Anna Evans grew up in the Southwest but has been in Portland for over a decade, and her jewelry line Machete pulls inspiration from both terrains. Anna was taught to knit by her grandmother and quickly started making doll clothes at a young age. That was the beginning of her love for craft and construction - she has knack for designing. Her jewelry line came later after her move to the Northwest. She has perfected a line of simple nature inspired jewelry that is clean and minimal all at the same time. Handmade from natural elements such as gemstones and natural fibers, sterling silver and 14k gold fill. Machete also has a knitwear accessory line each piece is unique made using a manual knit machine. We spent a sunny afternoon in Anna’s home studio watching her in action - enjoy!
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
In 2001 I had been living in a yert outside Yosemite for nearly a year and needed a change of pace. I decided San Francisco or Portland would be my next destination. Being so close to SF I spent a lot of time in the city, but had never been to Portland. I took a roadtrip home to Colorado via Portland, but that only allowed me one day and night to decide if it was the place. After some good coffee, dank dive bars, shitty pizza at Rocco's, and a rad Violent Femmes show I knew this was the place for me. Two months later I packed everything I owned in my station wagon and headed here without a job, place to live, or knowing a single person. It was a little scary, but one of the most important things I have ever done.
Portland just makes it so easy to live here and be self-employed. The cost of living in other US cities is so high that you have to be willing to sacrifice what you love to do in order to live there. Portland has allowed me to grow from a starving artist to a profitable business in a relatively short amount of time and for that I am infinitely grateful.
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland?
The potential for growth for designers and artists is one of my favorite things happening right now in Portland. Seeing fellow small brands grow their business from a side gig to opening a storefront is really inspiring. The whole design community really nurtures prosperity throughout. Local retail businesses choosing to carry independent designers and the prevalence of maker collectives are helping the whole design community gain momentum. By working together we can all benefit from the artisan and handmade revolution that is taking over the US. I think this is reflected in the frequency other design centric cities are looking to us for beautiful and well made products.
3. How did your brand start?
Machete started when I found a cheap knitting machine at a yard sale. I decided a small knit line was a good jumping off point to earn a little extra money while I was studying Business at PSU. For several years I just made knit accessories, but soon found it was too seasonal and couldn't sustain me full-time, year-around. After working for and apprenticing under a friend and very talented jewelry designer, Jody of Elysium Jewelry, I started making my own and found that my designs were well received and it was something I really loved to do. Two years ago I added a line of jewelry to Machete and it has helped my business grow and become my full-time job.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
Talking to strangers and time management have been my biggest difficulty. I am naturally a quiet and not necessarily shy, but not super outgoing person. Working for yourself and selling your brand means approaching people and putting yourself out there in a way I never had before.
Time management is and will continue to be one of my biggest difficulties. When I am struck with inspiration I often put down my time sensitive project and let the creative juices flow, but to stay in business I have to keep my deadlines and make sure orders get out on time, finding that balance can be a challenge. Fortunately my work schedule is more easily spread out in the summertime as opposed to the holiday season (when it is just a three month block of working, eating, and sleeping) because sometimes camping or a river trip is the most important work at hand. Luckily some production is mobile so hitting the road or lounging on on a sandy beach doesn't mean shutting down things entirely.
5. Who is your style icon?
I can't really say I have a "style icon", I like simple classic design and wear what feels good to me rather than mimicking others. That said, I love fashion and love learning about the greats and discovering what's new. My personal taste in style is definitely reflected in my design, I gravitate toward pieces that are versatile and can be dressed up or down. My collection does has some styles that stand out, but not everything needs to be a statement piece.
6. What are your favorite things about Portland?
I love that Portland is so easy; I have all the amenities of a city in my neighborhood, but the ocean, mountains, and desert are only a short drive away. I like that Portland is a city, but feels like a small town. And especially how the creative community fosters independent designers and small businesses, I wouldn't be where I am today without networks and opportunities Portland has helped me gain.
7. What neighborhood describes your style the best?
I have lived in and have been influenced by all five quadrants of Portland so I can't really say one describes my style best. The Pacific North West in general might be my biggest influence. I'm from a small town in the middle of the desert in western Colorado and the contrast between the two have shaped my style and creative output in a way that gives me a unique perspective.
8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
The light in my workspace is definitely my favorite thing about it. I have two big south facing windows and get the best light even on cloudy days. Also that I share my space with my partner, I love working on projects together and getting his opinion on things because he has a great eye for design.
9. Tell us two truths and a lie!
There is a curse on my hometown, but I have the recipe to break it.
I own a 17 foot-long yellow canoe.
I can do a back handspring.
10. 5 things you can’t live without.
In no specific order:
Rock and Roll