By Ryan Bentley

Published Saturday, July 1, 2017

PETOSKEY — While reading a magazine at the Petoskey State Park’s beach in summer 2016, Pam Colby encountered a beauty tip which would help provide inspiration for a business enterprise.  

The tip suggested use of a soft cotton T-shirt for drying hair rather than a typical towel, touting reduced potential for tangles, frizzing and breakage.  

Colby, a Petoskey resident, recalled reading a similar piece of advice years earlier, and began thinking about possibilities for creating a towel made with T-shirt material. Since then, she and husband, Christian, have begun offering such products through Lakeshore Dry Goods, a new venture they’re pursuing alongside other work.   

“It’s been great to work together on something that we can call our own,” Colby said.  

Having found some similar towel entries in the marketplace, Colby sought to distinguish her Sunrise Bliss line with the use of organic cotton — seeing it as a sustainable choice — and by offering lively and limited-edition patterns along with some solid color choices. Lakeshore Dry Goods has used online channels for sales in its first few months of existence, and also had a sales opportunity at one local brick-and-mortar retailer as part of a short-term “pop-up shop” arrangement.  

After identifying the possibility for a product, Colby saw a notice for a Small Business Development Center workshop at North Central Michigan College, one which offered information on starting a business, and decided to participate.  

“It was a great opportunity to write up an official business plan and get serious about it,” she said. “From there we took it one small strategic step at a time.”  

“We didn’t want to invest too much of our hard-earned money or time and effort in case we hit a major road block. But much to our delight things continued to fall into place.”  

Colby tried teaching herself to sew as she ramped up the new venture, but ultimately outsourced towel production to a cut-and-sew manufacturer in the Detroit area. She enlisted her mother and niece to test towel prototypes alongside her, and concluded that the samples met her hair-friendly objectives.

Pam Colby’s work background includes event planning, hotel management, sales and marketing, while her husband is a longtime bartender with an academic background in economics.   

“I choose the prints and colors of our towel runs, as well as handle marketing and purchasing,” she said. “Christian handles the finances and ships the orders. He’s also available during the day for customer service if needed. And we both do our part in selling and finding new opportunities.”  

Early on, the couple have offered the Sunrise Bliss towels via online marketplace Etsy. Pam Colby also intends to offer Sunrise Bliss products by way of Ecospire’s eco-themed marketplace under development at www.ecospire.com .  

Colby noted that orders so far have come from wide-ranging locales — including California, New York and Texas. She aims to build awareness of her product by bringing it to bloggers’ attention, and also hopes to step up production so the towels can be offered on a wholesale basis to salons and boutiques.  

Lakeshore Dry Goods’ website, www.lakeshoredrygoods.com, offers a link for users to view and purchase its offerings at Etsy. Lakeshore can be reached by phone at (231) 881-2539, or via email at info@lakeshoredrygoods.com.