Not Just Dreaming It – Making It

by Heidi Bulkley

Heidi BulkleyIn the bustling landscape of entrepreneurship, women are carving out their spaces, building businesses that not only thrive financially, but also contribute to the fabric of their communities. This story is about three remarkable women in Northport, WA, who have taken the plunge into entrepreneurship, each owning a unique business that reflects their passion, dedication, commitment to excellence, and bringing community together through their dreams and ambitions to serve.
Tamara Smith, the passionate founder and owner of Small Batch SOURdough Bakery, started baking at home while homeschooling her children. She was searching for the best sourdough starter and just could not find one that felt right. This led her to a small artisan bakery in London, where she learned what was needed to craft the perfect loaf of sourdough bread.

In 2023, Tamara was on a holiday in Rossland, BC, and saw a long line of customers waiting to go into a storefront. When realizing it was a bakery, she hopped in line to see what the experience was that led all these people to start forming a line 15 minutes before opening. Tamara was so astonished by what she witnessed and experienced, she started wondering, how could do this in her own small town? She knew she wanted to serve her community in some way. Bringing her family and friends together, she raised enough money to purchase a bread oven and then, through tenacious perseverance, she purchased the historic US Customs and Immigration Building in Northport.

Tamara Smith, founder/owner of Small Batch SOURdough Bakery

Tamara Smith, founder/owner of Small Batch SOURdough Bakery

Tamara asserts her unwavering commitment to quality and sustainability. She meticulously selects ingredients, prioritizing organic and seasonal produce to ensure that each loaf is not only delicious, but also nourishing. Moreover, Tamara’s dedication extends beyond creating delicious loaves; her ownership of the building housing her bakery is representative of her independence and self-reliance.

Janina Wills, one of Tamara’s close friends, was a great support through Tamara’s journey. As they were talking, Janina said that she was becoming so inspired she decided she wanted to open a coffee shop and be a part of the experience. With a history in helping businesses, and a technical background, Janina became a visionary entrepreneur. She is the proud owner of Northern Provisions, a small batch artisan coffee and tea shop. For a long time, she knew that Northern Provisions would be something big one day. She came up with the name three years ago, but just wasn’t sure what it would look like. She knew she wanted to make things and to help her community along the way.

With her deep-rooted passion for her community, Janina wanted to sought to create a space where people could gather, connect, and savor the simple pleasures of life. She did not want to “just make things” to sell or give away – she wanted to be community-centric in her work. Janina stated, “This is not just a cup of coffee and making a buck. A lot of thought has gone into how to truly make the best cup of coffee or tea. It is also important that people feel it as well.”

Janina seeks to have her shop be more than just a place to grab a cup of coffee or tea. Her vision is for it to serve as a community hub where locals come to unwind, engage in meaningful conversations, and indulge in the rich flavors of freshly brewed coffee and handcrafted treats. Janina’s commitment to sustainability shines through in every aspect of her business, from the local, ethically sourced beans to her packaging. Janina is anticipating the warmer months when she can add outdoor seating and a larger gathering space where everyone will feel special when they stop in. Northern Provisions will be open for business on Tuesday after a very successful soft opening this weekend.

Trent and Tam Smith, William and Janina Wills, Smooth and Emily Elguezabal, Photo Credit: Tamara Smith

Trent and Tam Smith, William and Janina Wills, Smooth and Emily Elguezabal, Photo Credit: Tamara Smith

Next, meet Emily Elguezabal. She is the creative force behind Emily Elguezabal’s Hair Studio, a thriving hair salon that is more than just a place for a haircut – it is a sanctuary where her clients can be pampered and leave feeling rejuvenated and empowered. Emily’s journey into entrepreneurship began at a young age with a dream to make people look and feel their best. When talking with Emily about being an empowered woman and creating a future vision, she said it started with her parents. The shared roles in their home, and their support for their daughter led to where she is today. When asked what makes a successful female entrepreneur in today’s world, Emily said, “Loving your job, working hard, and being dedicated.”

With a keen eye for style and commitment to ongoing education, Lisa has built a reputation for excellence in her field. Her salon reflects her passion for beauty and her commitment to providing top-notch services tailored to each client’s unique needs and preferences.

These three women entrepreneurs exemplify the spirit of purpose, community, empowerment, and success in business. Through their passion, dedication, and innovation, they are not only shaping their own destinies but also leaving a lasting impact on their communities and beyond. All three of these women talked about the community, but also about how important family support is. Their husbands and children have made sacrifices and put in hours of helping them in so many ways, with both physical and emotional strength. Their stories serve as a reminder that with courage, resilience, and a willingness to sacrifice and dream big, anything is possible in the world of entrepreneurship.

If you find yourself in the little town of Northport, WA, stop in at this destination spot and say hi to the ladies. This spring, there will be a grand opening for Small Batch SOURdough with homemade pizza with sourdough crust on the menu. I understand the “Baker’s Whim” loaf is a pretty popular item from the bakery. Grab yourself a loaf of freshly made sourdough bread, a cuppa, and a haircut if you need it. You will feel welcome and have the best experience on your journey!

Hiedi Bulkley is a Spokane certified professional photographer specializing in food, product, and portraiture and a Senior Adjunct Professor for Whitworth University. Hiedi loves to tell stories through writing and her photography.