Resilience in the face of COVID-19

By Alex Gradwohl, Project Manager

Images, from left: Natalia’s Café manager, Wendy Delbosque, at the grill; Co-owners Paige Wells and Brianne Kampbell at the counter at their shop, Hey, Darlin’;  MnE Boutique owner Alma Ayala and her father, Custodio Ayala, sporting the “Essential: PNW Strong” t-shirts.

Small businesses frequently show tremendous innovation and determination in their stores, restaurants, studios, and other spaces. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we have been truly blown away by their tenacity, ingenuity, and generosity. Entrepreneurs on Main Streets across the state adapted quickly and creatively to face a changing market, leading their businesses through difficult waters while often going above and beyond to assist their downtown neighbors and bring joy to their communities.

In May, The Washington Trust launched a new feature called “Resilience on Main” to celebrate and support these bright spots. We invited our Washington Main Street Communities and Affiliates to nominate small businesses to be featured on our website, social media pages, and through a new monthly e-newsletter. Unsurprisingly, the stories these local community champions shared with us did not disappoint! From bigfoot-hunting podcasts and virtual music lessons to technical support for fellow business owners and community-wide fundraising campaigns for families in need, these entrepreneurs have shown the true spirit of Main Street.

Those who have spent time in any of Washington’s Main Street communities likely will not be surprised to learn that many of these inspirational stories came from female-owned businesses. Since 2007, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has increased by 58%, with women now making up between 4045% of small business owners across the country.*

In Washington, we’re lucky to be home to many of America’s 12.3 million women-owned businesses.* We hope you’ll join us in celebrating, supporting, and drawing inspiration from these amazing female entrepreneurs and their resilient small businesses! Read a few of their stories here and visit to browse all the Resilience on Main nominees.

Hey, Darlin’, The Shop
Hey, Darlin’, The Shop, opened the doors of their new Gig Harbor retail business on March 7, just one week before the stay at home order was announced. But co-owners Paige Wells and Brianne Kampbell—two self-described “business women, mamas, and dreamers living in the same small town”—didn’t let that stop their mission to spread joy and launch their new business. Hey, Darlin’ instantly started working on their Celebration Bags: expertly curated weekly gift bags featuring select items from their inventory. These bags support local artists and responsible brands while helping their customers celebrate another week of staying home and staying safe.

Natalia’s Café
Natalia’s Café in Camas has always been known for their generosity and friendly service, serving the Camas football team on game days, hosting fundraisers for families in need, and giving to local charities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Camas and Washougal, owner Erica Slothower and manager Wendy Delbosque continued that tradition by organizing a campaign to donate meals to their community’s most vulnerable members. So far, they’ve rallied thousands of dollars of support and served frontline health workers, families facing unemployment, and staff at local nursing homes.

MnE Boutique
At the beginning of March, business owner Alma Ayala was moving her business, Prosser’s MnE Boutique, to a larger location. While the COVID-19 pandemic required her to delay her official celebration, Alma didn’t let anything slow her down. She immediately bolstered her online presence, allowing customers to shop with curbside pick up and shipping options. Alma also worked with another local business, In Stitches, to design special T-shirts for those in need. Proceeds from her “Essential: PNW Strong” t-shirts, available at MnE’s online store, are used to purchase downtown gift cards for essential workers—supporting both her fellow Main Street businesses and showing support for those working on the front lines.