The sweetest new addition to the historic Kenton district, Mantel, sits proudly on the Corner of Denver and Kilpatrick. Owner Karen McClelland has cultivated her shop around the idea that a Mantel is what people use to set the tone of their space, consisting of their most prized possessions, treasured keepsakes and objects that make their house feel like a home.
Mantel’s tall ceilings and large windows weren't always as charming. Karen’s neighbor, Integrate Architecture, had their eye on the nearby historic building and foresaw the potential. The two businesses partnered to restore the space. Integrate’s offices are located behind Mantel’s storefront. The dropped ceilings were removed, windows were replaced, walls torn down, all to revive a once dreary rehab clinic. Karen and Integrate applied for a storefront renewal grant through PDC (Portland Development Committee) which helped fund the buildout and restoration of the store front. Her husband, David McClelland, and her son were a huge help throughout. The McClelland crew managed to conquer a majority of the tasks themselves, designing and problem solving along the way.
Karen is a proud advocate of the neighborhood that was once a meatpacking district. She sits on the Kenton Business Association board, lives 3 blocks away from the store, and walks to work everyday. It was important to her to support local businesses in her hood, almost all of the wood in the space is reclaimed from either Salvage Works or The Rebuilding Center. And Mantel carries several of her neighbors' goods such as Kati Von Lehman, Tamara Bryan, Elisa McLaughlin’s Truly Kindred, The Granite, Wolf Ceramics and PrimeCut. So praise the Portland shopping gods if you live out north - and if not it’s still well worth the journey!
1. Tell us about Mantel!
Mantel is a brick and mortar home goods store in the downtown Kenton neighborhood of Portland,OR. Opened just over 5 months ago, Mantel focuses on handmade goods from local/regional designers and makers, with a touch of vintage.
2. What made you decide to open a store front?
You know I don't remember how the idea first popped into my head. Maybe it was a friend suggesting it, maybe it was just shopping around and having the sudden urge to rearrange displays in the stores I went to... But I think it took feeling a little restless in my current profession. After teaching ceramics to high school students for 12 years I was ready for a new challenge. And, hello, it's Portland! There's always room for another indie business here. So eventually it became less about "why should I" and more about "why shouldn't I." I knew I wanted to continue to work with artists and makers and somehow support them. I knew I had some decent skills to tap into. And once I heard that there was a perfect space available just down the street from me, I was pretty hooked. My husband and friends were insanely supportive and I think that helped give me some courage.
3. What is the concept behind the store?
A major goal of the store is to support up-and-coming makers and the surrounding community. So I make a point of including artists from Kenton and other nearby areas. We also offer a small space for local high school students and give them all the profits. I'm actually looking for more young artists, so spread the word! Of course everything has to work with Mantel's brand so I still have to be pretty picky. But by mixing established, recognized brands with newer brands, I can gain people's trust. All products should be well-crafted, simple, minimal.
4. How did you come up with the name Mantel?
My 9 year old, Lewis, came up with it! He had the best name ideas. Turns out all vocabulary words from the 3rd grade make great store names! Area, Radius... those were taken but he was on a roll. Then he said, "Mantel!" He had been studying the layers of the Earth's crust but my mind went straight to one of the most common focal points of the home. The mantel is where we often display our most prized pieces, where we show off the style we aspire to match in the rest of our house, where we gather for warmth and company. I mean, it just seemed perfect. He's pretty proud of himself. I'm slowly teaching him aspects of running a business in the hopes that he can play a larger role. I already pay him to stick on the price tags and address my envelopes to vendors. Although I think he's mostly just interested in being my IT man.
5. What are your 3 favorite things in the store?
I get this question a lot but I am super hesitant to pick favorites. (Teaching and mom-ing have taught me well- although let's be real, we all know that the dog is the favorite.) I honestly think that everything in the store is pretty great or I wouldn't have it there. As a ceramics teacher I am partial to the pottery because I have a better understanding of all the sweat and tears that went into it. I am currently loving Pawena Studio's bold designs on her pots. As far as jewelry goes, I love the raw look of Ritual by Hannah Fischer. And I'm using some Facial Oil from Live Botanical right now that's slightly life changing. I still refuse to say "favorites," but those are some loves from this week. How about that.
6. What’s a funny shop story you have?
My logo came from a can opener. You know, the kind with the little pointed end that you use to open pineapple juice? I decided to hand make over 400 porcelain coins to hand out at my first street fair last summer. (Remind me to never do that again.) They were to be used as 10% off tokens. So I stamped MANTEL on the back and then on the front I stamped the end of the can opener, overlapping them slightly. It looked like an M. I did that on opposite ends of the coin. My designer merged the two Ms together and there you go! My logo was born!
7. Who inspires your style?
Everyone. Everything. I'm constantly taking in what I see and altering my ideas. I'm influenced all the time. Even if I hate what I see, that helps me more clearly understand who I am and where I should go artistically. I think the bigger issue, especially in today's information age, is to figure out how to draw the line from the input we are constantly receiving. And to give ourselves time to contemplate, to blend this information with our own views and practices. What do you do with it? What will you create from it? How will it change us? There is a risk of forgetting who you are in the process of trying to please everyone else. So the conversations I've been having lately with friends and family are more about learning my limits. And finding time to prioritize the creative process. I need to spend time alone, in the basement, in my studio. Just flexing my creative muscles. Because I will never create anything original unless I give myself time and space to think.
8. Tell us two truths and lie.
- I own a concert tuba.
- I won 1st place in the nation for writing a feature story about a retirement community playing bingo.
- Carrot and tortilla chip consumption stress me out. SHUSH! It's too loud!