Birds of a Feather: Beam & Anchor

We find inspiration in other businesses and organizations who, like us, work to promote a love of good design and an appreciation for fine craftsmanship.  In this series, which we call Birds of a Feather, we'll share stories and ideas from around the world that reflect our own values.  We hope that you find them as inspiring and thought provoking as we do.

Beam & Anchor is a perfect example of ideals in action.  Founders, Jocelyn and Robert Rahm have created a retail and work space in Portland, Oregon that artfully combines product with process.  When I contacted Jocelyn about this post, she shared that she wore our shoes for years and attended nearby Syracuse University.  It's a small world, I tell you.  Small.

Beam & Anchor is such a wonderful example of synergy in action.  How did you hatch the plan to create this innovative space?

Beam & Anchor originated a couple years ago when we both got disillusioned enough with our respective career paths that we decided to start taking our passions more seriously. We took our love of design and community and merged them into what is now Beam & Anchor. Robert has a background in wilderness therapy and I have a background in teaching and life coaching. This is where the community piece comes into play. We both are passionate about the idea of building community and challenging what's possible within that realm. Robert has been reclaiming furniture for years and I am a painter so we wanted to create a space where makers and artists could commune, collaborate and ultimately thrive. We also wanted a space where we could sell unique and beautiful things to the community.
You have said that Beam & Anchor is not just about "craft", and that "good design is critical" (via this Dwell article).  What design rules or principles do you live by?

We don't adhere to rules or principles, perse. What we're looking for is a certain feeling. Objects, not unlike people, have an energy and the energy has a resonance so we're looking for a certain resonance. We love the juxtoposition of new and old for this reason. Old things have a history and carry stories with them. We have a couple old opera chairs from the 19th century in our shop right now and they have such great, old texture. Their history is almost palpable when you sit in them. Then we have new lamps that are handmade locally by Shannon Guirl of Caravan Pacific and they're innovative interpretations of mid-century designs. What we're after is great design and good stories. We've also tried to keep our collection as local and hand-crafted as possible.  
Your shop combines vintage goods and handmade items.  What is the unifying element or philosophy behind this pairing?

I think it's about the relationship between history and innovation and how they interplay together. There's so much wisdom that comes from history and so much possibility that comes from innovation. They are mean't to work in harmony with one another.  

via habitual

I have always found that creative energy leads to decisions and directions that I never anticipated at the start.  How has Beam & Anchor responded to the creative energy that you've nurtured?

Beam & Anchor has taken on a life of it's own. We may have "birthed" the concept and we will influence the course of its trajectory, however the genesis of Beam & Anchor will be very much informed by what shows up along the way. We are very excited to see where it goes from here.  
We're very excited to see that you have plans to create an online shop.  Do you have any updates or information to share with those of us way over here, on the East Coast?

We'd love to have our online shop up and running by 7/1/12. No promises but that's our goal.   
What advice would you give to others who are inspired by your business model and want to create their own collective?

The heart of a collective is always the people that are involved so find good people. When you do something that's a little bit off the beaten path, you'll always face criticism or folks that don't get it. That's all part of the process and it's meant to test your commitment to your vision. Above all, find the joy in making it happen. Don't let what's not working derail you as that's part of the creative process too. 

via phloem studio

 Thank you for inspiring us, Beam and Anchor!  


Gearing up for the Squam Arts Fair

We're excited to be joining an impressive list of vendors at the annual Squam Spring Art Fair.  I hear that Ravelry will be there (if you know the online fiber community, then you know that this is HUGE).

I'm making lists and gathering supplies for our little booth and am trying to figure out just how to take orders for shoes that have not yet been made.  Thanks to a brilliant suggestion from Maya, I'm thinking about bringing a huge roll of butcher paper and taking foot tracings on the spot.  What do you think?  Will people be okay with placing orders and waiting for a package in the mail?  I sure hope so.  Handmade to order is probably not typical art fair fare...


Handmade Love: Wolfie and the Sneak Fabric on Spoonflower

This is just to say that I LOVE my handmade and artist designed wolfie and the sneak dress.  Check her fabric designs on Spoonflower.  Renee's designs are funky and fun, and the organic knit has a nice weight and drape.  She sent me this dress just because we were Twitter friends and when she tweeted about sharing some sample garments, I was fast enough to say, "I'll take it!".  Sharing for the sake of sharing always wins points in my book.  Do you use Spoonflower?  I'm no designer, but the creative juices are flowing...


Plain T-shirt Love

This post is for all of you men out there.  Simple staples are always stylish.  Let Jace, of Plain T-shirt (who happens to wear our shoes) show you the way... 


Aurora Shoes in Laos

We recently received this photo and message from Gary M. who discovered our shoes at Neighbour in Vancouver.   Gary said:

I live in Europe and love a pair of Camper boots that I've worn pretty much around the world. I travel quite a bit on business, often to odd places, and am pretty fussy about what i take with me. Especially shoes. They need to be functional and comfortable and able to stand up to the travel itself and still work for going out to restaurants and such. 

So here's a pic of my new middle english shoes during the set up for the night market in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Btw, thanks for making great shoes.

Thank you so much for sharing, Gary!   

We love receiving and sharing photos from around the country and around the world.  If you would like to share a photo of where your Aurora Shoes have taken you, please email them to info@aurorashoeco.com.


Have you seen our NEW website?!?!

It's live and we're super excited.  Please check it out and let us know what you think!


Reinvention Book Signing

It was a real pleasure to finally meet Maya Donenfeld over the weekend.  Maya has been so supportive of our endeavors and was gracious enough to reach out and offer advice when we made our online debut a few years ago.  Knowing that she was going to be at one of my favorite Ithaca shops to launch the sale of her new book, I made a date with my mom and my oldest son to check it out.

Maya was incredibly sweet and her samples were really inspiring.  My son was immediately drawn to the little toadstool play house and my mom kept gushing about the simple and clean aesthetic.  Now that I've got a book in my hands, I'm just trying to decide which project to tackle first.  I'll keep you posted...

p.s.  We left the shop with a copy of Reinvention and one of these because I just can't resist cute, local handmades.


The Subtle Colors of Early Spring

This was my back yard this morning.  The fields are plowed and ready for seeding and our apple blossoms are just starting to die off.  The grass has been cut twice now and dandelions are just starting to appear.  The walnut tree's leaves are always the last to come and the first to go.  

I love bright hues of late spring and early summer, but there is something really lovely about the colors that come just before it all explodes.  Nature always gets it right.

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