Going back to before her college days, Laura Beach has pretty much known what she did and did not want to do in life.
“I knew I wanted to be an artist,” Beach said, admitting she got sidetracked temporarily pursuing a career as a journalist. “I wrote for the Chemeketa Newspaper. But after I graduated to go on to 4-year college, I decided not what I wanted to do with my life.”
Beach knew she didn’t want to be a starving artist. So, while at Western Oregon University, she got a business degree and enrolled in their entrepreneur program the only one on the West Coast.
After another detour through a law firm and nonprofit, Beach finally committed to graphic design. She describes her style as “very Northwest,” with a lot of trees, mountains, Oregon, Sasquatch.
“It all started with a painting I did of Oregon. I sold some prints and it took off from there,” Beach said. “‘Wow, this Oregon thing is really working for me,’ I thought. So, I started making other designs. They were a hit. Kept going with it. Artistically I’ve grown a lot, too. You’ll see a big difference between designs from 10 years ago and now. I’m proud of it.”
For the past eight years, Beach has sold her wares under the Pacific North Wild label from the temporary stalls at the the Salem Saturday Market.
These days, she’s found a more permanent home in Dallas. Her Pacific North Wild gift shop opened Oct. 12 at 1254 SW Fairview Ave.
As nice as it is to sell from the cozy confines of a brick-and-mortar store, Beach said she wasn’t actually planning to sell her custom-designed wares, from a store.
“I was looking for a place to work, more of a studio. Everything was too big and too expensive. Warehouses for sale were 30,000 square feet and $5,000 a month. A needed a garage pretty much,” Beach said.
Then she found the perfect combination of size and location for a shop on Fairview Avenue – a semi-busy street, just a few blocks from downtown Dallas, with big windows and lots of natural light.
It proved a big change no longer working from home.
“Well, for one, I’m stuck here. I have to be here,” Beach said. “But I wanted a place to go to work. Working from home was actually difficult at times. I’m easily distracted. I’d be working on inventory then suddenly doing laundry and dishes.”
She now has an inviting space to sell items featuring her creative, graphic designs, including t-shirts, hoodies, earrings, sock, caps, cups and lots more.
“A lot of the designs I have now were new for the shop. I wanted to give people something to come look at, if they’d already seen me at the market,” Beach said. “And inspiration comes from very weird places. I have horrible sketches all over the place - my car, my house - I just have to remember the concept from my scribbles, then my imagination goes from there. I’m always designing. Some new ideas evolve from old designs.”
For example, one of her more popular images, Sasquatch, is on his third version, starting first a a silhouette, now with mountains.
“There’s a good mix. There are feminine looks, with purple, and hearts and waves. And people so far are excited to see the more masculine designs. We have some great shops in town that are very, very feminine. Not bad, beautiful. I shop there. But guys are happy to shop for something for them, too,” Beach said.
While Pacific North Wild doesn’t have a website yet, Beach does post often on Facebook.
“The Dallas Community Facebook page has been a huge help,” she said. “I love how active our community is on that page. I’m very active, too, connecting there with people. I get lots of people come in and say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen your posts.’ That’s fun. Saturday market customers, too.”
While the retail shop has its slow days and its busy days, Beach said the location is growing on the community.
“Enough people come down this road that I’m being seen. I’ve lived in Dallas the five years. I don’t know a lot of people personally, but the few people I do know have been telling others. So that’s been nice. Like, a few customers, say, ‘I’m your friend’s mechanic’s wife.’ It’s pretty cool word of mouth,” Beach said.
She has pretty high hopes for her favorite season – Christmas. The holidays, for her, kicked off last weekend with a booth at the 4-H Holiday Fair at the Polk County Fairgrounds. Next, she’ll be over at the State Fairgrounds in Salem.
“A big one for me,” she said.
Beach has plans for new items and designs to hit her store shelves in time for Christmas. And then the hope is by April, business picks up enough she can hire another person to come in and keep the shop open for her, for when she’s on the road or at home with her five-year-old son.
“Come in. Gets some ‘gifty’ things. I’m adding a bunch of new stuff just for the holidays,” Beach said.