A Pretty Place was a dream of Emy Dyer’s for many years before she started actually looking in December for a space to house her intimate gathering venue in downtown Chehalis.
But when a global pandemic put gatherings on hold, Dyer said it did not deter her. In fact, she said watching people have to isolate from one another strengthened her vision of the space she wanted to create in this community.
“I was definitely nervous but my gut said ‘just go do it’ because of how hard this year has been, I thought people need this,” Dyer said.
Dyer opened A Pretty Place on Chehalis Avenue in late August. Dyer calls herself a multi-passionate entrepreneur and the aesthetic fits A Pretty Place, which is meant to be a small events venue, design space and place for creativity and creation all within four pink-bedazzled walls.
A native of Onalaska, Dyer earned an associate’s degree from Centralia College, then moved to Arizona for three years where she earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic and web design. She moved back to Lewis County, settling in Chehalis, in order to be close to her large family. A Pretty Place is actually her third business venture. She creates branding for companies nationally as well as locally, including the striking Lewis County Coffee Company logo. She also owns an online upcycled clothing and accessory company emydiy.com.
“My passion is designing,” Dyer said. “I love to be designing every day in some way, whether it’s arranging flowers or upcycling or creating a logo. I can’t stop creating.”
Dyer said she is a huge Pinterest fan and she has a large family that likes to go all out when it comes to celebrations. She said the inspiration for a venue space began when she started getting requests to purchase décor from some bridal and baby showers she had thrown. She rented the space near the downtown Chehalis Visiting Nurses thrift shop in June and said her family not only inspired her, but helped bring her vision to life.
“It helped me cope with the pandemic because I was here all summer creating this space with my family,” she said.
A Pretty Place is both a work space for Dyer and a venue for others. Dyer has a work room in the back of the shop where she creates items for Emydiy.com on Mondays when the shop is closed for rentals. The many whimsical nooks and crannies of the shop have served as photo backdrops for merchandise for the online store. And she will often use the space to sit and work on her design work as well. But in dreaming of the space, she said she didn’t just want it to be her own.
“I wanted to open a place where I could design myself and where others could also express themselves,” Dyer said. “I created this and I wanted to share it with the community.”
Dyer said she planned A Pretty Place to be similar in concept to an Airbnb but as a private event space. People can book the space online for blocks of two hours at a time for up to 12 hours. When their reservation date arrives, they receive a unique log in code that will let them into the venue for their allotted time. Customers can have up to 25 people at the venue right now but when COVID-19 restrictions are able to be lifted, the space has a maximum capacity of 49. The entire space is yours to use with the caveat that you leave the space as good or better than you found it. Dyer said security cameras also ensure renters are respectful of the rules. And the space is only offered from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. because, she said, it is not meant to become part of the bar scene.
“I didn’t want to be a party place. I want to be an intimate gathering space,” she said.
Dyer said she envisioned A Pretty Place being appropriate for gatherings such as: meetings or retreats; parties; photo sessions; or even crafting sessions or classes. She said users can add and remove tables and chairs as needed and have use of all the props and photo walls while renting the facility. Dyer intends to vary the look of the space with each season and will completely change the theme of the space at least every year. She said that’s important to her for those folks taking photos in the space. For instance, if someone books a party in the space one year, they could come back the next year and get equally beautiful photos but with a different look.
“The possibilities are literally endless,” she said.
Creating something positive for the community is a huge driving force for Dyer. She said about 85 percent of the décor and furniture pieces in the space are sourced from local thrift stores and about 10 percent are from local businesses, including macrame wall hangings and custom A Pretty Place candles by local artists. She also plans to have at least one monthly event that will be open to the public, which will include the chance to shop her emydiy.com selections in person. Long term, she said she is also looking into offering yoga at the space and is open to other possibilities to add other activities locals want to see.
“I want to keep bringing in things to our community that we are lacking and we need,” Dyer said.