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Jennifer Miller opens her one-stop gift shop on Main Street next to Men's Wear

HOLLY SCHOLZ/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - Jennifer Miller opened Mountain Girl Designs last month on North Main Street, featuring her own line of jewelry and hand bags and the work of 15 local vendors.

Jennifer Miller had to quit her job as a full-time healthcare professional in 2010 so she could take care of her son, who was injured while serving in the military in Afghanistan.

"He requires 24-hour care, but I couldn't just sit there, so I started making jewelry, and it turned into a passion and something I love," Miller says.

One thing grew to another, and on Aug. 10, she opened her own shop on Main Street in Prineville, featuring her line of jewelry as well as home décor, soaps and gifts from 15 vendors.

Mountain Girl Designs is not only an outlet for her, but for her son.

"He has a frontal lobe brain injury. He wasn't supposed to survive," Miller says of her 31-year-old son, Ryan Craig. "Both lobes are completely gone, so the fact that he can do anything is a miracle."

His cognitive disability makes it hard for him to do public volunteer work.

"That was part of the reason for creating this store, because it provides him that and provides a way for him to get out and to do things and to have a purpose," Miller said.

"He comes down and helps me with the register, helps me bag items, helps me straighten and organize, and helps me restock things. Sometimes he helps me clean, but he's not too happy about that," she laughed.

When Miller began making jewelry several years ago, she would sell it at vendor shows along with hand bags and home décor items.

"I started really liking it and meeting people and establishing that connection and meeting other people who do the same thing," she said.

She had booths in three different gift shops, but they all eventually went out of business. It was hard to have built a customer base only to have the store close.

"But, it wasn't my store, and it didn't allow me to have Ryan help as much as he's able to, so this allows me to do whatever I want to do," Miller said.

She set up a one-stop gift shop right next to Prineville Men's Wear.

Mountain Girl Designs was a natural fit for the name of her new storefront. It was the name she used for her jewelry, hand bags and home décor business.

"I am by nature a mountain girl. If I could be anywhere in the whole world, it would be in the mountains, and I probably would never come down," Miller says. "We hunt and we fish and we hike and we camp, and the mountains is my favorite place to be."

With help from her husband, Ron, and her vendors, she set up the store and hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 10.

"He helps with the setup, he helps run the register, he helps sell everything," she says of Ron. "He's my right hand and supports me when I need to be doing things with Ryan or I'm called somewhere else. Ron can run the store by himself."

Miller purchases her jewelry materials from Shipwreck Beads, a company based in Olympia, Washington. She describes her jewelry as Western to contemporary and often gets design ideas on her travels.

She orders hand bags from a company and stocks them in her store, specializing in concealed carry purses. Miller also makes various home décor items, such as antlers adorned with silk flowers, and is starting to learn to refurbish furniture.

All 15 of her vendors are Crook County artisans, the oldest one is in her late 80s and makes silk flower arrangements. Others sell items such as soaps and body scrubs, solar light creations, signs, gift boxes, hand-crafted greeting cards, silk flower arrangements, and upcycled décor.

She and her vendors may eventually offer classes in paper crafting, essential oils, signs and crafts.

Miller enjoys contributing to the community and interacting with her vendors and customers.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a good outlet for me," she said. "It's a place to support people and keep Prineville going."

She invites shoppers to come in and browse her variety of merchandise while enjoying a glass of freshly infused flavored water.

"I think the overall feeling and vibe of our store is inviting and friendly and warm," Miller says. "I just want to thank Prineville already for the amount of support and the welcoming that we've already had. It's been pretty amazing."

Mountain Girl Designs

Owner: Jennifer Miller

Address: 247 N. Main St., Prineville

Phone: 541-325-9417

Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday

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