CAMAS — Lori Cano always dreamed of owning her own business.
When she was younger, Cano envisioned running a small cafe with good coffee and even better baked goods. She went to culinary school, became a personal chef and worked at an Italian restaurant in Battle Ground. She dreamed of opening a restaurant that would introduce Washingtonians to Southwestern cuisine from her home state of New Mexico.
Eventually, after talking to other chefs, Cano realized how tough it was to import the special chilies that set New Mexican dishes apart.
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Cano had shifted gears and was finding her niche working at Arktana, the high-end women’s shoe and accessory shop in downtown Camas.
Strangers would regularly compliment Cano on a piece of jewelry or an accessory she was wearing and ask, “Where did you get that?”
Most of the time, they were inquiring about a one-of-a-kind piece Cano had discovered in her travels around the country.
“Wherever we went, I also found boutiques and picked up jewelry or pottery or leather goods,” Cano said.
Over the years, she’d accumulated a running list of artisans whose work she admired.
So when the pandemic forced layoffs at Arktana and other downtown Camas retailers, Cano didn’t skip a beat.
“I knew this was my chance,” she said.
It was time to make her entrepreneurial dream come true.
Cano taught herself how to build a retail website and started reaching out to those artists she’d found on her travels. Her vision was to have an online shop that would reflect her own unique style and personality — Southwest meets Pacific Northwest with an emphasis on unique pieces that showed quality craftsmanship.
She called her online shop Poppy & Hawk, and it attracted artists, as well as customers. Cano’s business dream was finally coming true, but she still longed for that brick-and-mortar shop. So when a retail space opened up in the heart of downtown Camas, at 223 N.E. Fourth Ave., across from Nuestra Mesa, Cano followed her instincts and opened a brick-and-mortar Poppy & Hawk. The Downtown Camas Association celebrated the store’s opening with a ribbon-cutting celebration Aug. 6.
So far, Cano said, her new shop has been surpassing her expectations. She’s hit her sales targets during her first two months and is looking forward to introducing more people to the variety of artisans she carries inside her “Southwest meets Pacific Northwest” boutique.
“Small businesses are the fabric of our country,” Cano said. “You can buy things on Amazon, but the quality just isn’t there.”
At Poppy & Hawk, customers will find unique items made in the U.S.
“These are things that are heirloom quality,” Cano said. “That’s important to me. My father has given his leather wallets to my sons, and someday they may pass them down to their children.”
Cano hopes her customers will be interested in the stories of the artists who have crafted the ceramics, paintings, leather goods, bath and body products, and jewelry she carries at Poppy & Hawk.
On the front counter, a box holds one-of-a-kind rings by Lilly Barrack out of Albuquerque, N.M., made from sterling silver and rare Cerrillos turquoise that is mined in New Mexico.
Nearby sits a collection of colorful bowls by Oregon artist Nancy Froehlich. The bowls — with their raw, white porcelain outsides and glossy interiors glazed in greens, blues, peaches, grays and yellows — look so uniform, many customers ask if they’re made by a machine. “But they’re not,” Cano said. “Each one is hand-thrown.”
Cano has curated every aspect of Poppy & Hawk, and customers on the hunt for unique gifts will not be disappointed. Look for artwork by Washington artist Lindsey Fox of Le Fox Studio, who said she “uses pattern to create paintings that balance between abstract and landscape to capture the awe and grandeur of the outdoors”; earrings made of hand-cut juniper, hand-forged sterling silver and light-reflecting resin by Branch and Barrel, a Bend, Ore.-based studio that plants a tree for every pair of earrings sold; Seek & Swoon blankets made from recycled yarn at a Portland-area, family-owned knitting mill; and ceramic snakes handmade by the Portland-based Carter & Rose makers store and studio.
“It’s an eclectic mix,” Cano said of her shop’s offerings. “And these are all things I would buy for myself or as gifts.”
Poppy & Hawk — Poppy for the nickname Cano’s mother gave her, as well as the fact that the colorful flower represents Cano’s and her mother’s August birth month, and Hawk for the fact that Cano saw hawks after her mother and favorite aunt died, and came to think of the stunning birds as a symbol of comfort, strength and peace — is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information, visit poppyandhawk.com or call 360-210-4463.