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.
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.
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.
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?
Thank you, Lori and everyone at Minnie + George! Keep up the good work!