If you’ve ever watched IFC’s Portlandia, you’re probably familiar with Women and Women First, the fictional bookstore staffed by Tori (Carrie Brownstein) and Candace (Fred Armisen). But did you know that the scenes were inspired by — and filmed at — a real local feminist bookstore? In fact, Portland is full of businesses created for women and women first. Here are a few of our favorites:
One of America’s most cycle-friendly cities, Portland houses more than 70 bike shops — but only one that explicitly focuses on female cyclists. While Leah Benson’s Gladys Bikes welcomes all genders, the shop excels at fitting bicycles to female bodies, and maintains an impressive “saddle library.” For a truly one-of-a-kind ride, visit the adjoining Sweetpea Bicycles, where Natalie Ramsland draws on her experience as an architect, bike messenger and bike fitter to create custom frames guaranteed to fit flawlessly. (You’ll have to plan ahead, however — Ramsland’s waiting list often stretches as far as three years into the future.)
Founded by Portlanders Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt, She Bop goes beyond the traditional sex store experience to create a safe space for all genders and sexual orientations. The inviting adult boutique specializes in non-toxic, sustainable toys and female-focused products, and offers sexual education in the form of workshops, classes and expert staff at their two locations (in Southeast and North Portland).
The self-declared “home for bad-ass women,” clothing boutique Wildfang was founded by Nike vets Julia Parsley and Emma McIlroy in 2013 and quickly earned a formidable online following. Tired of searching in vain for blazers and button-downs that fit female frames, the duo launched their own clothing store filled with “tomboy fashions” like wingtips and bow ties. The carefully curated collection of androgynous threads, which pulls from both menswear and women’s lines, has won the love of celebs like Kristen Stewart, Elliot Page and Janelle Monae.
If the raunchy name didn’t clue you in, Finger Bang is a far cry from your typical nail salon. Through unorthodox hours (noon to midnight) and a raucous ambiance (expect kung fu movies and cups of champagne), owner Glynis Olson has created a new style of nail parlor — one that welcomes dancers, punks, trans youth, new moms and, yes, men, too. Whatever your style, Finger Bang’s epic nail art is guaranteed to turn heads; their manis may feature tiny pizzas, Frida Kahlo or the Powerpuff Girls.
Established in 2017 by Jill Kuehler, Freeland Spirits produces delicious and gorgeously designed spirits that celebrate the women of the craft. (In addition to being woman-owned, their Free Spirit Program honors Oregon women that are busting through the glass ceiling.) Bottles of their signature whiskey and gin are shaped like a teardrop, with an etching of a woman with her arms raised, head tilted back and arms outstretched to grasp a stem of a single stalk of grain. Freeland offers tours and tastings on select days at their headquarters in Northwest Portland.
Founded in 1993, Portland-based GladRags is one of the country’s leading purveyors of reusable menstrual products, from eco-friendly moon cups to colorful fleece pads and organic cotton pantyliners. Although the woman-owned company doesn’t have a retail store, you can stock up at many local shops (including She Bop) or order online.
Launched as a zine in 1996, nonprofit Bitch has evolved into one of the nation’s most respected feminist magazines, providing thoughtful commentary on contemporary media, politics and mainstream culture to more than 10,000 subscribers (not to mention 350,000 Facebook fans). Pick up a copy of the quarterly publication at local retailers like Powell’s, download their weekly podcast Popaganda, or swing by their Portland headquarters to visit their community lending library.
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