Inquiries & Responses vol. 05: Portland General Store
Posted on August 17, 2011
This is the fifth in a series of interviews with people who have a keen interest in menswear, style, design, or generally cool stuff. Most of these people are doing something of great note that you should absolutely take a look at.
If my memory serves me correctly, the first time I saw Portland General Store‘s wares was in late 2010 at Michael Williams’ (of A Continuous Lean) Pop-Up Flea in New York City. I believe they were featured at the Hickoree’s Hard Goods table along with several other brands that Hickoree’s was carrying at the time. I got my hands on some of their products initially just a few weeks ago at Steven Alan’s Anex on Abbott Kinney in Venice Beach and liked the oddness of the scents they were using. Their image has certainly changed since I first saw them last year but they carry the same great products with the addition of a few new lines. I spoke with Lisa Brodar, the public face of PGS, via e-mail over the past few weeks and we wound up with a nice, brief conversation to publish. Click below to read the interview and see more photos of their brand new labels.
AC: Tell me a little bit about yourself, about Troy, and how Portland General Store got started?
LB: Lisa is the more public face of PGS and its “nose”. Troy is our marketing and strategy guru. Years ago, we became very interested in sustainable living. As a part of that discovery process, I (Lisa) happened upon some vintage soap and perfume recipe books and a collection of antique, Czechoslovakian pharmacy bottles. These were my creative inspiration. My experimentation began with creams and bath salts and led, eventually, to today’s line of products, made from simple, natural ingredients using time-tested methods. We take no shortcuts and don’t use the fragrance oils and chemical additives which are commonly found today.
AC: What brought you/PGS to Maine?
LB: Troy and I were interested in living a self-sustainable life in a place where one could easily do so. Our plans include living off the grid as much as we can. Maine is surrounded by water, woods, and farmland, and is not overly populated. In tougher times, Maine will survive. Portland is a thriving port city that will continue trading, and we love that we can live in such a city while being so close to nature.
AC: It seems PGS has a few different images when it comes to branding, from the smelling salts packaging and Alpine shaving jelly to the vintage labels. What’s the core image behind PGS?
LB: Funny that you ask! We just completed a huge label redesign that has taken half a year — Alpine is our new label. We just produced a catalogue, and within the next month, once we have all of our new labels, our website will reflect this design throughout rather than having multiple labels. We are excited about our new design, the type for each product name was custom designed, and we used diecut bopp (waterproof labels), custom paper, and custom ink for all of our labels. Our cologne and smelling salt labels will be stamped with each cologne or smelling salt name, giving them a more handcrafted look and feel, and me the flexibility to easily add new scents to our line.