#welovelocalpdx is a short series dedicated to the folks behind some of Portland's newest small businesses. Some people have a creativity calling and lucky for us these makers are growing their small businesses right in Portland and offering some of the best local goods around.
For Paper & Wheel co-founder Kim Utschig we first met when I dropped by her ceramic studio in Cully. Her story is one of inspiration and I hope you enjoy learning more about her company.
What inspired you to start your business?
The beauty of the Pacific Northwest was really the spark that pushed me to develop Paper + Wheel. I was in awe of the various landscapes I was encountering here and wanted to translate those landscapes into wares that folks could engage with and be reminded of that same beauty by. This vision then came to life in two very different manifestations, paper goods featuring beautiful wood grains and utilitarian ceramic wares. To see two different mediums, materials, and utilities come together for a cohesive product line has been the true beauty of Paper + Wheel and has continued to inspire both the form and function of the pieces we produce.
What sets your brand apart from other ceramicist companies?
Being a small, craft-focused business in Portland, I often find it hard to stand out. The talent here is astounding. However, a unique thing I have noticed about the work Paper + Wheel puts out into the world is the tension between really warm clay wares and crisp, industrial paper goods and branding. I think this leaves us with a collection that is really handsome. The opportunity to develop a queer, lady-owned business that puts handsome, gender-less products out into the craft market in Portland was, and still is, a huge motivator and inspiration for the work.
How do you keep it local in your community (i.e. where do you shop, eat, favorite local spots)?
Oh gosh, where do I even begin! My partner and I love to get outside. We are spring to fall hikers and I hit the mountain on my snowboard in the winter. So, when we are not working our full time jobs, hitting the books for our graduate school classes, or working on Paper + Wheel, we try to get outside to continue to find the beauty that inspires us. Outside of capitalizing on all of that free nature the Northwest has gifted us, we do our best to support our local small-business family. We are regulars at Wildfang's downtown location. Their store is doing all of the things with clothing that we try to do with our ceramics: strong, sharp, agender designs. We also love checking out the local pop-ups they host and their signature event, Free Speech, is the raddest gathering of amazing women and their stories. In terms of where we eat, we are both purveyors of delicious vegan, gluten free foods, so we don't go very long without trips to places like Verde Cocina, Harlow, and Petunias. Finally, we both love to get our weekly workouts via dancing, so we can always trust a trip to 80's night at the Crystal or Soul Stew at the Goodfoot to fuel our souls and bodies.
Where can customers find your goods?
This is another great chance for us to shout out some of our Portland favorites! We are currently selling our paper goods at Tender Loving Empire and Made Here PDX, two shops that are dedicated to raising up Portland and Northwest-based business. We have slowly started to integrate into the craft circuit in Portland, so we are hoping to get connected to some more folks though craft shows, bazaars, etc. If folks are hoping to see all of the wares we have to offer, our website (paperandwheel.com) and Instagram (@paperandwheel) are the best places to take a peek. We offer full commerce functions on our website and love, love, love when people reach out to us for custom orders!