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Fudge ladies of Lopez Island keep smiling By Cali Bagby Weekly editor

Pumpkin pecan, blackberry, pistachio, caramel apple pie and red velvet are fall favors. During Christmastime, its candy cane, eggnog and cranberry orange fudge that you

find under the counter of the Just Heavenly Fudge Factory. “I like to try unique and different recipes,” said Natalie Wilson, who is the main fudge maker and coowner of the shop. But she said her life part-

ner and co-owner MarJoe Davidson is quite capable of mixing up a batch of excellent fudge too. The women have been life partners for 23 years and will celebrate five years of being in business with the fudge factory this November. They were drawn to Lopez, after MarJoe commuted to the island from the mainland to work as a caregiver. Soon Natalie came to fall in love with the island and realized there were no candy shops. “We simultaneously had the same idea about making fudge,” said Natalie. “I said next year and she [MarJoe] said this year.” That was that. They took out a loan, purchased a $4,000 kettle and got to work selling their tasty treats at the Farmers’ Market and local crafts events like the Children’s Bazaar. The shop offers a variety of 20 flavors of freshmade fudge, ice cream from the Lopez Island Creamer y and locally made gift items like fine soaps, potter y, clothing and honey. And when the summer season is over the ladies sell their wares at markets across western Washington. “When people aren’t here we go where the people are to be able to keep a business year around,” said Natalie. “We have seen many businesses come and go, but we plan to be here for a while.”

The ladies also like the business because it allows them to be involved in the Lopez community. They are sponsors of the middle school girls’ softball league. MarJoe volunteers as a coach at the practices and games. At the first practice one girl on the sidelines said she didn’t want to play. MarJoe told her that if her team won, the prize was ice cream and fudge at the shop and suddenly the girl grabbed her glove and hit the field. “It’s nice to give the girls extra encouragement,” said Natalie. The shop also employs high school students, especially during the busy summer months. They describe their staff as delightful and enthusiastic.

We had a great summer thanks to our Fudge Factory Natalie Wilson MarJoe Davidson, the fudge team, Maya, Lena, and Roxanna, Bree, Emebet, Darian, TJ, ladies Lopez, thank community on Lopez of Island Reneeofand Susan. Weour thank the communities the and the San for your throughout the San Juan's Juan Islands’ forsupport their support.

last 4 years. We couldn't have done it without you! Especially in this economy. We hope you think of us for Come usWecelebrate ourselection shop’s more than help just fudge. have a wonderful of gifts for all occasions, jewelery, angels, souvenirs, 5th Anniversary NovLopez 2012. toys, gourmet foods, as well as local artisans, Seraphim Soaps, Lopez Island Candy Co., Dancing Lamb Studios Thank you and Papa George seafood. Wefrom scoop Lopez Island MarJoe Davidson and Natalie Creamery Ice Cream cones, shakes, sundaes, floatsWilson, and the fudge ladies hand packed pints. We will pack and ship your gift of fudge to friends and family. Come by and see us, we might be making fudge, try a free taste.


Just Heavenly Fudge Factory 9 Old Post Rd Lopez village 2 doorsShop down from the Chamber of Commerce Early Shop Local


Contributed photos

Above: Natalie Wilson and MarJoe Davidson have been life partners for 23 years and will celebrate five years of being in business with the fudge factory this November. Below: The shop offers a variety of 20 flavors of fresh-made fudge, ice cream from the Lopez Island Creamery and locally made gift items like fine soaps, pottery, clothing and honey. And because Lopez is the Friendly Isle, the women make sure that customer service is always a number one priority. “We never turn anyone away. Even if we are closed but working we’ll open up the shop,” Natalie said. “That’s just us and that is

Lopez.” Fall hours for the fudge factor y and gift shop are Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. You can also make purchases online at www.

A love of fitness and the community

By Cali Bagby Weekly editor

Kira Gates is a runner, its somethings she has loved since she was a girl. But now it is more than just a hobby. Gates put her interest in exercise in the forefront of her life when she accepted the position of certified personal trainer at the new Island Body and Fitness. “It’s just one of those things where I wanted to do something I was passionate about and the way it all worked out … it has been amazing,” she said. Gates went to high school on Lopez and started working at Holly B’s when she was a teenager, baking and running the front counter. But as her two daughters grew older and she had more time on her hands, she began to wonder what else she could do for a living. She enrolled in classes at Skagit Valley Community College and decided on a Health and Fitness Certification. “I initially enrolled just to take a few classes to feed my brain,” said Gates. “But I really liked it.” To get her certification was no easy task, Gates had to commute twice a week to the college’s extension program in Oak Harbor for two and half years. The program she studied enables her to create diverse programs for people who have suffered a stroke, have cardiovascular issues or diabetes. “Since we are dealing with a multi-age population on Lopez it was important to cover all the bases,” she said. By her final quarter she received a phone call that made all that time and work seem worth it. Aaron Dye, owner of Lopez Village Market, was on the other line telling Gates

Contributed photo / Brian Anthony

Kira Gates is the certified personal trainer at the new Island Body and Fitness. that he was going to open a gym in the old LVM building and would she like to be a personal trainer? “I jumped at the opportunity,” said Gates. She now teaches three cardio and strength fitness classes at the gym. She describes the one hour and fifteen minute class as “pretty intense.” She also offers personal training sessions. Gates is also working on certification for a muscular strength range of motion class and a yoga stretch class under the Silver Sneakers program, which encourages seniors to take control of their health through physical activity. Seniors can get membership to the gym through Silver Sneakers via Medicaid and selected health insurance plans. The program gives Gates a chance to provide specific workout plans for these gym participants. Overall, since the gym opened in July, Gates has found the experience to be surreal. “I pinch myself everyday because of the way everything has happened,” said Gates. If anyone is interested in checking out the gym, they are welcome to drop by for a tour. The gym, located on 214 Lopez Road, is open Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more info, visit

racticing law on Lopez Island continues to be a wonderful adventure. I love the closeness of the community and the feeling that I can make a difference. My clients are my friends and I enjoy the variety of work I do. I am excited to come to the office every day, and life is never boring. I feel a real sense of belonging and am grateful for the opportunity to live and work here. My office is located in Lopez Village, and I continue to offer a full range of legal services, including Estate Planning and Probate, Business Law, Real Estate Closings, 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges, Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Diana G. Hancock, Attorney at Law (360) 468-3871 • Lopez Island, WA 98261

A look at Lopez’s hardworking women of the past

Contributed photos

Left: Hodgson-Graham Cannery workers, c. 1915. Above: Irene Weeks came to Lopez in 1873.

By Ande Finley

Lopez Island Historical Society President

When it came to making a living, women on Lopez were a busy group.

In 1873, Irene Weeks moved to Lopez with her husband, Lyman, and son, Oscar, to run the fledgling Lopez store for her brother

Hiram Hutchinson. When the store doubled as a post office in 1880, Irene also became the island’s first postmistress. Out at Richardson in 1887, Mary Mann followed her example to run the soon-to-be-busy postal operation and Elisa Sperry had a brief tenure as the first Edwards (later changed to Otis) postmistress in 1894. Port Stanley’s “Tumble Inn” was operated by Frank Kilpatrick’s daughters,

Dorothy and Patricia, in the 1920s and ‘30s. Earning the nickname, “The Stagger Out,” it was an inn and a restaurant as well as the main office for the Kelp Plant. Female settlers in the early years worked as equal partners with their husbands to build up their farms and sell produce. Amelia Davis and her husband James Leonard Davis arrived with livestock, planks, and 40 cents in 1869. Amelia carded, spun, knitted and dyed wool, made clothes for the family, and produced butter of such fine quality that it earned a ten cents premium per pound. Mary Lundy became proprietor of the HodgsonGraham Store along with her husband, Ira, when William Graham sold them the store, cannery, and other Richardson enterprises in 1916. Later, the store rebuilt on this site became the beloved Richardson Store that lasted until its final fire in 1990. In the late 1930s, Edna Mueller gillnetted with her husband, Carl, on their boat based in MacKaye Harbor.

In 1922, the Pickering family moved to Lopez, bought the phone system and people remember that Mrs. Pickering ran a “telephone office” out on Fisherman Bay Road. Islanders shared party lines, and each family had a distinctive number of rings.

“Female settlers in the early years worked as equal partners with their husbands to build up their farms and sell produce.” In the early decades of the 20th century, Lydia Richey, a college graduate and a talented musician, taught piano, mandolin, guitar, violin, and banjo to her many students. Amelia Davis and her husband also loved music and reading, spending half of their farm income on books and magazines. Their home became the first (unofficial) lending library as well as a post office, Sunday school, hotel

and dispensary. Unmarried women looking to support themselves had few options. The more traditional route, of course, was teaching. Ella Cousins taught on Lopez from 1883 to 1891, Florence Johnson at Port Stanley School in 1897, Florence Allen and Louise Wakefield at Center School around 1905, and Miss Leonard became the first to teach at the new Lopez little red schoolhouse (now our library) when it opened in 1901. Here on Lopez, at the two canneries built at Richardson in 1913, women hand-packed the salmon and lived dormitory-style at the Wander Inn. Two retired teachers, Dort Horne and Helen “Louie” Lewis, bought 63 acres following a dream in 1945 and developed the legendary Sea Ranch Resort on a shoe string. And Mary Jane Brown (Eaton), as an unmarried woman, homesteaded 40 acres at the corner of Mud Bay and Aleck Bay Roads and built her own house, before consenting to bring on a husband in 1893.

EDC’s free workshop


ennifer is the owner of Dèjà Vu a Consignment Boutique located in Village House, a building she was babysat in when she was a child. Dèjà Vu carries barely used but largely loved clothing and accessories. Items are handpicked by Jennifer, Dèjà Vu is stocked with women’s and men’s clothes and shoes, current styles and an eclectic mix of Island couture. New items being stocked daily! Stop by and check out some amazing deals on some fabulous frocks at Dèjà Vu Consignment Boutiquery. *Consigners get 40% of selling price or 50% store credit OR (new option) donate your 40% to the Lopez Island Family Resource Center (LIFRC)

468-4911 (Next to Isabels)

The San Juan County Economic Development Council will present a free half-day workshop for small businesses and entrepreneurs on San Juan Island, on Monday, Oct. 29, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the community room of the San Juan Island Library in Friday Harbor. The business and financing workshop course material will be presented by James McCafferty, of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County, a management consultant for over a decade. As part of the workshop, McCafferty will cover business financing, discuss a variety of financing options and will provide a reality check for those considering a new or expanded business venture. He will be available for one-on-one consultation after the workshop. Advance registration required. Call 378-2906 to reserve your space, or email: info@sanjuansedc. org.

Profile for Sound Publishing

Women in Business - 2012  


Women in Business - 2012