Going on 7 years, Portland Garment Factory has been making locally produced clothing an option for designers instead of having to contract outside of the city. The idea of getting garments produced in for small labels in Portland prior to Portland Garment Factory was just a grand idea. Founder Britt Howard and business partner Rosemary Robinson have managed to make this once great idea into a reality with a factory of hard working sewers to back them. Portland Garment Factory can help creators from the beginning development of a product’s concept to seeing it through to completion. Portland Garment Factory offers everything from pattern drafting and sample construction to the branding of the final product. Not only do they help other designers, but they also have created House Line, one of the raddest lines coming out of this city. House Line is futuristic, classic, and has dynamic silhouettes. We’d like to wear it everyday! Read all about Britt's experience with PGF and and some rad photos below!
1. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
I am a bit of a creature of comfort and because I'm from here I have "my rounds". So when friends come to visit Portland, I tell them, 'Go to Powell's Books, hike at Forrest Park! Drive to Astoria! Shop at Una! Eat breakfast at Junior's Cafe, ya know. In the recent years it has been tough to embrace some of the new things developing and happening in Portland because they haven't felt deep (culturally) to me. But on the other hand, I am really excited for some newness. Of course I always appreciate watching Portland's DIY culture grow into sustainable and profitable businesses for so many people (from Revive Designs to Nationale Gallery to designers like Adam Arnold). I am thrilled at where this city is headed within the sustainability and design realms in particular. I wish they named the new pedestrian bridge after Lisa Simpson though.
2. How did your brand start?
Portland Garment Factory started in 2008 out of a need for garment industry services for indi-designers. PGF HouseLine came in 2011 when we felt we could begin showcasing PGF's combined talents with a womenswear line.
3. What has been your biggest obstacle?
Growth in a self funded business. Getting to the next level can shut you down (financially, emotionally or physically -- or all three?!) Rosemary and I work hard everyday to make this factory keep churning and although the passion trumps the obstacle of physical exhaustion, we have had to weave a way to find balance in order to (try to) be our best every day for our clients and our employees and ourselves.
4. What or who inspires your design?
My partner Rosemary is the best editor of ideas. We design PGF HouseLine together and we are the true yin and yang. I really respect our dynamic. Recently I have been inspired by a fresh designer, Claire McKinney who is was a PGF intern, but is in her last year at Pratt. She's killer. I am also inspired by the challenge that we set out to wrangle. When we are designing a new collection we try to push the traditions and expectations of everything from the materials to the machinery. I guess I think Rosemary and I are both inspired by challenge.
5. What are your favorite things about Portland?
I love that I can raise my kids here and have a business that I walk to....and when I leave Portland I am always reminded that driving 20 minutes to my sons baseball practice is a luxury! Another favorite thing is people like you guys who are excited and motivated by others....I like the making/doing culture of this city and even more, the companionship and camaraderie.
6. What is your favorite part of your studio?
To swing from a 40' ceiling at full pump is an exhilarating feeling!
7. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
I appreciate the effort and passion that everyone in the shop brings in each day. It's inspiring to come to work and think "these people get me and we are going to make some awesome and important stuff today!"
8. Tell us two truths and a lie! In random order:
I like rom-coms, my wifi password is poopsnap & we do double dutch at PGF breaktime.
9. 5 things you can’t live without.
My husband and kids, jokes, freedom of expression, new ideas, rambling conversations with good people.