Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Seek and Swoon: Eco Throws That Tell A Story

Seek and Swoon
Photo Source: Seek and Swoon; Jala Smith-Huys
I think Jala Smith-Huys is a creative genius. She's got an eye for design, but also a head for business. Jala has created a business that merges her love for travel, her belief in sustainability, her mastery of social media and her talent for design. Jala Smith-Huys is the incredible person behind the eco-blankets of Seek and Swoon.

Story Telling Throws

Seek and Swoon blankets are not your ordinary throws. Each throw tells a story through its design and feel. Most of Seek and Swoon's uniquely designed throws reflect Jala's impressions and sense of joy from her travels. For example, Envie evokes the sense of being in Paris. Slip under the blanket, and imagine you're looking out at the Eiffel Tower and walking along the Champs d'Elysee. In fact, each blanket comes packaged with its own story.

Natural Design

You can also feel good about your Seek and Swoon blanket. All of the blankets are made in the USA by a second generation, family-owned and operated knitting mill. Jala contacted close to 100 knitting mills in the U.S. to find just the right one that shared her values and vision. Jala sources yarn made from re-purposed, textile manufacturing scraps. The yarn is not bleached. The colors are the original colors. From start to finish, Jala has designed a manufacturing process that conserves resources and supports the US knitting industry.

Jala has worked in design all of her professional life, and her expertise is in graphic design and social media. She spent nine years as creative director for New Seasons when it first opened. In fact, she was one of the original 12 employees. After getting married, Jala went out on her own as a freelance graphic designer, working mostly with her network in the food industry. She adeptly saw the boom of social media coming, and was an early adopter of Twitter. Soon, she found herself developing social media strategies for some of the bigger food brands in the Pacific Northwest.

Seek and Swoon
Photo source: Seek and Swoon; Jala Smith-Huys

Ingenious Dreamer

Jala almost sheepishly admits to being what she calls a serial entrepreneur. Jala says she's always dreaming up new businesses to launch, but most ideas lay dormant. I rather think that's a positive trait. I think it shows her ingenuity in action, but also the smarts to know when an idea is ripe for the market. Jala explains she's always been interested in making products instead of providing a service. She's always looking for a way to find that balance in her life.

In 2015, Jala and her husband decided to do something different. They packed up their two young boys and took a traveling sabbatical. Over the course of 60 days, they traveled through four countries in Europe and visited seven cities. Staying in Air BNB's and multiple days in one spot, Jala and her family got a glimpse of what life is like somewhere else. They also caught the travel bug.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Eli Eichenauer - Revitalizing Lives Through Connection and Community (Updated)

I met Eli Eichenauer a little over 9 years ago, not long after I moved into my house. He and his wife moved in next door several weeks later. It's incredible how life can connect you randomly with people who are doing such amazing things for the community and its health. Eli Eichenauer is an advanced Rolfer and the Executive Director of the nonprofit Revive Community Commons. His Rolfing practice and Revive are reflections of each other that are also connected together at a common core. Both vocations aim to heal mind and body by revitalizing the connections that bind us together.

Holistic Healing

Eli's Rolfing practice, Rolfing PDX, is an holistic healing practice. Eli explains that Rolfing is hands-on work that focuses on the body's connective tissue. From what I understand, Rolfing starts with a belief that the body is only as free from tension and as healthy as what connects it together. A Rolfing practitioner examines how the body functions and aligns with gravity, and works to realign and re-energize the body. Eli showed me a Tensegrity Model to demonstrate the symmetry between our connective tissue and structure. Tension in one area can affect the functionality and form of other areas of the body.

Eli's wants to bring about long lasting change in the body, so you will move more efficiently and without pain. But, he emphasizes this change can happen with a gentle practice. In addition to completing advanced training in Rolfing, Eli also is a licensed massage therapist and is trained in craniosacral therapy. He blends these practices to help his clients open up their bodies and to move more freely without tension and pain.

The Power of Community

Eli also believes we live better and more fulfilling lives when we are connected through community. Eli says he started his Rolfing practice in Portland at a wellness center in SE Portland. He enjoyed having his practice there, connected to other holistic practitioners in an integrated health environment. Around the time of the Great Recession, Eli decided to give more back to the community and the professionals in it. He helped found a group of professionals, Community Inspired Professionals, to create new and meaningful relationships among like-minded professionals. This group was more than a business leads group, but also a group dedicated to giving back to the community together through volunteer work and other support.

This group of professionals ultimately led Eli to TaborSpace. If you haven't been there, TaborSpace is the transformation of the Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church into an amazing community and gathering place. One of the members of the group was at TaborSpace from the beginning. The professional group met there, and Eli bonded with the community and the space. He appreciated the sense of the sacred and the stillness that was part of the space open to the community. He connected with the spirit and energy moving through the people who gathered there. Eli moved his practice to TaborSpace in 2013, where his practice remains.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Discover Portland's Neighborhood Greenways

Neighborhood Greenways
Neighborhood Greenway at Ladd's Circle

Follow the Sharrows

Portland's Neighborhood Greenways create an excellent bicycling network through our neighborhoods. They meander mostly down quiet, neighborhood streets, where you can leisurely ride to your next destination. They also offer a unique opportunity to get to know our residential neighborhoods as you ride down the streets where people live and play. You really feel like you're in the neighborhood, sensing its feel and personality.

In fact, I explored Portland on bike using these Neighborhood Greenways when I first moved here. I didn't know what they were called at the time, but I quickly fell in love with the bicycle route signage that helped me navigate. I thought I had arrived in bicycling Nirvana or Biketopia. But mostly, I enjoyed getting to know Portland and how each neighborhood moved into the next, but were each still connected to the whole city.

Now, the City of Portland has also added special arrow markings - called sharrows - along the bike routes to help users navigate through the routes. The Neighborhood Greenways do twist and turn through the neighborhoods because they stick to mostly quiet, lesser traveled streets.  I usually take a look at a bike route map before I head out, so I have a general idea of where I'm going and if I need to find a good route off a Greenway to get to a commercial area, such as SE Hawthorne or NE Alberta. Fortunately, the signage along the routes is excellent.

I particularly like that the Neighborhood Greenways wind through the city neighborhood streets. I enjoy riding with fewer cars, but also enjoy exploring parts of the city I wouldn't discover otherwise. Sometimes I just head out and follow the sharrows to see where they take me. But I also use these routes to get from here to there for everyday tasks or for getting to work. It somehow just makes the errand or the commute more enjoyable to travel through a cozy neighborhood than on a busy thoroughfare. And who knows what I might discover along the way?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wyatt Rose - Fashionable Apparel to Keep Your Child Warm

Photo source: Wyatt Rose
Andrea Anderson launched Wyatt Rose to solve a problem. She was looking for headgear for her young children, but nothing on the market seemed right. Andrea took matters into her own hands and began to design quality, functional and stylish children's head wear. Wyatt Rose sells the headgear it designs as well as other quality apparel for children.

Design with Heart

Wyatt Rose started in Andrea's living room. Andrea tells me she sat on her couch in the evenings and started designing beanies and hats for children. Using Illustrator software, she drew hats that would fit children with stylish designs. She envisioned warm. knitted hats from quality, natural and comfortable fibers, such as alpaca and lambswool. Andrea also wanted a hat for her daughter that wasn't pink! So, Andrea designed with a large color palette.

Andrea was no stranger to design and apparel. She worked in the design and apparel industry for many yearsfor various apparel lines, such as Columbia Sportswear and AmerSports. She soon found herself in management. She missed the creative side of the industry, she says, and was getting tired of all the traveling. She had young children at home and wanted to spend more time with them. I think she was finding herself again while designing those hats, and felt called to bring them to market.

Launch With Style

Andrea decided to take a risk and launch a start-up. She named it Wyatt Rose after her children. She reached out to connections she had in the industry and found a quality knitting manufacturer to create a few prototypes. She took her prototypes to a trade show in New York City, where buyers could see her hats. It seems she found a niche waiting to be filled. Her hats are now featured in shops across the country, including some shops in Portland.

Photo source: Wyatt Rose
I'm not surprised her hats are popular. Wyatt Rose offers 12 styles of hats and beanies. They are warm and versatile, knit from natural fibers. They come in different sizes for infants to young adults. The hats have beautiful designs in a variety of colors. And yes, they're super stylish. Wyatt Rose has hats kids want to wear and hats you'll want your kids to wear.

Andrea also built a website to show case her hats, which launched in August 2016. I'm not surprised that Andrea also had another great idea. She wanted to feature apparel from other talented artisans from around the world on her site. Andrea started searching for like-minded artisans on-line and just reached out to the ones who inspired her. Andrea told me about a woman from Australia who makes beautiful bows. Now, these bows are for sale on Wyatt Rose's website from a featured artisan.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Make Time to Live with Sustainably Organized and Casey Hazlett

Casey Hazlett
Source: Sustainably Organized
Casey Hazlett of Sustainably Organized is more than a brilliant organizer. She is just so personable and kind, and radiates such enthusiasm about her work, you'll be wanting to get organized. Casey helps you get organized in such a way that you can easily maintain it, and you'll have fun getting there too. Casey wants to help you organize so you have more time to enjoy life.

Casey stirred something inside me when we talked. It seems ever since our meeting, I've been weeding out and freeing up space. I just felt this urge to organize. Of course, it would be a lot easier and more effective with her help! If she can motivate me in just an hour of chatting, just think what she could do if she came over to help?

Personally Organized

Casey works in a very personal way. She likes to start with pictures of your office or space you'd like to organize, or she will come visit the space herself. She'll evaluate what's going on in the space and you'll put together a needs assessment of what is working or not. Then, you'll begin your work together to transform your space and your time. Casey usually comes to you and works with you typically for three hours at a time. She says three hours is enough time to get something done, but not too much time to lose effectiveness.

You will work together to decide what will go where. Casey says this is a very hands-on process, so you come up with a system that works for you and that you can sustain. Casey shares that the hardest part can be deciding what to let go of - what items you no longer need. We build emotional attachments to things, so Casey helps you find ways to make the letting go easier, such as taking pictures or keeping one representative piece from a collection.

Sustainably Organized Before & After
Source: Sustainably Organized

Everything Needs A Home

Casey tells me that it is crucial that everything has a home, and that the home is clearly labeled. Our biggest mistake, I learned, is not labeling your containers, files or drawers. Casey points out that we easily forget where things belong, so we then end up with items strewn about in a haphazard way and in places where we can't find them. I told her how I put a staple remover in each of my desk drawers so I could always find one. However, all 3 staple removers always seem to end up in the same drawer! She replied that's actually not a bad course of action for commonly used items, such as pens. Just keep some of those things everywhere you might need them.

Casey and Sustainably Organized will also organize your move! Casey will be your complete moving coordinator, helping you declutter, pack and unpack. She's even got a pocket full of other moving professionals, such as movers, she can recommend, and she will coordinate with them on your behalf. Once you're in your new home, she'll help you set up the space efficiently, identify optimal storage space and give you an organizational sustainability plan to keep the flow going. She has even obtained a special aging certification for working with seniors. I want Casey on my team!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Get Ready to Paddle With Clackamas River Outfitters

Photo courtesy C.R.O.
I ventured a little out of town to meet Luke and Tanley of Clackamas River Outfitters, but it was worth the trip to Estacada. They are owners and the faces of Clackamas River Outfitters, and they will get you paddling on the Clackamas River. Clackamas River Outfitters, or CRO, offers paddle board and kayak rentals, as well as tours and lessons. Luke and Tanley are so passionate about paddle sports and the water, they almost had me convinced to give paddle boarding a try.

Paddling For Everyone

Clackamas River Outfitters launched just last year. But, Luke and Tanley bring to it years of experience of paddling and a quiet confidence that is just as soothing as floating on calm water. As Luke told me about his years of white water paddling, it just seemed like such a natural thing to do - to go out on the water with nothing but a boat (or board) and a paddle. I sensed for Luke and Tanley, being on the water with a paddle is just another way of communicating with nature.

Luke explained that CRO provides not only the right gear for paddling, but also instruction on how to use the gear. CRO's high quality rental fleet includes both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks and paddle boards. The fleet sits in two locations: Estacada Lake at Timber Park and Promontory Park Resort & Marina. Both of these locations sit conveniently right on the water. You can rent the equipment by the hour, and advanced booking is recommended.

Clackamas Paddling
Photo Courtesy C.R.O.

The Right Place To Paddle

Luke says their fleet is designed for beginners and the casual paddler. Luke and Tanley want to introduce paddle sports to more people, and they believe having the right gear and instruction is important. I asked them both how they manage clients like me who are a bit afraid of the water. They both smiled calmly. "We show them how to use the gear," they said, "and we offer instructional tours." You can even ask Luke to paddle along with you. They report that people always leave the water in a good mood and with a smile. It just feels good to paddle and to be out in nature.

The fleet is located on relatively calm water. Renters can paddle on their own or can venture out on a paddling tour. CRO offers a variety of paddling tours for both kayaks and paddle boards, including a twilight tour and down river paddle boarding tours. Luke says the Clackamas River is one of the best in the world for paddling. It never freezes and offers amazing scenery. People come from all over the country to paddle the Clackamas.

Passionate About Paddling

It is apparent that Luke and Tanley are passionate about paddle sports and being on the water. Luke is an accomplished white water paddler. He says he started kayaking in an inflatable kayak and then later switched to hard shell. While working at Next Adventure, he had the opportunity to paddle frequently. Soon, he was being sponsored by kayak companies. Luke also knows a thing or two about rafting.

Tanley has a B.A. in Recreational Administration and worked for awhile down in Irvine California for a kayaking center before moving back to Portland. She later earned an MA in Conflict Resolution. Tanley, who is also one of the instructors at CRO, says she wants to integrate her conflict resolution skills into the business. But I don't think she wants to leave the water behind. It's a part of her spirit too.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nerd Nest Media - Designed for Small Businesses

Nerd Nest Media
Photo courtesy Nerd Nest Media
Breanne Smith, owner of Nerd Nest Media, is one of those people with whom you just instantly connect. In fact, I just wanted to sit and chat with her all morning. Breanne Smith is a unique breed of web designer. She speaks our language, she's super responsive, and she's focused on serving and advocating for small businesses and solopreneurs. Nerd Nest Media offers affordable turnkey web design and branding as well as hourly consulting and training services. Whether you need a new web design, better SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or just some help in setting up your blog, Nerd Nest Media has you in mind.

To The Rescue

Breanne hasn't always been a web designer, but I think Nerd Nest Media is her true calling. Breanne shared the story about her parents that prompted her to start a web design business. Her parents had just opened a small business and needed a website. They contracted with a company to build the site, but the website never materialized, despite its high cost. Breanne came to the rescue. She fired the original company and contracted with someone else to build the site.

Breanne says she quickly realized that small businesses had few places to turn for good web design. Most designers charged more than a small business could justify.  Business owners' phone calls weren't returned by the designers. The websites arrived without functionality. Marketing companies offer websites, but "marketing is not web building," she says. Many marketing companies simply contract out the web build to subcontractors with sub par results. As a result, many small business owners opt for free or inexpensive, easy-to-build websites and templates that do not always speak well with Google.

So, Breanne enrolled in school to become a web designer. She wanted to build good, smart web sites with good SEO for small businesses at an affordable price. But she also wanted to serve the small business community with integrity, compassion and understanding. Breanne also wanted to bring a softer side to web design and branding. She says emotions matter - it's not just a technical business, but also a personal business.

Tailored Technology For You

I get the sense Nerd Nest Media wants to be your partner to manage your technology needs. Breanne offers a collaborative and responsive process for designing your website and maintaining it. She really listens when you talk, giving her the ability to capture what you want before she does what she calls the nerdy work. She'll call you back promptly and won't leave you hanging out there in a technological abyss. She says she wants not only to provide small businesses with access to good web design, but also to give them some power back. Plus, she's just a joy to work with.

After talking with Breanne I felt like I had a better understanding of the technicalities of my blog and its SEO. That's a huge part of what Nerd Nest Media is about. Not only will Breanne work with you to develop a web design and brand that fits you perfectly, she will also teach you how to do as much of the updating and maintenance to your site as you wish. She has a very special knack for explaining how the technology works.