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Portland Made Fashion: Portland Apron Company

Monday, June 08, 2015


The Maker Movement is growing rapidly around the world and ADX is helping communities with local culture building, place making, and economic development strategies by working with them to identify and tie the pieces of their local Maker Movement together. This could include helping them start Makerspaces and Maker-Collectives that encourage the sharing of space, knowledge and tools, while helping build resiliency into their community economic development strategy.

In Portland, there is huge potential for ADX-like incubator spaces for each industry sector (fashion, bikes, craft brewing, etc). The fashion industry is aching for an ADX-like space that would allow fashion designers to share space, tools, material ordering, marketing, shipping/receiving and more. By combining forces with other successful incubator spaces like PIE (tech), Kitchen Cru (food), IPRC (self-publishing) and Oregon Storyboard (video/media), Portland could create an even stronger economic development strategy, one that not only fosters new businesses but also trains up the workforce needed to support the rapid growth of these industry sectors. |

To continue our focus on Fashion, Portland Made contributing writer Jordan Burgess sat down with Erika Kelly to find out more about what made her start her own company, the values she operates under and the local companies she is collaborating with. To buy her products visit her website.

It’s July 4th, 2011 and Erika Kelly is busy sewing the one necessity needed for her new job starting the next day: an apron. “So I’m down stairs in my basement sewing myself an apron,” Erika remembers, “while my husband is like ‘come upstairs the fireworks are going off!’ and I said ‘I don’t care! I gotta do this.” After receiving compliments from coworkers and customers alike, Erika realized that apron making could turn her love of sewing into a profession.

While continuing to work in the service industry, Erika started to experiment with designing a few aprons and posting them on Etsy, and after selling a couple she “just kind of grew from there, slowly but surely,” she says. Erika now has her own website, Portland Apron Company, fitted with its own online store, where one can choose from nine different apron styles, three types of fabrics, and eighteen different colors. A customer in need of an apron can choose from styles like a java colored barista style apron made with organic hemp to a men’s full apron with beige organic canvas. For those who are in search of particular patterns or a specific fit, Erika is willing to accommodate custom orders.

Since stitching her first apron in 2011, Erika has contracted a few wholesale accounts, including Barista, a Portland based company with three local coffee houses. Erika ran 40 aprons through her Janome sewing machine in a week’s time. “It was a good challenge,” she says, “I was literally up till 2:00 in the morning the night before I had to have them done, but I did it.” With her increasing wholesale accounts and online sales to individual buyers, Erika was able to quit her day job last summer allowing her to focus her attention on apron making full-time. “I work just as much if not more than I did before,” Erika says, “but it’s nice to be in charge,” creating a durable and fashionable product.


Want to be part of Portland's Maker Movement? Get involved with ADX and Portland Made. Be a mentor. Take a class. Buy locally made products. Donate to our scholarship fund through The Equity Foundation.

Kelley Roy is the founder of ADX, a 14,000 square foot Makerspace where artists and designers work along side each other to prototype and launch new product lines. ADX is also open to the general public and teaches people of all ages how to make. And if you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire ADX to make it for you. For more information check out adxportland.com

Portland Made is a digital storytelling platform and advocacy center for Portland's Maker Movement. We do 2 features a month on Portland Makers; connect makers with more local, national and international markets; connect makers with local professional and manufacturing resources; advocate for makers with politicians at all levels of government; work with PSU on an annual survey that captures the economic power of the Maker Movement; help makers find real estate; and promote Portland makers with local and national media.


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