Studio Visit: Window Wall

A salon that feels as good as it makes you look? Sign us up! We spent a early afternoon with the talented mastermind/creative director/owner of WINDOWWALL, Kim Namanny who is sweeter than peaches n’ cream and has got skills. Kim has set the bar high with a coveted team of stylist that’s training, education and experience provides a life changing hair epiphany. Located on the third floor of the Ford building you are greeted by giant pained windows, a beautifully decorated waiting area and sky high ceilings that really seal the deal. Oh and the view - we are talking relaxing modern treehouse filled with some badass ladies, but irl you are in inner south east industrial, how do they do it? All of the accomplished stylists at WINDOWWALL’s goal is create custom do's that embrace each clients unique shape and hair type, the result is something effortlessly natural, something that everyone can appreciate. A better you, but really! 

Just take a look for yourself below! If you are looking for a change, don't hesitate, the WW ladies are busy gals.

1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?

Portland has always been known for its creativity. With rainy days it makes for the city to bloom with its creative thinkers. This I love and have always adored the people whom it attracts. 

2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?

I enjoy our dinning scene. With farm to table still on the latest and new up and coming interior designers the city is really starting to sparkle in its ambiance. 

3. How did Windowwall start?

It was seriously an authentic persuit. We originated in a art studio with one mirror and one chair evolving into what we know call our industrial tree house with five-chairs. 

4. What has been your biggest obstacle?

Honestly, learning how to build a team with the right hires. 

5. What or who inspires your design?

My design style is really inspired by a New York Gallery meets French Flea Market. I love little trinkets. 

6. What are your favorite things about Portland?

Dive Bars and being able to ride your bike anywhere, along with the unique people it attracts. 

7. What is your favorite part of your studio?

I love our large industrial windows that overlook downtown and Southeast Portland. 

8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

I absoutley love our team at WINDOWWALL. 

9. Tell us two truths and a lie!

Razor cuts are amazing, but not always the best option. Colorists need to understand chemicals before they indeed can become a proficient Colorist. All salons are created equal. 

10. 5 things you can’t live without. 

My team, my hands, coffee, sunshine and good music. 

Studio/Shop Visit: Brookes Boswell & Shop Boswell

New(ish) to Portland, Shop Boswell is located in inner South East with giant windows, a clean neutral palate and an extra special airiness to the space. Owner Brookes Boswell has a background in architecture and environments, elevating the old storefront with amazing oak fixtures, large plank white floors and a womb of a dressing room that’s entire height of the 20 ft. (?) ceilings (in the perfect soft pink). Even more impressively, she has thoughtfully chosen some seriously crush worthy designers to have in stock. We fell in love with footwear from The Palatines, the bundle bowls by the talented Maryam Riazi and garments by wrk-shp. Brooke’s also carries a solid stockist of Portland’s own like accessories by Sara BarnerNotary ceramics, jewelry by Better Late Than Never, and ARA handbags. The result is a meticulously curated women’s shop with contents that effortlessly compliment one another. 

The main course of Shop Boswell are the lovely hats that Brookes makes by hand in her studio (located in the back of the shop). She showed us some of her process and beautiful materials that she uses and even blocked a hat for us. An impressive trade that she learned apprenticing under a milliner while living in New York. Her millinery work is immaculate, minimal and wearable, while keeping function at the forefront of her designs. We loved the Monarch in Panama Straw a clever hole cut out of the top - conceived to not disrupt your updo but still keep the sunshine off your face.

Take a look at the stunning photos of the store and the interesting art of millinery a la Brookes!

1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?

I first came to Portland in 2001. I took a road trip from Bellingham to Santa Cruz, looking for a new home. I spent a little time in Portland, and fell in love with the city. I lived here for a chunk of time, left for a chunk of time and ultimately decided to move back because of the mellow lifestyle. I wanted to spend more time hiking and being outside, gardening, biking and taking road trips. Portland is the perfect city. 

2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?

All the small shops! There's seems to be a renaissance of new retail shops and I love that there's so many local designers opening up their studios to the public.

3. How did your brand start?

The brand started slowly. I started making the collection in my apartment while working another job. My business is self funded, so it grew slowly but steadily. And as my business grew, I learned more about the industry and especially my customers. I worked hard to refine my technique and designs. Sheer tenacity and a strong gut instinct has carried me through to this point in my career.

4. What has been your biggest obstacle?

I think money is always the biggest obstacle, right?

5. What or who inspires your design?

Almost anything except other hats. I love looking at fashion, architecture and photography and trying to capture the feeling of an art direction.

6. What are your favorite things about Portland?

Spring! The big trees, big ferns, big blooms.

7. What is your favorite part of your studio?

The natural light that comes streaming into our shop from the big windows. Also being right on the street is nice, it makes you feel much more connected to the the life of the city. 

8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

The neutral palette. It has a soft and comfortable feeling and is filled with natural materials, nothing harsh going on here. 

9. Tell us two truths and a lie!

I love hammocks

Scary is my favorite movie genre

I'm not so great with houseplants


10. 5 things you can’t live without.

grapefruit, broken in shoes, Windowwall haircuts, loving family and friends, Morgenstern's ice cream. 

11. Tell us about Shop Boswell! (How long have you been open, where is it, etc.)

We're celebrating our 1 year birthday on May 13th. The year flew by, but I also can't believe that we made it this long! The store is in the front with clothes and accessories and the hat studio is in the back where we work. I work all day making hats and just pop out when the store has a customer. I love having people pop into the shop, it breaks up the day and I love helping people in the shop. We're humming away over here on our little corner of South East Portland. We're pretty centrally located on SE Morrison street, situated right in between the SE Industrial neighborhood and just before the transition to residential. It has a nice feel with lots of people working nearby or coming over the bridge from the West side.

12. What made you decide to open a store front?

I was actually studio hunting and didn't decide to open a store until after I found the store front. I listened to that little bird called intuition. It felt right and worked out. It required a lot of renovation work but I think it looks cute and I love coming to work everyday. I also really love the labor of having a store, which is so different than my hat business and in a lot of ways feels more creative. 

13. What is the concept behind the store?

Spirited American casual wear. The store is really built around pieces that women can wear everyday, with an eye towards elevated nostalgia. High quality production, excellent design and natural materials are musts, just like with my hat line. You'll see a mix of contemporary workwear, grandma chic, unique vintage, loungewear and statement pieces.  All highly functional though we're not afraid of a little whimsy to break it up. 

14. How did you come up with the name Shop Boswell?

It took me a really long time to decide on the name. Initially I didn't want it to be my own name because I wanted to be sort of anonymous. But I also wanted it to be related to the hat line, so I settled somewhere in the middle. Boswell is my last name and I liked how Shop functions as the store's first name. So I've got Brookes Boswell and Shop Boswell

15. How do you find designers you showcase in your shop?

Most of the designers I already knew or knew of, from working in the industry. Some are close friends who's products & processes I'm delighted to share with my customers. I only carry pieces that I truly love and I think that my customers are able to read my enthusiasm when they ask me about items in the shop. 

16. What are your 3 favorite things in the store?

I'll tell you about 3 things that I personally own and use everyday. 

Sara Barner Morrison Bag - literally everything goes in and it only looks better with age.

Lloyd linen tee's - I own 3 and it's hard not to wear at least one everyday

Eleonor Bostrom Ceramics - These little helper dogs make everyone smile. They're real mood lifters. 

17. What’s a funny shop story you have?

Well, I have a funny shop dog. My Great Pyrenees/Golden Retriever mix, Bao, hangs out in the shop with me. People are usually pretty surprised to see such a big dog in the store. Sometimes he sits in the window staring at folks who walk by, but usually he's sleeping under the garment racks waiting for a customer to pet him. 

18. Who inspires your style?

All the hard working ladies out there who look great & get their shit done. 

19. Tell us two truths and a lie.

French fries and a smoothie is my favorite lunch

I never wear heels

I like fast cars


20. Where are your favorite places to shop?

Antique malls in small towns, Dream Collective in LA, Lowell in NE Portland and more often these days - Instagram feeds for vintage.

Studio Visit: Polaris Jewelry

We are long time fans of Polaris jewelry and founder Kaliska Sweetwater she also happens to have been our first studio visit ever on the blog, three years ago! It has been so fun to see her brand grow into a gold power house! We are most impressed with her resourcefulness and attention to quality and detail. Using only gold fill and sterling silver in the most delicate way with her complexly simple geometric designs.

Polaris’ new 50/50 collection launched a few months back as limited run designs and 50% of the cost of the piece goes to organizations that are making a difference like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Such a great idea with such sincere intentions, we love that Kaliska has found a way to use Polaris to make a impact!  

From her home studio to her upgraded downtown space she is really matured Polaris increasing her stockist like crazy and maintaining great relationships with some of our favorite Portland shops. Check out her adorable studio with some seriously great downtown light! 

1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?

I’ve lived in Portland my whole life - I was born here, raised here, and then I just kinda stuck around! I’m really close with my family, so that’s a big part of why I’ve stayed. Portland has changed really quickly, it’s been really crazy to see! There are a lot of things I miss, but my business wouldn’t have thrived in the version of Portland I grew up in.

2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?

There are so many amazing business women here, and so many interesting artists- every time I get bored something new pops up! It’s a really exciting time to be here, especially as a young entrepreneur. I love collaborating with other artists, and Portland has a seemingly endless supply of them!

3. How did your brand start?

Polaris Jewelry happened purely by accident- I never intended for it to be a business. I started making myself geometric earrings, just soldering at my kitchen table, and people started asking me about them! My mom pushed me to sell my designs in her shop, and I was super resistant until I started wanting to buy nicer equipment and materials. From there it’s grown really naturally- from one account, to 2, to 6, to now more than 20 amazing shops around the country that carry my line! I think it’s really cool that people have been into what I’m doing, and it’s been exciting to see where this will take me! I never could have imagined that I would be able to build a business that would be able to pay for me to travel- it still blows my mind. I never could have dreamed up this life, and I think that’s the best way to start a business- by just listening to people when they say “Hey, that’s cool- where did you get it?” 

4. What has been your biggest obstacle?

Right now I’m trying to scale my business, which is super challenging. There’s really no guidebook, so it’s hard to figure out which direction to go in. There are definitely days that I miss clocking in and out- showing up to work and having a clear picture of what needed to get done. It’s hard to self motivate without that external structure, but I love that my job is different every day, and for me that completely makes up for it! There’s nothing like when an idea actually works- when something from my brain comes to life and clicks into place- I love that feeling, and I think it’s the thing that keeps me moving forward.

5. What or who inspires your design?

All of my designs are inspired by the people who wear them. I know that’s probably cheesy, but I think about my customers at every step along the way- I wear the designs, see how I feel in them, notice if I get complements on them. That has always been a big part of the process for me. I don’t want my jewelry to be something someone wears once a year- I want to design something so eye catching yet versatile that once it’s put on, you never want to take it off. Jewelry isn’t like other forms of art- it’s so intimate. My work physically touches people, and think that is one of the coolest things about what I do. 

6. What is your favorite part of your studio?

Honestly I love every part of it! Renting my studio was the first real step I took when I decided to take my business seriously, and that moment was a big turning point. Working alone is a super weird thing, and being able to leave my house everyday is such a blessing. I love my giant work table, my hammering station, my huge window! Being able to hear people walking and talking outside is so nice. Plus the natural light definitely doesn’t hurt.

7. Tell us two truths and a lie!

Chips are my fav food

I have a pet fish

I coded my first 3 websites

8. 5 things you can’t live without.

My family

My business

Music

Magic

Google

Studio Visit: The Granite

We’ve been trying to pin down The Granite for a Studio Visit for a couple of years now and things finally fell into place! Megan and Meg, the co-founders, warmly welcomed us into their good-looking North Portland studio. The studio is beautifully lit by sky lights and has the most comfortable vibe - part show room part production and everything has a place and a function. With their skill sets in interior design, metal smithing and ceramics, the pair has dialed in their line of ceramics to be perfectly clean and minimal.  The Granite makes a useful line of light-hearted ceramics; whether the vibrant color or the mesmerizing pattern each piece can’t help but make you smile. Every one of The Granite’s creations are meticulously slip cast and intricately hand painted. We couldn't get enough of the small serving dishes and the immaculate keepsake boxes

Take a peep at the photos from their awesome studio and the interview with Meg and Megan below. Enjoy!

1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here? 

We’ve both lived in Portland for about 10 years; Megan arriving from Seattle, WA and myself from Eugene, OR where I had studied at University of Oregon, it was a year or so before we met while working at a bar. I’m not sure either of us thought the move would be so permanent but we ended up sticking around and it is a great city. Of course, it is changing a great deal and we are a bit apprehensive about the scale and speed of the change. However, it is a city full of creatives who are working in all mediums: music, food, design, craft, art, literature…you name it.  It is exciting and inspiring to be surrounded by so many curious individuals who are invested in breaking the mold.  Here, we are also surrounded by many other women-owned businesses.  We love being a part of this community of driven, intelligent and strong-willed women.

2. How did your brand start? 

Before we were a brand each of us were makers and designers, both in professional capacities and in our own right.  A shared interest in visual and material culture as well as complementary aesthetic sensibilities made us natural collaborators.  We started working together as a hobby on a complex origami light, too complex in fact for it to ever really come to fruition, but from there it was somewhat seamless transition in to creating a variety of household products.  

3. What has been your biggest obstacle?

There is never enough time.  I think like most small and emerging businesses, we struggle with having enough time to do the many various tasks that go along with running a business as well as producing a product. This creates another obstacle: doing everything well and not rushing through a project that calls for patience.  The biggest struggle right now is making a space for creating new work as well as staying on top of our production schedule.

4. What is your favorite part of your studio?

We really lucked out with our studio-mates Barrow PDX Jewelry.  And the location is great (for me at least, for Megan who lives in deep Southeast, it is a bit of a long haul).

5. Your favorite thing about your workspace? 

Our giant worktable for cleaning up wet clay and whatever else needs to get done.  It’s tall and sturdy and gets some natural light from the skylights.  

 

Studio Visit: Martina Thornhill

The effortlessly chill Martina Thornhill had us over to her home ceramics studio. Martina and her husband, Drew, converted the garage of their Mt. Tabor home into a functional space for her and her beautiful work. She graciously walked us through her intricate process; Martina hand builds EVERY ONE of her pieces, and for those of you who don’t know much about ceramics - that's real intense. Hand building is a process that she admits is not conducive to making large quantities but something that ensures that each piece she makes is unique and requires her presence. Martina embraces her curiosity and playfulness, carrying it over into her work by experimenting with interesting clay bodies and custom glazes. Working with clay has always been therapeutic for her; self taught she has been able to turn it into a full-time gig. 

1. What has been your biggest obstacle?

    Myself. I was, and at times still am, so worried about what "real" artists would think of my work. Whether I was original enough, interesting enough, good enough. There was this deep feeling of insecurity like I was waiting for someone to call me out on not knowing what I was doing and the fear of putting myself and my designs out there and possibly being rejected really held me back for years. Those fears still surface every time I move in a new creative direction, but I've gotten better at talking myself through them and remembering that whether or not my work sells does not define it's value. Do I feel proud of it? Does it represent me in the way I hoped? Those ideas are more important.

2. What or who inspires your design?

Lately I've been pulling a lot of inspiration from Japanese ceramics, ancient artifacts, shells and natural textures. Expanding into more sculptural work while still allowing each piece to be functional has been a really enjoyable challenge that has me searching out vintage pottery and designs books everywhere I go in the hope of finding new glaze recipes and intriguing shapes that could possibly be translated into ceramics.

3. What is your favorite part of your studio?

It's proximity to my house. Ceramics is such a time based art with each step based on moisture levels. If things get too dry too fast, they crack. If you work on something that's too wet, it could collapse. Being able to check on pieces throughout the day and sneak in even 30 minutes worth of work whenever I can would be so much more difficult if my studio wasn't next door.

4. Your favorite thing about your workspace?

     After years of using communal ceramic studio space it feels so wonderful to have a space that is completely mine. I can step away and when I come back everything is exactly where I left it.