Building a business from the ground up

Posted on Mar 27 2019

4EVER CNMI wood art are ready to get customized. (Bea Cabrera)

Cultural diversity may be the operative term of the day, but local heritage remains steadfast and celebrated with the help of businesses like 4EVER CNMI. In fact, it is the company’s raison d’être.

As a new player in the retail business, 4EVER CNMI’s motto is written on every apparel, product, and service that they offer: “Made in the CNMI.”

According to 4EVER CNMI owner Sheanna Pangelinan, her business plan was simple—to promote and preserve island culture.

“The CNMI has relied almost entirely on imported goods and it is difficult to find ‘Made in the CNMI’ gifts, décor, and memorabilia. …Shirts say ‘Saipan’ but it was produced in China,” she said.

“Many locals and visitors alike seek out ‘Made in the CNMI’ products…that represent the beauty and special cultural identity of the Northern Mariana Islands. …The goal is to put logo, create art and write sayings on wood, shirts, hats that [promote] the island culture,” she added.

Pangelinan comes from a business-oriented family but her passion for art is the real driver of 4EVER CNMI. “I got my first exposure when I joined the Flame Tree [Festival] in 2016 and sold handcrafted and hand-painted wood signs. The experience was really good and then we started to supply products to other stores like Zori-Zori,” she said.

“Eventuall,y we decided to open our own store after we switched from sole proprietor to LLC in February last year. We secured the location and, with the help of my partner, Victor Flores, we did everything with our bare hands… Our target market are Chamorros, tourists, and anyone who has ties with the CNMI,” she added.

4EVER CNMI’s unique business culture has already garnered a following. Aside from apparel and artwork, the store also custom-make wood signs, stickers, T-shirts caps, sand-carving on glass, stainless steel, and metal.

“I get feedback where I have customers say that finally we have a shop that they can go to have an item customized and not get asked to get the order in bulk,” Pangelinan said.

“…Sometimes the customer walks in with a design on hand and others come to me for ideas and we work on it,” she added.

Pangelinan does the whole process—from art design to final product. “It has always been my passion to do art and I just never saw myself actually doing something about it. My whole career has been in the Human Resources field at Commonwealth Utilities Corp., Northern Marianas College, and Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. so this was a hobby that became a store,” she said.

“I don’t charge customers extra art fee. As long as you buy a shirt and you give me a design, we will be glad to produce it for you… I want everyone to feel free to come in and express themselves through artwork,” she added

Pangelinan admits that starting a business is tough. “During the planning stage, I was anxious thinking of other responsibilities like rent, etc., and was in panic with thoughts of ‘I am just going to sell wood art and apparel, nobody knows me yet and I am not going to make money.’ I realized that many locals that have talent and want to open a business give up halfway because they don’t know which office to go to for guidance and then the funding… I know all of that,” she said.

“The CNMI Small Business Development Center gave me a lot of support, so whenever I was on the verge of giving up, they would give me that ‘push’…Today, my reward is seeing a person at the store holding a piece of my art work and is happy about it. …The experience of the customers moves me and it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile,” she added

4EVER CNMI is open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 6pm in Chalan Monsignor Guerrero in San Jose. For more information, call (670) 235-CNMI (2664),

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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