Lisa Dunagan spent most of her first year as an Ashlander quietly plotting ways to make her new hometown seem cooler than ever on a T-shirt.

Lisa Dunagan spent most of her first year as an Ashlander quietly plotting ways to make her new hometown seem cooler than ever on a T-shirt.

Formerly a resident of Reno, Nev., Dunagan paid her first visit to Ashland in July of last year and left with two thoughts, "I want to move here," and "this place is in serious need of a T-shirt shop."

Dunagan, 45, moved to Ashland a few months later and opened Ashland Envy, a new T-shirt and gift store that will focus on translating the uniqueness and culture surrounding the town into stylish designs for T-shirts, other apparel, and an array of gift choices, such as water bottles, lanyards and other trinkets.

"It was kind of a serendipitous chain of events that led us here," she said, "and I think from the way everything came together, it was meant to be."

Dunagan's July 2010 trip to Ashland was her first time visiting the town, and after her car broke down on the day she planned to leave, extending her weekend stay for another three days, she fell in love with its atmosphere.

"I went home and told my husband we were moving here," she said, laughing. "We were looking to get out of Reno, but the T-shirt idea kind of started as a joke."

Dunagan, formerly a real estate broker, said she was wandering around Ashland's downtown stores during her stay last year, trying to find a few T-shirts to bring back for her kids when the idea first hit her.

"I couldn't find anything that really caught my eye," said Dunagan. "I always bring T-shirts back for the family when I go on vacation, but I was struggling. I was thinking, 'How can I not find a cool T-shirt in this amazing town?' "

Ashland Envy, at 60 East Main St., takes its name from Reno Envy, a T-shirt shop from Dunagan's former hometown. The two stores are not a part of any franchise, and, besides the name, are not related.

Ashland Envy is currently printing its originally designed apparel through Reno Envy, because Dunagan is friends with its owners, but that will soon change, as she hopes to localize the business as much as possible.

"I'd like to do as much stuff locally as I could," she said. "Being a part of the community is really important to me."

Right now, most of Ashland Envy's T-shirts are either based on, or are copies of designs by It's Great To Be Here Tees, a national T-shirt and graphic designing company. A handful of original Ashland Envy designs, like its signature Ashland hippy bus logo, were designed by Dunagan and her 19-year-old son Cary Dunagan, who is majoring in graphic design at Portland State University, she said.

Dunagan said the store plans to hold local artist contests, where the winning design will go on a T-shirt, and to release T-shirts designed to go along with the plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival next season.

Although she knows that appealing to Ashland's heavy stream of tourists will be crucial to her store's success, Dunagan's priority is to design T-shirts that Ashlanders want to wear.

"Selling stuff only for tourists really doesn't interest me," she said. "I want this to be a tourist-type shop that all the locals want to shop in."

She said next year the shop should have more designs and more clothing options for customers to choose from. By the middle of October, she hopes to have the store's upstairs, currently an art gallery, transformed into a baby apparel section.

"We've got a lot of exciting ideas, but we just need a little time to get things going," she said. "It's going to be fun seeing what we can do for the community."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email