We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Hollis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The pandemic really rocked my World, as it did all of ours! After losing a job I deeply loved I felt pretty lost, but within that confusion also came a sense of empowerment to try and make something for myself. The stakes for everything felt different, everything felt like a risk at that point. I’ve known from a small age that sewing and designing are what make me the happiest, so I thought why not try to harness that energy and find ways to sustain myself that way? It felt like a really natural progression in the wake of such unknown territory, and it has been a beautiful way for me to connect with other creatives.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a designer, I create one of a kind garments and strive to use a majority upcycled materials. I’m inspired by vibrant colors and overstated silhouettes. I get a lot of joy out of creating new life from things that have been discarded, or seen as unwanted. It’s amazing to watch someone’s perspective change completely from the start to end of a sewing project. As a shop owner, I’m excited to have so many other creatives alongside me. My shop is a collection one of a kind garments, jewelry, ceramics, and art from independent designers. It’s been amazing to collaborate and be able to offer items that you truly couldn’t find anywhere else.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been how to make this work financially, but I think there is a lot of value for me in remembering that this is a process, and it’s okay to not be 100% self-sufficient just yet. This isn’t a full time endeavor for me yet, but I’m allowing myself to take time with it so that it feels manageable, and in every job I have had I’ve learned skills that help me in my own business as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
So many things! There’s a lot of incredible food and creative people in Portland.
For food, Eem Thai Barbeque is second to none. Afuri is a great ramen spot, Han Oak and Toki serve unforgettable Korean dishes. If we’re talking breakfast, Screen Door Southern kitchen is amazing. Angelface is a favorite bar of mine (be sure to check out the wallpaper), I love going to Fresh Pot on Mississippi Ave for coffee, and Never makes stellar lattes with fun flavors.
Frances May has a great selection of unique designer garments and Stand Up Comedy Too is a favorite as well, I can’t leave that store without buying something! Shop Boswell, Banshee, Psychic Sister, Nakamuraya, and Halo Shoes are other favorites in town for shopping.
The beauty of Portland is that the city is surrounded by so much nature. I love hiking through Forest Park up to the view overlooking the city at Pittock Mansion. Latourell falls is a great spot for hiking and waterfalls, and seeing the coast at Cannon Beach is gorgeous.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
From a young age my parents have encouraged me to follow my passions with a sense of realism which has given me the ability to not only imagine what’s possible, but put those things into action. I’m eternally grateful for their belief in me. My supportive and loving partner is always there for me, and I have a wonderful network of friends that consistently lift each other up and hold one another accountable to be the best for ourselves and our community. Portland designer Laurs Kemp was the first person to take me under her wing and show me the ropes. She’s an excellent teacher and has inspired a lot of my upcycling projects.
Shana Tabor, owner/designer of In God We Trust NYC has been my mentor and friend for the past few years and I owe so much of my success to her. She’s consistently presented me with opportunities to further develop my skills and reach, and has delivered more than a handful of pep talks in moments of doubt. I’m deeply inspired by her resourcefulness, values, and sense of humor.
Photos by Kate Shannon and Anna Greer