Our Production Manager Amory didn’t set out to make jewelry when she arrived in Portland in 2011. Thinking our beloved Stumptown would be a brief stop before leaving the city to work a wine harvest, Portland charmed Amory and she’s been here ever since. I know I speak for the whole betsy & iya family when I say that I’m so happy life threw a curveball in Amory’s plan and she ended up here with us!
Amory’s knowledge of all things betsy & iya jewelry is definitely impressive, but what gets me every time about her is the way she efficiently communicates her expertise, a skill that makes her an excellent manager. She’s clear, concise and as Forrest Gump said of his mama “she always has a way of putting things so I can understand them.” Before I started working here, I had a limited understanding of jewelry making and a whole lot of passion for the end result; because of Amory – seeing her work, watching her ensure that orders are correct, hearing her give direction to her team – both of those things have shot through the roof.
Even though social media isn’t her forte (I have taught her the importance of a hashtag, don’t worry), she goes out of her way to make sure I can get my job done documenting the ins & outs of maker life. There have been multiple times where we’ve worked together to make sure I have the exact shot or footage that I need, even if it takes more time away from her own to-do list.
Let’s get to know more about the woman who keeps the show running!
But goshdarnit, may you never, ever let go of your willingness to jump around in a bright outfit for the sake of a GIF. #neverchange
Keep doing what you do, Am!
Alright, friends it’s time for us to make another virtual trip! Isn’t this fun?! All the joys of traveling – learning, looking at pretty things, getting to know new people – without the money, packing, or having to use vacation time at work. Winning!
For this installment of “Shops We Love” we’re wearing that sundress that won’t see the light of day in Portland till July, pictures of Gingham & Maurice (our shop dogs), a healthy appetite for Cajun food, and heading to Lafayette, LA to visit Jason & Jillian, the co-owners of Red Arrow Workshop.
It sounds like the beginning of a retail-themed sitcom: adorable and hard-working husband & wife team meets adorable and hard-working husband & wife team at a gift show in NYC and agree to forge a business relationship. In the case of Betsy & Will and Jason & Jillian, this actually happened. The show was NYNOW in January 2013 and we’ve been shipping betsy & iya to hot, humid Lafayette, Louisiana ever since. For more of the story on how this shop came to be, take it away, Jillian!
When/Why did you open Red Arrow Workshop?
Red Arrow started out as a little side project while both of us were working full time (Jason as a journalist with a daily paper, and Jillian as a graphic and web designer). We started making messenger bags with silk screened fabrics that folks seemed to like a lot, and after a year or so of doing craft fairs around south Louisiana, we sunk every penny we had into opening a brick & mortar gift shop in August of 2012. We curated lines that fit our design aesthetic and values as consumers, and it ended up really resonating with the community down here. A few months after we opened, Jason was able to quit his job and focus on Red Arrow full-time.
What are some of your favorite things about Louisiana?
We live in south Louisiana so it’s hot and humid, but it’s so much fun. We have this amazing culture that is 100% unique to our little spot on the globe. Obviously the food and music are on our list of marvels, but the people here are really amazing and inspiring. There are so many talented and creative folks that we are privileged to know here.
Describe your personal style:
When I’m paying attention to what I’m wearing (about 30% of the time) I tend to go with the “more is more” philosophy. Lots of earrings, bracelets, bold colors and big hair are a must. (Editor’s Note: so much yes to all of that, Jillian!!!!) These days, I dig on high waisted jeans and skirts with loose cropped shirts, but I will always channel my inner Tina Turner and my inner Loretta Lynn, no matter what. Jason on the other hand is a pretty basic plaid shirt/t-shirt and jeans kind of a guy. He does enjoy a sweet pair of shoes though, and his eyes are two different colors, so that’s a bit of a fashion statement right there.
Where to eat in Lafayette?
There are literally too many favorites to just name one, but Social Southern, Pamplona, Saint Street Inn, Johnson’s Boucaniere, The French Press, and Bread & Circus top our list of local favorites. We have a great community of chefs in this area that really do some amazing things with their own projects and in collaboration with one another, so there’s never a dull moment when it comes to food.
Best Stress Reliever:
Hanging out with our family is pretty much our favorite thing ever. When we have the time, we like to go on bike rides and hikes with our daughter Paxton, and bring along our two standard poodles, Knives and Vega. We stop for coffee or gelato and everybody pets our dogs because they look like dogs wearing dog costumes, which is why we fell in love with them in the first place.
We tend to hop from thing to thing when it comes to hobbies. There’s so much fun stuff to do and we want to try it all! Jason has spent the winter learning the art of mixology (which has been absolutely delicious) and he has a couple of woodworking projects going on. I have been focused designing everything I can, from our kitchen remodel and deck project at the house, to working with Jason on new bags and other products for Red Arrow. But my real passion is yard work…can I tell you how much I love to prune trees and bushes? It’s embarrassing.
What inspires your buying for the shop (what do you look for in the lines you carry?):
We always look for products that we would purchase for ourselves. We are not necessarily focused on current trends as much as things that resonate with us personally. We like designs that are functional, intelligent and beautiful. We try to bring in gift items that are perfect for that one person who is impossible to buy for, because we are impossible to buy for. We curate books that will inspire and educate. We look for natural kids toys that will and engage children and their parents. We find jewelry that is handcrafted and creates a unique narrative about the person who wears it.
Most rewarding part of your Job:
My all-time favorite thing about this business is our customers. I love to watch new and regular customers discover that one special item for the first time. Some people look like they just opened a box full of kittens on Christmas morning, and that is totally my jam. We also seem to have an unusually large amount of reunions between old friends in our shop, which is pretty special. Watching kids round the corner into our toy section and light up with excitement is pretty funny. One little girl came into the store a few months ago and got so excited that she peed in her pants. We were beyond flattered, and only a little bit grossed out.
Hardest part of your job:
The hardest part of this job is remembering everything! We are super DIY about everything, and our list of things to do is always 30-50 items. Just chipping away at that list and realizing that you will never be “finished” can be a hard pill to swallow.
Why do you like carrying betsy & iya jewelry in your shop?
We met Will and Betsy at the gift fair in New York last January, and we loved them even more than we loved the jewelry (which is saying A LOT). Betsy’s designs are so classic, yet absolutely her own voice. They are like tiny sculptures. In her work, I can see everything from mid-century furnishings and art deco buildings to Egyptian treasure and medieval armor.
Favorite B&I piece:
At this moment, it is the Dalia Bangle. I have one, but I really need like, three of them so they can clank around and be friends on my wrist.
Well gosh, Jillian, we agree on so much – a “more is more” philosophy on jewelry, big hair, the idea that wearing multiple Dalia bangles would create a cute bestie trio – it’s no wonder betsy & iya and Red Arrow are such great shop friends. I hope we get to visit each other sometime soon and Jason, I’m putting in an advance order for an original mixology creation.
***Song of the Moment: I Wanna Go by Britney Spears*** (Louisiana’s finest!)
The story of how Betsy met Alyssa while they were both jewelry makers at a different company is one of my favorites. After they both left that job, their paths crossed again, and this time, Betsy told Will that they had to find a way to hire Alyssa. As with most things they collectively set out to do, Betsy & Will made it happen. That was five years ago, and ever since, Alyssa has been behind the workbench for b&i producing jewelry for thousands of happy customers (perhaps even you!).
Since I began working with her, Alyssa has continuously provided the humor, perspective, and expert shoe advice that I’ve now come to not only expect from her, but rely on in order to function at my best at work. No one can rock a vintage dress and a wink quite like Alyssa; the woman can communicate a whole sentence – nay, paragraph – with a single eyebrow raise. She’s the rare kind of coworker whose presence brings both calm and spice to the workplace, sometimes simultaneously.
Last fall, I had the unique opportunity to introduce her to the culinary delicacy known as a Walking Taco, and for that, I hope she is forever grateful. Certainly after this factoid, you’re dying to know more. Let’s get to it!
Name: Alyssa (Editor’s Note: Ms. Hacmac if you’re nasty)
Hometown: Milwaukie, OR (suburb of Portland)
Star Sign: Gemini
I’ve been making jewelry for: 7 years
Before I was a maker at b&i I was: A receptionist at a chiropractic office and also a jewelry maker for another company.
Describe your path to becoming a maker in an ice cream flavor & why: Take a great simple vanilla ice cream and spoon over a little berry jam and crack over some pepper. I don’t know what this says about my journey, but it’s my favorite.
Favorite b&i piece to make: Treasure Pleasure earrings. They are really fiddly and they fight you the whole way so finishing them always feels like an accomplishment.
Favorite b&i piece to wear: Two Captains hoops. All day, e’rry day!
What are some of your favorite tools to work with: I love my cheapie crafting pliers. They are small and have sparkly handles. No erganomic fatty handles for me! I want the tools made for children!
Do you listen to music while you make? If so, what are some of your fave jams? Lately I have been loving my Blondie station on Pandora.
Being a maker has taught me: That the best way to do something is usually the simplest and most organic. If it is feeling too complicated, it probably is.
If you really want to get those eyelashes ^^^^ batting – and trust me, you do – bring up a date, perhaps a nice Old Fashioned & maybe some piping hot donuts with her trifecta of dream men: Jeff Goldblum, Steve Martin, & Bill Murray. I’ll leave you with that, dear reader.
Want to know more about this maker? Follow @hacmaca on Instagram!
If you have specific questions you’d like to see answered in future maker profiles, please email me at email@example.com.
***Song of the Moment: Goodies by Ciara***
To celebrate the day o’ love this year we decided to pay tribute to our perennial Valentines, OUR CUSTOMERS. We ran an in-store raffle for our Portland peeps to enter during the first two weeks of February with the grand prize being an after-hours personal styling party for the winner PLUS a $100 gift certificate to spend in our shop. But we didn’t stop there: the winner got to invite four of her friends who would each receive $25 gift certificates to use towards a purchase.
Katelin was the lucky winner of the grand prize, and in a testament to her awesomeness, asked if she could bring an extra friend along. As with any betsy & iya party, the more, the merrier!
I know I speak for Betsy and Ashley as well when I say that this was a blast. We’re more than happy to provide styling assistance every time you come to our shop, but it’s also something we’d love to make even more special in the form of an after-hours event. Whether it’s just for you or for a group of your best shopping buddies, we welcome any chance to pop some bubbly, try on clothes, and meet new people.
Thanks Katelin, Alexandria, Casey, Mira, Magaly, and Julia for spending your Sunday night with us.
Interested in scheduling an after-hours styling session? Give us a call at 503-227-5482.
***Song of the Moment: Change Clothes by Jay-Z”