A friendship that started in the seventh grade has blossomed into a professional partnership and business ownership in downtown Camas.
Bryttani Joe and Courtney Rivera have been friends since they were students at St. Helens Junior High, in St. Helens, Oregon.
Joe said she loved Rivera’s outfit, and they bonded over fashion at the age of 13.
“Our younger sisters were best friends, so we started hanging out,” Joe added.
The women, now both 30, and mothers of three children under the age of 12, recently opened Believe Boutique.
The business started in January as a First Friday pop-up shop inside Sass Beauty and moved into a permanent space in July.
Rivera’s sister-in-law, Andrea Brown, the owner of Sass Beauty, built a dressing room for Believe Boutique.
Joe said operating the pop-up shop once a month was fun, but still a lot of work.
“We would bring the inventory (to the store) and then pack it up at the end of the night,” she said.
Believe Boutique has tunics, peacoats, cowl-neck sweaters, basic T-shirts, kimonos, rompers and jeans. They sell clothing in sizes XS to 3X, with brand names such as Umgee, Very J and Celebrity Pink jeans. Accessories include scarves, belts, sunglasses, CC ball caps and Chip+Chisel handcrafted jewelry.
Joe and Rivera can show women which pieces of clothing will look good with their hair color, complexion and body type.
Joe came up with the business’ “Believe”name.
“We just want women to believe in themselves, and feel comfortable and confident,” she said.
Backgrounds in fashion and business
Working hard for a business is nothing new for either woman.
Joe has helped run Bing’s Restaurant, in St. Helens, since 2015. Her grandfather opened the eatery in 1986.
When she was 16, Joe had a fashion internship at Nordstrom that involved talking about the latest trends. After graduating from St. Helens High School in 2006, she was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, but chose not to go after realizing the cost was a prohibitive $30,000 a year.
Instead, Joe studied accounting, business and computer science at Portland Community College, earning an associate degree in computer information systems.
After learning some sewing skills from her grandmother, Joe bought a sewing machine in 2013. She has since taken sewing classes at a JOANN fabric and craft store, and watches YouTube videos about making patterns.
She started out making and selling children’s leggings on a “buy, sell and trade” Facebook site, but now sews mostly women’s clothing.
“I want to start my own line of clothing,” she said.
In October, Joe plans to introduce some custom pieces to sell at the boutique.
Rivera’s love of fashion started around the age of 7, when she and her mother shopped together.
“(My mother) worked in accounting, and she was always dressed up for work,” Rivera recalled.
After Rivera graduated from Evergreen High School, in Vancouver, in 2006, she worked for two years as a barista at her parents’ business, Java Delight, in Vancouver. Rivera then married and became a mother.
The two women take turns working at their boutique and watching each other’s preschool-aged children. Both women have children ages 11, 8 and 3.
“We’re two moms trying to get our feet in the door, in fashion and business,” Joe said.
They aspire, one day, to open their own shop in a 2,000-square-foot space, and become personal shoppers.
“We want to teach our children how to run a successful business and work hard,” Joe said.
In the meantime, the two longtime friends said their biggest challenge is the amount of time involved with owning a business and finding the right balance between work and family.
Believe Boutique is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, and by appointment. The shop is located inside Sass Beauty, at 222 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas. For more information, call 360-834-1886, email email@example.com or visit shopbelieveboutique.com.