If Tender Loving Empire were in my neck of the woods, I’d be a regular. Brianne and Jared Mees, Tender Loving Empire co-founders of the Portland hybrid handmade retail marketplace and record label, were in the middle of what they called a “do-or-die moment.” They had launched the brand in a 700-square-foot space at ActivSpace in NW Portland, and despite early successes at the record label and retail store, and great community support, the recession and high expenses were getting the better of the business.
While taking a stroll in the West End neighborhood of downtown Portland, they happened upon an empty storefront next to the local boutique Radish Underground. Their friends at Radish Underground helped secure the new space for them and the (now) prime downtown retail location led to a renaissance for their business. Brianne and Jared’s joint passion and determination to build a financially thriving artist & craft community network in a town that could actually support one has grown to a fantastic online store and multiple brick-and-mortar locations. They also just wrapped a five-day music and handmade goods festival called the All Together Festival as part of their 10-year anniversary.
For the interior of their shops, they enlisted Fieldwork Design, who created the plywood fixtures in the shop using sanded, whitewashed and lacquered plywood. The design direction from the crew at Tender Loving Empire was simple: 1) approachable, 2) affordable (plywood!) and 3) beautiful. The end result is a comfortable, clever and truly unique atmosphere for visitors to enjoy while shopping the eclectic assortment of handmade and local goods.
You’ll notice many distinct angles in each fixture. These geometric features were informed directly by Tender Loving Empire’s logo, which evokes the “open heart” and the two sides of their business: handmade goods and music.