Downtown Washougal’s newest business can’t be easily described in a few simple words. Even its co-owners are still searching for the best way to explain their new venture.
But for now, it’s safe to say that Eden Collective represents a professional partnership that combines the artistic talents of stylist Lauren Plumberg and photographer Olivia Peabody.
“We’re trying to play around with words. I have to explain it so many times a day with my clients,” Plumberg said. “If I had to put it in a phrase, I would say ‘mixed-use creative space.’ It’ll be a rentable, smaller, more intimate venue and event space, and (Olivia) has a huge database of photographers that would love having the natural light and south-facing windows and her super-cool rolling wall and stuff like that. So it’s definitely multi-use for sure.”
Peabody described the business, located at 1911 Main St., Ste. 105, as “a creative, event(-based), little micro-venue that we’ll rent out hourly when we’re not using it.”
“We wanted to create a space that was really enjoyable and relaxing to be in that would be universally appealing,” Peabody said. “It’s comfortable for our renters and our clients. They don’t feel like they have to make it nice.”
After COVID-19 gathering restrictions are lifted, Plumberg and Peabody will offer their space for meetings, conferences, bridal showers, baby showers and other events as well.
“Truthfully, I’m not glad that everything is shut down and that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, don’t get me wrong,” Peabody said. “But we do have a chance to get everything exactly how we want it, so our hope is that when things are back to normal, which hopefully is soon-ish, we’ll be ready to help people come together and celebrate. We both really look forward to being able to do that. It feels like (we had) a soft open, almost. We are fully open, but we can’t fully offer all of the options.”
Plumberg, who lives in Camas, and Peabody, a former Camas resident now living in Ridgefield, attended Mountain View High School in Vancouver at the same time, but didn’t become close until about five years ago.
Their friendship evolved into a business partnership earlier this year, when the coronavirus outbreak caused them to reevaluate their careers. They came to the conclusion that they’d be better together going forward.
“We both owned our own businesses for years, and we’ve always been friends who were aware of each other’s business,” Peabody said. “We had a lot of our own ideas rolling around for a really long time, but back when the shutdown first started, we really started talking, and it just got our wheels turning a little differently.
“I lost tens of thousands of dollars in the summer from canceled events. I survived it once, but I kept thinking, ‘I can’t do this again and again and again.’ And (Lauren) wouldn’t be able to work at all now because of the restrictions. So now we’re in a space where our income is a little more safe now.”
Even though they endured many stressful days during the renovation process, they didn’t “tear each other’s heads off,” according to Peabody. They overcame the challenges and strengthened their relationship.
“As stressful as it was, it kind of was a blessing in disguise because it built our confidence,” Plumberg said. “But now, seeing how far we’ve come, I wouldn’t take anything back. It’s been so worth it. One night, we were 14 hours into the day, and we were exhausted. We looked like trash monsters. We were in (Olivia’s) car late at night, having a conversation, a heartfelt talk, and we said, ‘I’m so happy we’re doing this together.'”
Plumberg and Peabody are already thinking about opening a second, larger location in the future. But they’ll always consider the Washougal spot as their “home base,” and hope to become fixtures in the downtown community.
“I want to be an anchor to draw people (to downtown Washougal) and be a constant (presence),” Pumberg said. “I feel there’s a subculture in Camas and Washougal — a smaller, tight-knit community that supports small business. The kindness, the getting-to-know-your-neighbors (mentality) was really important for us because we’re both huge on building relationships and want to eventually get to the point where we’re staples in the community.”