Juliana Uluave-Gould is partnering with small business owners across the Pacific Northwest to give Whidbey Island residents unique creations that they won’t find anywhere else.
Uluave-Gould recently opened PNW Vibes Market in the Loft Building in Oak Harbor to showcase her own designs as well as those by other local vendors.
There is an emphasis on handmade items, meaning that a customer can walk in and get something customized for them, Uluave-Gould said.
That doesn’t often happen in large retailers, she said.
“I bring in small-batch designers, specialty items that you won’t necessarily find in big box stores,” Uluave-Gould said.
Her shop is “kind of taking the Etsy virtual store and creating a storefront of it,” she said.
Some vendors are from Whidbey Island, but others hail from other parts of Western Washington and as far away as Oregon.
PNW Vibes Market is Uluave-Gould’s first business front, but she has operated a T-shirt business for almost five years. Last year, she leased space in another business on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor along with a few other small vendors. She creates hand-painted T-shirts and dip-dyed flannel shirts.
One of her designs is centered around bears that the whole family can wear.
When the time came for her to leave the previous location, Uluave-Gould said she wanted a space that she could lift up other small businesses along with her own creations.
“That’s why I started the store,” she explained. “I wanted to brand the store and then help the vendors with branding themselves.”
The new store has a variety of apparel, home goods and gifts that feature Pacific Northwest themes and styles.
Uluave-Gould grew up in Washington state but moved to California for a few years. She said she gained a greater appreciation of the Pacific Northwest after moving back.
“When you leave Washington, especially a place like this, and live in another state, you get another perception of your reality. When you come back, your mind is just blown about what you probably didn’t realize that you had,” she said.
Uluave-Gould said she had no idea that someday she would have her own T-shirt business after she moved back to Washington. What started out as a fun craft project after her friend suggested painting T-shirts with freezer paper soon became a business venture.
She and her business partner at the time — the two are still friends, though the other woman is no longer involved in the business — held a craft bazaar at Oak Harbor High School. Their hand-painted shirts were a hit.
“It went bonkers. Everything just flew,” Uluave-Gould said.