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Behind the Scenes: White Sands

Our newest Shape Shifter photoshoot took us to New Mexico's incredible White Sands, the largest white gypsum desert in the world. 275 square miles of crisp bright dunes set against a pristine blue sky: it's a must-see. (And a favorite photoshoot destination for its surreal, perfect light!)

Behind the scenes with the lovely Joanna Halpin, we tromped around the mountains, asked about that whole radioactivity thing and even made a new (animal) friend. 
Photographs by Devyn Galindo.

Meet our new camel friend. The production team explains, "The park ranger sent us a text and said 'We have a camel.' At first we thought it was a typo, then we looked at the white dune across from us and there was the camel in all of his glory."

His owner, George, was nice enough to let us hang out with them for part of the afternoon (read more about the White Sands camel here). 

New friend #2: the park ranger.

Who's leading who? 

Three notes on the White Sands:

1. Sabertooth Tiger footprints have been found there! 

2. The White Sands are considered an active dunefield, moving from west to east as much as 30 feet every year (the wind also leaves amazing patterns in the sand). 

3. It's also the location of the Trinity Site, where the government detonated the world's first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945. We are told it is now only "mildly radioactive."

About a Face: Joanna Halpin

We’re always curious about the daily beauty, hair, and skincare routines of the effortlessly made-up women we know. From concealer to coconut oil, "About A Face" is our insider glimpse into the makeup bags and medicine cabinets of our everyday muses.


On set of our Shape Shifter lookbook in White Sands, NM, we couldn't help but ask our model the stunning Joanna Halpin about how she stays fresh-faced. Here, she dishes on her favorite products and her secret blemish remedy. 
Photographs by Devyn Galindo.


I cleanse my face every morning and night with a brand called Cactus Skincare that I found when I was in Australia at the beginning of the year. I do that first thing in the morning. I also use one of their moisturizers. If I'm not working, I try to not wear any makeup unless I have a really bad pimple or something in which case I'll cover up with Laura Mercier's cover-up foundation. I try to not wear any makeup because my skin gets so bogged up when i'm working.

I also do a Cactus Skincare face mask sometimes — it really helps make my skin very clear. 

I don't do much to my hair other than wash and condition it most days. I will typically blow dry it and finish with a bit of leave-in conditioner. I use supermarket shampoo! Is that my secret? [Laughs.] 

Occasionally I'll put coconut oil in my hair when my hair is wet and then wash it again in the morning.

One thing i always use to get rid of spots — in England there's this stuff called Sudocrem, it's a white cream or paste. I think people even use it for nappy rash. But I put it on my spots and it works! 


Above: Off-duty face mask, via Joanna's Instagram


I try to drink lots and lots of water for my skin to try and keep it as clear and hydrated as possible.
I have started trying to drink more hot water with lemon as well as apparently that is good for your body inside and out. I also try to eat healthily and remind myself to eat lots of fruit and vegetables. I recently fell in love with avocados which are apparently good for skin and hair so have been eating them whenever possible. I also drink lots of tea: lemon and ginger is my new favorite but I love green and mint too. 

As for my beauty muses, there are so many beautiful women I could pick as my beauty icons I don't even know where to start... Maybe Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin.


Shop Joanna's Picks in UO Beauty:

1. Holika Holika Hello Holika Breeze Kitten Blush

2. TONYMOLY Crystal Light Highlighter

3. nyl Skincare Gentle Sugar Body Polish

4. Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel

5. ModelCo Eyebrows Designer Brow Kit

6. Herbivore Botanicals Lip Butter

7. dpHUE Hydrate Masque

8. Herbivore Botanicals Sea Mist Hair & Body Spritzer

9. Cocooil

10. Stila MAJOR Major Lash Mascara

11. Stila Color Balm Lipstick

12. Stila CC Color Correcting Stick

13. dpHUE Cool Blonde Shampoo

Music Monday: July 21, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

Tom Misch - Now

"Now" is a chill hip-hop track from Tom Misch, who is keeping it super real. All his stuff has been really good. This one has a Sohn vibe, but the beat of Apollo Brown. Incredible tune here. 

Hotlane - Whenever (James Curd Remix)
"Whenever" is a poppy dance gem that brings you right back to that amazing 2006-2008 sound of pop vocals and glimmery '80s nu-disco. See: Russ Chimes, then and now. #tbt

Merle - Fannie Likes 2 Dance
This is one of those tracks where you almost can't tell whats going on, but you don't want it to stop. Very confused and very interested. Killer summer joint here. 

Sinead Harnett - No Other Way (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)
No point in explaining this Hemsworth remix... just listen.

Los Angeles Police Department - She Came Through (Again)
Insanely chill track from the forthcoming debut LP from LAPD out in September. Beach vibes all over this one.





Brands We Love: Cleobella


We're always keeping an eye out for the next best bag, and this summer the artfully designed handbags and totes from Cleobella have caught our eye. Printed in eye-catching colors and fabrics and inspired by the travel stories of founder Angela O'Brien, the bags are basically made for summer. (Does that fringed one not just scream "sunshine" to you?) Initially started by O'Brien after a particularly inspiring trip to Bali in 2008, each piece continues to be made by hand, making each bag unique in its own way. All of the materials used are sourced locally in Bali and include limited edition textiles, recycled metals and quality leather.



The brand was first inspired by Angela and her husband Jim's love of surfing and travel, and that free-spirited quality is still a big part of the bags you see today. (Which is a big part of why we think that these bags are perfect for weekend getaways or quick festival jaunts.) Now grab one of these bags and go have an adventure of your own.



Shop Cleobella

Brands We Love: One Teaspoon

Jamie Blakey, founder of denim and clothing line One Teaspoon, started the label when she was just 21 and with only $3,000 to her name. Now stocked in 32 countries worldwide, One Teaspoon shows no signs of slowing down. We spoke to Jamie about her favorite denim she's put out over the years, what she's currently wearing, and how we can get our own perfectly distressed denim.



Hi Jamie! What are your favorite One Teaspoon jeans, past or present?
My most favorite jeans of ALL TIME are the Ford King Pins and they're only just about to hit stores! When the sample finally arrived (this sounds lame…), my eyes welled up a little bit! Heavy, I know. Over a pair of jeans. But I couldn't believe them. Everything was perfect and just so me.

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans to wear?
Ford King Pins and the Black Wetlook Runaways.



How long have you had them?
They’re freshies. So only about 2 months.

What's the best thing that happened to you in those jeans?
Heaps of cool shit. Just everyday life is pretty damn great.

What's your favorite outfit currently?
You know what… It’s been the same since I was about 13. Mid-wash indigo baggy jeans with an oversize white tee. The cuts vary from season to season and the styling changes with what shoes and accessories I put with them. But it’s always that. Jeans and a white tee. That’s me.

How many pairs of jeans do you own? How many do you actually wear?
About 50 pairs. I get obsessed with one or two pairs for a month, wear them always and then I get over them and move on. Always have a drop crotch baggy on high rotation, though!



Any tips or tricks for distressing denim?
Just get some scissors and sand paper and rip in. The blunter the scissors the better. A big bottle of cheap bleach is always good to have on hand, too. The cheaper and more shit the better. I like to use the whole bottle with only water. Don’t be shy about it. After that, you just watch them until they reach the color that you’re after. Don’t do stretch denim, though, as you’ll lose all your elastane out of the denim. Once you’ve gone mad cutter and finished sanding and bleaching, put them in the washing machine with a decent scoop of powder and you’re away. Always dry them in the dryer after so they come out nice and soft.

Tips or tricks for making vintage denim wearable?
I only ever wear men's vintage denim. Low waist and baggy. Make a couple of nips and tucks and rips here and there and they’re good to go.



Favorite places to shop for denim?
I don’t have a favorite. For vintage I only ever go to thrift stores because getting them for a bargain is part of the fun. New denim I don’t buy so I wouldn’t know where to go that’s great... other than One Teaspoon and Urban Outfitters, of course!

What's been the best moment of your career so far?
It’s all pretty great. I feel like the best is still yet to come though for some reason?

Shop One Teaspoon

Music Monday: July 14, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

TRACK PREMIERE: Lyon & Lowe - Everyone Walks to the Beat of a Child

New track premiere (*airhorn*)! This is Lyon & Lowe's sophomore Music Monday appearance and it's a goodie. Head to Facebook to learn more about Lyon & Lowe. And if you head to their Soundcloud, you can get a free download of this track!

"Heaven" is a nice, chill, endearing track from No Rome. "Floralpunk" is the self-declared genre of No Rome, who hail from the Philippines. This one sounds like Ryan Hemsworth would like it a lot, because it's in the similar realm of RnB infused trap-pop. Great track regardless of the genre or scene. 

If this is a demo, I'm especially interested in listening to the studio version. This is that classic, Prince-y poppy funk stuff. This one has a nice summery vibe - good for a funky beach trip for sure. 

"Time" has been floating around the interwebs for some time now (no pun intended). It was played on a Boiler Room set that left everyone wondering when and where this track would be released. Turns out it was the great Will Saul, Aus Music head, who recently included it exclusively on his DJ-Kicks. Thanks, Will. 

Solid tune from what appears to be a brand new band, Soph Nathan. This is a killer chill indie track. Listen if you like: Beach Fossils, and other awesome shoe-gaze bands. 



Brands We Love: Antonym

We're excited to welcome Antonym into the UO Beauty lineup, a mineral-based and eco-friendly line founded by the French makeup artist Valerie Giraud and designed in subtly-bold shades that strike that perfect, just-made-up-enough balance. And with a namesake that emphasizes moving away from homogeneity and moving toward people who think outside of the box: it's a movement we can get behind. 

We had fun playing around with all the amazing Antonym products, and asking the ladies behind the brand to share what all is in their summer makeup bags.


What sets Antonym apart from other natural beauty lines?

Antonym was founded on strong performance. We set out to create a line of products that uses gentle natural ingredients but still performs as a premium line should. For us this means strong pigments in color and silky textures.

 

What products are in your makeup bag for summer?

This summer, it is vitamin E oil, the Antonym Medium Foundation, The Peach Blush and the Koral Lipstick. It’s a very summery look, with orange hues. The mascara also never leaves my bag.


 

What's in the Antonym starter kit? 

Mascara, lipstick pencil and blush 


 

What products do you recommend for makeup removal?

I use the Miscellar Cleansing Water from Nuxe or the Melting Cleansing Gel from Nuxe, and follow both with gentle toning lotion. They are very gentle on the skin yet remove makeup perfectly.


Who are some of your beauty muses?

Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn. Both strong, beautiful women. 

  

Can you share any secret-weapon makeup tips?

I have two tips, especially since Antonym products are gentle on the skin:

1. If you use the eyeliner with a small angled brush you can apply a lighter and more define line for daytime.

2. You can use the baked blush as eye shadow and also on the lips with lip conditioner.


Shop Antonym in UO Beauty

Music Monday: July 7, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

The Hellen Hollins Singers - Consolation (Nicolas Jaar Edit)

Well, this is amazing. We're sorry Chile lost, but this edit is out of this world. This is a bit unusual for Jaar since it's a little more straightforward, but we'll take it. 

Lil Silva - Mabel
"Mabel" is a great new song from Lil Silva. Coming from his forthcoming Mabel EP, it has a nice SBTRKT RnB/house vibe going on, and the EP will also include vocals from Banks, which is something we're so looking forward to. 

Eno & Hyde - DBF
Well, this second Eno & Hyde release is just as impressive as the first one. "DBF" has a stuttering, hip-shaking groove, which we love. It's kind of like a mix between James Brown and Talking Heads. This track really stays moving.

Naomi Punk - Firehose Face 
Summer and punk seem to go hand in hand. "Firehose Face" is taken from Naomi Punk's self-titled sophomore release out in August. This is really throwing us back to Wavves "King of the Beach."

Alex Burkat - Shower Scene
"Shower Scene" is one of the many great tunes on the new Mister Saturday Night compilation. This one has an eerie but happy mood. Really interesting stuff, and we're assuming it's pulling its name from the water/shower sound, and the fact that it's slightly reminiscent of the Psycho shower scene music.

Studio Visit: Three Potato Four

Stu Eli and Janet Morales are moving away from owls, beards, and "I Heart NY" sweatshirts. The couple's seven-year-old brand, Three Potato Four, is a line of homewares, accessories and ephemera, for which they design and source U.S. manufacturers for antique-inspired objects. What began as an online platform to fund a mutual obsession with the thrill-of-the-hunt quickly evolved into a full-fledged business, eventually allowing Stu and Janet to create their own line of new items based on favorite vintage and Americana discoveries.  Studio visit photography by Michael A. Muller

 
Three Potato Four recently collaborated with Urban Outfitters' new Herald Square location on Souvenir Shop, a pop-up gift stand inside the store that offers an exclusive collection of New York-inspired objects. 

This weekend, the Souvenir Shop will pay homage to summer travels (or wanderlust) with a special postcard event. A variety of 3P4-designed NYC postcards will be available for customers to send a special message home—with pens, stamps, and a UO artist-designed mailbox included. 

Looking forward to the event, we took a quick trip to the 3P4 headquarters in small-town Pennsylvania, where we explored their studio and chatted about Charlie Brown ephemera, moving away from tchotchkes, and keeping up with trends. (If you're wondering, whales and owls are out; typography is in.)


Above: The 3P4 studio pegboard, including souvenir pendants, arrows, and a knot reference guide.

Can you tell us more about how 3P4 started? 
Stu: We started the company in 2007 as on online retail business, wanting to sell gifts, housewares, and fun novelty things from overseas that you couldn't find regularly over here. We also had a good bit of antiques, which sold really well so we decided to focus on shaping the business around that. After awhile we got into producing, sourcing, and manufacturing our own items in the United States based on the best-found or most-favorited vintage pieces. 

So this was really on the forefront of the whole Americana-influenced aesthetic that's been so big over the last few years. 
Stu: It was totally right-place, right-time; [when we started] the only place you could really shop for antiques online was on eBay. I think Etsy only had two vintage sellers at that time. All of that was in its infancy. 


Above: Framed maps, a 1950s circus poster, a mounted wooden first aid kit, and an illustrated guide to flowers

How have you avoided getting stuck in that genre? 
Stu: We've had to change our business every year based on trends and what's hot.  When we started it was all owls! 
Janet: It also helps that we have different taste and different backgrounds. 
Stu: Yeah, she has a design background and mine is in business. We are also into different things: I love '70s-'80s fun novelty stuff, like motorcycle-meets-MAD Magazine, with a touch of humor. There's so much seriousness with trends that feel really outdoors and camping-centered and, like, 'I'm an Adirondack Mountains man.'

So no more beards? 
Stu: No more beards.  



Above: Piles of paper ephemera fill a huge table in the studio wall, ranging from postcards and ticket stubs to cigar receipts and printed french fry bags. 3P4 sells "Paper Packs" of unique ephemera, each filled with a combination of numbers, type, pattern, graphics, and color.  

What about you, Janet? 
Janet: My style was originally more feminine, that's when DIY was really big. I'm a designer so I'm always drawn to things with nice type and that feel graphic.  




Above: An inventory of 3P4's linen portraits (and a taped-up reference for packing). Each of the paintings in the Portrait Study Series is based on original found early Twentieth Century artwork.

What about your own collections? What objects are you most drawn toward? 
Stu: When we first started we were big collectors: Mid-century stuff, ephemera, natural history… 
Janet: Lots of vials and specimens. 
Stu: Right. But since we've bought so much and it's passed through our hands, it's less that we keep. 
Janet: It's easier to pass things along to someone else. 

So no collections now?
Stu: Our house is pretty pared-down now. It's mostly kids' toys and laundry. 



Above: A 3P4 banner modeled after an antique biological study print of a rhino; a row of multicolor lights originally part of a seaside amusement rollercoaster ride in the 1950s. 

What have been some all-time favorite buys? 
Stu: My favorite find was a hand-carved 3D, folk-art style sculpture of Charlie Brown. It was something where there was clearly only one of them made and it was put together with such care. That said, it was clearly not for everyone! I think that's a lot of what our business is—'things' are so rooted in nostalgia. Sometimes people see something and just have to have it.
Janet: I think that's the entire idea behind Souvenir Shop—it's the feeling of going to a cool news stand full of special things, which [I think] is a hard thing to find in New York. We weaned to make new things that felt special, especially if you were a visitor.  
Stu: It's not an "I Heart NY" sweatshirt.


Above: A hand-stitched felt banner version of 3P4's Ace of Spades design, inspired by popular American folklore and iconography surrounding the Ace of Spades playing card, which was made popular by WWII and Vietnam war soldiers and then later by American motorcycle clubs. 

What other items are you continually on the hunt for? You mentioned loving natural history.
Stu: Yeah, one thing that really stands out was this set of vials filled with sand that this guy had collected and marked. For example, one filled from when he went to the Mohave Desert. I love that someone sought out to do this and kept it together.  
Janet: I think rather than always looking for something in particular, we're looking for something that when we see it, when know it. Those moments when you're just like, "This is it!" 




New York customers can visit Three Potato Four's Souvenir Shop at UO Herald Square (1333 Broadway), and be sure to stop by this weekend for their exclusive postcard pop-up, which starts on Thursday, July 3 and runs until postcards run out.

Brands We Love: Le Specs


If you’re always on the hunt for the next best shades, then your search may have finally come to an end. (We know, we’re just as surprised. We also thought finding the perfect pair of sunglasses was a never-ending quest.) 


Enter Le Specs sunglasses. As a company that launched in the mid-‘80s, Le Specs really knows their stuff when it comes to sunglasses. The brand has had their fair share of collaborations over the years, the most recent one being with renowned pop culture illustrators Craig and Karl. The shapes the duo came up with are exaggerated and colorful, very similar to the graphic design work they've been working on together ever since college.



While Le Specs continuously makes sure to stay on top of the current trends, their sunglasses are far from “trendy.” Their “classic shapes injected with sleek, modern attitude” ensure that Le Specs sunglasses will be as easy to wear now as they will be ten years from now. Plus, with people like Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, Cara Delevingne, and Rihanna rocking the brand, you know they must be doing something right. (And if wearing these takes us one step closer to looking like Beyoncé, then we're totally on board.) On top of all that, the packaging is just as cute as the sunglasses themselves.





About A Guy: Thomas McDonell

Recognize this face in The Getaway Plan lookbook? It's actor Thomas McDonell, who currently appears on the CW's The 100, but whose multidisciplinary approach to work and diverse film role choices have us nodding in approval. 



The 28-year-old native New Yorker started acting in 2009, but before that worked as visual artist, showing work internationally after studying art in school. McDonell calls his initial foray into acting one big experiment—a small part in the Jackie Chan movie The Forbidden Kingdom, a role he landed after randomly going to a casting call while studying art in Shanghai. Today, his side project has taken center stage, with McDonnell appearing in big film roles ranging from an elevated bad boy Disney's Prom to portraying a young Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. It's a clever antidote to typecasting that leaves us curious about what multitasking McDonell will do—or rather, what can't he do—next? 




Shop The Getaway Plan

Music Monday: June 30, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

Museum of Love - In Infancy

Two of DFA Records' staple artists, Jee Day and Pat Mahoney, have teamed up to give us this incredible new tune. Really well-done classic sound here; it's reminiscent of New Order, Friendly Fires, and it's all driven through that amazing DFA tunnel. Their self-titled debut LP comes out in August. 

Rustie - Raptor
Rustie is back, and "Raptor" is a surefire way to announce it. Their album Green Language is out August 25 via Warp and you can head over to Pitchfork to see the tour dates.

Painted Palms - Hypnotic (Saint Pepsi Remix)
Great remix of this Painted Palms track. Saint Pepsi has really made a name for himself at this point and the tracks continue to improve consistently. Check out the original song which is good in a completely different way. 

Camp Claude - Camp
The first thing that grabs my attention here is the super Joy Division-sounding bass. The chugging instrumentation mixed with the whispery vocals make this a great jam.

Clap! Clap! - The Rainstick Fable
Oh man. African Poly-Rythmo with a footwork beat behind it! Badman tune!

For the Record: Sharon Van Etten

Things people are saying about musician Sharon Van Etten’s new album, Are We There, include: 


1. “…a masterpiece, an album of extraordinary depth and sophistication that finds the New York singer and songwriter in full command of her considerable talent. (via Paste)
2. “…her most present-tense album to date, her most immediate and urgent—the peak of a steady upward trajectory. (via Pitchfork)
3. “A poignant tour-de-force, the message of Are We There is urgent, its delivery selfless” (via Pretty Much Amazing)

The record, Van Etten’s fourth, was released in late May, and like all of her work, it’s an earnestly vulnerable and deeply personal album filled with, as she explains, “songs that hurt like hell.” It is an often gut-wrenching trip through the complexities of a relationship. It is an appropriate use of the word “heavy,” but in a way that is satisfyingly sincere.  

Van Etten has spoken widely—widely!—about the album’s inception, from the break-up that inspired much of its architecture to feeding the songwriting cycle that her career has so-far dictated. 

Leading up to her UO “For the Record” vinyl signing on Thursday, July 3 at our Westover Road store in Portland, OR, we opted to lighten the mood by inviting Sharon to channel her own stomping grounds from the road—asking her to tell us all about her favorite things in NYC, from her ideal summer day in the city to her favorite haunts, from apartment horror stories to what its like to see Julie Andrews at the dentist.


This is Sharon Van Etten’s New York.

Years in the city? 
10 

Current neighborhood? 
Village

New York in the summer: what's on your itinerary for an ideal day?  
Bike Ride along the West Side, picnic, then read on a bench.

What was your first job in New York? 
Salesman at Astor Wines

Tell me a story about your worst New York apartment. 
I moved to Linden Street off the JZ line in 2005 and the neighbors told me they didn't want me in their neighborhood: Literally told me they didn't want me in their neighborhood after I had just moved in. They made sure I didn't feel comfortable on their block.

What's the most recent, truly great thing you saw in New York?
I saw The Great Beauty at Angelika. So moving.  So vivid.  And afterward, I went to Veloce wine bar and had amazing wine. Perfect evening.

Where in the city do you go to be alone?
I love going to Film Forum and IFC to movies by myself and wine bars, in general. Also, the Comedy Cellar when I am feeling low.

Tell me about a favorite New York memory.
I went to my dentist and as I was paying my bill, Julie Andrews walked in. I was immediately in tears. Childhood hero.

What's something very New York that you refuse to do?
Hang out in Times Square

What's something very New York that you shamelessly love?
The city skyline at the waterfront by the promenade driving in a cab at night.

Please share your best NYC survival tip.
Don't be an asshole, but be kind of on-guard while helping people. And work your ass off.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
 Living here and working here and helping people do the same.


Method of transportation?  
Subway

Bar where you're a regular? (and what's your poison?)  
Four Faced Liar, Bourbon and beer

Spot for leisurely brunch? 
Joseph Leonard

Spot for a celebratory dinner? 
Palma

Morning coffee shop and order? 
Americano at Joe's 

Favorite music store? 
Princeton Record Exchange (sorry! In Jersey!)

Music venue?  
Bowery Ballroom

Where do you get your news? 
Gothamist and New York Times

Place to see art?  
MoMA

Place to be outside? 
Washington Square Park or the West Side

Easy summer day trip?  
Long Beach Island

Place for a group hangout?  
My friend Taylor's house

Place to people-watch?  
Washington Square Park

Place to be inspired?  
Everywhere

SHOP SHARON'S VINYL PICKS

And if you're in Portland, be sure to stop by Sharon's UO "For the Record" vinyl signing Thursday, July 3 from 4-5pm at the Urban Outfitters on Westover Road, Portland, OR.

Studio Visit: Wild Rose Herbs and Willamina

We're looking to the Pacific Northwest for our latest UO Beauty studio visits, with a trip to two Oregon studios, Wild Rose and Willamina Modern Apothecary, both making natural apothecary products with an eye toward seasonality and locally-minded, high-quality ingredients.





A conversation with founder Willow Light on herbalism, starting your own business, and Portland's entrepreneurial support system. Photos by Michelle Cho


Tell us about the history of Willamina Modern Apothecary.
Willamina Mordern Apothecary (WMA) began from my love of herbal healing, plant medicine, aromatherapy medicine, and touch healing therapy. I lived on the Oregon coast on a 17-acre property, [which included a] forest for a backyard, animals, gardens, fruit trees, and wild herbal medicine. We didn't go to the doctor much, we used what we had on the land, really.

When I moved to Portland in 1990, I apprenticed with Joseph Montana, owner of Atlantis Rising… [and later apprenticed with] Grinning Goat Farms, two herbalists I loved instantly and began a three-year intensive with on the farm. I really learned how to make tinctures, cordials, infusions, teas, baths… I was in pure bliss!

In 1999, I went to work for Nordstrom as the lead esthetician of their Decléor Spa. I had access to more than 80 different skincare lines working in the cosmetic department. We had the opportunity to go to any cosmetic training that was offered at Nordstrom, so I went to all of them, and learned a great deal about ingredients, intention, branding, and integrity. It was eye opening.

I decided to go out on my own and offered my esthetic services and my years of study. I began to make my own medicinal herbal tinctures, infused honey, healing salves, and herbal baths for friends and family, then one day, I felt it was my duty to share my knowledge with others. I see WMA spreading the word of aromatherapy and herbal wellness. 


Can you tell us more about the ingredients you use?
It is extremely important to my brand and my integrity that all WMA ingredients are pure, unadulterated and consistent. When I apprenticed at Atlantis Rising, I made a very valuable connection [with] Liberty Naturals...[where] I get everything from beeswax to the best essential oils I can buy. 



What are your favorite products for summer?
I am crazy about WMA Sunkissed Skin Protector. It took me over three years to formulate it! It is purely plant-based with no toxins, parabens or carcinogens, [and is made from aloe vera oil, beeswax, shea butter and a blend of oils—coconut, carrot seed, red raspberry seed, and essential oils]. All of the ingredients on their own as plants have their own SPF built in to their DNA. I use it on my face during the summer as a daily moisturizer; it is very hydrating and illuminating without congesting the skin.



Tell us about your studio setup.
My husband is a craftsman builder and he helped me create my apothecary in our home so that I may work from home and be here for our two young children. I also have a healing touch and wellness studio in our home. I see clients in the evenings. Then, during the day, two-to-three days a week, I make product, ship product, and do the business piece as well. It is a true whirlwind, I love it. 



Tell us about working in Portland. What about the city inspires you and compels you to live and work there?
Portland, Oregon is a wealth of beauty, nourishment, and local companies producing hand-crafted creations to share with others. [There are so many] green, lush escapes right in the city. Portland folks are amazingly talented and creative entrepreneurs, making P-town the best city to live in. I feel like in Portland we are almost cheered on to go out and do something extraordinary.

Can you share some favorite places in Portland? What are your haunts? 
Le Bistro Montage: A local favorite with communal seating. They yell really loud when you order oyster shooters ("TWO OYSTER SHOOTERS!").

McMenamins - Kennedy School: Locally-sourced food, locally owned and operated business, and locally brewed beer. Kid friendly and they have a soaking pool with salt water. 

Lan Su Chinese Garden: The grounds are mystical and so very relaxing. [There's] a large pond in the middle, with koi fish, and a traditional Tea house offering our local Tao of Tea company.




WILD ROSE

Ashley Bessler from Wild Rose on how a childhood of bad-tasting supplements led to her own herbal apothecary line. Images provided by Wild Rose



Hello Ashley! Can you tell us a bit about the history of Wild Rose?

I learned the value of a DIY ethic at a young age. I was raised by a single mother of three and resourcefulness was key in our household. My mom gets credit for introducing me to herbalism. Teas, tinctures and bad-tasting supplements were always on hand, and colorful herb books filled our shelves. This, combined with my immersion in the local punk scene, made me crave the skills necessary to be totally self-reliant. Despite doing well in school, I skipped college and invested in a small library of books on everything from aromatherapy to homesteading.

At first, I didn’t intend to sell my creations. I made them as an alternative to store-bought synthetic products for myself, family and close friends. It wasn’t long before I was selling my herbal salves to the local health food store, funding my new-found hobby. I maintained a low-key presence at farmer's markets and craft fairs for the next four years, even while living off the grid in Northern California. When I found myself back in “the city,” I decided to take my most treasured recipes and reincarnate my products under the name Wild Rose.

Can you tell us more about the ingredients you use?
Wild Rose is my response to an economy where the ecological, political, and social costs of manufacturing are veiled. I spend much of my time tracking down raw materials, packaging, and even office supplies to their source. This minimizes or eliminates the social, environmental, and ethical footprint of my products by choosing sources that are non-GMO, sustainably harvested, organic, or fair trade. I grow many of the fresh botanicals needed for my recipes just outside my workshop.



Are there any seasonal ingredients you're excited to experiment with as we go into the summer season?
Right now our rose bushes are incredibly productive. We collect fresh blooms daily, leaving plenty for the bees and butterflies as well. The petals are dried and powdered for use in our Attunement Facial Mask and Bloom Muscle Rub. Calendula is another flower we grow heavily on the farm. These I tincture fresh for our handmade calendula extract, a vital ingredient for our face washes and Ink Balm Tattoo Ointment. Calendula is also dried for use in our Wild Man Aftershave and garden hand cream. Summer is also time for collecting fresh yarrow, rosemary, cayenne peppers, lavender and sage. Every year, we grow more of our own botanicals right on the land.



Tell us about your studio setup.
We're incredibly lucky to operate out of a 400-square-foot workshop on our two-acre homestead in the heart of Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley. Most days I float between making products, computer work, and tending to the garden. I'm fortunate to have help from my mother and mother-in-law. The mom team helps me with packing orders, answering emails, and bulk bottling/labeling.

When I get the chance to make a new product, I generally look through my "personal stash" for inspiration. All of my products started as a custom recipe for myself or a loved one. I then do an immense amount of research to get the very best ingredients available. The specific formulation of a product could be called intuitive. I tend to know exactly how many drops or milliliters of an ingredient will give me the result I want. 



Tell us about working in Oregon. What brought you there and why do you stay?
Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley is a hotspot for alternative entrepreneurs. I gain my inspiration from those who have come before me—the formidable, independent herbal and beauty companies who started right here. Of course, I believe the main reason this area is so full of successful, alternative businesses is due to our beautiful surroundings. Southern Oregon, part of the Klamath-Siskiyou Region, is known as a climate “melting pot” as we see the confluence of four different bioregions: North Pacific Coast, Cascades, Great Basinm and California’s Central Valley. The people here are varied, but we all hold the same basic values: a focus on sustainability, a love of nature, and a desire to protect this critical bioregion for future generations.

What are some of your favorite Oregon spots? Can you divulge any secret swimming holes you love?
Grants Pass is a pretty small town (a population of about 33,000) and the largest in the county! You’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant open past 9pm. And if you’re looking to shop downtown on a Sunday or Monday—forget it! Grants Pass runs on its own schedule; even the cops hold banker’s hours. Most locals find entertainment outdoors, especially on the Rogue River, which runs right through downtown Grants Pass.

This area holds the largest concentration of intact watersheds in the Pacific Northwest, which means we also hold the largest concentrations of secret swimming holes! I’ve lived in the region for seven years, and I feel like I’ve only begun to explore the endless rivers, streams, and lakes. One of my favorites is on the Illinois River about six miles up Illinois River Road out of Selma. It’s a steep hike down the canyon, but a gentle and deep swimming hole awaits with plenty of jumping rocks.

A few more miles up this road you’ll find the infamous Illinois River foot bridge where daring locals take a 60-foot plunge in the river. Another favorite spot is actually north of Grants Pass along the Umpqua River. If you take Highway 138 East out of Roseburg, you’ll be treated to one of the most scenic and easily-accesible drives through the Cascades. There’s more waterfalls than one can visit within a day, plus the most epic natural hot springs near Toketee Falls.


UO Exclusive: Robyn and Royksopp "Do It Again"


It's no secret that over here at UO we love all things vinyl. Now available to pre-order only at UO is the new record from electronic pop trio Robyn & Röyksopp called Do It Again. But there's more to it! This UO-exclusive is made of crisp, white vinyl, and will look fabulous in your collection. Also, how cool is the cover art? Totally loving the throwback to an old CD label across the front.

The album features five massive tracks from the trio that are sure to be your new summer favorites. Each track is a perfect combo of European electronic music mixed with Robyn's superb vocals. Robyn, a futuristic pop-princess in her own right, spoke to Billboard Magazine about the new record saying, "It was an outlet for not having to live up to anything but my own expectations." That's the spirit, right? Do It Again opens with the slower, melodic "Monument" and then ramps the energy right back up with the title track. Do It Again was created, produced, and recorded by all three members from scratch.

Robyn & Röyksopp are on tour this summer, will you be catching them? Pre-order the record here. Maddie

UO Live: Connan Mockasin


The inaugural video in our UO Live series, Connan Mockasin performs a live and unplugged version of “I Wanna Roll With You,” off Caramel, his second full-length album. We caught up with him and his band behind the scenes.



You can thank Connan Mockasin’s mom for bringing his music into the world. The New Zealand-born artist was living with his parents when he recorded his first solo record, Forever Dolphin Love, at home.

“I’ve done two records on my own,” he says. “The first record, I was pretty disheartened by the industry—still am in some ways—but the point is, I went back home to stay with my parents and I wasn’t really doing anything. And then my mum was telling me that I should make a record. And I was like, ‘No, no.’ Because I was kind of brainwashed into thinking you needed a producer, an engineer, a proper studio—da, da, da. And then mum was going, ‘No you don’t, you’ve got some equipment back home.’ So I just made a record on my own there, not thinking that it would ever be heard. And then it somehow got released and I started having to play shows all of a sudden and it just happened like that.”

The record “somehow got released” via influential British DJ and producer Erol Alkan, and brought Mockasin’s soulful, experimental grooves to the attention of Charlotte Gainsbourg, with whom he has collaborated and played backup band for, and Radiohead, who he supported on tour in 2012. 

Caramel, released in November last year is, as its name suggests, Mockasin’s most deliciously slow-dance-ready yet, and sees him touring with a new line-up—a motley crew of musicians he picked-up from New York to London: Drummer Matt Eccles, bassist Nick Harsant, guitarist (and occasional bongo player) Rory McCarthy and keyboardist Sofia Karchi. (Fun fact: Mockasin met keyboardist-cum-manager Sofia on the Eurostar from Paris.)



Hi everyone! Connan, can you tell us about the song you chose to perform for the first in our UO Live video series?
Connan: I recorded it in Tokyo in a hotel room. It was the one song that I’d written before I made the record and it had a caramel feel for me.

How would you describe your outfit today? [Mockasin is wearing pale silk Chinese pajamas, an embroidered vest and black nurse’s clogs accessorized with a fencing sword he found on-set].
Connan: Peter Pan!

Where are you all based? 
Connan: I’m not based anywhere at the moment, myself. 
Nick: I’m in London, always in London. 
Matt: New York
Sofia: I don’t have a place anywhere. 
Rory: Paris  

How did you all get together? 
Nick: That’s a long one… 
Connan: Matt and I met in London. Then I met Nick the day we played together. We met Sofia on a train and I helped with her luggage. I thought she was rude. 
Sofia: I was just thinking, this poor man seems very tired, and he was already carrying so much, I didn’t think it was fair to ask for his help. 
Connan: So we sit down and Sofia was one up from me but across the aisle and we sat chatting. 
Rory: I met all of the other guys in Manchester at The Deaf Institute. I came to see Connan; I had seen him a few times and he was a friend of a friend. He asked me to play bongos, which as a guitar player was a funny thing to be asked, but I ended up playing more bongos than guitar! 
Matt: Rory just got up for an encore and never left!

What did you do for a living before you started playing music? 
Connan: My last proper job was a gardener. 
Rory: I as making fake teeth, which is ironic because I’m missing a tooth and I don’t have the tool here to make a replacement. 
Band: How do you make a fake tooth? 
Rory: I can go into it right now! It takes a lot of casts and semi-precious metals and all kinds of stuff...

So, how do you describe your sound? 
Rory: “Sensitive rock”
Matt: "Café Soliel"
Nick: "Sleaze Rock"
Connan: "Wonka Dust"

You get pretty creative describing your sound. What about other people's descriptions? What do you make of it?
Rory: The weirdest one for me when you got called Auzzie-psych. 
Sofia: Yeah, that was just wrong! 
Rory: It’s fine but it’s wrong. 
Nick: "Weirdo" always creeps up, which is strange. Aussie-weird. Psych-weirdo.
Connan: Or “Wellington Jazz Pianist”—that’s another funny one. I can’t play piano and I’m not from Wellington, either. I think it was on Wikipedia for a while, that’s why. It’s really hard to get things off Wikipedia. A lot of people run their interviews off Wikipedia and a lot of it’s wrong. So I wrote to them and said, “This is actually me and this is not true, can I take it off?” And then I got kicked off for trying to change it.

Your performances are very special: They’re atmospheric, wonderful and such an experience. How do you approach it as a band? 
Matt: We try to make it different as much as we can.
Connan: It would be pretty maddeningly boring to do the same thing every night. Last night at the Bowery Ballroom we had a huge band. We had probably 20 people on stage!



Within your music, do you feel like there is a commonality in your friendship? 
Sofia: Fashion. I think that’s our common thing. 
Connan: We enjoy hanging out together. I don’t know if it’s necessarily about music or enjoying the same music, but we do. Because you are doing the same thing a lot of the time: Going to the venue, setting up, playing, and going away. I think a lot of bands get disheartened and it starts affecting them. 
Sofia: I think we just love each other so much and we genuinely really care about each other so much in our lives, and we are friends. It’s true. These guys are the most important guys in my life and every show is just about us having fun with the crowd and enjoying our job. It changes every time depending on our mood, but I think it’s love. 

It must to be great to be so close and tour together. Are there any special moments on tour that you can share? 
Matt: Tunisia was pretty cool. 
Connan: [Laughs] 
Matt: Connan rode a camel to the stage. 
Nick: With a Go-Pro 
Connan: Which I had to hold! The camel would go down and up really quick and I was trying to hold on tight. 
Matt: It took a long time to get to the stage as well. [Laughs]
Connan: Am I allowed to swear on this?

Yes!
Connan: When we were in Tunisia, I had this moment—we were in a really nice hotel. That’s the thing, usually when you’re on tour you don’t get time to hang out on your own very often, but it was nice to have a day off and just spend it by myself in the hotel. I ordered a coffee and I rolled myself a cigarette and the sun was going down and I was standing on the balcony and there were camels walking along the beach. And I [dramatically mimics smoking a cigarette], I had my coffee and I was just like, 'Fuck yeah!' I spoke out loud to myself—‘Fuck yeah!’ I scared myself! [Laughs]. You know when you talk to yourself when you’ve been on your own all day? It was aggressive!

In general, what has touring been like? 
Matt: It’s nice to play shows in America now. It’s always nice to go to new places and see how it goes. 
Nick: People know the lyrics to songs. They’ve started to sing along, which didn’t happen before—our lyrics are pretty obscure. It’s pretty funny to see people sing what they think they’re hearing. 
Sofia: I don’t know the lyrics! 
Matt: Even we don’t and we’re all singing as well. 
Connan: Even I don’t. [Band laughs]

What do you like to do when you’re not making music? What can you do when you're not touring that you can't on the road?
Connan: I watch a lot of surfing on the Internet and I love pasta.
Sofia: [Go on] dates. I feel like I've gone on more dates since I’m I the band so I’m happy about that. I think it’s a good thing, no? 
Matt: Depends on the date really! 
Sofia: Yep, it depends on the date. I had two dates in New York since I’ve been here! One good, one just okay. 
Connan: They’re going to know who they are now. 
Matt: Keep ‘em guessing!

Check out Connan’s full-length album, Caramel, out now on Mexican Summer Records.

Music Monday: June 23, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

Nao vs. A. K. Paul – So Good

Apparently this is Jai Paul's brother. We'll take it, though, since at least it's in the same realm as the ever elusive Jai. This is a jam, and boy, are we looking forward to Jai Paul's Debut LP.

MCFERRDOG – I Wanna See

This is a Monday kickstart, for sure. House beats, great textures and vocal pitching. All around big tune here. 1080p never disappoints. 

Seiho – Plastic

Seiho with a wild one here. Many surprises in this track, and to really seal the song is the Lyn Collins sample. Listen if you're into: Sophie, Night Slugs, Fade to Mind.

Sad Actor – Cringe

Wonderful nostalgic chugger from Sad Actor. This is from Sad Actor's debut EP, but they are working on releasing their debut LP this fall. It's very reminiscent of Russian Circles, older Mogwai, and that post-rock instrumental sound. 

Darkly – Animated Space Debris

Great summery lo-fi pop track from Darkly. The atmosphere and vocal style really makes me think of Niva. All the Darkly stuff is good, as per the case with Swedish artists. 

Music Monday: June 16, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

TV Girl - Louise

This is an excellent indie-pop track from TV Girl. It's very jolly and inviting all around, almost anthemic. This one is sure to lock in your head all week. 

Bones – IfYouHadAZuneIHateYou (feat. Spooky Black)

Except for the insane yell at the end of the track, this tune is Spooky Black all the way. Head to TeamSESH for the whole Bones mixtape, and go here to check out the first Spooky Black Music Monday track. (That yell at the end is very real, and all of us that have used a Zune can relate.)

Christian Rich – Better To (feat. DWNTWN)

It's always been a bit of an enigma how game-changing choirs are. This is a perfect example of that. What a killer dance pop tune here from the duo Christian Rich. 

Kolsch – Cassiopeia

Some sunset house here. Kolsch had the incredible 1977 LP last year, and this release we should see in full June 30th from Kompakt. 

Baby Guru – Anticipation (Larry Gus Remix)

This track is interesting and kind of goes all over the place. It's synthy, but then hits these strange patches of funk. Listen if you like: Studio, Air France, Lust For Youth.


Music Monday: June 9, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

Sol Monk - Ata

This is a cut off Sol Monk's forthcoming Beats, Not Words LP dropping June 23. It's got an interesting lo-fi approach. Plus, it's super rhythmic and the interesting vocal sample helps carry it through. It definitely has a nice rawness to it.

Caribou - Can't Do Without You
Well, Caribou is back, and in a big way. It's amazing to me how this track can begin sounding like it's going to be a regular deep-house pitched vocal track, and then rises into this staple Caribou retro '60s vibe. By the end you're hypnotized by the glimmery synths, live drums and soft vocals. 

Balue - Grow Up
This track makes me visualize a beach montage. This is a great bedroom/beach pop song from Balue's Quiet Dreamer LP out June 24 on cassette and digital. Listening to a cassette tape of this while driving to the beach doesn't sound half bad at all. 

A.G.Cook - Beautiful
This is from the PC Music label, which never seems to disappoint. Rave is clearly having a resurgence. If you like this track, check out Unicorn Kid, among many other emerging acts.

Francois & The Atlas Mountains - The Way To The Forest (Ibibio Sound Machine Remix)
"Graceland," anyone? What a killer track. Piano Ombre is out now, and all summery.


Music Monday: June 2, 2014

No more Monday morning excuses! Stop staring at the clock and start your work week out right with five hand-picked songs from our music stylist, Corbin, who wants to fill your brainwaves with summer-ready sounds and auditory illusions.

Jaws - Be Slowly

This is the title track for the forthcoming Jaws debut out on July 7. This song is wispy chillwave meets shoegaze meets terrific. This reminds me a lot of "Space Age Love Song."

Youandewan - FM Jam
This is a new one from Will Saul's wonderfully consistent Aus label; it's moody but still open-air friendly. There's also a pretty killer remix by Andrés

Zeds Dead - Lost You (feat. Twin Shadow & D'Angelo Lacy)
Pretty self-explanatory after reading the title. (Is this the first Twin Shadow deep house track?) This Zeds Dead record sounds like it's coming together really well. Can't wait to hear more.

Sleep Party People - Floating Blood Of Mine
Scandinavia is at it again. What a super relaxing (but still midly upbeat) track. There's even an Air France-y movie sample towards the end. 

Nadus - Nxwxrk
This sound is becoming super duper popular, and we totally love it. Nadus is a new name on the Rnb/Trap/Synth scene and we can't wait to hear more from this one as well.