Tender Loving Empire is like no other boutique or boutique(s). Not only is TLE a record label, they have 3 great locations where they sell handmade good from local artists as well as fair trade goods from around the US! From giving back to the local community to supporting local artists to being part of the local music culture, Tender Loving Empire is a must visit when exploring Portland!
What is Tender Loving Empire?
“Tender Loving Empire is a place for makers, artists, and musicians to sell what they create. We support the handmade craft industry -- both locally and nationally -- and support local music, both as a record store and a record label. We also take an active role supporting the larger community around this activity through public events, charitable giving, and just raising the level of positivism and appreciation however we can.”
How did TLE start, what inspired its inception?
“Jared made music and Brianne was crafty, and they had a lot of friends with similar interests. What they needed was a way to reach people, so they created a space where that could happen.”
How long has TLE been in the Portland area?
“TLE first began serving the public in 2006.”
How does being a record label as well as retail store influence the aesthetics of your stores?
“Our handmade goods and music blend as seamlessly as possible into a single experience. We DJ our own tunes while you shop, but have private listening stations built in to our stores as well. Anywhere you are in one of our shops, we like to keep you immersed in what we love--in your eyes, your hands, and in your ears.”
Tell us something special about TLE!!
“We extend as much of ourselves outside our stores as we can, supporting local music shows, local radio, as well as charitable events concerning issues that we feel strongly about. These are natural connections for us to make as individuals, so we find ourselves more and more woven into the community of artists and musicians that we serve.”
Where are your three stores located, and are they similar or do they each have something a bit different from the other?
“Our oldest store is located in downtown Portland, in the area referred to as the West End (which is near Powell's Books). It's our first location, and still has that original funky charm. For our stores on Hawthorne and NW 23rd, we had the opportunity to make some interesting moves with the design and store experience and explore the potential of what that could be. We're opening a store in the Portland Airport this spring which will also be along the lines of this aesthetic vision.”
How do you decide what handmade good to carry in your stores?
“Our buyers are continually on the hunt for things that are beautiful, useful, charming (and often clever and funny!), crafted by artists and makers with vision and skill. We're connected directly to the local maker community, but also continually seek out the best of the best online.”
Do you sell any locally made handmade goods from Portland designers/artists?
“The majority of our handmade goods are from designers and artists the Portland area, but it's not a prerequisite. Given the nature of the handmade industry, it does lend itself to locality in terms of both discovery and supply chain.”
For more information on Tender Loving Empire visit them at either of these three locations in Portland:
525 NW 23rd Ave.
412 SW 10th Ave.
3541 SE Hawthorn Blvd.
To learn more about shopping in Portland click on the button below!
All photos credited to Jaclyn Campanaro