Store Visit: Spartan Shop

Entering Spartan Shop in bustling inner South East, located on the intersection of S.E. Grand and SE Salmon streets you are welcomed with a serene feeling. Owner, Currie Person, greeted us midmorning this Tuesday and we couldn't help but fawn over the inventory she has so carefully selected. The goal with Spartan’s Portland (located in Austin, TX too!) location was to “offer a carefully edited collection of beautiful, practical objects, influenced by the changing seasons without straying far from our core inventory of reliable, classic items.” Currie and her Spartan team have done a beautiful job on the design and execution of the store. You become absorbed into a minimal and peaceful environment that was previously a densely packed classic antique store. We appreciate that Currie has filled the store with objects that share both utility and beauty. Some of our favorites were; Kati Von Lehman’s stoneware and Sara Barner’s accessories, both talented ladies just happen to be from Portland! The current anchors of the shop are remarkable paintings by Portland artist, Amy Bernstein. The store fixtures and build out were executed in collaboration with by LA based De JONG & Co. The companies furniture is also beautifully displayed throughout Spartan. 

1. Tell us about Spartan! (How long have you been open, where is it, etc.)

We opened our first store front in Austin nine years ago. While visiting the Pacific Northwest on a vacation, my husband and I absolutely fell in love with Portland and decided on a whim to relocate here in 2012, leaving our storefront in good hands with our partner in Austin and building Spartan Shop's online business here in Portland.

Last fall, we happened upon this gorgeous corner property in industrial South East which included an ideal work space for our online HQ, as well as a lovely shop floor with two 14 foot walls of windows facing the west hills. We were really excited to find a storefront with ample room to display furniture, lighting and large scale fine art (all new frontiers for us), in addition to our established offerings of homewares, tabletop items, stationery and jewelry.

2. What is the concept behind the store?

We offer a tightly edited selection of items with an eye for thoughtful design and timeless beauty. Our aim is to pair passionate, talented designers with a clientele that prioritizes quality craftsmanship, intelligence, and artistry over the latest trends.

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

We are proud to say that we have been working with many of our designers for almost a decade. It’s incredibly fulfilling to nurture lasting partnerships that evolve in such interesting directions over the years. Traveling as frequently as we can connects us to small artisans that you won’t find at trade shows or even in some cases online.

4. Who inspires your style? 

One of the best things about this job is that we are able to find inspiration from such varied sources to influence what we are doing -travel, architecture, fine art, films. Right now I am really digging into photographers and writers working in Mexico in the early and mid twentieth century like Manuel Alvarez Bravo and his wife Lola Alvarez Bravo.

Store Visit: Johan

We’ve been crushing on Johan for quite some time, a welcomed and stark contrast from the expected Pacific North West Cliche. A gallery of coveted garments and objects that are equal parts art and utility. Owner Laura Housgard welcomed us into Johan on a chilly weekday morning. The visit was spent chatting about some of the outstanding lines the shop carries and the need to bring a store like Johan to our ever-changing city. First and foremost, Housgard’s goal is to bring a high standard of quality with refined minimal taste - catering to the ever growing design community that Portland harbors. 

After spending time on her Masters degree at the Lund University, Laura moved to New York to work in corporate fashion. A taxing lifestyle that made her yearn to be around the Scandinavian design that she had fallen for in Sweden. This lead to Johan’s Son, an online purveyor of the minimal designs that she had become so deeply connected with. Fast forward a bit and she found herself back in her home town of Portland dedicated to expounding upon on the concept. With her vast experience in retail she bravely opened the front room of her inner South East apartment into a shop called Johan with select hours and an intimate feel and her customers loved it! Portland hadn't seen anything like it, and it quickly became clear that Laura needed a permanent storefront. She found the ideal location in downtown and Johan is now in #plainsite

Laura has delicately curated a shop with the perfect amalgamation of products from local brands like Ara HandbagsAshley Hardy CeramicsMidnight Collective and Sea + Pattern and other incredible small scale designers like L.A. based Desiree KleinLLOYD out of Vancouver, B.C. and Martiniano footwear. Housgard has managed to create a very special retail experience that is a must, just look for the sign that reads “yes”.

1. Tell us about Johan! (How long have you been open, where is it, etc.)

Johan is a concept shop with a secret address in downtown Portland. It's a destination where people come to find the best of many things, from ceramics and design books, to apparel and jewelry. We started online in Brooklyn in 2012, opened our first brick and mortar location on the east side of Portland in May of 2015, and moved to our current location in July of this year.

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

I was living in New York, absolutely miserable working as an apparel technical designer for a large corporation, feeling stifled creatively, when I hit rock bottom. I had to decide where to go from there. What would make me happy? What are my strengths? My weaknesses? My skills and experiences? I've worked in retail since I was 18 and my master's degree is in branding and marketing. When I added it all up, opening a store was the only thing that made sense.

3. What is the concept behind the store?


4. How did you come up with the name Johan?

Johan is named for my great great great grandfather on my mother's side, Johan August Magnusson. I had the opportunity to live in Sweden, meet my relatives, and hear Johan's story. He was known for being resourceful, creative, and a bit of a dreamer. He renovated our family farmhouse which still stands on a beautiful plot of land near a small lake in southern Sweden, he planted cherry trees in the front yard, he tirelessly tilled the rocky land. His story resonated with me - I think I saw a bit of myself in him.

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

I get emails from designers daily introducing themselves - I love learning about new brands that way. I also go to New York twice a year for market week - a great way to see hundreds of designers all in a short period of time. And then, of course, there is Instagram.

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

The three huge light fixtures on the ceiling.

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

Lots of funny stories - our new location is in a pretty gritty part of town. That coupled with the fact that we have 28 feet of floor to ceiling windows makes it feel like we're watching (or in?!) some sort of nutty downtown Portland reality show all day. 

I once had a guy with a string wrapped around his head stand outside and stare at me through the window for ten minutes. I finally called Clean + Safe, and when they tried to take him away he said he couldn't leave because I was his wife.

8. Who inspires your style?

Margaret Howell. She always looks timeless and comfortable in her own skin.

9. Tell us two truths and a lie.

I do a mean Australian accent. I sold Mos Def a pair of drop crotch pants. I always finish the last sip of water in a glass.

10. Where are your favorite places to shop?

Craig's List, Muji, La Garconne.

Store Visit: WM Goods

Well Made Goods  is one of the newer additions to the thriving West End of town that has come to be known for it's amazing food and even better shops. WM Goods is full of fantastic women's clothing, housewares, art and perfect gifts. Owner Whitney Goodman welcomed us into her store a few days after she opened doors, she had great stories and showed us some amazing clothing lines that we are very excited about. Whitney is a Portland native that recently relocated back to Portland after spending time away working in LA and New York to open WM Goods. It was always her dream to own a retail space but her work life in New York kept her plenty busy. When she caught wind that her dream space was opening in town she couldn't not take the leap and got the ball rolling on what felt like a far away goal. WM Goods' space was transformed in collaboration with Elk Collective into a comfortable shopping environment that feels unlike anything else in Portland. The spacious shop makes you feel right at home with it's large corner windows, sky light and fireplace - it is a space that you want to take your time and enjoy! The carefully curated lines that are in WM Goods are seriously impressive. We were blown away by the brands Priory, Namche Bazaar and The Great. Make sure to swing by WM GOODS located on SW 11th and SW Alder! 

Store Visit: Milk Milk Lemonade

Milk Milk Lemonade store is located in inner southeast Portland and serves as the home to OLO fragrance. Perfumer Heather Sielaff started OLO five years ago and has grown her line of beautifully thoughtful scents to become well known around the globe. Heather and her Husband Jonathan Sielaff collaborated on the storefront Milk Milk Lemonade to create a wonderfully curated space with the full OLO line featured as well as sell other fantastic lines of home accessories, lovely personal care items, art and a great selection of teas and matcha. Jonathan and Heather transformed an old bike shop into what is now a peaceful and stunningly designed storefront and studio for OLO. The two worked closely with the talented Matthew Philip Williams on the build out, the collaboration results are some shockingly good-looking retail fixtures and displays. In addition to OLO Heather and Jonathan have brought in some stellar brands like Dream Collective, Better Late Than Never, Hazel Cox, Erica Weiner, No. Studio and Morihata. Milk Milk Lemonade is a space that would feel special anywhere and we are certainly glad it’s here in Portland! Enjoy the interview with Heather and Jonathan as well as the slide show of Milk Milk Lemonade. Oh, and a peak of their amazing apartment located right above the store!

1. Tell us about Milk Milk Lemonade! (How long have you been open, where is it, etc.)

HS: We opened the 1407 SE Belmont location in July 2014. Milk Milk Lemonade is our OLO showroom/work studio. We sell OLO fragrances, incense and body products along with some of our favorite things from around the world.

2. What made you decide to open a storefront?

HS: I was walking to the post office one morning and I saw the space for rent. I wasn’t really looking for a new work studio but this place just seemed too perfect. Jonathan and I talked it over and decided it would be a good opportunity to expand the business.

JS: At that point it made sense for me to join Heather full-time. We work really well together and love new challenges.

3. What is the concept behind the store?

HS: We wanted to put a focus on scent and anything to do with skin. The goal was to sell beautiful things that can be a part of every day ritual but to present it in a way that’s light hearted and fun.

JS: It was important to us that the overall design reflect those elements: Minimal and modern but still warm and inviting, tasteful but with a sense of humor.

4. How did you come up with the name Milk Milk Lemonade?

HS: I am plagued with earworms. The Smurf theme song and Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” are always swimming around in my head. Jonathan and I were talking about what to call the store one day, just throwing ideas at each other. I knew the name had to be three words and could not have an ampersand but that was the only criteria I had laid out. The rhyme “Milk Milk Lemonade” happened to be on full rotation in my noggin and I jokingly said we should just call the store that. I thought more about it and figured people that knew the rhyme would find it amusing and people that didn’t know would just find it a touch twee. We thought it was a super funny name so we just went for it.

JS: We're just waiting for someone to open a fudge shop around the corner.

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

HS: Some of the designers we feature have their own stores and sell OLO, like Erica Weiner and Dream Collective. A lot of the jewelry lines we carry are designers I’ve admired for years.

JS: So many of our friends make cool shit. Although we have things from all over the world, it feels like our own community is represented as well, but in a way that is distinctive to our shop.

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

HS: (1) The wall hanging by Anna Korte. (2) OLO Fragrance. Duh. (3) Binchotan Facial Cleansing Mask

JS: That's hard to narrow down, but three things off the top of my head: (1) The "smell table" in the middle of the room. (2) Lilith Rockett's teaware. (3) The art/work shirt we made with Portland Garment Factory.

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

HS: This happened right in front of the shop but I think it counts. A guy and his little boy were walking by. The kid was around 6yrs old. I heard him say, “Everybody strawberry blows!” quite loudly. He was reading the Anthony Tortorici poster we have hanging. The strawberry is illustrated but the kid verbalized the image. I thought he might get in trouble but his dad just laughed. Or, just all the times I’ve heard people say, “Boobs” when they walk by the boob bag window display

8. Who inspires your style?

HS: Oil and laziness inspire my style. I am messy so it easier to wear all black, the oils stains don’t show as much.

JS: It varies all the time. Lately I've been really into the outfits on that CW sci-fi show The 100.

9. Tell us two truths and a lie.

HS: I dreamed the name for OLO.
I don’t care for cats.
My papa has called me “Jackass” for as long as I can remember.

JS: I've hunted octopus with a metal rod from the back of a refrigerator.
I love reality television.
Algae from the Mekong river is actually quite delicious when prepared correctly.

10. Where are your favorite places to shop?

HS: Check out my Stockists list on the website for my complete shopping guide. I only sell OLO in stores I like or would like to shop in. I am also really into shopping in drugstores. I find myself drawn to the arm brace and splint section. I’m not sure what that means.

JS: I second the stockists list. I also really love Lowell and have bouts of addiction to thrift/vintage stores. 


Store Visit: The New Frances May

Our long time crush on the coveted Frances May was solidified this fall when we had the privilege of documenting the buildout of the new location. Conveniently located right next door to the old FM in what was a rug store, Pamela Baker-Miller and her talented team did a speedy and effective transformation on the space. Not only is the store much larger and filled with all you could ever want and more! It also houses a photo studio, conference room and Pam's soon to be dream office! If you haven't stopped in yet! Do it! 

Check out the before and after photo galleries below!