[SPOKANE, Wash.] The new location for The Great PNW shop in Kendall Yards is an ode to the Pacific Northwest. Replicas of cut logs adorn the walls and a deer wearing a sweater hangs from the ceiling. Stickers and clothes feature mountains, woodland animals and campsites along with collaborations, like the Seattle Seahawks and Smokey the Bear. All stamped with The Great PNW’s logo.
The owner and creative director, Joel Barbour, attended Spokane Falls Community College for graphic design from 2004-2006. Those classes gave him the tools needed to embark on his successful project.
“Doing the design program was awesome. I truly loved every day I was there. I was truly excited on my first day of school to learn a skill set that I didn't have, but I wanted really badly,” he said. “Over the course of two years, I got to do all types of design stuff from T-shirts to brochures. I learned motion graphics, which really carried me through my professional career and really what I do today.”
With those skills and a deep love for the area, Barbour started designing a line of graphic tees. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Barbour launched The Great PNW in Spokane in 2013. He believes the PNW-specific brand met a need in the community.
“I think the brand's successful because there was a need,” Barbour said. “There was no clothing company that really represented the Pacific Northwest in a way that a lot of people who live here, feel. And I knew that, and I knew I could create the designs that people would want.”
According to The Great PNW’s website, the main criterion for the brand is: "Will this help someone express their love for this amazing area?" And while this extends to the PNW area – Washington, Oregon and Idaho – Barbour has a real love for his hometown of Spokane, choosing to grow his business in the Lilac City even though his customer base is nationwide.
“A lot of people think we're in Portland or in Seattle, but no, we're right here in Spokane, and we're able to design, manufacture, ship and do all of it here,” he said. “We get all the benefits of living here because it's such an awesome community that's really embraced us.”
Barbour believes that the community colleges provided an excellent education that helped him launch a successful business: “Community Colleges of Spokane have so many great programs where you can pursue your passions and build a career.”
CCS provides education and services in a six-county region of Eastern Washington, operates Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College and is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Childhood Education in the region. Each year, nearly 30,000 people – from infants to senior citizens – are provided educational services by CCS.