Showing posts with label on the job. Show all posts
Showing posts with label on the job. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

on the job: mai tran

Mai Tran is a self-identified “hyper-tasking entrepreness”. As the Owner not one but two businesses (Crave Portland and Rouz Marketing) she’s rarely, if ever, standing still.

"I love to be productive," says Mai, "I'm always looking for new ways to increase efficiency". She stays up late catching up on emails, allowing only 10 conversations or less to accumulate in her InBox. “I never knew that I could get paid to be OCD,” jokes Mai.

She maintains a hectic schedule to say the least. Mai works from home, local coffee shops or even in her car in between meetings. Some of Mai’s closest friends are her "BlackBerry, iPhone and MacBook", according to her.

Networking is a huge part of her livelihood. Mai has a packed social calendar almost every day of the week. And when she needs time away from it all? She hangs out with her beloved pups (in style, of course).

A native Portlander, Mai is passionate about connecting people, whether local business owners or consumers. She is excited to see the local community successfully rising together.

As a key part of the fashion community (in addition to assisting retailers, small business owners, and gobs of other people) we are oh so lucky to have Mai here in Portland.

photos - lisa warninger

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

on the job: jasin weiner

Jasin Weiner is an apparel designer and recent graduate of the Art Institute in Portland, Oregon.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Jasin worked in theater and costume design before moving to the Northwest. He's also helped at-risk teens who, "...were just like you and me, only they got caught", according to the often humorous Jasin.

Jasin's senior collection, named Pale Rider, took on an apocalyptic desert theme; part fantasy and part reality. His costume designer background is obvious his styling choice, but one can also pluck out simple pieces that would make sense in any woman's closet.

Pale Rider's abstract-armor meets mix-and-match sensibility contains several key details. Contrasting elements include pin tucked cheesecloth and organza offset by buffalo nickel buttons and leather.

from concept... reality:

Catch Pale Rider on the runway during the
Portland Art Institute's 12th Annual Fashion Show
on June 5th, 2010.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

on the job: davora of prairie underground

Davora Lindner and Camilla Eckersley are some of the smartest and most successful women I know in the industry. Success is measured in many ways, but it all adds up for the designers of Seattle-based Prairie Underground.

Read on for my interview with Davora...

Piles of cords for Prairie Underground's signature hoodies

KK: How did you and Camilla meet and why did you start a line together? Why the name "Prairie Underground"?

DL: Camilla and I met when we were kids at a park in Nebraska, but we didn't become friends until High School. We were a part of a group of like-minded teens in the mid west who were interested in independent music, art, politics and avant-garde fashion.

We started the line because Camilla was relocating from San Francisco and she needed a job! She approached me about moving to Seattle and doing a collection with her.

Naming the line was impossible - seriously we had pages of lists. I practiced writing different names with a calligraphy pen in a journal and Camilla came with piles of books that were important to her and of course every possible combination of our personal names was explored.

We ended up with Prairie Underground because the line was an extension of a friendship and community in the midwest. there are so many memories that we share and our cultural references intersect in really easy ways, there is a very healthy dose of our past in everything we do that is filtered through the present.

Your Orbit shown with Tuxedo Legging - Prairie Underground

KK: You are the designers of the somewhat iconic Prairie Hoodie and the Cloak Hoodie. I know women who own four or five! What was the original concept?

DL: The Prairie Hoodie was always a sort of robe or duster jacket. It was a garment that Camilla wanted personally, and it was our response to all of the hoodies we saw on a trip to LA. The first production ended up fitting rather small, so stores perceived them as dresses. It was designed to fit the body whereas traditional hoodies have a boxy volume.

The Cloak Hoodie evolved out of hood Camilla was working on for a vest. The vest was never finished but the hood inspired a series of drawings that looked like Angel caricatures and with this hyper feminine triangular skirt and puffed shoulders. It's a Victorian silhouette that both Camilla and I are drawn to that also shows up in the forties and the eighties and continues to inspire us.

Triple Layer Hoodie - Prairie Underground

KK: Can you describe your design process? What pieces are you excited about?

DL: We aren't thematic designers and we don't work from mood boards. We like them, it just isn't our method. Our design process is more of a dialogue. Sometimes themes emerge but this is always after the fact. We're more inspired by previous collections and we build on styles we have offered previously. We haven't ever consciously reinvented the collection for a new season though it has appeared that way at times. Some of our favorite styles from upcoming collections are the Kite Top, Triple Layer Hoodie and Your Orbit.

Phillip Guston

KK: As the line has grown, I've noticed an emphasis on organic and natural fabrics in the line. Can you tell me about that?

DL: We have always worked with sustainable textiles or textiles that are produced in a way that does less harm to the environment. When we first started selling the line no one cared about organic or sustainable fabrications, but they responded to our collection. At the beginning we made the decision to establish a business that was in sync with our personal beliefs.

In the last couple of years clothing made in this way has become more mainstream and as a result we are able to offer more styles in sustainable fabrications. The majority of line is organic cotton. We continue to work with a variety of hemp blends as well as recycled poly, but we also produce a few styles made with conventional cotton lycra. We have always wanted the line to be financially accessible for a contemporary collection, and this has meant offering some conventional styles.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

KK: Prairie Underground appeals to a wide range of sizes and ages. Is this intentional?

DL: We've never intentionally limited our customer to a particular age or size, it always been more about a shared lifestyle or point of view. Beginning with Spring 2010 the entire collection will be available in XL which is something we're excited about.

KK: What kind of music do you listen to? Who are your favorite artists?

DL: Recently we have been listening to Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Bill Callahan, Devendra Banhart, The XX, Jack Penate... We're big 90.3 KEXP fans. Our favorite artists include Phillip Guston, Alice Neel and Samuel Delaney.

- - - - - - - - -
is available at these and other fine boutiques:

Pin Me Apparel Portland, Oregon - 503.281.1572
Parts + Labour Hood River, Oregon - 541.387.2787

Have something to say? Please comment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

on the job: sally schwartz

Sometimes you meet someone and you hit it off instantly. That's how it was when I met Sally.

The incredibly witty Sally Schwartz

About four years back I was on a plane headed to a trade show. I took an aisle seat next to a guy and a girl who were sharing a good joke. These two, I was to find out, were the owners of a newly opened store in Portland by the name of Pin Me Apparel. We introduced ourselves and started talking. We laughed the entire way to the landing strip. I waved goodbye to Sally and Kiki that evening with a skip in my step.

We've become good friends over the years, and when I made the leap from retail buyer to jewelry designer, I knew my relationship with Sally and Kiki (and his wife, Liz) was the perfect kind to draw upon.

Read on for my interview with Sally Schwartz, partner and buyer at Pin Me Apparel:

KK: How did Pin Me Apparel get its start?

When my business partner Liz and I decided to open a shop I had just finished traveling after college. I wasn’t interested in designing for a sportswear company so we decided to open Pin Me. It took about a year of planning but everything fell right into place with the space on Mississippi coming available and then Kiki joining in on the partnership. It has been challenging for us in the last 8 months but things feel stronger than ever, even after baring the recession. Pin Me is still in business and we’re growing.

denim leggings and cloak hoodie by prairie underground

KK: What looks are your customers embracing for fall?

SS: I think comfort is really popular right now. My customers are wearing leggings and tunics regardless of age and personal style - Prairie Underground's denim leggings keep selling out. Also, people are finally digging the color purple after three seasons of trying it. Watch out yellow …you’re next!

KK: Who are your favorite clothing designers? And, if you could have any piece of jewelry, what would it be?

SS: Prairie Underground is my favorite line that we carry at Pin Me. My personal favorite line to wear is anything at IDOM by Modi. And, I'm lusting for a ring by Seattle designer Jamie Joseph. I also really like Hazel Cox's design aesthetic.

KK: What are some fashion “don’ts” in Sally's world?

SS: I don't love one sleeve garments. Unfortunately, most of our lines had lots of one-shoulder styles for spring. I'm not into embellishment either especially when its screen printed lace or something like that.

g r a y l i n g is available at
3705 N. Mississippi Ave
Portland, Oregon 97227

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

on the job: bliss lau

Everyone has their "industry heroes". Bliss Lau is one of mine.

The unrivaled Bliss Lau, Fall 2009

I had the pleasure of meeting Bliss back in the Fall of 2007 at a trade show in Las Vegas. In my experience, it was rare to meet actual designers at a trade show; usually you just met their sales rep. Often, people at shows were alarmingly unfriendly given they were trying to sell you something. Sad but true.

But there Bliss was, all glowy and cheerful, and we struck up a conversation. I thought her line was so innovative, so quietly sexy and so refined while still maintaining edginess. We didn't place an order because we weren't certain if it "was our customer", but I never forgot how incredible her jewelry designs were.

A few weeks ago, I contacted Bliss. I asked if she'd be willing to do an interview with me. Turns out, I am a lucky girl. Read more for the interview...

KK: What have you been working on?

BL: I have three collections for spring 2010. First, the Art Deco Collection which is made of thinner more delicate chains. This group is elegant and celebrates my love for that time in history particularly the 1920's New York lifestyle. The chains visually reference many Art Deco buildings in NY such as the Empire and Chrysler building while simultaneously channeling the writers and creatives of the time. I have one piece called the Gatsby and another called the Zelda (Zelda Sayre was a famous flapper married to F. Scott Fitzgerald). I enjoy the process of designing through the translation of history and lifestyle into the current fashion moment. Also, I think that the life and times of the Art Deco movement were similar to what we are experiencing now.

One of the other two collections I am working on for Spring 2010 is the Classic Leather Collection which I have translated into a hippy - African inspired group that welcomes fringe with open arms and challenges the boundary between clothing and jewelry. This collection is a continuation of my original idea spawned from a single day when I procrastinated in my studio and made the first body chain.

Lastly, the launch of my fine jewelry collection ‘Mysterious Concealment’. This group explores the concept of wearing jewelry in odd places, such as underneath your clothing or behind the ear. Through designing this group I ask the client, “Why do you wear jewelry? Who is it for?”. I wear jewelry for myself, the chain worn under your clothes is somehow sexy and empowering I think that when you are the only one who knows it's there the jewelry becomes devilishly delightful....sensual and private.

KK: Does your upbringing influence your work?

BL: I was raised in Honolulu Hawaii and it has influenced me greatly. My Chinese family immigrated there (grandparents) and at an early age I learned lei making techniques and traditional island crafts. The unique island culture from music to nature will always be a part of me and therefore will forever influence my work.

KK: How did you get started?

BL: After six years in business I feel like the start was a lifetime ago! In the beginning when I launched my handbag collection / senior thesis from Parsons, I was so young and unsure of the why and who my creations were for. I think that over time I have learned about myself as an accessory designer and discovered myself through my work.

Earlier in my career I was scared to design and show my most intimate and personal ideas. Designing is often times a fearful existence... you ask yourself, “What if no one likes it? What if it doesn't sell”, the concept of 'safe' is always hanging over your head, I think that to many people 'safe' equals 'sell' and I think now for me, this is no longer the case. Which makes everything so much more fun!

KK: What is something people don't know about your line of work?

BL: I think that the average person may never think about a few things. I think it is sometimes scary how intensely critical people are of designers and collections, they can be vicious! Sometimes one may forget just how an independent designer operates, we may be social creatures but often times designing is again an intensely personal thing.

I spend hours and hours alone in a room draping for each collection. We then create a product that is public. We open ourselves up to criticism and possibly conflict and sometime theft. I fear that our critics forget sometimes we are human, too.

Several gorgeous styles now available at
and specialty retailers worldwide.

Photos: Camerone Krone

Saturday, August 22, 2009

on the job: tylie is tops

Model with Runaway Clutch by Tylie Malibu

A good bag is hard to find. Gold hardware when you want silver. Big logos when you want none. Lining so dark you can’t find your stuff inside. The list goes on and on…

Fortunately, Los Angeles designer Lisa Izad totally gets it. Her company, Tylie Malibu, has been around for ten years, and she’s cranking out some of the best bags around. Lisa grew up in Malibu and she draws upon “that 70’s beach girl”, as Lisa puts it, for her inspiration. Each bag is handcrafted at her Santa Monica, California design studio, making every bag one you can be proud to wear.* And, they’re pretty easy on the eyes, too:

Crackle Leather Bag by Tylie Malibu

Exeter Bag in White Leather by Tylie Malibu

Mojave Nomad Stud Bag by Tylie Malibu

I love how she combines supple, tumbled leathers with domed studs and exposed zippers in the brand new Runaway Collection. You can see it all here. If you happen to be driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, be sure to make a pitstop at Lisa's new store:

at the Malibu Country Mart
MALIBU, CA 90265

*Only a handful of bag lines are actually Made in the U.S.A.


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