Awardee: Megan West and Linda Johnson
Award: Entrepreneur of the Year
Claim Clothing co-owner Megan West began sculpting her visions of a women’s boutique that caters to an array of fashion forward, affordable styles while working towards a degree at Central Washington University, where she helped craft the clothing section at the Wildcat Shop. After a year of building her business plan for Claim Clothing, Megan began to seek out funding but was repeatedly turned down from banks based on her young age of 22. She eventually teamed up with Linda Johnson, a business advisor at the Washington Small Business Development Center, to help her achieve her vision.
Claim Clothing’s 1,600 square foot location is in the middle of historic downtown Ellensburg in the newly renovated Geddis Building. The City had recently purchased the building, and Megan had to sell her vision to the City, the Ellensburg Business Development Authority, and the Ellensburg Downtown Association before she was approved to lease space.
With help from her family, she stripped the space to expose the original brick walls, and she used reclaimed barn wood, industrial pipe, and other material sourced mostly from local stores to complete the remodel on time and 10% under budget.
On May 3, 2014, Claim Clothing opened to the public and quickly became a success. With its original tagline, “Claim Your Closet,” Megan’s overall goal is to have every type of woman come into her store and embrace her body and personal style. Claim is a place where you feel as if you are in your own closet and where you can be completely comfortable and confident. The store features many different clothing brands such as Celebrity Pink and Gypsy Bound Bracelets, all catering to a wide age range and making Claim a diverse and unique place to shop.
As a downtown business, Megan has become a major asset to the community. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and has been involved with Ellensburg Downtown Association events. In spring 2014, Megan organized the first Fashion Night Out with the EDA and Mangos Salon, and it was a huge success. She has also made connections with Central Washington University by offering internships and mentoring opportunities.
After only six months of being open for business, Claim met its sales goal for the first year of operation. The store started with one employee and hired a second within five months, and they anticipate hiring a third this summer when they launch a fully functional online retail store. Megan explains that her success cannot be measured in numbers but that her success is defined by seeing her employees grow as individuals and witnessing her customer base increase by offering a unique and positive experience.