Success Stories

Surf Cowboy CEO and founder Jeff Shafer moved his family to Camas, Wash., from Santa Monica, California two years ago. He decided to bring his company’s headquarters with him, citing the region’s deep talent pool for design, its proximity to a major port, and its moderate business costs. Surf Cowboy Inc. is best known for its high-end Agave brand jeans for men.

The move required a new building. The $9.7 million business broke ground last month on a 24,000-square-foot headquarters and distribution facility off exit 14 on Interstate-5 in Ridgefield, Wash. The land and construction cost $3 million, funded in part by a U.S. Small Business Administration loan.   Jake Agave Jean Co. was founded in 2002 as an all-men’s denim brand and hit it big by gaining distribution at more than 500 stores, including boutiques, select Nordstrom stores and Barneys New York.   The jeans retail for between $185 and $225 a pair with celebs like Samuel L. Jackson, Adrien Brody and... Read More

Rebecca Pearcy spent years building her specialty handbag business, Queen Bee Creations. She started her business from the corner of her bedroom while she was in high school. Later she studied at a textile and fabric institute in Philadelphia. Pearcy loves color so much that she uses all the colors of nature in her purses. She started her Queen Bee Creations in Olympia, Washington in 1996 and moved it to Portland in 2002.

For 10 years she did just about everything – from designing bags to producing the items to shipping to bookkeeping. Pearcy worked so many hours to turn her business into a national success that she had no personal life. She was close to giving it up. Luckily, a friend suggested that she talk to a counselor at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Portland Community College and she did.

Some of the most important advice Pearcy heard from counselors was to stop "being the business and instead run the business." Many small business... Read More

John Clark started his career working in the fast food industry where he quickly rose to management level. During this time, he became experienced in dealing with the same problems that a small business owner encounters such as, dealing with employees, customer satisfaction and many of the bookkeeping and payroll experiences that are necessary in running a successful business.

  He decided to return to school and study accounting and business management at a trade school in downtown Portland. He received a degree in 2 years and moved from the food service industry into an entry level accounting position at Pope and Talbot in downtown through a temp agency.   From there he went to work for Deloitte & Touche through another temp agency. During his accounting assignments, Clark decided that he really did not want to be in the corporate world for the rest of his life. It was at this crossroads that he had an opportunity to go to work for Rose City Stamp in... Read More

Carola Stepper, Registered Nurse and Licensed Acupuncturist, facilitates and operates a healthy acupuncture business in Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon. As owner and acupuncturist of Cascade Acupuncture Center, LLC, she brings a treasure of experience and passion that supports the growing need of natural health care in the Columbia River Gorge.

In her spare time she enjoys hiking, swimming, running, biking, windsurfing, snowboarding, skiing, and dancing. She has also been volunteering her time assisting with different community events as part of the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors since 2006.

Carola Stepper was born in New Jersey and raised in Germany, finally returning to the United States sixteen years ago. She lived both in Maui, Hawaii, and Portland, Oregon, before settling in Hood River, Oregon. Educated as a registered nurse in Germany in 1989, she has worked with hospitals both in Europe and the United States before changing her specialty to... Read More

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