It is no secret that Portland, Oregon is a hub of conservation-minded citizens and businesses. Dubbed “the city of makers,” Portland supports the creative talents of self-made artists who upcycle and recycle the most unusual items into innovative, stylish and luxury products.
When I first perused the dozens of independent shops in downtown Portland between my sips of medium roast coffee and bites of Voodoo donuts, I was astounded by the artistic quality of products perfected by artists who all come with intriguing background stories.
I met Kerry Cotter, owner of Blemont Blankets who shared with me the inspiration behind his wool #AdventureBlanket that is as cool in its style as its practicality. Cotter, like so many Portland artists, never set out to become an artist at all. In fact, he has a corporate IT background. But, somewhere along the way Cotter’s entrepreneurial spirit, business experience and rugged artistic passion collided to uncover a new and unexpected direction in life.
Cotter tells me that he took a sewing class out of necessity and ended up buying a sewing machine upon the suggestion of his teacher. He learned that he had a knack for sewing beyond just hemming his jeans. Cotter experimented with the machine pushing the limits of his creative mind. Eventually he produced the Adventure Blanket and life has not been the same since.
Cotter’s adventure blankets are durable and elegant. They are made with Pendleton 100% washable wool and a waterproof layer making them perfect for Sunday picnics or as a blanket for the most extreme hiking overnights.
Another young artist with MapleXO skateboard jewelry explained that she was active in Portland’s skateboarding scene when she ran low on cash for living expenses. The petite tattooed jewelry artist turned to the only resources at her disposal – skateboards. She started turning skateboard parts like wheels, wood and bolts, into elegant earring, necklaces and bracelets. She now runs a thriving jewelry business.
Portland’s artistic scene is filled with rags-to-riches stories and tales of entrepreneurs finding their true calling from a series of life events that required them to be resourceful. The result is a community of like-minded artists found in one place that turn out high-quality goods ranging from elegant leather purses, decorate home décor and sunglasses out of natural products to dishware, knives and consumables.
As an avid supporter of the arts I am impressed at the stunning creativity coming out of the small shops in Portland. When you stop to peruse the goods, be sure to ask the artist their backstory because they all have one which adds to the magic their products.
For more information about the arts scene in Portland or to learn more about the city’s diverse neighborhoods, visit TravelPortland.com.