Pam Dorion, owner of Pamz Crafts in Nisswa, makes homemade games and personalized crafts
WRITTEN By SHEILA HELMBERGER | PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOEY HALVORSON
PAM DORION IS ONE OF THE LUCKY PEOPLE WHO HAS FOUND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY DOING SOMETHING SHE ENJOYS. She spends her days in the family garage where she paints and cuts and sews to create finished products her customers will use and often cherish for years to come.
Pam says her 15-year-old daughter, Sydney, can take some of the credit for the inception of her business, Pamz Crafts, where she creates … well, really, almost anything. The pilot project for the business was a microwaveable pot holder. Her daughter asked if she could make some for her to sell as a fundraiser and Dorion agreed to make them if her daughter helped, promising her a dollar from each sale.
“She sold 100,” she exclaims. Word got out that she was a little handy. “Someone asked if I could make a table runner and everything took off from there,” she laughs. Today she has a few signature products but after that she’s willing to try something new if a customer has an idea and a picture.
“Pinterest is great,” she laughs.
“After the microwaveable potholders, yard dice were my first big deal,” she says, of the large dice made for playing Farkle and Yahtzee outdoors. “They were my first real thing. Then I moved on to t-shirt quilts and corn boards.” The potholders are still popular, too. Dorion is able to customize the games with logos and other personalization to make each one unique. She also sells an oversized Jenga game. This year she debuted another new game called Pipe Ball, made from PVC piping cut at different heights with each opening assigned a different point value.
Last October she officially retired from her job at the hospital in Brainerd. She outfitted the family’s garage with a coffee pot, a television, a pizza oven and a few other comforts and Pamz Crafts was up and running for real. She says she did a little advertising and Christmas orders kept her busy.
The popular t-shirt quilts are a great way to remember special times, whether it’s concerts you have gone to or sports teams someone has played on long after the shirts are outgrown. She also creates a memory pillow made from a single shirt that belonged to a loved one. She feels honored to make both because she knows they will become treasured items for those who use them.
Dorion uses her Pamz Crafts Facebook page to keep customers updated on new projects and other information. Once an order is placed most of her items can be finished in two to three weeks. She will ship orders and recently started taking credit cards.
Dorion is proud of the quality of her products. “I make sure my corn bags are sturdy. They’re made from heavy duty material and sewn well. Popcorn is used because it handles the elements and mice won’t eat them. “I want people to come back, but for something else, not because something didn’t hold up.”
In the early days Dorion used to do craft shows but says she doesn’t do many anymore. Since most of her items are special order, it’s hard to create them on the spot. She says she used to get a kick out of overhearing shoppers say they could make one of her products.
“I always wanted to make a sign that said, ‘Sure, you could make it, but will you?’” she laughs. “I know how it goes. Time gets away from you or you don’t realize how much the supplies will cost. I have everything here and all the tools and if they order it, they’ll get it.”
Sometimes customers will order a game with a favorite sports team logo or a saying or their last name on it. “I love that I can make it exactly how they want it. I make custom items but not at a custom price. I charge what I would pay for something, and I’m cheap,” she laughs.
This year she is offering two new games that are already popular with fans of the area’s music festivals. One is a variation of the oversized Jenga game with slots for Jello shots and the other is an ‘I Drink, You Drink’ game with holes for corn bags that has specific instructions for those playing.
Dorion also sews weighted blankets. They are made in various shapes and sizes with different printed material, based on the recipient’s body weight. The blankets are a popular way to ease anxiety. She also makes and sells tooth fairy pillows with a small pocket to hold the tooth.
“I tend to make things that are about making people happy and I like that,” she says. “I like making games that help you get away from video games and TV and get people out in their yards together.”
Her commute to work isn’t bad either.
To contact Pamz Crafts for information on one of her products, or talk to her about one of your own, log onto the Pamz Crafts Facebook page or call (218) 838-0636.