Lori Caldwell never thought that a business making fine, handcrafted leather goods was in her future.

On the invitation from a friend, she took a sewing class, making a small leather clutch bag, and something “clicked.” She started taking private sewing lessons, all using leather. “I was making bags from day one,” she says. She appreciated the durability of leather, liked that she could use hides that were a useful byproduct of the American meat industry. And it meant she got to make regular visits to Oregon Leather Company. “You can’t walk in there without getting a lesson,” she says.

MinnieGeorge_31

Caldwell quickly decided this was the business she was meant to launch.  But at the same time her day job was suddenly being phased out, and she realized “It was fly or die, basically.” She decided to take the leap of faith, and that the best name she could give her business was that of her parents.

“They’ve always been like, you should make a plan, keep in touch, be happy. We love you…they never showed me their worries…so I always felt like I could do anything.”

Her first collection was made by machine, but when she started doing traditional hand stitching, she says, “My own voice came out.”

“Hand stitching creates parameters around design,” and the results are bags that are more structural, almost architectural. So Caldwell is pursuing a more classic and timeless style, “a marriage between fashion and function,” that she hopes will appeal to a wide variety of customers. And it is important that she likes what she makes. “I design for all of the women at different ages that are still inside me.”

MinnieGeorge_10

And Caldwell is busy. Fashion shops and bloggers have discovered her, and though she has had up to three interns at any given time, she feels like she is still doing some aspect of her business, every day, all the time. She continues to focus and fine-tune her work, liking to always be challenged and keep the learning curve high.

Recently she updated her website, and made the conscious decision to use only women of color as her models. For Caldwell, this was a statement on a few levels: She feels there isn’t a lot of diversity currently represented in the maker movement, and she would like to help change that; it also places her, personally, in the stream of the maker movement. She wants her website to reflect, like the bags she makes, “who I am, and hopefully with a universal appeal.”

MinnieGeorge_28

A 100% hand-stitched bag is an incredibly time consuming process, Caldwell admits, but the result is a bag “you may never have to replace.”

To see and learn more, visit www.minniegeorge.com

Portland Made Branding

More and more consumers are valuing independently made, locally sourced goods. Let customers know you are Portland Made by branding your website and product packaging.

 

Portland brands

GROWTH MEMBERSHIP

Designed for more established businesses who want their products seen and their story told, our Growth Membership offers the greatest online exposure, including products, related content, and links directing consumers back to your website. Showcase your products in our online Shop, include your photo in our Featured Maker Gallery, and add your logo to our Brand Gallery. Your Featured Bio tells your story, has a slider of your brand images, and highlights any related blog posts and products you may have on PortlandMade.com. Share your news, events, and product releases in our blog, newsletter and social media channels.

STARTUP MEMBERSHIP

Our Startup Membership includes a one on one session to check in about your business and get some free feedback to remove obstacles and/or develop your business. It includes your logo in our Brand Gallery, as well as your brand’s Bio Page, where others can see a brief overview of your business, and a link to your website, Etsy shop or Instagram account. Looking to show off your products or for added services? See our Growth Membership, and/or optional add-on services.

IDEA MEMBERSHIP

It all starts with an idea. This stage of membership is designed for those who have an inkling for what they want to do, but may be hazy on the details. Maybe you want to connect with other makers, or you need product photos or a business consultation to help get you to the next level.

Brand Bio

When visitors click on your logo in the Brand Gallery they are taken to your Brand Bio page. This page includes your logo, a product photo, brand story, and link back to your website or shop page.

Portland maker Membership

Maker Meetup

This monthly, one-of-a kind networking event is FREE for members; $15 for non-members. Crafted to be the most useful hour and half a maker can spend on their business each month, this event aims to: expose makers to new workshops, connect makers with each other, and learn from experts.

portland maker events

 

Access to Vetted Resources

Connect with talented professional service providers and subcontractors, offering the range of services small businesses need to thrive. Our online Resources page highlights those we recommend and trust.

Portland Made service providers and vendors

Inclusion in Brand Gallery

Add your logo to the collective’s Brand Gallery. Visitors can peruse brands by category, and click to see your Brand Bio page (for Startup tier), or Featured Bio page (Growth tier).

Portland Brands

Featured Brand Bio

For makers looking for greater exposure, your Featured Brand Bio includes your logo, a slider of images, your brand story, and link back to your website or online shop. As well, this featured page showcases products you have in Portland Made’s online Shop and any related Journal posts you may have on our site.

Visitors can navigate to your Featured Bio from the Brand Gallery and, for those with a professional photo included in Featured Makers, from this gallery as well.

Maker Membership

Your News & Events shared in our Blog,
Newsletter, and Social Media

Broadcast your news, product releases, upcoming events, job openings and more, across Portland Made’s website and social media outlets. Share news content with Portland Made’s consumer audience and maker communities.

Portland maker news

Your Products in our online Shop

Showcase your goods in Portland Made’s online Shop. Visitors can see your product/s and description on the Shop page, and are directed to your personal website. Your product detail page is great for added SEO and as well directs visitors to your personal site.

Inclusion in Featured Makers

Add your maker photo to our Featured Makers gallery. The most prominent page in the Discovery menu, this gallery highlights you as a Portland maker, shows your business name when hovering on your photo, and clicks through to your Featured Bio page where visitors can get an in depth look at your business and visit your personal website.

Portland Made membership perks

Complimentary Business Consultation

Meet for a one on one business consultation to assess the health of your business and identify areas for improvement. 

Jim Hassert, Portland

Preferred Creator Market Vendor

We’ve teamed up with WeWork to produce Creator Market, a semi-annual event hosted in their beautiful westside location. All Growth members can apply first (no application fee), and if you get accepted you vend for free as well.

Portland Made market

 

Product Detail page

Show off your goods! This page is where consumers can see your goods in more detail. It includes a photo, description, and prominent link to your site where they can buy directly from you.

Portland Made goods