Origami Rings from Washington Artisan

GROW Washington grows up, celebrates a year

A ring made with orgami is one of the offerings of a newer artisan at GROW Washington, a store and business incubator for local entreprenuers.  Photo courtesy of Marta Cunha

A ring made with origami is one of the offerings of a newer artisan at GROW Washington, a store and business incubator for local entrepreneurs.
Photo courtesy of Marta Cunha

By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor

It has truly been a year of growth for Sultan’s GROW Washington store, which is getting ready to celebrate its one-year anniversary.

To commemorate the occasion, GROW will be hosting a two-day event held on Friday Oct. 4 and Saturday Oct. 5, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the GROW Washington store located in the former Dutch Cup Restaurant building. The festivities will include free coffee and apple cider along with a gift basket raffle which will benefit GROW Washington and the Sultan Food Bank. Raffle tickets will be offered for $1 or guests can bring a non-perishable food item and receive a ticket free of charge.

The gift basket will feature an assortment of handmade items created by GROW entrepreneurs.

GROW Washington is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to supporting small business owners, providing them tools to help ensure their establishment and success. Founded by Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, GROW is known as a “small business incubator”  in which members benefit from business classes, seminars and other training which is available on everything from obtaining a business license to inventory management and control.

Once they become members, entrepreneurs receive the opportunity to feature their products in GROW’s storefront and join forces with other small business owners in the community.  GROW Washington opened at its original location at 403 Main St. in Oct. of 2012, which it outgrew in less than six months. The store moved to its new location at 927 U.S. 2 in March of this year.

Since moving to the larger building, GROW has experienced an increase in entrepreneur membership, which has gone from 20 vendors to 29, including 3 vendors who are service-based and do not feature a particular product in the store.

GROW entrepreneurs have been able to expand their businesses as a result of the move. The new commercial kitchen facilities have broadened the opportunities for Maggie Torza of Miss Maggie’s Deserts, enabling her to explore new menu items which she creates fresh daily.

Torza’s baked goods will be on hand both days during the anniversary celebration.

In addition to candy and deserts, GROW Washington features many one-of-a-kind items, made by local business owners.

One of the newer additions to GROW’s team of entrepreneurs is Marta Cunha of Dark Horse Origami.  Originally from Portugal, Cunha fashions traditional origami designs and crafts them into jewelry and other decorative items. She folds the intricate origami shapes by hand out of Japanese washi paper; a paper that is made from fibers of trees and shrubs native to Japan.

The designs are then varnished with a lacquer meant to strengthen the pieces for wear, making the delicate items more durable and water-resistant. She also forges her origami jewelry designs out of pure silver.

Cunha, who is a resident of Gold Bar, creates hairclips, rings, earrings, brooches and necklaces.

GROW’s one-year anniversary conveniently corresponds with a significant anniversary for Cunha, who has been with GROW since June.

“It has also been a year since I’ve arrived in America,” said Cunha. “GROW Washington became more than another business venue, it’s another home where I’ve always felt welcomed, and where I am surrounded by newfound friends, inspiration and creativity.”

Cunha began by taking several of the business classes offered by Eslick until her Washington State Business License arrived in July, and she was able to start displaying and selling her jewelry.

Once a business successfully completes the application process and becomes a member of GROW, the business owners are asked to make a commitment to work in the storefront a minimum of twice per month. This gives them the chance to network with other entrepreneurs and also to share their work and potentially connect with customers who visit the store.

The products made by GROW Washington entrepreneurs include custom jewelry designs, hand-made candles and body lotions, one of a kind furnishings, watercolor and other art, fishing bait and tackle gear, uniquely arranged flora, custom garden art made from repurposed stone, Christmas decorations, ceramics and much more.

JD Slicks Lounge, which opened in June, shares the building with GROW.

“It’s so great to see the east end of Main Street in action again,” said Mayor Eslick. “The GROW Washington store and JD Slicks have really helped the economic health of Sultan. I’m very proud of the entrepreneurs that have made this possible.”

GROW Washington has storefronts located in Snohomish and Sultan, and will soon be opening a new store in Everett.

For additional information on becoming a member of GROW Washington, please visit the website at:  http://www.growwashington.biz/

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