PR Collaborators | Sarah Wolf of Wolf Ceramics

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.

Several months ago we had the privilege of hosting local photographer and designer Connor Ebbinghouse at Portland Razor Co. Scrolling through his Instagram feed gives viewers a glimpse of Portland life and all the wonderful and interesting people we have the privilege of calling our neighbors. In browsing through Connor's beautiful galleries we came across one such neighbor, Sarah Wolf of Wolf Ceramics. We had been keeping our eyes open for the right collaborator to make shave dishes and scuttles for Portland Razor Co. and we were taken by the quality and aesthetic of Sarah's work immediately. We reached out to her and were delighted when she agreed to take on the project! As an added bonus, it's great to know that it is in fact possible to meet great people on the Internet!

sarah wolf wolf ceramics

Q: Tell our readers about your business. What do you do? What is your company story?
I started Wolf Ceramics about two years ago and shifted to working in my studio full time just over a year ago. Ceramics had been a hobby since grade school, but only a hobby. I studied Geochemistry in college and then almost went to graduate school for architecture. I kept coming back to clay because I love working with my hands and it is incredibly satisfying to make objects that will be well used. I decided to go back to school for ceramics instead of architecture and eventually chose to take the leap and start my own production studio. While gearing up to setup my own studio, I took part in a Mercy Corps small business program, taking business classes and participating in a matched savings grant program to help cover equipment costs. Now I spend my days in the studio and it is so fun. I am energized by exciting collaborations with other Portland businesses (Like Portland Razor Company!), which push me to try new things.

Wolf Ceramics Mug Sample

Q: Why Portland?
Portland is my home! I grew up here in Northwest Portland. I came back to Portland after leaving for 7 years, and now have a studio in the same building as my mother! She is an artist and has a painting studio just up the stairs from my work space.

Q: Is being in Portland important to you and your business? Why/why not?
Portland has been such a wonderful place for my business to grow, and for so many different reasons. Because I grew up here, I feel the support of my family and the community that a grew up with. But beyond that, the creative community in Portland is so welcoming, supportive, and collaborative. I am constantly meeting people who are doing interesting things and thinking of new ways that we can collaborate or work together in ways that are mutually beneficial. I have found the community of ceramic artists here to be kind and generous. The world of ceramics had also connected me with all sorts of other industries, from restaurants and coffee shops to florists and photographers.

Q: What sharp things do you use (knives, razors, axes, etc) at work?
What tools are your favorite to use? Trimming tools! After throwing on the wheel, we let work dry part way, and then flip it to trim and shape the bottom of the piece. I also use razor blades in the studio for all sorts of things, from cutting handles to the right size, to cleaning up glaze lines.

Q: Where do you look for inspiration?
I love textiles, in fact I may have a textile obsession. I also love drawing and playing with shapes and negative space. Sometimes I’ll peruse Instagram or Pinterest for patterns and shapes, start drawing, and just see where it takes me. I also love working from prompts. Sometimes a friend or business will come to me with a question or suggestion. Maybe they love a particular handle or wish that that their mug was different in some way. Maybe they need a particular tool and haven’t been able to find it anywhere. These sorts of conversations always get me thinking and often lead to new forms and new designs.

Sarah Wolf of Wolf Ceramics at Work

Q: We love your product. In your own words, what’s better about it than its big-box store competitors?
I find that I always enjoy using things more when I know where they came from and who made them. Its the same with coffee mugs as scuttle mugs. When I use a hand made object that I know was made with care, it often pushes me to be more thought full and intentional in what I am doing. I find my self taking more pleasure in the experience of using that object and even being more present in that moment.

Wolf Ceramics Coffee Pour Over

Q: What is the most “Portland” thing to ever happen to you?
One day I found myself biking down the street along side a man on horseback.

Q: Do you straight shave? If not, would you consider it?
Nope, but maybe...

Q: What is one thing you wish more of your customers knew about you or your work?
I want to somehow show my customers more about the process that goes into making each piece. In fact, I have been working with a friend on a tiny short film that documents making one mug from start to finish! I think that ceramics often have a low perceived value, because you can go to Ikea and buy 10 perfectly matching, factory made mugs for $20 or $30. Its always a little nerve racking pricing new work, because I want things to be affordable and accessible to all sorts of people, but I also need to charge enough to make my business viable. When I know more about how something is made, and the complex challenges that the maker faces when creating it, I find my self feeling good about paying a fair price for the object and more inclined to treat it with care and make it last. I feel more inclined to own fewer, higher quality things.

Q:How can readers get in touch with you?
Check out my website wolfceramics.com or email me at sarah[at]wolfceramics.com!

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/

PR Collaborators | Evan Worthington, Craftsman Soap Co.

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.

For us, Evan Worthington of Craftsman Soap Co. is a reminder that you just never know where the best opportunities will present themselves. In 2014, mere weeks after founding Portland Razor Co., Scott was hiking the Lost Coast Trail with some friends. It was one of those, “I haven’t seen you all in forever, let’s go sequester ourselves in the wilderness because it might be another 7 years before we get a chance to do this again.” kind of trips. Scott brought a few of his straight razors to show the group (engineers, product designers, and all-around studs themselves) in an effort to get some feedback. Greg, lovingly known as Big Greg, told Scott of his friend Evan who had a line of all-natural soaps and personal care products. Evan emailed us shortly after and the rest is history...

of evan worthington craftsman soap co

Q: Tell our readers about your business. What do you do? What is your company story?
A: Being the guy behind Craftsman Soap Company, the primary objective here is making soap. Of course I consider the formulating, perfumery, photography, and business aspects of the brand, but soap making is understandably at the core. I started making and selling soap professionally almost four years ago, and had made my own supplies for a few years before that. As I invested more time and energy, Craftsman Soap Company kind of naturally took shape. I’ve always wanted the principles of the business to center around a low-tech, handcrafted approach, and an attention to quality and origins of materials. So the products have always been natural, and for a long time now all ingredients have been botanically sourced, aside from the waxes and balms which rely on beeswax.

Q: Is being in LA important to you and your business? Why/why not?

A:I’d imagine this is true with most communities, but I feel a strong connection with the customers I have in Los Angeles. It’s a big community, but I still feel the connection. Being in LA, it feels good to build on the city’s contributions to the maker movement. I’m proud to print “Handcrafted in Los Angeles, California” on every box of soap.

Q:What sharp things do you use (knives, razors, axes, etc) at work? What tools are your favorite to use?

A:I probably have more sharp things than I need in the workshop, I’m a fan. I have a card scraper that is probably gets the most use. It’s just a thin card of stainless that’s intended for furniture making, but it works great to clear the workbench of soap, which tends to stick to everything. A guitar string isn’t really sharp, but it’s sharp enough to fulfill all my soap cutting needs. A nice heavy gauge E-string cuts a thin kerf without breaking. And of course a good knife for just about everything. There are always bags and boxes to open, and I’m always doing some urban foraging for sprigs of herbs, flowers, and plants for photography.

Q:Where do you look for inspiration?

A: I get a lot of inspiration from my senses when I explore a new ingredient, particularly sense of smell. As an example, with perfumery I’ll take a vial of a new essential oil - say, hay absolute - and I like to see where that sort of transports me. There’s the thematic level, where floral and herbal notes like lavender and yarrow come to mind if you were to imagine a field, but there’s also the pairing of complementary scents from unexpected origins, say a citrus or a spice from thousands of miles away. In the same way those scents come together, oils and waxes can come together in soaps and balms just as harmoniously, and that harmony is very inspiring.

Q: We love your product. In your own words, what’s better about it than its big-box store competitors?

A: Being handmade certainly sets my products apart from big-box competitors, but I’m also able to address a niche audience who has an appreciation for quality and originality. I get to pull from a much broader pool of ingredients, enough to be a logistical nightmare for a factory. The choice from the very beginning to be palm free and to use sustainable and natural ingredients also sets Craftsman Soap Co. apart.

craftsman soap co product 2

Q: What is the most “Portland” thing to ever happen to you?

A: I think most of the ‘Portland’ happenings in my life are pretty self-imposed. At one point I was keeping chickens and bees in the backyard, and spending a lot of time at a community ceramics studio, so every ‘what else do you do’ conversation felt pretty Portlandesque. There was also the time I went car-free for a month. Trying to explain how that was voluntary was pretty difficult.

Q: Do you straight shave? If not, would you consider it?

A: I don’t straight shave, but I do use a safety razor. Hopefully I get some credit for that? A friend who blacksmiths in his garage forged a solid steel razor with a wedge grind that he gave me, I use it from time to time, but it definitely takes patience and skill. I’ve definitely drawn blood more than once.

craftsman soap co products 3

Q; What is one thing you wish more of your customers knew about you or your work?

A:I make a concerted effort to act and appear professionally, but I think this throws people off sometimes, so I have to laugh when people mistake Craftsman Soap Company for something much larger. I wish more customers knew that while everything here is professional, it is still a small and genuinely handcrafted operation. There’s no gimmick or smokescreen, I legitimately weigh and blend every ingredient by hand, cut every bar of soap myself, and pour every ounce of oil, after shave, or wax into their respective bottles and tins

Q: How can readers get in touch with you?

A:Readers can find us at www.craftsmansoapco.com and reach out directly either through the contact forms on the website, at the Craftsman Soap Co. page on Facebook, on Instagram @craftsmansoapco, or by emailing us directly at hello@craftsmansoap.com.

Thank you, Evan! Keep up the good work!