Portland Made: The Makers of Portland's Manufacturing Renaissance

by Kelley Roy, with Peggy Acott

(Portland Made Press)

We're about halfway through the biggest retail crush of the year. It's a time of stress and overspending, and it can be hard to make thoughtful decisions when the crowds are overwhelming and the weather is so crappy that you'd rather stay in bed forever than go shopping... much less to the post office. (Ugh.)

That also makes it a fitting time to pick up Portland Made, the recently released book by Kelley Roy (full disclosure: I am quoted in the chapter that spotlights Portland's fashion industry). Founder of the ADX maker collective and the Portland Made Collective, and co-author of 2010's Cartopia: Portland's Food Cart Revolution, Roy has become a leader in championing the importance of returning to and nurturing the manufacture of goods domestically, and particularly in Portland, where rapid changes have at once made small business models a valuable part of the city's cultural capital, and have put their viability at risk—thanks to rising costs of living and the demand for close-in property, such as the riverside neighborhoods where much of the city's manufacturing infrastructure is located.

Early on in Portland Made, Roy delivers a succinct overview of the 20th century manufacturing decline in the United States, not to mention 5.8 million manufacturing jobs that have shifted overseas since 2000. If you're a reader of this column, it's unlikely most of this information will be revelatory, and don't be scared off by the scary statistics—the vast majority of Made is a celebratory call to arms, and Roy is more interested in inspiring her readers than in cowing them.

Indeed, despite its gravitas, Portland Made is a compact, quick read, with many pages filled with a photo portraits—Tanner Goods' Sam Huff and Jevan Lautz, Salt & Straw's Kim Malek, Spooltown's Sara Tunstall and Dana Hinger, Caravan Pacific's Shannon Guirl—by photographer Aaron Lee (who also, full disclosure, contributes to the Mercury), and stylized infographics that simplify things like the impact of maker space availability on jobs and education.

Though not without academic heft, Portland Made is an approachable overview of small-business manufacturing in Portland right now. It exists to inspire the reader to appreciate what Portland has already started, and to support the movement as a consumer and an active member of the community. Roy's embarking on a push to keep momentum going through an upcoming appearance at the March 8 edition of the Curiosity Club speaker series (hosted by Hand-Eye Supply, curiosityclub.handeyesupply.com), and is promoting herself as a guest speaker.

Roy offers constructive solutions to some of our problems, and sheds a hopeful light on our increasing economic relevance—plus you can definitely feel okay using Portland Made as an excuse to stay home in bed.


Amelia's annual holiday party has arrived, with drinks and other treats, plus 20 percent off everything in store, including new dresses from Portland's Hubris Apparel and Seattle brand Una, and shrugs from local Copper Union. Amelia, 2230 NE Alberta, Fri Dec 18, 5-8 pm

• Chic little watering hole Beech Street Parlor is hosting its first-ever holiday bazaar, where they'll feature food and drink specials along with gift-ables from a rad clutch of local artisans, including xobruno's leather accessories, fashion by Jayme Hansen, and—take special note, fans of XRAY's Strange Babes—cards and napkins made by Kathy Foster and ornaments by Jen Olesen. Beech Street Parlor, 412 NE Beech, Sun Dec 20, 2-7 pm, all ages

• Luxury lingerie purveyor Jane's Vanity is having a holiday soirée that doubles as an opportunity to shop styles for both men and women as models mill around showcasing the looks, plus there will be a performance by French a cappella group Bergerette, DJ Tony Stewart, large scale floral arrangements by Spellbound Flowers, and a photo booth. The Cleaners, 403 SW 10th, Sun Dec 20, noon-7 pm

• The holiday edition of the Alchemy Lab pop-up features gifts from CobraCult, Wolf Child, Rock & Rose, Altar Houseline, and Katie Guinn, to name a few, stretched over two days for a lot of shopping opportunity! Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside, Sun Dec 20 & Mon Dec 21, noon-7 pm

• The Rock 'n' Roll Flea Market combines a subterranean marketplace of vintage and retro goods with access to a full bar and a closing performance from the Reverberations, as well as sets from DJs Silver Fox and Tony Mengis. Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, Mon Dec 21, 5-9 pm