Girl power at Girls Night Out: Highlighting women-owned businesses and togetherness


Kylie Copeland (L) and Hannah Roswell (R) on their way downtown. Photo by MJ Rivera

MJ Rivera and Zileni Milupi

A warm breeze blew through the downtown streets of Ellensburg as local businesses filled with people participating in the girls night out event. The event took place on April 27 from 5 to 9 p.m. in downtown Ellensburg. 

Free snacks and drinks were on display at the EDA as participants trickled in to collect bingo cards and maps of participating businesses. The first 40 people to check in received $10 vouchers they could use at any of the businesses. 

Watercolor portraits and a selfie spot were few of the many services offered at Nuwave Gallery for the event. 

Participants who walked into Mariposa Medical Aesthetics were welcomed by a variety of snacks on a charcuterie board accompanied with live music by Seattle musician and CWU alumni Bryce Van Parys. 

Other participating businesses included Julep’s Southern Bar and Kitchen, Yarn Folk and The Mule. 

The origin of Girls Night Out

Katie Holm, marketing director of the Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA), said the girl’s night out event is an opportunity for CWU students and Ellensburg community members to come together and support each other.

Girls Night Out has been an annual event for the last nine years, and serves primarily to provide a space for women to have fun and socialize, allowing them to have a sense of community and to promote local businesses, according to Holm. Holm said the event also helps break down “the barrier between town and gown.”

“Girls Night Out provides an opportunity for young women to connect and form friendships outside of the college environment, which can be very insular,” Holm said. “This can be especially valuable for those who may feel isolated or lonely on campus. As a former CWU student, I wish I would have attended while I was in school. It wasn’t until I moved to Ellensburg years later did I learn how incredible this town and community is.”

A majority of the businesses that participated in the event are women-owned, and Holm said this is a great thing for Ellensburg to be known for. 

“There’s an importance to empower and lift up all of us,” Holm said. “And having the opportunity to showcase and promote all of our local female business owners just feels like the right thing to do.”

Originally this year, the spring girl’s night out was not on the calendar until Megan West, the owner of Claim Clothing, expressed the importance of this event and advocated that the EDA put it on again. West brought up that the event helps drive business during the transition from winter into spring, according to Holm.

West opened Claim Clothing in Ellensburg nine years ago, and she said there are a lot of women-owned businesses in Ellensburg, according to West.

“Store by store downtown, it is an overwhelming amount of women-owned businesses, which is super cool,” West said. “I just think that we’re natural empaths and nurturers. I think that we have a drive, and we are wonderful at multitasking, and I think that’s why you see a lot of women-owned businesses.”

West acknowledged that Ellensburg is a small town and that she believes CWU students might typically travel to go shopping, but that Girls Night Out provides an opportunity for all to see what downtown Ellensburg has to offer.

Before the event took place, Holm emphasized the importance of having a night to destress and have fun.

“We all need a night off every once in a while, especially college students. We hope that Girls Night Out will be a joyful event and a much needed break from the demands of academic life,” Holm said.

Participant perspectives

D&M Coffee Manager Deanna Bangs explained the preparation process that went into the cafe’s participation in the event. 

“We’re right in the heart of downtown Ellensburg so we love to participate in all of the events that Ellensburg Downtown Association puts on,” Bangs said. “Girls Night Out is just one of the many events they do.”

Bangs, who has worked for D&M for seven years, explained that the cafe has participated in Girls Night Out each year since its conception. The cafe offers discounts and samples for customers to try at the event every year.

The cafe provided free samples of chocolate decadence which are chocolate tarts the bakers make at the cafe. 

Apart from the usual Girls Night Out offerings, this is the cafe’s first year offering a drink special. The drink was a pink passion lotus topped with coconut milk and was only offered during the event, although Bangs added that it might be part of the menu in the future if it receives demand. 

“I hope that they [customers] may find some new favorites, some new goods and services that they wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to,” Bangs said. 

Katie Holm (L) and Brenda DeVore (R) at EDA meeting point. Photo by MJ Rivera

Crystal Whitaker, owner of Devine Wellness and Relaxation, another participating business, spoke about the importance of women-owned businesses in Ellensburg. 

“We offer a lot of outside the box thinking,” Whitaker said. “We offer bulk, we offer sustainable goods and not saying that guys wouldn’t but you know, just trying to be more mindful and embrace that feminine Mother Earth energy. And I think women owned businesses really tried to do that.”

Whitaker also highlighted a few of the activities planned for customers during the event. Purchases worth $25 would earn customers a spin at a wheel of prizes. The prizes included a couple’s massage, chakra balancing, a semi-permanent jewelry giveaway and tarot reading.  

Hildi Youngblood, the owner of Evolve Clothing and Jewelry, said that she has been traveling back and forth from India to provide Evolve’s wares for nearly seven years.

“I work with the tailors that make our clothing and our housewares, and the silversmiths that make our jewelry,” Youngblood said. “So, I have a hand in creating the designs for all of that, which makes us a little bit unique.”

It is also important to highlight women-owned businesses because of the hurdles that women have to overcome, according to Youngblood.

Youngblood said that while it can be hard to get off campus sometimes, it is worth it to go downtown and see what local businesses have to offer.

CWU students share their experiences

Freshman aviation major Kylie Copeland and junior entrepreneurship and digital marketing major Hannah Roswell hit the town to enjoy Girls Night Out together.

“I’m so excited because this is my first year here,” Roswell said. “So, [I’m looking forward to] just exploring all the town and being able to explore the clothing shops.”

Copeland explained that seeing women-owned businesses is inspiring to her.

“It’s really important to highlight women-owned businesses because for such a long time, a woman owning a business was not very accepted by the community,” Copeland said. “And it wasn’t a very common thing to find. With more and more women owning their own businesses, I feel like it really motivates younger generations to get there too.”

Roswell shared that she is going to be following in the footsteps of women business-owners.

“I’m actually an entrepreneur,” Roswell said. “I’m actually opening a business within the summertime. It was so inspiring to me to know that other women are opening their businesses and being able to promote Girls Night Out.”