indie designers: juju papers

April 20, 2018

Full disclosure: at one time I worked for Juju Papers. That aside, I’m a true fan of designer Avery Thatcher’s line of bespoke wallpapers. Designed and handmade in North Portland, Juju Papers utilizes production methods that have as little environmental impact as possible including use of water based inks and sustainable paper. Designs range from minimal, as seen in their ever popular Sisters of the Sun, a pattern comprised of painterly dots, to After Chinterwink, a vintage-inspired pattern interspersed with botanical touches. However, I feel the pièce de résistance is Juju’s sumptuous use of ink. Whether you prefer stark black and white, uber minimal white on white or something more colorful, Juju has a paper to fit the bill, but really shines in it’s usage of luxe metallics.

Enter Juju’s latest collection, Hive Dive. Announced earlier this week with plans to officially unveil at next month’s ICFF, High Dive is “bold and risky” according to Avery. Featuring an exotic cannabis landscape, two outré over-sized patterns, a dazzling collage of angles and the introduction of a new metallic ink (champagne, a semi-transparent silver-gold), Juju Papers proves itself fresh, innovative and glamorous yet again.

Photos by Mikola Accuardi | Styling by Martie Kilmer | Model Cassondra Pittz


You can view Juju Papers full range of patterns and colorways here

Follow @jujupapers on Instagram and if you can, stop by their booth at IFCC in NYC May 20-23 to say hi and see High Dive in person. 

around portland: design week + no coffee

April 16, 2018

Design Week Portland kicked off this weekend, seeing galleries and creative businesses throughout the city participating by way of special exhibits, talks and workshops (check here for full schedule). I stopped by Closed Gallery’s No Coffee pop-up and group show titled Define: Material yesterday and like all things Johan shop’s Laura Housgard produces it was fun, innovative, and above all, really, really well designed.

Laura has a knack for minimalism. Having studied marketing in Sweden, she’s taken the country’s affinity for clean lines, white walls and the absence of clutter and re-tooled it in a way that’s perfectly Pacific NW. After all, our climes are not wholly dissimilar, a feeling I strongly stand by this time of year when spring is it’s gloomiest and the sun feels like it’s forsaken us for good.

No Coffee, it turns out, is created via a fancy Japanese pour over method and uses beans from local roastery Upper Left (there are Kitchen Sink pastries on hand too). The results? Pretty good according to Mr. VGS. Being allergic to caffeine, I wasn’t able to sample but I trust Mr. VGS’s uber picky palette, for which “pretty good” is a glowing review. Despite my non-ability to sample the coffee, No Coffee has a vibe that would draw me in anyway. Spare decor with picture window views of the Old Town street scene outside, a small display of offerings from Johan, brightly colored art books added to the seating area plus cheery attitudes from Laura + staff and their steamy coffee create an abundance of hygge that is more than enough for me – but did I mention there’s a gallery in the back?

Closed Gallery has been in Laura’s hands for close to a year now. Formerly Open Gallery under a different gallerist, Laura has used the space to host more conceptual offerings such as last summer’s Beach Book Club which saw her filling the space with sand giving visitors the opportunity to hang out and read a book in one of many bright blue beach chairs and Closed Cinema for which Laura partnered with three creative firms in town to screen exclusive films produced just for the occasion.

Define: Material is a group show curated by Laura Wade and features her work as well as pieces from Karen Lee, Sam Newman, Frank McGovern, Jacqueline Lefferts, Parsha Gerayesh and Georgina Kerr McDonald. The variety of multi-media works match No Coffee’s vibe and displayed as they are give viewers many layers and angles from which to experience the pieces.

No Coffee is now a permanent addition and will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 9-3.

Due to Design Week, No Coffee will have special hours this week only including today Monday, 4/16 and Thursday 4/19 from 1-7. Stop in then or Friday or Saturday to grab a cup and view Define: Material while it’s still up.

No Coffee / Closed Gallery is located at 323 NW 6th Avenue in Portland, ORE. 

indie designers: hyun jung jung

April 11, 2018

Textile arts are the perfect marriage of fine art and fashion. While Portland boasts a healthy roster of talented clothing designers, textile art isn’t something that pops up often in the local art scene (especially since Kayla Mattes left us for sunnier climes). So it was really exciting when I stumbled across the work of Korean born textile artist Hyun Jung Jung at One Grand Gallery last month. A recent graduate of RISD with gigs at Peter Fasano, Marc Jacobs and Puma adorning her CV, Hyun Jung moved to Portland last fall and started working at adidas. Despite being new to town, she’s wasted no time sharing her work via last month’s group show Artifacts: A Plane of the Possible which featured sculptures by Jessie Weitzel and Katherine Spinella, collage and multi-media offerings from Brittney Connelly and Russell Borne, and of course, textiles from Hyun Jung. Her pieces are outstanding and really stood out among what was really great work from everyone involved.

With the overall theme of social media and conformity masquerading as individuality, Hyun Jung weaves images of Starbucks frappuccinos, desserts, selfies (in the gym, in front of monuments, with and without cats), and foot shots on highly wearable jackets and dresses, adds cutesy mascot elements like Hello Kitty via multi-media collage to skirts, and tops it all off with tapestries boasting riots of color and cartoon-esque figures and faces that serve as the tongue-in-cheek wink to it all. While discussing her ideas and influences, she related her experiences in Korean middle school where uniforms were required and accessories strictly policed, noting she was forced to straighten her curly hair to fit the school’s ideal of “natural beauty” since most of the other students had straight black hair. The subject is both personal to her and highly relatable to just about anyone.

Especially captivated by her selfie dress with it’s contemporary grid pattern, many textures and confident selfie taker as well as the brocade jacket with it’s boxy shape reminiscent of the 60’s and rainbow hued Instagram ready panels, I excitedly asked Hyun Jung if she’s considered starting a clothing line. She admits she has but that her work comes with limitations. Every piece is handmade and can take upwards of 50 hours to complete. Looking forward to procuring a knitting machine in the near future, she says that will allow her to produce more pieces at a quicker rate but that the scale will be smaller. At the moment she is weaving pillow cases and hopes to have them available this summer along with some other accessories she’s working on.

More from Hyun Jung –

VGS:  Let’s cover the basics. Where are you from in Korea? What brought you to Portland?

HJJ: I am from Seoul, South Korea, the city with a lot of energy, culture, and inspiration. I moved to Massachusetts, USA as a 14 year old kid by myself to go to a boarding school. From there, I went to Rhode Island School of Design where I studied textiles design.

I moved to Portland right after graduation for an internship at adidas as a Color and Materials Designer. I’ve heard great stories from people who have been to Portland, so I accepted the internship and made the move. 🙂

VGS: At what age did you become interested in art? What sort of art did you create when you were younger?

HJJ: Growing up, there were annual drawing/painting contests in my elementary school. I never won anything, but I vaguely remember trying pretty hard to be a good painter … it was the time when future dream for many kids was to become painters.

It was in high school when I really became art obsessed. My best friend took an art class in high school. Freshmen year I followed her to the art studio and just thought it was the coolest place ever. Throughout the freshmen year, I followed her to the studio almost every night and started making stuff. I made paintings, drawings, collages, digital and film photographs, graffiti, sculptures, ceramics, etc… I must say I tried everything that was available to me.

I knew I wanted to be an artist when I decided to drop every non-art classes and fill my schedule with every art class available.

VGS: What about textiles inspires you? When did they become your focus?

HJJ: Clothes, shoes, scarves, towels, blankets, curtains, sofas, carpets, pillows, napkins, car seats, wallpaper to name a few, there are some examples of the objects that people experience daily that incorporate textiles design. Textiles is so inspiring because it is the type of design that is so embedded in people’s lives that it has a lot of potential to have impact on peoples lives, even to people who consciously care for art and design.

I became interested in textiles design during a design internship at Peter Fasano. Peter Fasano is a textiles company where they make handcrafted fabrics and wallpaper. I witnessed the design process and seeing the final products ending up in places like White House was really exciting and fascinating. In college, when I found out textiles was one of the options for what I can study, I decided to dive deeper into this field.

VGS: What are your thoughts about art and design in Portland?

HJJ: Maybe I have not been in Portland for too long to really know the art scene in Portland. But so far, Portland is a place full of opportunities for the local young artists. I see many stores and galleries featuring local artists, emerging artists, new medium. Also, overall community encourages creativity in everyone. I notice a lot of workshops around town too.

VGS: Who are your favorite artists and why?

HJJ: Andy Warhol is my favorite.

As an artist who often draws inspiration from pop culture and digital world, what Pop Art did in the art scene in the 60s is really inspirational to me. I love that what he showed as art was sensational and very unexpected at the time. For an example, Warhol’s Brillo Box had the same appearance as the real Brillo box, except it was shown at galleries as an art piece. Pop Art allowed such subjects to be relevant in the art scene and I really admire Warhol for being one of the pioneers in the movement.

I want to also point out some other artists in a different field, Alexander Girard and Philippe Halsman. Of course the list can be endless.

VGS: What are your biggest inspirations currently?

HJJ: Hype culture is the topic of my interest currently. Not only hype in the fashion world, but in other fields too. For an example, is avocado hype? And why?

I think this interest in hype culture seems very logical since my last project was inspired by Instagram and social media. The next project I work on will be able to speak for itself, but it will also be a follow-up piece to my past #Good Idea #True Life #Great Abilities collection.

I would love to have chat with anyone reading if they’ve got something in mind! DM me at @hjung_jung or email me at to start the conversation!

VGS: How do you overcome challenges in your work?

HJJ: When I feel stuck, I talk to people about my work. Talking about my work and having to explain the concept help me have clearer vision. When I feel like there’s no one to talk to, I write. There are many versions of writings that happen for each project.

VGS: What can people expect from you in the future?

HJJ: Pop Art turned art into something that is easily approachable by anyone living in that period; age, sex, location, religion, or any other type of background didn’t matter because pop culture was something that was shared by everyone. This is something that I am striving for as an artist who want to create pieces that can be shared and understood by our generation, and to represent the generation that I am living in.

Rumor has it, Hyun Jung will be showing her work in another show this spring, stay tuned for details!


A lengthy update on this space, my health and the future

March 29, 2018

The Way of Flowers at Dust to Dust

Ceramics by Erica Prince | Floral design by Hilary Horvath


As winter comes to an end and the world begins to wake from hibernation, I’ve come to realize I’ve been very withdrawn these past few months. Actually, that’s an understatement and honestly, it’s something I go through every year. To compound things this go around, I’ve been suffering from health issues for the last year that have caused me quite a lot of extra grief. Coupled with my body’s resultant overreaction to even the slightest stress or physical activity, I’ve really let myself get swept up in a bout of high functioning agoraphobia. I don’t know if it’s the alignment of the stars, the occasional appearance of blue skies and sunshine, or what but I am finally feeling motivated to move along with life again.

During the throes of winter, I actually decided to start blogging again, a few times. The idea was to  switch gears to focus on my journey to health. Of course, apathy won out each time. But here I am and as I move forward in this space, I’m going to focus less rigidly on fashion and branch out into the world of “lifestyle blogging”. Moving forward you can still expect me to cover fashion but also art + design, health, food and travel. Eventually, I’ll recap my trip to Japan last year, which was incredible. I’m headed to Mexico City in May and Hawaii (for the first time!) in November. I’m a bit nervous given my health issues but I can’t imagine a life without travel so I’m going to have to figure it out.

Ok, ok – what are these health issues? Rewind to January 2017; Trump’s inauguration was a week away, Portland was snowed in and I was working from home. I recall itching my leg a few times before realizing it was more than just those random little tickle/itches that pop up here and there throughout the day. Further inspection revealed I had hives on my leg. I’ve gotten hives from time to time since I was 11, though usually while cleaning so I always assumed they signaled a dust allergy. They’d never lasted more than 3 hours and I could go a year and often longer between outbreaks. So this was weird but whatever. I shrugged it off but woke up the next morning covered in red, hot, angry, itchy hives covering nearly my entire body. Completely freaked out, I took two Benadryl and slept them off. Waking hours later, the hives were pretty much gone so I chalked it up to a freak thing. Except, they kept coming back. The Benadryl would work for a day or so and then HIVES. After close to a week of this I went to Zoomcare because Benadryl KNOCKS ME OUT, leaving me feeling like death warmed over for hours, if not a full day, afterward so it wasn’t a sustainable solution. The Zoomcare doc told me hives are nearly impossible to get to the root of and to just take Claritin or Zyrtec. Duh. Most days a Claritin would get rid of the hives I inevitably woke up with. Some days, not so much and I would pop a Beny at bedtime. After a few weeks of this I contacted my PCP. She echoed the Zoomcare doc in that hives are nearly impossible to get to the root of but said I could go to an allergist if I really wanted but that they’d probably not come up with anything so it’d be a waste of my time. She confirmed I could take two allergy pills a day without risk so I upped my dose. For a few months I could go a couple full days sans hives so I’d stop taking the Claritin but usually within another day or so, they would return so back on the pills I went. I got through the spring pretty happily just taking my pills and living life. No big. Come August, it all went to hell.

Work became extremely stressful during that time. I was overwhelmed and anxious about changes going on in the office. Suddenly, my hives were back to being completely out of control. Additionally, I was now also experiencing swollen lips, a scary fainting episode and a random wheezing cough that usually hit after dinner. I continued to suffer for a few months until switching insurance and PCPs. I met with my new doc who parroted what the old one said but suggested I try Pepcid which is an H2 histamine blocker (who knew!) and referred me to an allergist for real. I went and was diagnosed with Chronic Urticaria due to Mast Cell Disorder. Classified as autoimmune, my allergist said it’s usually triggered by a virus or serious illness. I was tested for a variety of things but all tests were negative. He suggested I give up alcohol, NSAIDs, switch to Zyrtec (according to him Claritin is basically salt water in pill form), and up my dose to four pills a day. Oh and he started me on an oral asthma medication that has been shown to help extreme cases of hives in some people. (I also gave up chocolate for good measure since I had usually just eaten some when the cough would hit.) I still had no idea what caused this, or had any definite plan for cure, but progress is progress and I was just happy that someone recognized that yes, something was WRONG.

Within days of all this, I left for Japan. Armed with a Zyrtec, Pepcid, Montelukast (the asthma drug) and neem oil (I used it topically to reduce swelling and itch, it was the only thing that worked in that regard and I would slather myself in it most days), I made it through my two week trip with only three days of true suffering. By this time I’d gotten pretty good at ignoring the itchiness as long as it was low level. Yay. The thing was, with all those medications, I was still covered in hives most days and itchy often enough to be going kind of nuts. I started to wonder if it could all be related to the fact that I’m hypothyroid. I did some research and it seemed that was entirely plausible. I began hunting for a naturopath that specialized in thyroid and adrenal issues and thought I hit that jackpot when I found one. Not just that, she was actually covered under my insurance! I set an appointment, raised all my hopes sky high and really believed she was going to figure the whole thing out and cure me. That was mid-December last year.

So, I go see this naturopath and immediately, I am bummed. She’s very cold, short and doesn’t seem to care one iota about what’s going on with me. She decides I need $650 worth of tests and in a daze, I agree. She also sells me $150 worth of supplements and sends me off for my first round of tests. Oh and by the way, she adds, as of next year (just a few weeks away), she will no longer be covered under my insurance so I’ll have to pay for any future visits out of pocket. I left her office disheartened and $900 poorer, also scared by the fact that she told me Pepcid (the one thing that actually helps when I have the worst hive flare ups) is terrible, causing nutrients to not be absorbed, which is obvs bad. I take all the tests over the next few days, except for one of the food allergy tests and a dust allergy panel, neither of which the testing center she sent me to does. They called her to discuss this a few times, they let me know, but she never called them back. I wait about six weeks and finally get the results (sans two of the three tests I paid $650 for but whatevs, I guess?) and the biggest news is: I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a few nutrient deficiencies, and my inflammation levels are over 10 times more than normal ranges (like, 500-600 is normal, and mine was 6000). Really though, I could only focus on how phenomenal my cholesterol levels were, utter perfection! Gotta make lemonade where you can, am I right? Anyway, a quick google search confirmed that chronic urticaria (hives) is a common symptom of Hashimoto’s. Click!

Having already decided to never go back to that naturopath again, I took my test results to my PCP. She’s a lovely woman, very kind. She had genuine regret in her eyes as she confirmed yes, I have Hashimoto’s and yes, my inflammation is ludicrous, but really, she has nothing else for me. NOTHING AT ALL. Oh, by the way, she’s moving offices so if I want to change docs, no big. Insert muffled scream here. At this point I decided Fuck Doctors. I get it, science has only progressed so far and each doctor can only study so many of the infinite areas of health but c’mon. In the last year, five doctors (I left a couple out), armed with tests up the fucking wazoo, could do little but give me a collective shrug and throw some pills at me. Oh and at this point it was completely clear to me that asthma medication was doing fuck all.

I realized if I was going to make any real progress I was going to have to become my own doctor. I headed to Powell’s and bought a stack of books about Hashimoto’s and read, read, read and read some more. Most of it was totally conflicting (A is good unless B in which case A is bad, ad nauseam) but I learned a good many things. That’s a whole other blog post that I’m not prepared to write at the moment but the short of it was, gluten was probably really bad. I’d been told to give it up a few times but I have been of the camp that unless you have Celiac’s, it’s all a bunch of BS. Plus, bread is LIFE for me. I couldn’t imagine living without Rainier Bakery Sourdough or Ezekial Sprouted Grain. But, it seems that the structure of gluten is nearly identical to the structure of the thyroid hormones your body attacks when you have Hashimoto’s. UGH, so I gave up gluten. I also suspected my continued use of antihistamines had caused a histamine intolerance so I cut many high histamine foods from my diet; vinegar, chocolate and alcohol (which I’d given up already months before), cashews, avocados (another thing I ate daily and couldn’t imagine living without), spinach, tomatoes, strawberries and most other fruits … so adding gluten to that list was like, fml. But I did it and I freeze a lot of my food to further cut histamines.

Next I broke down and read The Medical Medium. I didn’t want to. I love me some good woo-woo but a dude who gets answers to medical mysteries from “spirit”?? So many people suggested his books though, like, SO MANY. He had just released a book all about healing thyroid conditions so I was like, FINE. He claims all thyroid issues are caused by one (or more) of at least nine strains of Epstein-Barr Virus. He also claims it’s totally healable! So I cut some more foods from my diet based on his plan; no more dairy, eggs (second only to bread in my book), corn (another daily staple), soy and canola oil. I also bought a juicer and started drinking celery juice each morning. Eventually I’m supposed to add lemon water and aloe water to my daily regimine but I’ve been really spotty on those so far.

The results? I’m saving a fuck ton from not eating out but am also so incredibly bored of eating the same six things over and over. I’m back down to two anti-histamines a day, rarely take Pepcid and stopped taking Montelukast. Many days I’m ok. The hives never really go away but the itching is under control 80% of the time. Some days I get a bad flare up and have to pop a Pepcid or two and drink ginger tea like my life depends on it. And that’s it. Progress but not much given that I basically eat nothing anymore and take about 20 supplements per day to replace nutrients I’m deficient in plus anti-inflammatories (yes, I take turmeric). The most recent thing I’ve read? I should probably just give up grains altogether (and nuts, seeds and beans for good measure). U G H.

To bring this all full-circle, while dealing with all this, and trying to take care of myself in general as much as possible and reduce my stress as much as humanly possible (not easy for someone who suffers from anxiety disorder), I spent the winter totally hermited up. I didn’t leave the house more than I had to which means I rarely met up with anyone to hang out either. Which was a bit lonely but also great, and I needed it, but as mentioned I have also struggled with agoraphobia for much of my life and basically hibernating each winter creates this time in the spring where I have to force myself to rejoin society and be productive. Which is really hard and even a little painful. Last week an artist whose work I recently viewed and posted about on Instagram reached out to me and suggested a blog post about her work. I immediately agreed and then realized it was going to force me to do this whole rejoining society and being productive thing, like, NOW. And while I was at it, I might as well get the blog going again in this lifestyle vein I’ve been contemplating for months anyway.

So, stay tuned for periodic updates! First up, an interview with textile artist Hyung Jung Jung. After that, what I’m eating? What I’m planting in my garden this year? My trip to Japan? Yeah, one of those for sure but probably all three plus some.


look book : fruit salad by wasted effort

June 14, 2017

Hand crafted by jeweler Marie Foxall in Vancouver, BC Wasted Effort has been one of my favorite indie jewelry brands to watch. With styles ranging from cosmic to whimsical, modernist touches like clean lines and empty space keep each collection fresh, contemporary and cohesive.

WE’s latest collection, Fruit Salad, is just in time for summer and cleans up in the whimsy department without going full on twee. Modeled by one of my fave Instagram style bloggers, Style Is Style’s Lydia Okello, I love the playful and colorful nature of this look book –

Photos by Helen Shaw

MUAH by Karly Paranich

Now I have to decide which fruit best sums up my sartorial needs this summer – pear, banana, grape? I’m thinking I should just take a cue from the collection name, Fruit Salad, and mix a few different styles into my look.

Shop Wasted Effort online or at Day Off Shop in Vancouver, BC.

rad ladies : emily pf dart-mclean harris

June 7, 2017

Today I want to tell you all about my darling friend Emily PF Dart-McLean Harris, aka official VGS mix master DJ Big Booty Judy. Having taken time off last year from mixing it up to birth and rear her adorable son, Apollo (uh, best name ever), she has begun a new podcast project entitled PDX Living Room Chats & Tunes.

Hosted in Emily’s SE Portland living room with co-host Francis the Cat, PLRCT aims to check in with diverse and interesting women for a short and sweet fifteen minute chat, ended with a tune hand-picked by Emily for her guest. Emily’s first interview was with her sister, artist Dana Hart-McLean, and two months since debuting she has added activist Emily Greene, photographer Shola Lawson, gallerist Jessica Breedlove Latham, oh and yours truly to the roster.

Pop over to Emily’s Spreaker page to take a listen and be sure to listen to my interview which was super fun. Be sure to bookmark that page as new interviews will be coming in hot and often!


indie designers : frond

June 6, 2017

Photo by Eva Verbeeck

Portlander by way of Texas, Krysta McDaniel turned her hobby of sewing into up and coming indie apparel label Frond after sharing her signature deep-v neck tops on social media. The resulting demand for those tops was immediate and has shown no signs of slowing, thus Frond was born and has since added more staple worthy designs to it’s roster including jumpsuits, rompers (perfect for summer!), dresses and wrap tanks. With the focus on reclaimed materials and natural fibers, designs are small batch and sometimes even one of a kind given the reclaimed aspect of much of the fabric used.

I love Frond’s sustainable approach, easy silhouettes and unique fabrics. Once Krysta finds a fabric that fits the Frond aesthetic (think neutrals and vintage florals) she creates her design and cuts and sews the fabric in her home studio. The approach is slow but Krysta has obviously found a system that works as in addition to limited custom work, she sells ready made pieces via her website and via local boutique Altar. It’s been a pleasure watching Frond grow and I look forward to whatever comes next, even if it’s just more of the same.

Photos by Hannah Key


Shop Frond online and in Portland at Altar Boutique.

Be sure to follow @shopfrond on Instagram to see the latest designs and get info on pop-up events.

Photo by Eva Verbeeck

indie designers : oru ss17

February 10, 2017

I’m pretty psyched to be sharing the new spring / summer line from Portland-based jewelry line Oru. Designer Agnieszka Zoltowski began making jewelry while in middle school using brightly colored Japanese seed beads, which turned out to be a staple in her designs as the years passed. A few seasons ago, she began casting those beads in metal which resulted in a unique texture that has allowed her to build truly intriguing shapes with a minimal twist. Oru’s latest collection, Praxis, has taken that method and is running with it to great results –



Praxis is coming soon, in the meantime shop all Oru designs online

and follow @love_oru on Instagram for updates.

beauty beat : ceremony salon

February 3, 2017

I love my long-time stylist but after she moved to a salon across town (to one of the busiest, trendiest neighborhoods with no parking, natch), I decided it was time to reach out and find someone closer in. Recalling Ceremony Salon as the place that gave Ragen Fykes, the fly AF manager of West End Select Shop, her rad ‘do as well as the place keeping VGS Sister Style Alumna / food blogger Alison Wu looking sparkling, I decided to try them out.

This is where the universe seemingly pulled some strings because the very next day I received an email from Ceremony manager, Sasha, asking me if I’d be interested in checking out the salon. Uh, yes please. Total kismet.

After researching Ceremony’s carefully selected roster of stylists, I settled on Irisa Elaine. It was a tough decision as everyone had informative bios and an impressive Instagram feed but Irisa’s portfolio showed a diversity of hair types. The biggest issue I have with my hair is that I have a super wonky wave pattern that, if cut incorrectly, causes me all sorts of grief. Not only that, I have extremely thick hair that’s on the coarse side and does whatever the eff it wants. I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone gets it. (Thankfully, and as I predicted, Irisa got it.)

Arriving at Ceremony for my appointment I was immediately dazzled by the salon’s Palm Springs-meets-Portland vibe – in fact, the first thing you see when you walk in is bright pink neon promising Good Vibes Only and you guys, it’s completely true. The large white space is bright and open but anything but boring with resplendent displays of plants, plants, plants all over, beautiful brass light fixtures, cinder blocks reminiscent of The Parker and super fun, groovy wallpaper in unexpected places. Owners Stephanie and Lauren told me to be on the lookout for handmade art objects they’ve picked up over the years and placed throughout the salon and it was super fun to spot a Friend Assembly planter here and Liv and Dom incense holders there.

Best friends and veterans of the industry, Ceremony owners Stephanie Hand and Lauren Kolb, began with the idea of creating their own space and ran with it, tapping top talent (mostly people they’d worked with previously) to join them. The result is a highly curated roster of Portland’s most skilled stylists and those aforementioned Good Vibes.

Ceremony Salon Owners Stephanie Hand and Lauren Kolb
Ceremony Salon Stylist Irisa Elaine

Settling in with Irisa, I was immediately charmed by her easy-going and friendly attitude. Before I could even tell her about the weird things going on with my hair that I wanted to address, she called them out and suggested how we could fix them while taking into account my special instructions: thin my hair but hide the layers so it looks more or less one length and no face framing pieces, please. Off to the groovy shampoo room we went where Irisa made sure not to scrimp on the head massage portion of the wash and kindly refrained from shaming me for my truly greasy hair.

Next up was the cut. Taking all angles into account, I could tell Irisa was fully focused on the task at hand, something I don’t always notice when getting my hair cut. She also asked me questions as she went to ensure she wasn’t over or under doing things. After drying and styling my hair she also gave me tips on cutting my own bangs in the event that I couldn’t make it back in for a free bang trim, something she offers for all clients.

So here’s my Before and After –

Before: An okay cut that I had to keep straightened at all times to hide a weird, random chunk that was cut out on one side only. I also botched my own bang trim so I cut off face framers on one side of my face but not on the other.

After: A freewheeling cut that took the length up a bit to fix the weird and random missing chunk while allowing my weird wave pattern to fly it’s freak flag so I could give the straightening iron a rest. Irisa also fixed my bangs to remove my random remaining face framers and even out the sides. (The stars are obvs a filter, meant to convey just how sparkly I was feeling with my new hairs.)

Overall, I loved my experience at Ceremony. It’s location on East Burnside is much more convenient for me, the space is so lovely and I felt like Irisa was really listening to me and my needs. Plus, she was super easy to talk to! There’s nothing worse than awkward silences when getting your hairs did. I will definitely be going back and can’t wait for my next visit.


Check out Ceremony Salon on Instagram for more info and stop in at 1101 E. Burnside in Portland or book an appointment online.

rad ladies : ashley hardy

December 29, 2016


Portland boasts a great many talented women ceramacists and it almost feels wrong to highlight just one of them, but since I am, I’m glad it’s Ashley Hardy. With model good-looks, a pinch of rock n’ roll attitude, and a kind, open heart, Ashley is truly a Rad Lady.

I chanced upon her ceramic work a year or more ago and have watched it evolve from simple (though beautiful) minimalist shapes and colors to more experimental, and dare I say sexy, work. Case in point, Ashley’s latest experiments in organically shaped vessels glazed in dark, shiny chrome.

A former make-up artist, Ashley’s ceramics hobby morphed into her full-time passion while she worked on her education. Now on the cusp of graduating with a license to teach secondary art, I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more from Ashley in the near future – and I can’t wait.


VGS: What was your path to becoming a ceramic artist / designer? If you hadn’t gone down that road, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

A: I am not sure I had a direct path to becoming a ceramic artist. My previous background was as a hair and makeup designer for theatre/film. I would have to sculpt prosthetics and make molds, use paints, highlights and shadows to create characters. I suppose ceramics always felt very comfortable to me. I had been accustomed to working with my hands, not afraid of getting dirty. Ceramics was something that I had as a hobby and blossomed into something more.

Currently I am venturing down two roads as I am working on my masters in education. I will be graduating this upcoming spring, with my teaching license in secondary art education. I am beyond excited to begin my teaching journey with art. I chose two paths, having my ceramics business and teaching high school art.

VGS: How has your style evolved since your beginnings? How did you come by your current style?

A: My style has evolved to play on shapes and silhouettes. I used to make more simple, delicate shapes. I feel like now I am trying to push the boundaries of “what is a vase” or “what is a mug”. I want my pieces now, to act as functional conversation starters. I think currently my work is a product of experimentation as well as inspiration I have extracted from what I enjoy about architecture.


VGS: What has been your biggest challenge in your work so far? How did you overcome it?

A: The time management piece! Typically each of my ceramic vessels goes through a 10-step process (sometimes more), so I definitely can get lost on how long pieces take. Some pieces are more intricate and I have tried to remind myself that I always take longer than I believe. I am trying to be more organized and work in a way that makes sense aka being efficiently productive. It is really a challenge.

VGS: Tell us about your typical day …

A: Oh man! My days are never the same! Since I am working on my masters degree as well as trying to run my ceramic business I try to have flexibility in my day. I have most days planned, you know, the goals you have to accomplish, and then have backup B and C lists just in case. I have a lot going on, as most folks do, but I am trying to balance my professional and person life daily.

VGS: How do you stay motivated?

A: I am a perfectionist in regards to my artistic work. I stay motivated by having the mindset of constantly trying to improve. I enjoying try to figure out what works, what doesn’t, troubleshooting ideas. Ceramics is probably the only thing that I have ever enjoyed testing with! Also, thinking about future projects and predicting ceramic trends keeps me on my toes and continuing to move forward. On to the next!


VGS: What are your biggest inspirations currently?

A: I am very inspired by architecture. Currently, I have been collecting inspiration from ceilings in buildings. Especially taking notice of high open industrial ceilings. There are so many shapes and shadows that occur from the beams, pipes, and metal. I am also into textures that have formed from thick layers of paint on the sides of building and alleyways- that has really peaked my interested in using textural glazes on some of my pieces.


VGS: What are your feelings about Portland’s creative / maker scene? What, if anything, could make it better?

A: The maker scene in Portland is really exciting! I think it really brings out a sense of community and allows for artists to be embraced as well as letting an artist’s work have exposure. It is a really special thing to be able to create and do what you feel passionate about. The maker scene is allowing this to be possible.

VGS: What are you doing to prepare yourself for fall + winter? [Ed Note: Interview was conducted in September]

A: Well, I am already in holiday mode. Literally. The holiday started about a month or so ago for me, so I have been making pieces and preparing orders! I am trying to take my own advice and stay organized. I am also thinking about some new pieces I would like to introduce this winter! So stay tuned…






Big thanks to Ashley for inviting me to her studio and for being so lovely! Check out Ashley’s website here and follow her on Instagram to see her newest works and occasional animated videos of her work in action – trust me, they’re worth it!

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