We spent a Tuesday afternoon with half of Maak Lab, co founder Anoria Gilbert making a batch of their Doug Bar in the MAAK’s amazing smelling studio. Anoria and Taylor Ahlmark have taught themselves everything they know about soap making, and they have become experts. Maak’s studio is located above the North Portland retail shop Beam & Anchor, with a stellar crew of studio mates. It was calming to see Anoria in a fairly hectic environment, rhythmically flow through the process of making soap. It’s an exact science - making sure timing, volume, temperature and mixing are all done precisely to form a functional and well thought out soap. We were most impressed with the attention to detail that Anoria and Taylor have put into Maak Lab from the consideration of ingredients, from the locally sourced essential oils, meticulous consideration for the combinations of ingredients in each soap and the on point branding that totally seals the deal on Maak’s quality. Enjoy photos of our visit with Anoria in action and a interview with both Taylor and Anoria below!
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
Portland is relatively inexpensive and the amenities run deep. The economy and culture here has supported our business and allowed us to support it in return.
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
Grape God shows, the humorous onslaught of leather companies, and the soon-to-open Purrington's Cat Lounge.
3. How did your brand start?
We moved to Portland a while ago from Arizona. We enjoyed the nature here, and saw a strong support for small business. The entire process of building a brand, perfecting the product, and working together is appealing to us, so we started making soap as a small time hobby. Soon we'd outgrown the attic, had a business license and a lab.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
We don't have much space in our current studio in Beam & Anchor. On the bright side, we have massive windows overlooking the train yard and west hills. And the small space forces us to be efficient, organized, and more involved with every part of the process.
5. Who is your stye icon
Tony Clifton, Grape God, Ray Kurzweil.
6. What are your favorite things about Portland?
The size -- it's a schoolyard and everyone knows everyone. And we can live without a car. Not because we want to, but our car recently broke down.
7. What neighborhood describes your style the best?
8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
Community. Beam & Anchor is special in that sense -- it's a dense with good people doing good stuff. It's a collective space, so everyone is hustling doing their own thing, all while bumping into each other and razzing over coffee and donuts.
9. 5 things you can’t live without.
Droney music, our cats Gus & Tabby, daily breakfast burritos, C2G, houseplants.