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Island Entrepreneurs

Find your inspiration, follow your dreams, and take a leap of faith

The San Juan Islands are full of visionaries, artists and passionate entrepreneurs who have made their lives in the islands. Their stories are full of discovery, trial and error, and community. They inspire and pave the way for new islanders, visitors and dreamers to follow their passions to the islands.

Matia Dinner Series and the Community Pop-Up

With three days until Matia was scheduled to host a pop-up dinner in Friday Harbor, there were more confirmed courses than confirmed guests. And without guests, a dinner party is difficult to throw.

“We had to put faith in our community," said Avery Adams, who co-founded the island-inspired catering company with his long-time friend Drew Downing.

One by one the reservations steadily came in and the community rallied around the up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Matia team

Support poured in from all three islands as friends and family, strangers and couples sat side-by-side and were treated to an extraordinary 10-course meal.

Matia, named after a small island off the coast of Orcas Island, is known for sourcing locally grown foods – often using island vendors, family gardens and farmers markets to gather ingredients.

“It helps to be a community member and actively engaging with people who grow food,” Adams said. “I’ll make a list of products I’m excited to work with and go down my rolodex of who has what. There’s a lot of running around and riding my bike over to a farm for a discussion.”

The menu was surprising and innovative, while still feeling familiar and homey. Classic flavors were presented with a new twist - celery root became a whipped garnish, a caprese salad was served on a spoon using tomatillo and corn, and tater-tots received a major upgrade – double fried in pork fat and topped with liver mousse.

“We’re trying to cook vegetable-forward food and use meat and seafood as a compliment as opposed to being the primary focus,” Adams said of his menu. “I’m far more excited about cooking really awesome vegetable dishes when most people expect a nice piece of meat.”

The harvest dinner ended with a round of applause and grateful guests offering their donations.

Like Matia, other local businesses have placed their faith in the island community.

 

Take Cole and Stephanie Sisson - the couple who turned their love of wine into a full-time business. After working as a sommelier in Las Vegas and Seattle, Cole decided it was time to return to his Orcas Island roots. Together, Cole and Stephanie, whose background includes wine importing, distribution, wine training and education, opened Doe Bay Wine Company in Eastsound. Serving up unique blends and working toward growing their own grapes, the couple’s passion is taking off.

Cole and Stephanie Sission of Doe Bay Wine Co.

Recognized in Seattle Magazine, Tastemakers Food & Wine Magazine, WineBusiness.com, and more, they've even started producing their own series of wine under a new label, ‘The Orcas Project.’ The couple believes that wine should be fun and accessible, and shares their vast knowledge and a smile with anyone who walks into their shop.

Doe Bay Wine Co exterior by Doe Bay Wine Company

Lopez Island's Edenwild Boutique Inn is the product of Anthony and Crystal Rovente's unwavering determination, love, and sense of community. Anthony lost his teaching position in upstate New York when the school district went bankrupt. Looking for a fresh start, the couple moved to Lopez Island with the hope of raising their growing family in a safe and quite haven.

The Rovente Family of Edenwild Inn

Five years later, Anthony and his growing family are busier than ever, sharing their slice of paradise with visitors from around the world. The entire family pitches in to run the Edenwild - a large, Victorian-style inn located in the heart of Lopez Village. It's a family affair where visitors are treated like old friends and shown the love and care that the Roventes pour into every ounce of the Edenwild.

Exterior of The Edenwild

Brady Ryan first made salt by boiling seawater in his parents' kitchen. What started as a creative holiday gift, has since turned into his life's work. Now the owner and lead salt farmer of San Juan Island Sea Salt, Ryan runs a collection of greenhouses. He produces salt with nothing but sunshine and seawater to capture the natural flavor of the Salish Sea.

Brady Ryan of San Juan Island Sea Salt

After finding success at local farmers markets, Ryan hopes to soon open his property to the public - welcoming visitors to collect their own salt. The sea salt farm is also home to other local businesses, including local florist Bloom San Juan, run by Ryan's wife Leah. The couple's motto is: "Life is short. Unreasonable happiness is a reasonable response to this fact!"

San Jaun Island sea salt

These businesses, and many more, cultivate a legacy of quality island entrepreneurship.

Locals and visitors alike come to appreciate the care, thought and talent that go into sustaining island businesses. This understanding sets the stage for young businesses to take root and allow entrepreneurs to follow their passions.

“The biggest thing that Drew and I keep coming back to in doing all of this – which often times feels insane – is that we want to be advocates for this part of the world,” Adams said. “This area has all this great food and talent and we are trying to make the pie bigger, as opposed to dividing it into smaller pieces.”

While Adams and Downing currently describe their business as “an expensive hobby,” the pair has plans for a brick and mortar restaurant and fully staffed kitchen. Until then, however, the team will continue to prove themselves and follow their passion, just as so many island entrepreneurs before them.

Ferry Samish and Mt Baker by Matthew Pranger

Visit Island Entrepreneurs!

Dine with Matia, sip with Doe Bay Wine Co., taste San Juan Island Sea Salt and stay with Edenwild!