Ryan Dornfel

It tends to get lost in the shuffle, but sometimes it takes a brief reprise from the day-to-day to realize how great our fair city can be. Case in point: the adorable multifaceted enterprise that is Tender Loving Empire. Nowhere else could one company be a record label, retail store, gallery, screenprinter, clothing line, and book publisher (am I leaving anything out?), neatly encapsulating the Portland DIY spirit in one quaint little handmade package.

In honor of their one-year anniversary as a retail location, TLE is throwing a mighty shindig. And they deserve it, too; the past 12 months have been a busy affair for the Empire's co-owners, Jared and Brianne Mees.

Says Brianne, "When we started this, we basically had no idea what we were doing or how we were going to do it. Things have just grown organically out of the backlog of inspiration that had been building up for several years while we struggled artistically and financially in Los Angeles." She continues, "Since then, we have somehow figured out each step along the way. We started as a record label/media collective out of our back bedroom two years ago, and this year has seen the store opening, several book and CD releases on the label, screenprinting services starting up, a clothing line, and a lot more people involved. This year, TLE went from being a part-time hobby to a full-time job."

In addition to the retail space (1720 NW Lovejoy), Brianne and Jared have been hosting First Thursday events, dabbling in the publishing world (releasing Brandon Thompson's A Secret Beast), and have had a banner year for the record label. Known for their raw cardboard sleeve packaging, the label releases the sprawling boxcar folk songs of co-owner Jared Mees, in addition to the elfish folk of Nadine Mooney, and Idaho's co-ed indie rockers Finn Riggins. And in the coming year the label will also release Super XX Man's Volume XII: There'll Be Diamonds, the latest from onetime Silver Scooter frontman Scott Garred.

All of the aforementioned bands (and plenty more) will be at the TLE anniversary party, in addition to giveaways, and if you enjoy fighting on the floor for candy—and can dodge a blindfolded person wildly swinging a bat in a dimly lit bar—there will be a piñata as well.

While it might be a bit dizzying to document all that is going on with TLE, their unbridled creative energy is infectious, as Brianne explains: "It's been a really rewarding but strange process of going from folding and gluing in our back bedroom, not sure anyone would care, to getting daily emails from bands and artists all over the country wanting to be a part of this." She adds, "It's so great to see so many people with projects they're excited about, and we feel lucky to be able to part of a few. But we're just getting started."

Tender Loving Empire's birthday celebration is at Berbati's Pan (10 SW 3rd) on Sunday May 11, 8 pm, $5, all ages until midnight, and will feature performances by Boy Eats Drum Machine, Finn Riggins, Jared Mees & the Grown Children, Super XX Man, Southern Belle, Newspapers, and Nadine Mooney.