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Portland Made Retail: Tender Loving Empire

Monday, June 22, 2015

 

It is amazing how many times makers get asked if they have angel or venture capital investors. And the response always makes me giggle. NO WAY! It is not a universal response but it certainly the one I hear most often. Recently at a Built Oregon (tech investors poking around in the maker movement) event this question came up and the panel was pretty adamant about the problems with taking on investors. It puts on too much pressure, they demand high returns and their focus in purely on money. Three things that go against the essence of the Maker Movement, which is to create beautiful, handcrafted products that become heirlooms instead of garbage.

The biggest investors in the Maker Movement are CONSUMERS. That's all of us! So there is no reason for makers to get into the legalized gambling scene. Instead, we can work hard to educate consumers about who we are, why we are doing this and why paying a little bit more for locally made products is not only good for people (we pay living wages unlike products produced overseas) and the planet (we make heirlooms that last forever, not garbage like Ikea that ends up in the land fills), but also for our communities. 

For every dollar spent locally on a locally made product, it is estimated that 7-8 times that ripples around our local economy on things like infrastructure, schools and important community services that benefit all of us (not just a few monied investors). 

Invest locally by shopping locally, and watch how a "rising tide lifts all boats."

Portland Made contributing writer, Eric Gold, sat down with Jared and Brianne to find out more about Tender Loving Empire, a local record label and retail store that has been supporting local makers for almost 10 years! In their own words:

"Tender Loving Empire is a lot of things. Mostly it’s a big idea. The idea is that art is not a competition: that a strong and deeply connected community of creative people begets an even stronger community-at-large. Our aim is and has always been to facilitate a web of visual artists, designers, musicians, craftspeople, and every creator in-between—and then connect them to new friends, fans, listeners… the awesome people like you who make Tender Loving Empire a thing.Tender Loving Empire is a lot of things. Mostly it’s a big idea. The idea is that art is not a competition: that a strong and deeply connected community of creative people begets an even stronger community-at-large. Our aim is and has always been to facilitate a web of visual artists, designers, musicians, craftspeople, and every creator in-between—and then connect them to new friends, fans, listeners… the awesome people like you who make Tender Loving Empire a thing." - tenderlovingempire.com

The husband and wife team of Jared and Brianne Mees started Tender Loving Empire in 2006 as a way to put out Jared’s first record release. The following year, Brianne Mees says, the couple decided to open a shop to complement their music label. “When you have a record label,” she says, “it’s all just on the internet and you can’t really touch it or hold it. We liked the idea of having a physical space, where people could feel like they were more part of it.”

The store allowed the pair to combine Jared’s passion, the records, with Brianne’s interest in handmade goods. After three years in a tiny northwest Portland space, Tender Loving Empire moved to its current location, downtown on SW 10th Avenue. Besides LPs and CDs from the twelve bands now on the label—mostly Portland acts like Typhoon, Loch Lomond, and Radiation City—and some other local music, the shop carries goods from about two hundred artists, eighty percent of whom, Mees estimates, are from Portland.

Jewelry, prints, and gift items make up a large portion of Tender Loving Empire’s wares. Block and Sons’ iPad holders, Schmidt’s deodorant, Bishop Art’s Portland Raindrop magnets, and Burdy Fly Away onesies are just a few popular items. Mees herself oversees the production of Make Waves, a series of ocean-themed dioramas. A house line of t-shirts, featuring designs by local artists, is screen printed at the shop, which also prints clothes, posters, and other flat stock for outside clients.

Tender Loving Empire’s West End location, within walking distance of eleven hotels, Mees says, means that most customers are visiting Portland from out of town, “wanting to take a little piece home” of the creative culture of the city. “It’s a cool spot for us to be in,” Mees says, “because rather than selling things made in Portland to people in Portland, we get to support Portland artists” by offering their creations to people from around the country and beyond.

____________________________________________

Sign up to secure your copy of the definitive book on Portland's Maker Movement.

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.

 

Related Slideshow: Slideshow: Fall Clothing Essentials

Boutique owners, employees, and managers gave GoLocalPDX some tips about what every women needs in her closet this fall. 

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Bridge & Burn

Audrey Brown of Bridge & Burn says: 

"One of my favorite pieces from our fall collection is the Reed Waxed Parka. It's a great olive color, goes with everything, and is easy to layer." 

Bridge & Burn: 1122 SW Morrison St. www.bridgeandburn.com, 97205, (971) 279-4077

In an earlier version of this article, this quotation was incorrectly attributed to Sarah Cunningham.

Prev Next

Bridge & Burn

"The Lily Blanket Print Maxi Skirt in brushed gray stripes is so soft and cozy but also looks very put-together," says Audrey Brown.

"My favorite autumn accessories are a great pair of ankle boots, big scarves, and simple jewelry. I like to balance our super utilitarian Watch Cap wool beanie with a feminine fishtail braid." 

Bridge & Burn: 1122 SW Morrison St., 97205, (971) 279-4077. www.bridgeandburn.com

In an earlier version of this article, this quotation was incorrectly attributed to Sarah Cunningham.

Prev Next

Parallel

Crystal at Parallel

“Rag & Bone Hammersmith Boyfriend Jeans might be a big thing this fall, pretty much anything boyfriend will be big.”

Parallel: 1016 SW Washington Street, 97205,(503) 274 - 8882. www.parallelportland.com

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Adorn

Samantha of Adorn says the fall essentials you need in your closet are:  

“A well made pair of leggings; because let's be honest, those $5 leggings are doing you no favors at all. The Prairie Underground denim girdles are a must for any layering lady!”

Buy them here

Adorn: 4120 NE Fremont Street, 97212, (503) 505-7424. shopadorn.com

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Adorn


Samantha of Adorn recommends being bold with color: “If you're afraid of color, this season is the time to experiment! Cobalt blue, Jade Green, and even Orchid pink are uber popular colors to combine with your outfit.” 

Buy it here. 

Adorn: 4120 NE Fremont Street, 97212, (503) 505-7424. shopadorn.com

Prev Next

SaySay

“Dark teals, simple brass long necklaces, tights, and of course leggings are going to be a huge thing this fall.”

Buy them here

Photo Credit: Tabbi Socks

SaySay: 1010 SW Morrison, 97205, (503)223-1282. www.saysayboutique.bigcartel.com

Prev Next

Bonnet

Patricia Zanger of Bonnet: 

"Deep plum colors and warm brown tones.  A lot of kahki/cognac with deeper browns."

Hat styles for fall: Jack, Marlena, Ingrid. 

Buy the "Ingrid" here .

Bonnet: 1129 NW Flanders Street, 97209.  (503) 954-2271. shop.bonnetboutique.com

Prev Next

Bonnet

Patricia Zanger of Bonnet says: "A lot more structured looks this fall.Last year there was a lot of focus on less structured and loose fitting styles and this fall everything is more focused on structured and not loose.  Which is great for us!"

Buy the "Marlenè" here .

Bonnet: 1129 NW Flanders Street, 97209.  (503) 954-2271. shop.bonnetboutique.com

 
 

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