a homecoming,” says Matt. “I went to school half-a-mile from Stumptown’s current location, at Charles F Tigard Elementary, and love being a part of the Main Street revitalization in my hometown.”
Stumptown Escape Games is part of a wide array of indoor entertainment destinations in Tigard that can keep you active and entertained during the dog days of winter. To learn more, visit the Inside Tigard indoor entertainment guide.
Stumptown Escape Games is located at 12550 SW Main St. #120. For more information, visit www.stumptownescape.com.
Wags Pet Resort
In this world, there are cat people and there are dog people. It’s safe to say Wags Pet Resort owners Toban Zolman and Cassie Strickler belong firmly in the dog people category. As a young girl Cassie baked dog treats for her local animal shelter and later volunteered with the shelter as a teenager. As an adult, Cassie has worked with Washington County to rehabilitate and re-home abused pit bulls and is now a certified animal behaviorist. Toban grew up around dogs and has spent his adult life actively involved with organizations that help foster retired Greyhound racing dogs.
Seeing the need for a more compassionate and transparent approach to dog daycare, Toban and Cassie decided to turn their passion for pooches into a business, opening the first Wags Pet Resort in Sherwood in 2017 and a second location in downtown Tigard earlier this year. As Cassie and Toban are quick to point out, one thing that separates Wags from the pack is the unique way in which they structure a dog’s experience at their facility. Each dog’s time at Wags is rotated between different activities – from one-on-one walks with staff to open play with other dogs to naptime. This approach accounts for differences in temperament, provides more personalized attention than most day care facilities offer and maximizes time in a social setting.
In addition to daycare, boarding, and spa services, Wags offers a full suite of training courses spearheaded by lead trainer Cassie. Rooted in positive reinforcement, Wags specializes in training for fearful and reactive dogs, a point of distinction and pride for both Cassie and Toban. “One of my favorite things about this business is hearing stories from customers about how our training has positively changed their dog’s behavior and changed their lives for the better,” says Toban. “People in Tigard really love their dogs and that type of feedback is really touching.”
Need somewhere to board your dog over the holidays or to let them burn off steam during the dreary winter? You can learn more about Wags by visiting a Christmas-themed open house at their Tigard facility on Sunday, December 8. Santa will be on hand for photos. For event info visit facebook.com/events/2690028544557899/.
Wags Pet Resort is located at 12230 SW Main St. in downtown Tigard. For more information, visit www.wagspetresort.com
Curiosities Vintage Mall
Curiosities Vintage Mall, the newest addition to the downtown Tigard business mix, is a vendor community featuring 60+ dealers, each with their own distinct inventory of vintage merchandise. Everything from vintage clothing to mid-century home décor to art, jewelry and antiques can found within Curiosities’ expansive Main Street space.
Curiosities is the brainchild of Travis Diskin (pictured), who became a dealer in a different vintage mall with his partner, Jennifer, following a demanding career in state politics. After the mall Travis and Jennifer were dealing in closed, Travis saw the possibility to take the antique mall business model in a different, modern direction. Curiosities opened shortly thereafter in downtown Beaverton in 2013. Originally featuring 20 vendors, Curiosities has since grown to include more than 60 sellers and now offers one of the widest and largest varieties of vintage merchandise in the Portland Metro area. As the business website notes, “the space is everchanging with new merchandise and new dealers; it is never static or dusty.”
Recently relocating from Beaverton, Travis is happy to have set up shop in downtown Tigard. “As we looked in different areas to move to, we really fell in love with the direction that Tigard was taking their downtown core,” Travis says. “There is a lot to do in downtown Tigard and we wanted to be a part of that action. We have been welcomed with open arms here and that just builds the excitement for all of us. We look forward to participating in all the great events and attractions that Tigard presents and do our part to make them great.”
Curiosities Vintage Mall is located at 12550 SW Main Street in downtown Tigard. For more information, visit www.curiositiesvintage.com.
Top Street Tacos
As far back as Top Street Tacos owner Jonathan Ocampo can remember, he’s always wanted to be a chef. Inspired by his Oaxacan mother’s home cooking, Jonathan stepped into the kitchen at an early age and has been cooking ever since. Beginning his culinary career as a line cook in Beaverton in 2004, Jonathan later honed his skills in French and Italian culinary techniques while working in fine dining catering in Seattle, and eventually worked his way up to the position of head chef at a popular Portland restaurant.
After more than a decade of honing his culinary craft, Jonathan decided to strike out on his own, opening Top Street Tacos in the Break Room food cart pod in downtown Tigard earlier this year. “With Top Street Tacos, I wanted to go back to my roots and cook the type of Mexican food that inspired me to become a chef in the first place,” Jonathan explains. “My goal is to start small with a food cart and eventually open my own restaurant.”
Top Street Tacos offers traditional Mexican street food alongside vegan and vegetarian options, all made from locally-sourced ingredients. The Nixtamal masa Jonathan uses to make his fresh tortillas comes from a Milwaukie-based manufacturer, fresh fish is purchased just up Tigard Street at Cascade Organics, and seasonal produce and fresh meats are bought every Sunday at the Tigard Farmers Market. This dedication to fresh, local ingredients helps set Top Street Tacos apart. “I want to make fresh food that’s all-natural and also offer vegan and gluten-free options for people with dietary restrictions,” says Jonathan. “All our ingredients are sourced within a 10-mile radius of our food cart, which also helps lessen our impact on the environment.”
Jonathan’s search for a location for Top Street Tacos coincided perfectly with the opening of the new Break Room food cart pod (located behind Sherrie’s Jewelry Box), and he’s happy to be in downtown Tigard. “I love being a part of the vibrant local small business atmosphere that’s springing up in downtown,” says Jonathan. “It’s a great, clean location with friendly people and lots of foot traffic.”
Top Street Tacos is located in the Break Room food cart behind Sherrie’s Jewelry Box (12425 SW Main Street). For more information, visit www.facebook.com/topstreettacos/.
Tigard Taphouse got its start when owners Allie Hary and Mike Miller saw the need for a “third place” in Tigard, somewhere that the community could gather other than home or work. Both longtime Tigard residents, Allie and Mike knew from the outset that they wanted to locate in downtown Tigard. “I always thought downtown Tigard had great potential,” says Allie. With this in mind, Allie and Mike scoured downtown for the right site before eventually finding their current location on Burnham Street. “When we came across the old house with the overgrown backyard, we saw a vision of what things could be like if we were to add on to the existing structure and landscape the yard,” says Mike.
The two got to work turning their vision into reality, fully rehabbing the house both inside and out (a portion of the exterior renovations were financed by the City of Tigard’s Urban Renewal Matching Grant program). Making the space presentable, Mike and Allie held their soft opening on the weekend of the 2016 Tigard Street Fair, and Tigard Taphouse has been a beloved downtown staple ever since. Since opening, Mike and Allie have added a building addition to increase indoor seating capacity and completely renovated the expansive backyard space, which now hosts a variety of activities, from cornhole tournaments to live music and, most recently, outdoor movies. In the near future, Mike and Allie plan to expand their food menu and hours of operation so they will be open for lunch. They will also add a covered outdoor seating area, and continue hosting events in the backyard – including the upcoming Aloha Brewfest (August 9 and 10) and a three-year anniversary party.
The Taphouse’s gradual transformation over the past three years has closely mirrored that of downtown Tigard as a whole. “It’s amazing the changes we have seen downtown since we opened almost three years ago,” says Allie. “It’s gone from a ghost town to a bustling downtown.”
In just under three years, Tigard Taphouse has become a true “third place” and one of Tigard’s primary gathering hubs. “At first we thought it would be nice to create an environment to bring the community together,” says Mike. “Now we realize we have created an environment that has surrounded us with good friends. We love to see faces from the early days when we opened with a small house, through the expansion in our second year and now the transformation of the backyard and new outdoor bar. Without the support of customers and friends, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Tigard Taphouse is located at 9230 SW Burnham Street in downtown Tigard. For more information, visit www.thetigardtaphouse.com.
Jeffrey Allen Gallery
The wall-to-wall collection of Asian artifacts, antiques, furniture and plants arranged throughout Jeffrey Allen Gallery could seem overwhelming, but instead makes the space both serene and inviting. Part home décor store, part design consultation business, this careful attention to detail is emblematic of what makes Jeffrey Allen Gallery a unique addition to Downtown Tigard.
Jeffrey Allen Gallery was established in 1998 as a storefront warehouse for the décor that owner Allen Luong was providing for his home and garden renovation clients. Allen’s collection includes one-of-a-kind artifacts, antiques and furniture, many of which were crafted hundreds of years ago. First opening in then underdeveloped Northwest Portland, the business relocated around 2003 to a Tigard storefront near the Dartmouth Street Winco. In 2015, the business moved again to its current location on the corner of Main and Burnham in Downtown Tigard.
While interior/exterior design consultation is the business’s primary source of revenue, Allen is happy to have a central storefront space where the community can see his impressive collection in person. “We moved to Downtown Tigard because we wanted to be the forerunner not the run after,” says Luong. “We enjoy being a part of this classic Main Street feel, where all the neighbors know each other. We saw the potential of this area from the beginning and are proud to be a part of the evolution of what it is becoming.”
Before opening, the Main Street staple underwent a two-year renovation that completely reconstructed the interior. Much of the renovation work was partially funded by the City’s Urban Renewal Matching Grant program. Another phase of the build out, not funded by the Matching Grant program, included construction of a Vietnamese temple that occupies a third of the building. The temple’s intricate hand carved, gilded gold altar and ornate sculptures were crafted by artisans from five separate villages in rural Vietnam over the course of more than two and a half years. Once completed, the materials were shipped overseas and assembled within the store. Jeffrey Allen Gallery now houses the only working temple of its kind in Oregon, creating a hidden gem in the middle of downtown.
Jeffrey Allen Gallery is located at 12460 SW Main Street in Downtown Tigard. For more information, visit www.jeffreyallengallery.com.
GoodCake Bakery is the result of more than 30 years of combined baking experience by co-owners Jay Burton and Edgar Contreras. Edgar comes from a long line of bakers. His father and grandfather were both bakers and he and got his start at a young age in his grandfather’s panadería/pastelería in his home state of Michoacán, Mexico. Jay began her baking career 13 years ago at the now-closed La Montana Market in Aloha, initially filling in when their head baker unexpectedly quit. Through hard work and hours spent teaching herself the ins and outs of baking, Jay became the market’s lead cake baker.
With plenty of experience under their belts, Jay and Edgar decided to break out and start a bakery/panadería of their own. Opening in downtown Tigard in May 2018, GoodCake offers both traditional Mexican bread and pastries alongside a menu of Edgar and Jay’s unique desert creations. Among their traditional Mexican offerings are such staples as conchas (Mexican sweet bread), bolillo (savory bread), puerquitos, and niño envuelto. Desert items include multiple flavors of cupcakes, cake pops, tres leches (milk cake), flan, gelatina mosaico, and, of course, lots of cakes, from the traditional to the elaborate.
In addition to providing tasty treats to the community, Jay and Edgar are also helping train the next generation of bakers by hiring Tigard high school students as interns. This connection to the community plays a big part in why Jay and Edgar have been happy doing business in Tigard so far.
“When we were looking for a location for our new bakery, we initially decided to open in Tigard in order to fill a niche in the local marketplace,” says Jay. “What we quickly found is that there is a real sense of pride and community in Tigard. We love how eager people here are to shop local and support local businesses!”
On June 1st, GoodCake Bakery will join 13 vendors and five bands in downtown Tigard at the 2019 Taste of Tigard Food Festival. This year’s Taste of Tigard is being held in conjunction with the 6th annual Tigard Art Walk and promises to be the biggest event yet. Other confirmed vendors include Bailey’s Burgers, Don Flores, Din Tai Fung, Que’d, Koi Fusion, and many more.
GoodCake Bakery is located at 12085 SW Hall Blvd., Suite 130. For more information visit their website.
Game On for Versus Board Games & Senet Tap House
Exciting changes are happening in Downtown Tigard! The opening of Senet Tap House and Versus Board Games, the first combined tap house and retail board game shop in the Portland region, are the newest additions to the unique shopping and restaurants options in downtown.
Senet Tap House is slated to open on June 8, 2019 on the second floor of 12553 SW Main Street. The business overlooks adjacent Fanno Creek and offers a library of board games to play, alongside a food menu and beer and wine crafted in the Pacific Northwest.
The city has preliminarily awarded up to $25,000 in matching grant funding for interior improvements to the Senet Tap House. These improvements include build out of the kitchen, bar, and seating areas, as well as new flooring and electrical upgrades.
Versus Board Games, a retail board game shop, opened for business on December 15, 2018 in the ground floor space below Senet Tap House (12551 SW Main Street). Versus features a wide selection of board games that customers can test out at the upstairs tap house before purchasing.
“Having the opportunity to open a business in downtown Tigard was ideal for our vision” said Senet owner Derrick Wright. “What downtown Tigard is and is going to become is exactly what we are looking to be a part of.”
Mr. Wright’s family history played a part in the decision to locate in downtown Tigard.
“We’re located in the old Tigard Cycle & Ski Shop, where I purchased my first bike,” says Wright. “It wasn’t until I began this search and started talking with my family that I learned that my grandfather owned an appliance repair shop across the creek from my location and that my grandmother went to Tigard High School, when it used to be at the end of Main Street. My mother moved into apartments a short walk from our location when she came to this area and I grew up watching movies at Joy Cinema. With a history rooted in this area over multiple generations, a city that is eager and willing to work with new businesses, and a community happily embracing new entrepreneurs, this feels like the right place and the right time for Senet to become a part of Tigard.”
The historic and walkable downtown is easy to access from the WES Commuter Rail, buses, and Fanno Creek Trail. Make sure your 2019 includes experiencing the downtown transformation.
Welcome to Tigard, REECE Complete Security Solutions!
REECE Complete Security Solutions, a security system integration company, is relocating their headquarters to Tigard in early 2020. Operating in the Portland region for 30 years, REECE creates state-of-the-art software and physical security solutions that are tailored to clients’ needs, including access control, video surveillance, intrusion monitoring and fire safety controls. REECE works with a wide range of customers, including businesses, federal and local government agencies and over 250 K-12 schools.
In recent years, REECE’s employment has been growing by over 30 percent annually. They currently employ approximately 70 workers around the state, including 44 workers at their headquarters location.
To accommodate their growth, REECE purchased a 10,500 square foot building near the Tigard Triangle. The building will be renovated to add second story office space, with the lower level split between engineering/assembly and warehouse uses. Following their move to Tigard, the company estimates at least 10 percent workforce growth per year.
“REECE is thrilled to be joining the community of businesses that call Tigard home,” says Dean Reece, CEO. “When looking for our new location, Tigard immediately stood out as the best choice for us to continue to grow our team and company. The blend of new and established businesses has created a high-energy environment that supports strong economic growth in a community that feels much smaller than it is. Our team is looking forward to moving to Tigard!”
With its investment in Tigard, REECE will become the seventh Tigard firm to participate in the Tigard-Lake Oswego Enterprise Zone program. This program offers qualified businesses located within a defined boundary a three to five-year tax abatement on new investment (equipment, buildings and facilities) when the firm also invests in new employees by increasing their workforce by at least 10 percent. Other Tigard firms that have participated in the Enterprise Zone program include Gerber Gear and Consumer Cellular.
More information on REECE Complete Security Solutions can be found at https://rcss.us/.
Arcade Club PDX Takes it Back to the Old School
The first thing visitors to Arcade Club PDX notice is the sheer volume of old school arcade games and pinball machines inside the business’s Main Street space. With 12 arcade games and 18 pinball machines, Arcade Club PDX has one of the largest and rarest collections of classic arcade and pinball machines in the Portland region. Everything from Super Mario Bros to Mortal Kombat to a Wizard of Oz themed pinball machine can all be played within. Owners David Bartlett and Sarah Geelan collected the games over the course of 10 years, and decided to open Arcade Club PDX to showcase their collection and bring the old school arcade experience to Tigard. The owners also wanted to create a community space for gaming lovers of all ages. Bartlett and Geelan spent three years looking for a suitable space before opening for business in downtown Tigard in mid-December of 2018.
"We chose to bring our business to Tigard because it needed something awesome,” says David and Sarah, “a place where parents can reminisce about the good old days and show their kids a new gaming experience with classic arcade and pinball machines."
Main Street has been a great fit so far – local beer and cider offerings have helped attract the 21 and up crowd, while the wide variety of available games brings in a younger demographic, making the space an all-ages destination in downtown. Arcade Club PDX has already garnered a loyal following from local gamers and plans to expand their reach through the addition of events like pinball tournaments and swapping in new machines to keep the game options fresh.
Arcade Club PDX is part of a growing number of indoor entertainment destinations in Tigard. You can learn more about Tigard’s wide variety of indoor entertainment businesses by exploring the City of Tigard’s interactive Inside Tigard map.
Arcade Club PDX is located at 12215 SW Main Street Suite D. For more information visit www.facebook.com/arcadeclubpdx/
Meet EDA Frames/Frameabl, Tigard’s Rock Star Eyewear Designer
Tucked into the second floor of 12553 SW Main Street is one of Tigard’s most discreet yet high-profile businesses. Founded by optician Paul Vu, EDA Frames/Frameabl produces one-of-a-kind eyewear with sustainable materials. Using 3D face scanning technology, EDA/Frameabl is able to design custom fit frames with highly personalized style. This process, coupled with the unique aesthetic of its frame designs, has made EDA/Frameabl one of the USA’s leading eyewear distributors and wholesalers.
Vu’s inimitable designs have also caught the attention of some major superstars; celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Bruno Mars and Gene Simmons of Kiss to former Portland Mayor Sam Adams have all donned specs designed by EDA/Frameabl. In addition to making frames for the stars, EDA/Frameabl also works with local and national charities, including Tigard’s Good Neighbor Center and Ronald McDonald House, in addition to volunteering with Pacific University’s School of Optometry.
EDA/Frameabl has been doing business in downtown Tigard since mid-2018 and Vu couldn’t be happier with his Main Street location. “I wanted to build a strong connection with the local community and became determined to find a location in Tigard for my showroom,” says Vu. “When my current space became available in downtown it was perfect. It was still being remodeled but I put down a deposit and waited almost a year to move in. It has been exactly how I envisioned, making connections with the local chamber, community and business owners. It's home for Frameabl and I'm going to put Tigard on the map!"
Agilyx Transforms Trash into Treasure
Looking for something to do with all the Styrofoam you've accumulated? Look no further than Agilyx, a Tigard firm whose cutting-edge technology turns hard-to-recycle mixed plastics into crude oil. This innovative process enables previously unrecyclable plastics to be transformed into a range of valuable products including gasoline, diesel fuel, and lubricants, and even made back into plastic.
Last November, Agilyx also reached a deal with Monroe Energy (a Delta Air Lines subsidiary) to help create a more renewable form of jet fuel. Agilyx’s plant can process up to 10 tons of mixed plastics a day, helping to form a closed loop system that keeps waste out of the landfill. Mixed plastics are collected from partner businesses, including local nurseries, food companies and retailers, and transformed into crude oil at Agilyx’s Tigard facility.
In addition to recycling commercial waste products, Agilyx also helps the community ethically dispose of plastics that can’t normally be recycled at home, such as Styrofoam. Community members can deposit their waste polystyrene in the recycling bin in the parking lot of Agilyx’s facility, located at 13240 SW Wall Street (just past Potso Dog Park). Acceptable donations include any plastic with the recycling number 6 on it.
Agilyx has been located in Tigard since 2009 and has become a pillar of the local economy. “There are many reasons we appreciate the Tigard location, paramount is the great support we get from the community,” said John Desmarteau, Agilyx’s Director of Business Development. “Out-of-state visitors are always impressed with the constant stream of people bringing their waste polystyrene to our drop box at all hours of the day. From the city's permitting process, the sheer beauty of the area, to the great community support (our drop box welcomes your waste polystyrene 24/7!), Tigard has proved to be a great ‘incubator’ city for startups. We are proud to call Tigard home.”
For more information about Agilyx, visit www.agilyx.com