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Women entrepreneurs enliven 42nd Avenue

FOR THE TRIBUNE: JANICE PIERCE - Four women-owned businesses open April 7 on 42nd Avenue in Northeast Portland. From left are Inger McDowell-Hartye of With Love From PDX, Rachel Hestmark of Hestmark Designs, Vida and Francis Djorgee of Essential Quality Care.  At home with her baby, Kristen Dilley of Nightengale Acupuncture is not pictured.What do an acupuncturist, a made-in-Portland gift shop, an original-designs makers store and a home health care specialist have in common?

They are all emerging women-owned businesses, opening on Northeast 42nd Avenue as part of a unique program — Go42 — to nurture developing entrepreneurs.

Go42 is a project of Our 42nd Avenue, a mini-urban renewal district along 42nd that’s part of the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative.

The Go42 building and all of the businesses are having their grand openings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at 5128 N.E. 42nd Ave., in the heart of the 42nd Avenue business district.

Kristen Dilley, of Nightingale Acupuncture, took a circuitous route to the 42nd Avenue retail space. She went from landscaping to herbalism to acupuncture school.

“I like to focus on stress and anxiety, which are at the crux of a lot of health issues. I like to work with people where they are in their lives, not creating more stress.”

Her retail space on 42nd is also home to a doula and a massage therapist.

“I’m starting to build a diverse group of practitioners,” she says.

Dilley scheduled a meditation group for 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and is working with the other businesses to promote planned quarterly art shows.

“With Love From PDX” is the brainchild of Inger McDowell-Hartye, and the gift shop features the work of more than 75 artists.

She did a pop-up store for 10 weeks last year in Red Sauce Pizza’s parking lot. Now McDowell-Hartye is curating a space for local makers — many of whom use their living rooms to produce their goods.

“Stories behind the makers are what fascinates me,” McDowell-Hartye says.

Amy Vance of Vance Candles is one of her artists, who gained fame with her goods in gift bags at the Oscars. Local artisan Cindy Capperilli makes bitters and plans a bitters workshop soon. A calligraphy class also is slated.

“I don’t want to be a traditional retail shop. I want to be hands-on,” McDowell-Hartye says.

Rachel Hestmark, owner of Hestmark Designs, the makers store, built her business on her design of the “mom bag,” the bag that she designed 15 years ago so that she had everything she needed for her infant son and herself as she rode the bus in Portland.

Her new retail space offers her the ability to add a sewing space.

Hestmark’s mother taught her to sew and her father taught her how to work with Sheetrock, and now she wants to pass on her skills in workshops held between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m every other Saturday. “I want to give young people exposure, to know that their footprint matters,” she says. “They have the opportunity to be with me as I’m doing my business.”

YIPIE — Youth Impressing Passion In Entrepreneurship — is the name she coined to convey the excitement she hopes children bring into her shop with their ideas. “I offer a free alternative education service,” Hestmark says.

Essential Quality Care, the fourth business at Go42, grew out of a 10-year-old dream and a meeting with Michael DeMarco, Our 42nd Avenue district manager, when Vida Djorgee was looking for a small office.

She rented space for a year, while she pursued state licensing and trained staff to provide transitional, in-home care services for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

With a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration, and more than 18 years working for Providence, Djorgee’s experience was solid, and Go42 helped with the technical aspects to get her business up and running. A grant from Metro helped to furnish a graduated lease rate to the tenants, starting at 65 percent of market rate and then escalating to 100 percent over the year. The same grant affords a small support stipend.

DeMarco and Our 42nd Avenue helped with a business coach and allowed her to become more involved in the neighborhood.

“Seventy-five percent of our employees are from the neighborhood,” Djorgee says proudly. “We have a diverse group of people to serve our in-home care needs. People from Thailand, East and West Africa.”

She partnered with her husband, pharmacist Francis Djorgee, who plans to add medication management to their in-home care services.

“Michael DeMarco sold us on a vision — and how big it’s going to be,” says Francis Djorgee. “He said: “Have you seen Alberta?” referring to the highly successful rejuvenation efforts on Northeast Alberta Street.

To provide a visual for the vision, Go42 has commissioned a mural.

To represent the ideal of inclusion, Major League Baseball great Jackie Robinson’s face and quote, “A life matters only in the impact it has on other lives,” will be interpreted by artist Johnny Terrific.

Jackie Robinson is the only major league baseball player to have his number retired: 42.