Sip & Stitch, a cozy little house in downtown Packwood offers a haven of comfort and creation where you can discover delightful teas and thoughtfully selected yarns. Better yet, it’s a place where you can connect to create and create to connect.
Shelli Bordeaux is a soft-spoken woman with a captivating smile, engaging eyes and a sincere spirit. She’s on a great adventure – one of business. And it almost happened by surprise.
Shelli and her husband, Bob Bordeaux, purchased a log home in Packwood 12 years ago as a recreational get-away from their busy lives in Tacoma. They spent countless weekends and vacations in the picturesque little town. He a nurse practitioner and she a teacher, they had the chance to take a breath and look around at their circumstances after, as Shelli terms it, their daughter “successfully launched.”
They always loved Packwood. They loved the peacefulness of the community, the beauty of the area, their home and neighborhood. “We thought, let’s make it our home,” she recalls.
The Bordeaux couple knew they would do something when they moved to Packwood full-time, but they didn’t know what it would be. “We’d been here about six months when I noticed how many businesses here are run by women. I started thinking, what about me?”
The next step was to determine what that business would be. “I started thinking about what energized me and what would fit in this town,” Shelli says. “I’ve always loved creating things and loved connecting with people.” She points out that there was already a great fabric shop in town but there wasn’t a place to buy yarn. There was also already a great coffee-house but there wasn’t one that focused on tea.
Then she thought, rather than a typical storefront to accomplish what she wanted to do, she needed a house. Shelli counts herself fortunate that the little house at 102 East Main Street came up for sale. After making an offer the next thing she knew, they had their place of business.
“But it’s not just me,” Shelli says. “This took a tribe. My husband worked tirelessly to get this up and running. He cleaned, painted, did all kinds of things and the biggest thing was he believed in me.” She also pointed to the members of the knitting group she belonged to and other friends. Hearing of her idea, they encouraged Shelli and helped pick out the yarns, taste the teas and unpack merchandise.
Shelli also recalls how her great neighbors pitched in to paint the now little yellow house. When the day arrived, 13 people showed up at 8:00 a.m. and the job was done by 2:00 p.m. “I couldn’t have done this without all of the generosity given to me,” she says. “There have been so many hands in this place and I am grateful for all of them.”
While new to business, Shelli had great examples set before her. Her dad was a businessperson and while she didn’t know it at the time, he had served well as a role model. Her grandma too had a great impact on her. Shelli’s earliest memory was sitting at her grandmother’s feet in front of the sewing machine. Her grandmother worked for a tailoring company, so she spent many hours sewing as well as doing needlework activities as a hobby.
Her grandmother also had a great influence on Shelli’s love for creating. “As soon as my hands could hold them, she put knitting needles in my hands,” she remembers with a smile. In fact, Shelli has her first knitting project displayed in the shop.
Sip & Stitch’s fall and winter hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During those hours, they offer a variety of activities and classes. A constant is the Weekly Wednesday Stitch Together at 1:00 p.m. This time is for whatever needlework the participants want to work on including knitting, sewing, crocheting and needlepoint. It’s open for whoever would like to join in.
Sip & Stitch’s classes include everything from making a specific project to how to fix mistakes. The classes range in cost from $20 to $25. They also offer events for kids, which are generally just $2 per child.
Shelli first offered beginning knitting classes but soon realized the group setting wasn’t the best. Participants felt awkward when they made mistakes in front of others and they didn’t necessarily want to speak up. “I want people to feel really inspired and supported,” she says. Thus, the Side-by-Side Sessions with one-on-one instruction for $20 per hour were born. She has three instructors who meet with students during business hours and Shelli herself holds them after hours when needed.
But that’s just the yarn side. Sip & Stitch sells Mad Hat Teas crafted in Tacoma, with some of the flavors made specifically for the Packwood business. Stop in for cups to go, drink it onsite in locally made pottery or purchase loose leaf tea for home.
Sip & Stitch is also an outlet for locally made gifts including paintings by Janise Disbrow, wooden yarn bowls by Jim Brazil and baskets by Carolyn Shedigar.
“I have done this for one year now and I can honestly say it does not feel like work,” Shelli says. “I have always been energized by creating and connecting with people and I think for that reason, it never feels like work.”
Shelli has worked to make the shop an inviting third space. Citing the term used by urban planners, people’s first space is their home, their second is their place of work and their third is often a coffee shop, maybe a bowling alley or library… or Sip & Stitch.