PR Collaborators | Lori Caldwell of Minnie + George

PR Collaborators is a blog series highlighting hardworking individuals who help Portland Razor Co. be the best we can be. We consider the people and companies featured here to be integral to our success and hope our readers will show their support for these wonderful makers.

I remember first hearing of Minnie + George at a Built Oregon event in 2015. Founder Lori Caldwell was a panelist at this particular event (which no amount of googling, brain racking, or email history searching will allow me to unearth for some reason). I remember thinking as she spoke that she is a person who really "gets it". I felt immediately drawn to her answers and her approach as a maker. Lori's dedication to craftsmanship and how tuned-in she is to her customers are apparent in each impeccable piece she creates. Not only does she pour every ounce of herself into her work, she also regularly donates a percentage of her sales to great causes such as the Souther Poverty Law Center (SPLC Website) and Islamic Networks Group (ING Website). Knowing how much time and care she puts into her leather goods, we were very happy when she agreed to make a run of buffalo hide Dopp Kits for us!

I hope you all will enjoy a glimpse into Lori's experience as a small business owner and fellow maker here in Portland. If you are curious about other American Makers, I highly recommend you head over to the Minnie + George "Makers We Love" page. I regularly use it as a holiday/birthday/anything else gift guide.

3 in 1 Drawstring Bucket Bag from the Minnie + George F/W 2016 Lookbook

3 in 1 Drawstring Bucket Bag from the Minnie + George F/W 2016 Lookbook

Q: Tell our readers about your business. What do you do? What is your company story?
I make leather goods using traditional craft techniques and hand-tools (no machinery). Minnie + George started about 3 years ago on my dining room table and with $2,500 seed money, and little to no plan or direction on my part, other than to learn a new skill, be creative, and provide a living with my own hands.
It's named after my parents, Minnie and George Caldwell, who have been my biggest supporters and sources of inspiration.

Q: Is being in Portland important to you and your business? Why/why not?
Portland, Oregon is an amazing place that nurtures an independent and creative spirit. I love how dedicated this city is to honoring and supporting its small businesses and local artisans. Portland is important because people here get the independent maker movement and actively seek us out and support us.

Q: What sharp things do you use (knives, razors, axes, etc) at work? What tools are your favorite to use?
Scissors, rotary cutters, straight edged razors, metal punch tools, a skiver, a strap cutter. Hmm, favorite....I don't really have one. I guess the strap cutter can be fun.

Standard Crossbody Fannypack in chestnut brown from the Minnie + George S/S 2017 Lookbook.

Standard Crossbody Fannypack in chestnut brown from the Minnie + George S/S 2017 Lookbook.

Q: Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to everything. My memories, nature, fashion, people, my dog...you name it. My Spring 16 collection was inspired by my high school Geometry teacher, Mr. Gealta. I was always horrible at math, but he stuck with me and inspired me to try harder. He became a kind of mentor. Thinking about him, led to thinking about geometry shapes and symmetry and asymmetry and that collection played with those ideas. This fall season was inspired by my time living in Vermont and here in Portland and how beautiful fall is in both places. I thought a lot about the foliage of the season.

Q: We love your product. In your own words, what’s better about it than its big-box store competitors?
The personal is what makes it better. I think about that with every piece. How my hands have been directly involved with every minute detail in creating each one. It creates an emotional attachment to the work that is then passed on to the customer. Mass goods can't transmute that kind of connection.

Minnie + George for Portland Razor Co. Buffalo Hide Dopp Kit in black.

Minnie + George for Portland Razor Co. Buffalo Hide Dopp Kit in black.

Toiletry Zip Case in black, deep wine, brown, slate grey, and natural.

Toiletry Zip Case in black, deep wine, brown, slate grey, and natural.

Q: What is the most “Portland” thing to ever happen to you?
No idea...maybe that I've met most of the people in my life through my dog, Miles. Portland is definitely a very dog-centric city.

Q: Do you straight shave? If not, would you consider it?
I don't and yep, I'd consider it.

Q: What is one thing you wish more of your customers knew about you or your work?
Hmm, I talk about it all the time, but I'm not sure they know how much I really love it and how much I try, through my work, to share that feeling.

Q: How can readers get in touch with you?
lacaldwell@minnieandgeorge.com
www.minniegeorge.com
Thank you, Lori and everyone at Minnie + George! Keep up the good work!

Oversized zip clutch in deep wine from the Minnie + George F/W 2017 Lookbook

Oversized zip clutch in deep wine from the Minnie + George F/W 2017 Lookbook

Source: http://www.minniegeorge.com/

Introducing Portland Shave Shop

The Portland Razor Co. team often discusses the need for physical spaces where wetshavers, beard lovers, and barbers can hang out and share in our mutual engrossment with all things grooming. When we realized the lobby of our workshop was begging to be that place, we figured the extra work on the weekends and evenings would be well worth it! We are excited to announce that Portland Razor Co. is expanding into “Portland Shave Shop.” Portland Shave Shop is a retailer of fine shaving and beard care products, features a single-chair barbershop, and is conveniently located a few feet from our where we make our straight razors and strops. This means that we can manufacture, sell, and give personalized instruction on the use of our product all under one roof!

The "Work Together" Mural in the ADX Woodshop.

Better Together

The early days of Portland Razor Co. were spent in a 10x10 studio at ADX Portland where the motto is “Work Together.” There is even a mural of raccoons on the wall of the ADX wood shop that touts such a philosophy. As subscribers to this idea, we are always looking for ways to collaborate with those courageous enough to see eye to eye with a group of people who spend all day every day making straight razors! Portland Razor Co. sees the shave shop as aligned with the “work together” M.O. in that we can stock our favorite shaving goods from other companies making killer products and we can share our shop with customers and other industry pros for events and meet-ups. As we continue to densify life in the city, it is important to learn how to share and optimize a scarce commodity: space! Portland has an urban growth boundary (as do all cities in Oregon), so our fair city isn't getting much bigger, just denser! It is also important to find those moments where you can take a break from such packed-in city life. We had a friend who would drop-in to visit Portland Razor Co. in it's early days because he needed to, in his words, "Zen Out" before getting back to busy life. Portland Shave Shop makes good use of Portland Razor Co.’s extra space and offers it to you because we all need a reliable escape in which to "zen out" every once in awhile.

Portland Shave Shop

Portland Shave Shop is about giving wet shavers, barbers and beard lovers alike an inviting space to talk shop and enjoy a personalized retail experience. Located at 3207 SW 1st Ave, the shave shop is walking distance from downtown Portland and the Southwest Waterfront MAX. Customers can enjoy shopping in a classic barbershop setting, schedule a relaxing shave or haircut with our barbers, and receive instruction on how to use their new straight razor, safety razor, badger bristle brush, beard balm, etc. Portland Razor Co. straight razors and strops will be available for purchase, along with carefully-chosen products from our favorite brands.
Looking for a gift, but don’t know anything about “traditional wet shaving”? Not to worry: we are happy to give recommendations based on the giftee's existing routine and preferences. We don’t expect you to think about shaving all day every day, just know that we do and are more than happy to share in our knowledge with you. The Shave Shop carries an array of great products for wet shavers of any experience level, and is equipped with the facilities to see them in action.

Behind the barber chair at Portland Shave Shop

The Barbershop @ Portland Shave Shop

Centered around an ultra-classic 1920’s Koken barber chair, the barbershop is a throwback to slower, simpler times when the relationship between barber and client was about more than just getting your hair done right. Being a single-chair barbershop removes the stress of getting clients in and out of the chair as fast as possible, allowing both the barber and the client to relax and enjoy. You can swing by for a quick trim, or stick around and luxuriate in a hot towel shave. It’s an opportunity to unplug, enjoy some music, have a beverage with friends, and when you’re ready (and only then!), go about your day feeling clean, calm, and collected.

Portland Razor Co. Workshop

Portland Razor Co. will continue to manufacture high-quality straight razors and strops in-house, in our workshop behind Portland Shave Shop. We may eventually switch to having limited hours for shop tours, but for now all are welcome to schedule an appointment to come see us and learn how our strops and straight razors are made!
As we expand our product offerings, so too are our services! Our team is available to service your straight razors, strops, scissors, clippers, pocket knives, and other gear. Inspections are free, and our team of knowledgeable bladesmiths and makers is available to answer any questions you may have. Sharpenings, cleanings, restorations, and some repairs can be handled in-house. However, some products with warranties should be sent to the manufacturer, and we are happy to help with that process as well.

See you soon?

We’re always working on something new and exciting, and we’re constantly seeking ways to better serve our customers. Whether you seek clean-shaven perfection or bearded beau ideal, care to relax with our barber, need a gift for the hairy one in your life, or want to see how our products are made here in Portland, we are happy to accommodate your visit however we can. We’re a pretty relaxed crowd and we love making new friends. Please don’t be shy, we’d love to see you in here! If you are planning a visit, know that our building is undergoing a facelift at the time of this post. Our owners assure us that the work is progressing well and that we will soon have a whole crew of other makers and artists to keep us company! In the meantime, know that we will be here (hardhat zone or not!) on the second floor.

As always, thank you so much for reading and for your continued support of Portland Razor Co. (and affiliates!).

View of Portland Razor Co. & Portland Shave Shop building from the street entrance on SW 1st Ave.

Portland Shave Shop is open regular hours Wednesday-Sunday

3207 SW 1st Ave #204
Portland, OR 92739

Portland Shave Shop Website

Source: https://portlandshaveshop.com/

It's time for a good old-fashioned rant : 1 minute on an american-made soap box

Portland Razor Co. received an email from Gold Dollar this morning asking if we would like them to manufacture our straight razors for us. I followed the link they had sent and found it odd that I recognized the photos (having never looked into buying a gold dollar myself). Look familiar? They stole photos I took for our manufacturing page and are using them to market their own razors!! To Gold Dollar's credit: someone over there knows their way around photoshop and did an excellent job replacing our logo with theirs!

gold dollar straight razor stolen photos

A few thoughts on this:

  1. I'm pretty sure this isn't how they make their razors, but it IS how we make our razors!
  2. Gold Dollar claiming images of our straight razor manufacturing process as their own is intentionally misleading and co-opts the authenticity of us smaller makers who take time and care in our process. It says, "this wasn't made in a black box overseas. Look! This was made by a real person. You can trust us as much as you trust small batch manufacturers!" But the truth is, you can't!
  3. I've seen much discussion and many many examples in the past year of larger faceless corporations ripping off independent artists on Instagram. This is a massive problem in the age of the Internet and it is a fact of life that it is hard to take the bad with the good. While sometimes legal action can play out in favor of the independent artists, there is a great deal of power which lies with you, our audience and customers, to choose to support us: the originals, the artists and makers who work hard to produce quality work and push our own limits every day. I hope you see the benefit of supporting small, honest companies such as our own. I want to re-enforce that your support and contributions never ever go underappreciated.
  4. We've been meaning to update our manufacturing page, so this gives us a pretty good reason.
  5. And OF COURSE, all of our razors will always and forever be American Made.
 
stolen gold dollar straight razor photo with photo shop skills

Aaanyways, looking forward to meeting Scott's hand twin in China some day! Happy Wednesday everyone!

P.S. we won't hold it against you if you share this with people you know who also care about the integrity and quality of the goods they purchase with their hard-earned money! ;)

 

Happy Earth Day! | Out on the sandy river delta with friends of trees

Yesterday Portland Razor Co. had the great pleasure of getting the heck outside by volunteering with Friends of Trees! It has rained almost every day in Portland since OCTOBER (except for the days when it snowed or rained ice[???]), so the time spent outside in the sunshine was long overdue. As an aside to all friends in Chicago: sincerest apologies, but this winter was the worst and every arm chair therapist in Portland knows it! When the weather forecast said 70 F and sunny when I checked my weather app this morning, I’m pretty sure a single tear squeaked out.

Scott and Robin scoop mulch into buckets

Scott and Robin scoop mulch into buckets

In choosing to make straight razors it is we at Portland Razor Co.’s sincerest hope that shavers will elect to switch from disposable razors to the straight razor at least in part to reduce their own waste. Disposable razors, especially those attached to plastic handles, are thrown into landfills by the billions each year in the United States. Knowing that our straight razors will never be thrown away with proper care makes us warm and fuzzy and we hope you feel the same! With this commitment to the environment, we often seek other opportunities to leave the world better than we found it. To put our best foot forward in observance of Earth Day, yesterday morning the Portland Razor Co. team headed out to the Sandy River Delta to help Friends of Trees and the Sandy River Basin Watershed council care for native trees and plants that had been planted last winter.

Showing up without any information besides the address and that the work had something to do with mulch, I didn’t really know what to expect. The event organizers informed the group that the Sandy River Delta had been used as cow pastures starting in the 1930s when a small dam was built to limit the East Channel of the Sandy River and increase flow to the West Channel. The entire delta was eventually unusable for agriculture and the habitat of the native plants and wildlife had been destroyed. The dam was removed 10 years ago and the area has been undergoing native wildlife restoration with quite a bit of success! Native salmon, birds, and shallow-water creatures have returned to the area with the work of many many organizations coming together to make it happen. After we learned more about the project, the organizers taught us how to mulch and other things we could do to care for the plants to ensure they have a productive spring and summer. All told, we mulched and performed basic maintenance on hundreds of native trees and plants and left with smiles on our faces.

I cannot say enough about how approachable and fun the whole event was. If you are interested in getting outdoors in the Portland Area, Friends of Trees should be at the top of your list. Here is a link to their event calendar so you can find an event in your area (they also have events in Eugene and Salem). If your group is small enough you don’t even have to sign-up beforehand, you just show up! Whether it's switching lights off when you're not using them, riding your bike to work next week, or buying yourself a reusable water vessel to cut your plastic bottle habit, I hope you find your own way to care for our earth today.

 

Happy Earth Day from all of us at Portland Razor Co.

razor makers and friends of trees 2
 

Straight Razor Care and Honing Classes at Portland Razor Co!

From the beginning we set out to make heirloom-quality straight razors and strops here in the US. In addition, we make it our priority to provide our customers with all of the tools and knowledge they need for a great shave. When we first started straight shaving, we read countless posts and watched endless hours of videos on the Internet. We found these resources helpful, but who couldn't use a few moments (or days, weeks, months!) away from a screen? It has always been our intention to bring the online wet shaving community offline, to give it a physical space here in the Pacific Northwest.

With these goals in mind, we have organized a skill-building class at our SW Portland workshop to teach our customers how to maintain their straight razor. We hope to build an inclusive community around wet shaving and an appreciation for the straight razor as the best shaving tool out there.

Each class will be held on a Saturday 10:30-12:30 and be lead by a Portland Razor Co. bladesmith. There are no gear requirements; you don’t even have to be the proud owner of a PR straight razor yet! Students are welcome to bring their own honing stones and razors if they wish. Most importantly, bring yourself, be ready to learn, and prepare to make some friends

As a student, you can expect to leave the 2-hour class with a new Norton 4k/8k stone, a 1.5 oz can of ballistol, and the know-how to care for your straight razor all on your own. Class size is limited, so sign-up while space is available.

2017 Schedule:
1/21/17 10:30am-12:30pm
4/29/17 10:30am-12:30pm
7/8/17 10:30am-12:30pm
11/11/17 10:30am-12:30pm

Thank you for reading and for your continued support of Portland Razor Co. as we gear up for this exciting new offering. We hope to see you here in 2017!