Rad Ladies

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!


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!

rad ladies : fuchsia lin

November 14, 2016



When I first met Fuchsia Lin through a mutual friend, I was blown away by her personal style. Her mix of print, pattern, color and texture was so deft she appeared to me like a jewel, something so beautiful and special you just have to share it with the world. Of course, Fuchsia is much more than her unicorn style, she’s an amazingly sweet, talented and creative individual as well. With a resume that includes costume and fashion design, textile arts, production and direction, I had to know more and thankfully Fuchsia was willing to let me take a peek into her life and her closet …


VGS: What was your path to becoming a textile artist? If you hadn’t found this path, what do you think you’d be doing now instead?

F: I was a first generation Taiwanese American wearing overalls as a kid growing up in a small Michigan town. I had no fashion sense at all, but I loved creating art. I was very serious about drawing, calligraphy, painting and Chinese paper cutting. At one point, it was my goal to become a professional calligrapher. It wasn’t until later on in high school and college that I developed an interest in fashion and textiles. When I studied art in college, I was drawn to textiles and surface design techniques because it integrated what I loved doing as a child with my current interests.

After I received my BFA in textiles design, I went onto study fashion at Parsons School of Design. After graduating, I worked a few years in the fashion industry. Eventually I transitioned into costumes because I wanted to create one-of-a-kind pieces for the performing and visual arts. Musicians, Bjork, Karen O and Rebecca Chamberlain wore some of my pieces, and that was super encouraging to continue the path which eventually led me to where I am now.
I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than what I’m doing now. Since I was four years old, I knew I was going to be an artist, and that’s always been the path that I’ve been driven to pursue.

VGS: Though your work primarily consists of costume design and working with textiles you also explore other media such as film, performance, and sculpture. How do these extra elements usually present themselves to you and how do you adapt them to make them flow into your work?

F: I think of myself as a conceptual artist/director/producer now more than a costume designer or textiles artist, although the main focus of my projects will always be the costume. I create a concept for an art project and I find the
collaborators I want to work with and what the most effective medium is to get the message across.

My work has evolved into film for my current project, Crystals of Transformation. I had been producing/directing live performance for many years; however, it seemed natural to evolve into film so that I could incorporate different locations into the performance.

Through this process, I also realized that film is a much more effective medium than live performance is in delivering the details and artistry of a costume. One of my steadfast goals is to bring recognition to the art of costuming and “slow fashion”. Through film, the costume can be seen up close and in detail, in slow motion, with controlled lighting that really shows it off. Film can also create abstraction from chosen compositions of the body in movement. These abstractions resemble forms in nature that are the inspiration for the water crystal costumes in Crystals of Transformation.


VGS: What drew you to living in Portland?

F: I had always been an east coaster, big city person. I’ve lived in NYC, Paris, and Taipei but when I met my boyfriend in New York City, he just kept talking about the Pacific Northwest. Eventually I took a trip out here to visit Seattle, Portland and San Francisco nine years ago during the beautiful summertime. I chose Portland because I felt like I would be able to live a life of higher quality, as well as being in a unique city.

VGS: What, if anything, do you think is missing from or would improve Portland’s creative / art scene?

F: A costume institute just like the one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York!

VGS: What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?

F: My biggest challenge that has already happened that I overcame was the 2013 fundraising campaign I did through USA Projects and raised over $6,000 to begin my project, Crystals of Transformation. This was the first fundraising effort I have ever made in my whole life. I had a lot of shyness about asking people to donate money and maintaining a strong social media presence to in order to promote my project.

I had a lot of wonderful support from my boyfriend, family, friends, collaborators and co-workers. I also had a great fundraising advisor at USA Projects who believed in me and gave me encouraging pep talks (that I still go back to read now and then). A friend of mine, Kim Dawson, a creative consultant, donated her expertise and coached me on PR tactics.

I don’t know if I would have reached my goal without the help of all these wonderful people, but ultimately, I had to really believe in myself and be courageous and passionate about sharing my mission and my art with the world.


VGS: How do you stay motivated?

F: It’s many things; the Taiwanese culture I was raised in is all about working hard and striving to excel. Being the first generation of Taiwanese immigrants, I have a lot of pressure to succeed in this country. It’s in my genes – I come from a family of PhD’s.

I am usually working with a personal/professional coach or mentor to improve some aspect of my life. I am grateful to have found wonderful teachers and healers to share their gifts, expertise and skills with me.

I recently received a Regional Arts and Culture Council professional development grant to work with an art coach/film consultant this fall/winter. Also, acupuncture, yoga, swimming, cooking, bike riding, taking naps, and listening to Ted Talks.

VGS: What’s inspiring you most right now?

F: Water is always my inspiration! Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research on water. My Dad. The incredibly talented collaborators I am working with for my Crystals of Transformation film!


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

F: Crystals of Transformation, an environmental film trilogy about water, featuring original water crystal costumes, dance and music composition. The first film has been completed and the second film, Inner Glacial Melt, is currently in production. The third film will begin production in 2018. (You can watch the trailer for the first film here.)

VGS: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to wearing this fall/winter?

F: I’ve always loved capes and ponchos. They are my favorite fall/winter wear! I also love wearing my favorite purple knit hat with huskies on them.






For more on Fuchsia’s projects, including her Crystals of Transformation trilogy, check out her website www.fuchsialin.com and the Crystals of Transformation Facebook page.

rad ladies : shelly sazdanoff

August 2, 2016

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It’s official: fiber arts are all the rage right now. I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough, especially when it comes to weaving. Having tried it myself I know just how hard it is to create anything tight and uniform which makes me respect (rad) ladies like Shelly Sazdanoff all the more.

There are lots of weavers out there right now but for my money Shelly’s work stands out in it’s perfection of technique and designs that meet at the intersection of minimal and maximal. While I’m often heard declaring ‘More, please!’ when it comes to color, print and pattern, what drew me to Shelly’s work more than anything is how she can make me love a simple square design made entirely of silver linen. It just speaks of time, knowledge, skill and an impeccable taste level. On the other end of the spectrum, Shelly also makes designs like this one which incorporates multiple colors (all perfect), geometric shapes and rakish side fringe – yes please to all of that.

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I recently visited Shelly at her sweet in-house studio where I was immediately charmed by her and her adorable family. I also noticed the locally made pottery from Mimi Ceramics lining her shelves as well as the locally designed and produced romper she was sporting from General Public; Shelly is all too happy to support other lady makers which is just one of the many reasons she’s a Rad Lady.

Read on for Shelly’s story …

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

S: I’ve always had my hand in something creative since I can remember. I was a musician in a touring band for a few years, opened a boutique, helped run a magazine. I feel like I have tried a lot in my life and can see all of those pieces and experiences leading up to where I am now. My career path before this one was the magazine. I had my hand in almost every part of it. I was super committed but after two years straight pretty much working seven days a week I got burnt out and stepped down from that position. I took a sort of creative sabbatical and in that time we moved to Portland. After a few months of living here I felt that creative restlessness and knew I needed to do something. I had been following a few fiber artists on Instagram and thought I would give it a go. So I ordered a loom and read a few tutorials. With the first piece, everything clicked and I have been weaving almost everyday since. It’s hard to imagine doing anything else. Before finding fiber art, I toyed with the idea of becoming a florist. I love the thought of floral arranging being temporary art and bringing joy to someone whether the occasion was a sad or happy one.

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VGS: Tell me about your typical day …

S: I’m a mother of two young children so my day starts early around 6:00 – 6:30am. Breakfast for them first then coffee for my husband and I. My husband leaves for work at 7:30 and then it’s just the kids and I for the day. If we have nothing planned, I usually work for a few hours in the morning while the kids play and then a few hours during their nap time in the afternoon. My studio is in our home so I feel lucky to be able to both be a mother and also pursue my passion.

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

S: In the beginning it was all about the finished product and how quickly I could churn a piece out (which at the time was probably every two days and makes me laugh now because two days is probably 4-5 inches of work these days). I tried every style I could. As my skill slowly evolved, I started paying attention to the process. Learning what I liked and disliked about each piece as I finished and actually listening to that and using it to move forward. I eventually found the medium linen and fell in love with its stiff texture and how it looked woven. Due to its thin nature it caused my work to take longer with each piece. I really learned to love the process as much as the final product. I also learned things about myself as I listened to that process. Like my love for negative space, clean lines and use of texture and shape. Paying attention to these things has allowed me to hone in on my voice.

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VGS: What are your thoughts about collaboration? Any advice?

S: It’s kind of a joke in the fiber art community that it’s such an introvert art. We spend hours alone working to create something. So with that said, collaborations don’t come up often but when they do, and it feels right, I am all about it. I recently made two small woven pieces to be sewn onto garments as pockets by Canadian designer Tony Chestnut. It was great in the way that it stretched me and got me thinking about weaving in a new and different light than what I am used to. As far as advice goes, I’m probably not saying anything groundbreaking but keeping an open mind and try not being too attached to your own ideas. Allowing the other’s voice to be heard and finding that balance will only help the collaboration process.

VGS: What are your biggest inspirations currently?

S: In my latest works, I’ve scaled down my color palette and am trying not to be so distracted by choosing from a rainbow of hues which in turn will hopefully allow me to go deeper in my work. I have been really drawing inspiration from some of my favorite contemporary artists who use similar palettes and have such distinct voices: Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, and Antoni Tapies.

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VGS: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far and how did you overcome it?

S: I would say social media has been the biggest challenge for me. Tools like Instagram are so incredibly helpful and provide such amazing ways to find a community of artists and run a business. But there can always be a downside to those. For one they provide instant access to a viewers reception of your work and make way for petty comparison. Like, “This piece didn’t get as many ‘likes’ as my last one.” Or losing a handful of followers after posting new work. It can really mess with your head when you are vulnerable and still trying to find yourself as an artist. Also there is the copying or straight up photo theft that occurs. Both of which have happened to me and are super frustrating but wound up being the catalyst to push myself and say what only I can say with my art so I suppose there is always silver lining.

VGS:  How do you stay motivated?

S: I feel like I have been lucky where motivation hasn’t been an issue for me. Because my pieces take on average 1-2 weeks to finish, my hands can’t keep up with my sketchbook. I also have a lot of time to brainstorm new ideas while I’m weaving and sometimes whatever I am doing in a current piece can trigger a new one.

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VGS: Why Portland? What is the best part of living here in terms of your art? 

S: Oh Portland! I could give so many reasons – the city, the mountains, the rain, the food, the coast. Everything is at our fingertips. And as far as my art goes, I couldn’t ask for a better city. The creative community here is so supportive. From my experience, everyone encourages and looks out for each other which just fosters a healthy community and not a competitive one.

VGS: If you could go back and give younger you advice, what would it be?

S: Oh man, I would say to not look at doors closing or shifts in life as failures or time lost or energy wasted but to see that everything you do shapes you and builds character. Some things you will lose but most of the time, experiences, jobs, etc. – whether good or bad – will mold you and make you a more well-rounded person.

VGS: What’s your favorite patio in town?

S: Doug Fir Lounge.

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Many thanks to Shelly and her cute kiddos for letting me invade their darling house (during snack time, no less!) and for being an all-around sweetie!

Shop Shelly Sazdanoff here and follow @shellysazdanoff on Instagram to peep her latest works and her amazing sense of style.

rad ladies : laura housgard

November 19, 2015

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Meet Laura Housgard – perhaps you’ve heard her secret? It happens to be one of the best secrets when it comes to local shopping after all. Starting out online with a curated collection of Swedish designed clothing and accessories, Laura left the online-only realm and quietly opened Johan (aka #shhhshop) in her living room earlier this year. Inspired by Scandi-design in part by her heritage and in part from a stint studying abroad in Sweden, Johan is a small but delightful space where you’ll still find items imported from Sweden, now mixed in with locally made items – all with a focus on high quality and high design.

Totally intrigued by what it takes to give up your living room to realize your dream (and Laura’s winning personality) I decided she was well-deserving of a Rad Lady feature. Read on to learn all about it plus the original Johan, Laura’s thoughts on Portland, and truffle fries.

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VGS: First, I think everyone needs to hear the story of your multi hyphenate great-grandfather who inspired the name of your shop …

L: Johan is my grandfather with three greats! I thought it was four, but after visiting with some Swedish relatives in September, I discovered Johan August Magnusson is actually my great great great grandfather. We have a family farmhouse in southern Sweden that he remodeled and made major improvements to in the late 1860’s. On top of that, he worked day in and day out tilling and farming the rocky land. He planted cherry trees and in the summers would sell cherries in town. There are tales of him being resourceful, determined, and a bit of a dreamer – all traits I see in myself. The first time I studied in Sweden I had the opportunity to visit the farmhouse and meet some of our distant family members. It was then that I fell head over heels for Johan’s story and essentially all things Swedish.

VGS: You studied marketing + branding in Sweden. How did that come about? What was your experience studying abroad?

L: I studied abroad in Lund, Sweden in 2007, then in 2009 I went back for a master’s program in marketing and brand management. Both experiences were incredible! I loved the cobblestone streets, biking everywhere, the big parks and gardens, partying with my international student friends, trips to Stockholm, snowy winters – I could go on! I really didn’t want to leave. That’s probably why I can’t fully tear myself away from the Scandinavian aesthetic, even in the #shhhshop.

VGS: How long was Johan online-only? Tell me about the process of deciding to turn your living room into a retail space. 

L: I started online while living in Brooklyn in 2012. I had always wanted a brick and mortar space, but it didn’t feel feasible until recently. I moved back to Portland in 2014 and began brainstorming low risk ways to try out brick and mortar. I was intrigued by the idea of having a shop in an apartment – similar to The Apartment by The Line in New York and the Bless Home in Berlin. When this space came along, I knew I had to give it a shot.

My landlord is very anti-government, and anti-authority in general, so he was actually the one who suggested I put a shop in the living room. He said no signs or sandwich boards, which is how I came up with the concept of a secret shop, with the “yes” sign in the window letting people know I’m open. I think he thought I was going to have a little dress shop where I sewed dresses for my girlfriends. He was a little shocked when he saw the #shhhshop!

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VGS: What has been your biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?

Someone once told me that your business is a direct reflection of you. Any problems your business has are problems that you have, personally. The hardest part in all of this has been recognizing that and working on parts of myself so that my business can thrive! Along with most female entrepreneurs, I am prone to self-doubt and lack of confidence. The more I find ways to fix those things (see also: self-acceptance), to be proud of the work I’m putting into the world, the more my business succeeds.

VGS: What do you love most about your job?

Getting to meet awesome people + having full control!

VGS: What’s inspiring you the most right now?

Pure Bathing Culture, dresses over pants, learning about north nodesThe Row, @mishnar, carpet, and nineties typography books.

Laura (7 of 10)

VGS: What are your general thoughts on Portland’s creative / maker scene? Where do you see it headed in the next few years?

I’m still getting to know Portland’s creative scene. It seems deeply complex to me! All I know is that Portland is not going to stop booming anytime soon, so grab your brand identity, hold it tight, and work on building genuine relationships with people that believe in you. Change is good, competition is good – I see only positive things for our future.

VGS: What’s your favorite spot in town to grab a burger?

Veggie burger at the LBB, please! And when I say veggie burger, I mean truffle fries.

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Portlanders, shop Johan in person when the neon ‘yes’ is lit up or shop online anytime.

For more info on #shhhshop, what’s in stock, and special hours + events, follow @shopjohan on Instagram.


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rad ladies : sara m lyons

October 27, 2015


I am so beyond pleased to share what has in all honesty been a dream of mine for a while now – a VGS interview with Sara M Lyons! In case you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t familiar with Sara’s self-described weirdo illustrations of witches, aliens, junk food, ghosts, Lindsay Lohan and more rad stuff, you can check out my having shared Sara’s work in the past here. As I said, it’s been a dream to add Sara to my Rad Ladies roster for a while now but so far I haven’t interviewed anyone outside of Portland. Why? No good reason beyond the fact that I prefer to photograph my Rad Ladies myself, so I made the exception to interview Sara long-distance from her home in Orange County and am so glad I did. Read on to find out how Sara embraced her inner weirdo, fell into her inspiring art career, and which Orange County food chain she thinks tastes like Heaven –

VGS: When did you start drawing? How has your style changed as you’ve grown? What does drawing provide you in the way of personal satisfaction?

S: I’ve been drawing since before I can remember – as a kid, art supplies were my favorite toys. When I was in elementary school I was really into Archie comics, and Dan DeCarlo’s illustrations in particular started informing my style at an early age. These days my drawings aren’t carbon copies of Betty and Veronica the way they were when I was 8, but I think you can definitely still see that influence.

As far as personal satisfaction goes, since it’s my career at this point I don’t always get a chance to think of it in those terms. But when I am able to draw things for myself I think I find it’s kind of a type of fantasy fulfillment. It’s fun to be able to draw the things you wish you could have.




VGS: Part of what drew me to your art, besides the fact that it’s amazeballs, is how you’ve embraced your inner ‘weirdo’. As someone who spent a lot of time fighting that label by not being myself, I’d love to hear about your process of embracing it.

S: Well, I’ve definitely been a weirdo my whole life!  I don’t think I ever considered it a negative thing, so I don’t know if I ever rejected that label exactly, but when I was younger I definitely struggled with feeling like an outsider. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized it’s a lot more satisfying to embrace your idiosyncrasies than to be embarrassed by them. Everyone has quirks – something I’ve noticed since taking on the title of “professional weirdo” is that literally everyone seems to identify with the idea of being a weirdo. Knowing that everyone feels that way about themselves on some level makes being a weirdo yourself feel less alienating and more like being part of a fun club.




VGS: Please tell me all about your affinity for Lindsay Lohan …

S: I get this question a lot, haha! I can’t really explain it. Lindsay and I are about the same age, so she’s been part of my pop culture consciousness for most of my life. I wouldn’t have called myself a big fan of hers necessarily, but in high school my best friend and I always got a kick out of watching “Life Size” on the Disney Channel late at night, and then I loved her in “Mean Girls” obviously. When she started going through all her public turmoil in the early 2000s during her late teens and early twenties I just found it really mesmerizing and somehow like, relatable. Like, in spite of being a hot mess there was still something charming and likable about her, and she was also clearly struggling with a lot of personal shit that was really being exacerbated by being under the lens of the paparazzi constantly, and I just felt for her. I was going through a lot of my own shit at the same time as Lilo and probably projected some of those emotions onto her, which I know is weird, but I still totally root for her! It probably started out as kind of an ironic love, but over time has developed into a true affection.




VGS: What inspired you to turn your illustrations into products? Were nail decals the first product? Did you expect them to be as popular as they have been?

S: When I started translating my drawings into products it was mainly out of necessity – I was unemployed and depressed and desperately needed both income and an outlet for my anxiety. My first product was actually tiny stickers using the same illustrations as my nail decals. I was already involved with the nail art community at that time, and when I’d be cutting out the stickers I’d start thinking how these would work perfectly as nail decals. Nail art was already huge, but there weren’t a lot of illustrated nail decals available back then, so I had a feeling I had something kinda special on my hands. I was definitely surprised when they took off the way they did.

VGS: You collaborate often, how do those projects usually come about? Do you have any tips for successful collaborations?

S: 99% of my collab projects start with people contacting me and being like “I love what you do, let’s work together!” Ultimately I think a successful collaboration depends on everyone involved being the right mix of proactive and easygoing. If you’re excited about what you’re working on, you’re going to be inherently gung-ho about it, but you also want to feel like you have plenty of breathing room to experiment and get things right. The other important thing is to know yourself and your aesthetic and and be aware of when a creative match isn’t right.




VGS: What’s been the biggest challenge in your career so far and how have you overcome it?

S: Time management is still my biggest struggle. I’m a one-woman show, and so every day I’m running my online shop, filling retail orders, handling wholesale accounts, doing admin stuff, and working on anywhere from three to six freelance projects at a time. It can be really overwhelming. I’ve started to learn to break things up into short bursts so I don’t get burnt out, but I still find myself putting in a lot of 12+ hour days. When you work for yourself in this capacity there’s not really such a thing as “time off,” and since I work from home it can be hard to separate my personal life from my job.

VGS: What’s inspiring your socks off right now?

S: I’ve been really into Kristen Liu-Wong’s illustrations lately, and I’m obsessed with installations by Pip & Pop. And even though the TV show “Scream Queens” is absolutely terrible, I’m totally watching for the campy, over-the-top early 2000s hyper feminine costumes on the Chanels. I’ve also been dipping back into my FRUiTS books and poring over Lolita fashion on Tumblr – every few years I go into a Japanese street style K-hole.

VGS: I usually end my interviews by asking where your favorite burger in Portland is but since you’re in Orange County, please describe in gritty detail your ultimate guilty pleasure food.

S: There’s an Armenian roasted chicken chain down here in SoCal called Zankou. I feel like I could eat the pickled turnips they give you on the side for literally every meal. They have this garlic sauce that is I’m pretty sure what heaven tastes like. I’m basically obsessed with Zankou and it’s so good there’s actually an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about it so I feel justified in my obsession.


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So many thanks to Sara for making my Rad Lady dreams come true!

Be sure to follow @saramlyons on Instagram … and if you’re in Portland, meet Sara in person this Friday at Darling Distraction!!

ZOMG, right? Sara will be in town for a special pop-up event along with fellow crazy talented illustrators Brianna Bulski of Little Arrow and Tuesday Bassen. This is a don’t miss event if there ever was one!

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#wcw : kello goeller’s habitat at duplex gallery

July 29, 2015

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Continuing my new #womancrushwednesday series, I’m beyond excited to turn you on to the work of native New Yorker and current Portlander, Kello Goeller. Currently showing her crazy ambitious (and crazy awesome) installation, Habitat, at Duplex Gallery in Old Town, I stopped in last week for a special Q+A viewing hosted by Duplex and The Full Moon Gathering gals and had my mind blown. To quote Duplex owner and curator, Jessica Breedlove Latham: ‘Habitat is a complex multitude of parts: map, mandala, video, self-portrait via journey, installation, and experience.’ She’s not exaggerating.

The year-long endeavor culminates into an experience that is immersive, enchanting, and hypnotic as you piece together Kello’s world while seated on pads of moss from the very forest you’re watching her navigate. On one wall is a map of the entire mandala which is loosely based on traditional Tibetan structure and started out as hand-drawn lines which were mirrored together to create the finished map. Looking closely, you can see tiny Kello’s moving throughout. Sectioned into lands of varying emotions and experiences, two more walls show enlarged details, bringing each land to vivid life as Kello explores, smiles, dances, rages, and everything in between.

Having Kello on hand to answer all the questions that came to mind as we viewed her magical mandala was pretty special. At one point, as I watched little Kello shimmy and dance on the projection screen, I wondered if she’d had music along to help guide her rhythm. After someone else commented on the soundtrack (which was created just for Habitat by Biddy Thomas), I voiced my question and learned that she had rough demos of the current soundtrack and as well as other tunes with the same BPM to listen to while filming scenes with movement.


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I feel like a bit of a jerk sharing this so late since tomorrow is the last day to view Habitat before it’s de-install, but if you’re able I highly suggest popping into Duplex ASAP to check it out for yourself! No matter which style of art you gravitate towards, Habitat is the sort of work that busts through boundaries and enthralls all who take the time to take it in.


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crystal ball

To see where Habitat goes next and keep up on Kello’s projects follow @kelloworld on Instagram. You should also follow @duplexgallery on Instagram to stay up-to-date on other rad upcoming shows. Since you’re already at it, be sure to follow @fullmoonworkshop too – they helped arrange this special viewing event and host amazing workshop retreats.

#wcw : myles katherine + rugby’s breakfast crew

July 22, 2015


Though I’ve been mulling over the idea of a regular #womancrushwednesday series for ever now, I’ve been waiting for the series vision to come into full focus. Quite unexpectedly, that’s what happened after I got a sneak peek of the latest music video from Portland band, Rugby.

I know Rugby via Myles Katherine Coleman: photographer, model (she’s even a Sister Style alumna), sweetheart, and – surprise! – synth and vocals for Rugby. Not to downplay Rugby’s awesomeness but this is a band that gets to flaunt major cool points just by association. I mean, obviously Myles is a total babe, and when you throw her considerable creative talents and maple-syrup-sweet disposition into the mix, what’s not to crush on?

Yeah, I can’t think of a better way to kick of #womancrushwednesday than with Rugby’s new single, Breakfast Crew; starring MK and fellow band members Chris Baker, Sean Garcia, and Max Wohlfarth, I dare you to try and not be amazed by her mermaid hair or swoon over her spaced-out feline vocals. Oh and bonus crush: keep your peepers peeled for a few glimpses Monday’s Rad Lady, Autumn Northcraft, in a cameo.

Myles explained that the song was inspired by her and boyfriend/band mate Chris Baker’s love of sharing breakfast together, something they do daily. Exploring the ideas of breakfast as the most important meal of the day and the role it plays in their relationship, they sought to make a video that expressed that narrative in a ‘fun, weird, and light-hearted way’. Well guys, you nailed it.




Breakfast Crew was directed by Chris Baker & Myles Katherine

MUAH by Gina Campbell


Be sure to follow Rugby on Facebook for upcoming shows and news of their forthcoming album (!) and follow @myleskatherine on Instagram to see all the amazing work she keeps herself busy with.

rad ladies : autumn northcraft

July 20, 2015

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Portland-based freelance photographer, graphic designer, and all-around creative, Autumn Northcraft, is the very definition of a Rad Lady; shooting beautiful and innovative look books for local indie designers and shops including Reif Haus, Wolfchild, Primecut, Backtalk, and Wildfang (just to name a few), this super sweetie also co-owns an amazingly curated online boutique, The North Lives (which I hear is soon to be releasing a new house line).

Never wanting for inspiration or amazing people to work with, Autumn is a busy bee creating awesome visuals for the city’s best and brightest. I asked her to share her how she got to where she is today, her process, and – duh – her favorite burger spot. Read on for some real radness –


VGS: How did you get your start in photography?

A: I was never really interested in photography until, I’ll sadly admit, Myspace came around. Other photographers will tell you inspiring and enchanting stories, but undeniably the spark I had been waiting for was started with the Myspace arm selfie. The fact that you could have this new identity – one that you, yourself could curate for the world was pretty fascinating to a shy 13 year old. 

Once I was Myspacing away, I started taking more artsy photos (ones I’m sure I would laugh at now). My parents noticed this and really encouraged it. I think if it wasn’t for them, and particularly my dad (who was a commercial photographer in the past), I wouldn’t have progressed the way I did. I know now that it’s so important to have people who believe in you and encourage/challenge your passion. I was very lucky.


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VGS: Tell me about your typical process …

A: My process changes depending on the project, people involved, and timeline, but it always starts out with a lot of daydreaming.
When I was a kid, I would always be daydreaming whether it was at home or in class. I would picture scenes, stories, colorful landscapes. So extreme, my parents even got called in by my teachers for a conversation on focus. I now understand that the innate ability to visualize images (using the power of your right brain), is an ultimate creative tool to finish tasks at hand and to step outside of the box. I see daydreaming and imagination now as my co partner in a lot of what I do, instead of a lazy distraction. 

After daydreaming, I tend to research. This can be watching movies, listening to music, reading, finding old magazines, and going online to my favorite fashion lines to see what’s current. It’s really important in today’s world, where everything has been done, to take both old and new inspirations and try to make something in your own voice. From the inspiration gathered, I create a mood board of visuals to use as an unspoken goal map. I then write out a real list of goals or random ideas/comments on my phone (some of which tend to be Seinfeld style gibberish in the night’s later moments) to use as a guideline for the final project, letting anything flow.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from school and being a professional in the real world is to not take yourself too seriously, especially when you’re brainstorming. If you are too quick to judge the worth of what you create, you will never do anything, let alone get to that next step (whether it’s a bump or an incline) of who you are as an artist. This can be a really challenging thing to do in today’s world, where everyone is something and has something to prove.

I try to think constantly, “Will I be proud of this? Will this speak to me? Is this one step closer to future me?”

I always rely on a quote from Neil Gaiman, who just happens to be one of the most beautiful humans on this earth:

“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street NAKED … that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

It may be a cliche, but there is a reason it is a cliche. You have only yourself to give in this part of time, so give the world YOU.

On the day of a shoot, I tend to spoil myself with junk food and really good espresso because being creative is a lot of giving of yourself. So I indulge in guilty pleasures before I get to work.

VGS: What drew you to fashion photography in particular?

A: Fashion photography is a perfect niche for me because it allows me to express and combine my artistic backgrounds in illustrative work and still imagery with my love for modern utilitarian expression.

I also love how people totally dig the relationship of art and fashion even if they don’t realize it. Lol. For example, how one who has no art history background can love and wear a Keith Haring patterned shirt. It’s just so fascinating to me how close the relationship actually is with art and fashion. I think that’s one of the biggest draws.
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VGS: Which has been your favorite shoot to date and why?

A: That’s a hard question. I feel like even when I’ve been really challenged with hard shoots, I still end up loving them because they get me to that next step.

If I have to be kind of specific, I would say it has been any shoot where it’s an all girl team and everyone does their job to the best of their ability, and they just let creativity flow. This means saying YES to anyone’s ideas, whether they are good, bad, or crazy. Some of the work that I’m most proud of doing is when I’ve gone through with an idea that had other people giving me the eyebrow.

If you’re not weirding people out, then you’re probably playing it too safe. Lol!

Things that really get my love juices flowing in visuals I see, are things that aren’t boring. I’d rather be weird than boring.

Don’t think I’m saying that minimalism is a part of this “boring” group. Classical imagery is always going to be beautiful, and that’s what makes it appreciated and classic. I’m only saying, that for me personally, in this world where everything has been done, what excites me is imagery that gets people talking to each other.

VGS: What are your thoughts on Portland’s creative / fashion scene? What, if anything, do you feel is needed to keep it going and / or strengthen it?

A: I have a lot of personal thoughts on Portland’s fashion scene. Obviously I’m a big advocate for it because Portland has been my home for my whole life and it’s my career, but I think there are a lot of areas of needed growth.

I speak primarily of the greatness of our community. Portland is such a community town. We are all so good about staying connected and working with each other, which is really something to be proud of.

One thing I’ve learned though, especially this last year, is that because of that community mentality, professionalism can be lost. We can end up taking each other for granted, and make light of each others worth because we are from the same small town. We should always treat each other with respect and courtesy, and stick to our word as creative professionals. That is one thing other areas such as NY and LA have down, professionalism and business.

I think if we find something in the middle of that, we will do a lot better in creating real paying jobs and a real industry.
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VGS: What is currently inspiring you?

A: My biggest inspirations/obsessions right now are:

Fatal Beauty: I had the ‘This’ channel on a few weeks back while I was working on my computer, and this movie came on. It’s from the late 80’s with then semi-new star Whoopi Goldberg. She plays a rebel detective who dresses in the coolest leather jacket/blazer combos while having amazing braided hair. At one point, she even has a GLITTER AFRO.

I love seeing all those weird styles meshed together, and this is just one of those movies where that happens characteristically as well as in it’s overall aesthetic. It’s also a rare gem where Sam Elliot (one of the coolest people on the planet) plays the protag love interest. If you haven’t seen this, go get it now.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast: I recently decided to go down memory lane (which I often do) and was reminded of my undying love of Space Ghost. I was allowed to watch very little growing up growing up in a Christian household, but this show was one I used to sneak watch. Mid-day re-runs would play while mom and dad were away at work, and I would try to make sense of this show with my 8 year old brain. Watching it now, I’m reminded of how much I adore the contrasted mesh of live action and animation. This is something I’d like to explore in my personal work in the future.

Lily Rose Depp: I adore this girl. I can’t stop swiping through her Instagram. I love how free she is at such a young age. Yes, I know her dad is Johnny Depp and she is filthy rich so she is obliged. But I can’t help love her spirit and how she doesn’t care about acting mature or representing herself. She is only sixteen, and she is totally okay with that. When I was younger, I was always trying to be older so it’s something I really admire.

Delphine Diallo: I found this photographer recently, and I’m smitten with her personal work. She primarily photographs African American women, but also women of other ethnicities. Each photograph is very journalistic, but features hints of the surreal and questions culture. There are a lot of fashion elements to each picture, and the objects/props she uses keep me enthralled.

VGS: What is your biggest challenge in staying motivated and how do you overcome it?

A: My biggest challenge to staying motivated is probably the distraction of everything social media and entertainment have to offer. Lol.

There’s so much available to us now at the touch of our fingertips, it’s a challenging world to live in. I would say now though, after learning in college, I’m definitely better at being a hard ass on myself and getting things done. I often will not turn anything on, except for music in the morning, and after I complete something I’ll reward myself with TV guilty pleasures etc. I try to outline priority lists for myself, and that tends to be the key. If that doesn’t work, I’ll do other kinds of “work” like cleaning or working out.

Deadlines are also essential.

VGS: What’s your favorite burger spot in town?

A: Little Big Burger all the way.


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Check out Autumn’s work here and follow her @arosenose on Instagram to keep up on her awesome projects.

rad ladies : mel heim

July 9, 2015

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It’s kind of weird thinking about it but I’ve known Mel Heim since she was a newborn (as such she’ll always be Melissa to me). Our moms are BFF’s and as a kid I played with Mel’s sister often. Mel came along around the same time my sister did and the two of them played together while Mel’s sister and I studied the properties of crystals and worked on our fashion magazine (aka a binder of collages we made). Eventually Mel’s family left Portland for Canby, I left Portland for Seattle, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I reconnected with the Heim family. Our moms are still BFF’s after all.

I recently learned that during that interim Mel earned her first black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. In fact, at age nine, she was the youngest woman to ever earn a black belt in the State of Oregon. She now has three. NBD. Meeting Mel again as an adult I was immediately impressed by her confidence and self-assuredness and I learned that she was working as a distiller for Rogue Brewery. After running into her at a distiller’s fest a few years back she gave me taster after taster of gin she distilled herself and I was like, Who is this rad lady? Not the little kid I recalled, that’s for sure. Since then, Mel has been busy: after leaving Rogue, she put in some time at a food cart, and is now Master Distiller at Eastside Distillery. Again, NBD.

Having accomplished so much at such a relatively young age, I had to know more and thankfully, Mel was happy to oblige-


VGS: You’re a native Portlander! That’s so rare these days, what do you miss most about ‘old’ Portland and what do you love most about ‘new’ Portland?

M: Well, ‘old ‘ Portland was like a lot of major cities pre-millennials – it was blue collar. I was young in the ‘old’ Portland so I do not share a lot of grievances that maybe my parents do. I can say that in the last 10 years I’ve experienced the monumental shift in what is considered affordable. I grew up in Overlook and you remember what that looked like then. The market there now is like the West Hills of the 90’s! But besides real estate trends which will always flux, I miss the neighborhoods; the actual definitive lines that made each neighborhood unique. Chinatown was like another world when I was a kid. We’d walk to the MAX at the Coliseum and go downtown to get rice candy. It was gritty. It had history. I’d have to hold my dad’s hand. Now it’s an endless skyline of condos and more of a club destination. There really is a misconception that Portland lacks diversity. The idea that we’re all just a bunch of 30 something English Majors chasing a pipe dream is not entirely true. I mean, that’s an exact description of myself, ha ha, but I never bore of meeting new people and hearing their stories. Luckily for me my job puts me in a position where I can mingle with all classes in our city. From the retired longshoreman to the president of the MAC and everything in-between. This really is a rich environment to thrive in.

VGS: I’ve known you since you were born but I had no idea you are a black belt, let alone the youngest lady to get a black belt in the State of Oregon! What have martial arts taught you that you’ve been able to apply to your career?

M:  Ah yes, my tiny ninja status will always follow me. I currently hold three black belts. I was nine years old when I earned my first in Tae-Kwon-Do. I then went on to receive my second Dan (degree) and an instructor’s belt from the World Tae-Kwon-Do Federation. That was all well and good and taught me a great deal about respect and discipline. As far as functionality and realistic applications I still had a lot to learn. I did a great deal of study and practice in Jujitsu, Qi-Gong and Aikido during my college years and after. Combining the many styles and philosophies is when I truly gained an understanding of defense, peace and community. The greatest accomplishment as a martial artist is to go through life never having to use your physical skills. Can I destroy you? Yes! Will I? No, I love you. What the arts have taught me that is totally applicable in my day-to-day routine is that I am my own master. I have total control over my perceptions. I’ve learned that empathy is far more useful than knowing how to place someone in a leg lock. I’ve learned that patience always leads to better results. I’ve learned that when my mind is strong I can conquer the most challenging situations whether they be mental or physical. I would not be where I am today in my career had I not known how to take risks responsibly and approach my craft with the same values that were instilled in me during my studies. After all, distillation, like martial arts, is an art, science, history, philosophy and yes, a sport.

VGS: Your career path seems so short: a few years ago you started out distilling for Rogue, then you worked in a food truck, and now you’re Master Distiller at Eastside Distilling! Was distilling always a goal or something you just fell into?

M: My life has been fairly serendipitous. I am an English major who lucked out, frankly. I didn’t know how a still worked on my first day on the job back in 2008. Naturally I am a home brewer because you sort of have to be in this town. My now brother-in-law was the former distiller at Rogue who was going on to study law at Lewis and Clark. He approached me and said I had a good palate (which I think we all do but are not challenged to refine it nearly enough) and asked me if I was interested in taking over. Back the fuck up, sir. I was honored/terrified/excited and knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I interned for a short 6 weeks and he was gone. Once alone, I was actually completely alone as the sole employee of the distillery heading up every aspect of production. No pressure! Turns out I had a knack for the sciences. Who knew?! I went on to be their most award-winning distiller in my two year stint there. I left Rogue in 2010 for personal reasons and that’s when I did the next very Portland thing and went to manage a food cart at Cartopia. I have occupational wanderlust I suppose. I did my two year stint slinging jambalaya and hanging with some great people before I knew it was time to get back in the game. I applied at Eastside to be a tasting room manager just to get my toes wet again. This is a very tight-knit community and you don’t just stroll in to an established distillery and say, “Let me take over” regardless of your accolades. I humbly accepted a job with them as a labeler, then tour guide, then assistant, then production lead and now as the company’s Master Distiller. I am thankful every day for the opportunities that have been afforded to me because at 18 this is not what my future looked like in the least.

VGS: What do you love most about your job?

M: I love that every day is a challenge and an experiment. I love how much learning I get to do. I know more about business and strategy and marketing and chemistry than I ever would have in a different industry. It really is the whole package. I love that I am trusted and nurtured to do great work. And my crew! God I love my crew. Making a spirit is a logistical nightmare with so many things to consider that without my small crew it would not be possible. So know that behind the scenes there are people working hard to bring you the finished product. It’s no easy feat.

VGS: Where do you draw inspiration from?

M: I read a lot. I draw inspiration from everywhere. People assume I come into work and muster up whatever I damn well please. That is only somewhat true. At the end of the day this is a business and I have to be cognizant of what is selling and what is flopping. The trickiest part of the spirits business is that you must predict trends while simultaneously setting them. We’re always thinking 3-5 years out. This is true for any producer/designer. Luckily inspiration can be as close as the nearest bar. We do not lack creativity in our bars. But it also comes from the other end of the spectrum like following the big brands and being hyper-aware of their portfolios. Every acquisition is a story that won’t materialize on the market for years. But if I see that, along with what’s happening in my front yard, and along with the exceptional resources that the great Northwest has to offer it’s easy for me to get inspired.

VGS: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced on your journey and how did you overcome it?

M: This is a two-part answer.  The first biggest challenge for me was confidence. I despised math. I didn’t really get chemistry, hence, going on to study liberal arts.  Turns out, had they told me I was basically making vodka my sophomore year I would have paid a little more attention! Light bulb moment. So once I knew that these academics had kick-ass applications I was on board.

The second biggest challenge was that I have a panic disorder along with major depressive disorder. When I was gaining my ground professionally I was also a 25 year old dealing with the stresses of trying to figure out my entire life’s course: kids, marriage, home buying, etc. Add mental illness to the mix and I was a bit of a shit show. Luckily I have an incredible support system around me in my family, friends and health professionals. I don’t like to shy away from this topic – I think it’s important for people to see that success is as attainable for those who struggle with mental health issues as it is for those who don’t. I’ve worked very hard to understand and cope with my limitations when I was unhealthy. Realizing that you cannot out-intellectualize the illness was a major milestone in my healing process. And the perception that mental illness equals crazy is an antiquated notion. I mean, you wouldn’t know it by looking at or talking to me. So yeah, accepting my limitations and maintaining my health was by far a harder challenge than learning distillation. I’m happy to report that with the combination of hard work, mindfulness, ego-stripping, acceptance and therapy I am able to be a functioning, emotionally adept, confident and contributing human being.

VGS: What are your thoughts on Portland’s exploding food scene?

M: Generally, I can’t get enough of our food scene. I feel so damn spoiled. Even our dive bars serve cuisine! It only makes it that much harder to enjoy food elsewhere. Admittedly, I think I eat out 5 days a week. That’s a lie; it’s definitely 6.

VGS: What can we expect from you & Eastside Distilling in the future?

M: I signed a 5 year contract in March so don’t expect me to go anywhere any time soon! You can expect more master-crafted, innovative spirits in the future. I have a line-up that will always be available for local and national distribution but also have some quirky side projects for special occasions. We are growing exponentially and I’m proud to be along for the ride. We’ve recently gone national with 9 states and have major international interests close behind. We’re gonna blow this up, true story. Our ma and pa days are over because we want to share the goodness with as many people as possible. Aside from all that I’m going to keep on doing what I do: playing soccer, drinking beer, climbing mountains and generally living it up.

VGS: And finally … what’s your favorite spot in town for a burger?

M: Girl, I love a good burger. No favorites but have some go-to’s: Hop and Vine, Slow Bar, Little Bird and Killer Burger. I like ‘em fancy, like me. Ha!


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Thanks, Mel!

Check out Mel’s spirits at Eastside Distillery which has four Portland locations and is served at select fine drinking establishments nationwide. You can also follow Mel on Instagram @mel_k_heim.

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