Portland prides itself on being creative and independent, so it’s no wonder that local shoppers skip chain stores come the holidays. And it’s easy for visitors to join their ranks! Thanks to Portland’s vibrant maker community, holiday shopping here is like sifting through an overflowing treasure chest. The biggest challenge is narrowing down the abundance of choices. That’s where this Portland gift guide comes in.
John Connor is the founder of MadeHere PDX, a Pearl District shop dedicated to showcasing the talents of Portland-based designers, artists and makers. Kelley Roy is the founder the shared co-making studio space ADX Portland and author of Portland Made: The Makers of Portland’s Manufacturing Renaissance. Read on as Roy and Connor share their favorite Portland-based products, designers and small businesses.
“Makers in Portland are always innovating, so you can find a huge range of products made here,” says Connor. “Goods crafted here are evocative of the Portland experience, from the dramatic landscape of this region to our DIY culture, and Portlanders want to share that.”
Portland’s Thriving Maker Scene
“Maker” is a buzzword these days, and Portland’s many designers, artisans and entrepreneurs make the city the heart of the national trend. Leaders in the Portland maker scene estimate that 500–1,000 entrepreneurial makers call Portland home, creating everything from knit caps and surfboards to bike panniers and hot sauce.
“Our annual survey shows that the maker movement is growing, and a lot of companies in the maker scene are expanding their operations,” Roy says. “Portland is on the leading edge of this national trend, in part because we’re such a tight community and have a deep spirit of collaboration.”
Made-in-Portland Gift Guide
Ready to shop? Everything in this guide comes from Portland-based makers, and most of these goodies can be found at MadeHere PDX. Happy holidays!
Gifts for Kitchen Connoisseurs
Beautiful and practical (not to mention octagonal) Finex cast iron pans are shaped to make pouring sauce or soup easier. Additionally, their pre-seasoned “high release” surfaces will keep your favorite foodie’s omelets from sticking.
Amateur mixologists will appreciate The Bitter Housewife’s small-batch bitters made with locally sourced ingredients like herbs, tree bark and nuts.
And the Jacobsen Salt Co. infused salt set includes pairing notes for each of the six artisanal salts.
Gifts for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Washable and warm, adventure blankets from Belmont Blankets “are great for going to the beach, hiking or camping,” Roy says. Their waterproof side lets you sit without getting a wet bum. (Look for their collaboration with Pendleton Woolen Mills for a gift that simply screams “Oregon.”)
Mythical Lumberjack shirts from Wild Outdoor Apparel look and feel like flannel, but have “water-phobic” performance threads woven into the fiber, making the shirts a great layering alternative to fleece. “They are streetwear meets mountain performance gear, which makes total sense for Portland,” Connor says.
Gifts for Travelers
The Viator Carryall shoulder bag from Orox includes plenty of sleeves and pockets for passports and guidebooks. Its utilitarian look is “representative of a very Portland aesthetic,” Connor says.
Shwood sunglasses are made from unexpected Northwest materials like osprey feathers, wildflowers, pine cones and moss (seriously).
Bike gear brand North St. makes waterproof daypacks with interchangeable pockets, so adventurers can go from lugging a laptop to getting away for the weekend in mere moments.
Gifts for Gardeners
Women-owned Dovetail Workwear makes women’s gardening clothes and accessories that fit, work and look good. Their pants are specially designed to fit different body types and durable enough to stand up to any gardener’s routine.
Aspiring backyard beekeepers can get started with a Bespoke Bee Supply hive made from locally harvested FSC-certified lumber. The product’s design and handcrafted techniques waste 30–60% less wood than conventionally made hives.
Gifts for Kids
Rain Baby Gear sells kids’ hats and stroller blankets made from BPA-free laminated cotton in cheerful prints sure to brighten rainy winters.
Mirus Toys hand-makes wooden Montessori-inspired goods (think playdough stampers and a moon puzzle in the shape of phases of the moon). “These are anything but the poorly made toys you usually see. They’re thoughtfully designed and durable enough to pass along when your kids grow out of them,” Roy says.
Gifts for the Host
If a candle seems like a cliché host gift, it’s probably because you’ve never seen Wooly Beast soy candles. “People get a kick out of candles called ‘Dirty Hipster’ and ‘Maple Bacon Donut,’” Connor says (and you’d be hard-pressed to find more Portland scents).
Instead of a bottle of wine, gift a hand-blown tumbler from North Drinkwear, cleverly imprinted with a scale replica of Mount Hood or Rainier. They’re among MadeHere PDX’s fastest-selling products for good reason: These statement pieces are sure to prompt stories as you sip.
Gifts for Furry Friends
Roy’s black Lab, Merle, can vouch for Portland Pet Food Company dog biscuits (including grain-free treats shaped like gingerbread men) — the pork flavor is his favorite.
And Roy leashes Merle with an Oregon Dog Products lead “whose grip gives me the control I need with a non-leather product.”
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