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En Route: Field Trip

Field Trip

Visit: 3725 SE Division St, Portland, OR

Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop Field Trip – Photos by Nicholas Peter Wilson for The Style Line

When asked what question she’d like to be approached

with more often, Kara Green (the owner of beloved Portland-based boutique Field Trip) responded with, “‘Can I help?’ I love when people reach out and offer their products or services or connections. The whole basis of Field Trip is community and working together and supporting each other.” For those of you who don’t know, as a shop Field Trip’s values are rooted deeply in fostering authentic connection while catering to one’s creative curiosity. When deciding on the store’s name, Kara and her husband found their way back to memories of childhood field-trips and the sense of wonder that came with discovering something new. “We both have such great memories of going on adventures when we were kids and exploring with our school and friends,” Kara shared in our interview below. “It is a break from the daily grind and a chance to reconnect to that fun carefree part of ourselves we can lose in our day to day responsibilities.”

Kara herself has endured this sense of discovery in her personal and professional endeavors – she ended up in Portland from Brooklyn after her husband accepted a job at Nike and recently she took a trip to Ojai, California (as you’ll learn more about in our interview with her below). Yet what piqued our interest the most, was Kara’s ability to not only cultivate a sense of community but engage with them to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. While Portland’s retail landscape may be filled with beautifully curated small shops and thoughtful experiences, Kara wanted to take Field Trip one step further with the introduction of workshops to bring people together in real-time. We spoke more with her about this element of the shop, and how it humanizes Field Trip’s shopping experience along with some lessons she’s learned from other small business owners in the city. Read on to take a virtual field trip of your own and go inside this truly special boutique, and discover more insight from Kara featuring moments of our afternoon captured by Nicholas Peter Wilson for The Style Line.

*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY 2016 AND REFLECTS UPDATED CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT AND INTRODUCTION

Hello! I’m Kara, a shop owner, wife and also a mama

to two little ones. We moved to Portland four years ago from Brooklyn, NY because my husband was offered a job at Nike. The job came up when our son was eight months old and living the NY dream was proving to be much harder than we thought. So, we got on a plane, having never visited, and took a chance on this great city.  It took us a minute to slow down and appreciate a calmer pace of life, but I am thankful we did. I love all things otherworldly including astrology, tarot and energy medicine (I’m a Pisces, so half the time I am living in a dream world). I am a 200hr certified yogi and meditate daily, which can sometimes turn into a power nap if the sleep has been tough with the kids. I really value the process of self-awareness and personal evolution. I think I’m attracted to these more mystical topics because it helps me figure out my place in the world. I am forever on the path of looking inward, finding the things that are working and (trying) to let go of the things that are not. I get to stay home with my kids during the week and work the shop on the weekends, which has given me a perfect balance between being a creative entrepreneur as well as a mom.

Talk to us about the inception of Field Trip. We love the shop’s name – have any field trips, notes or experiences informed how you’ve built the business?

Coming up with a name is so hard! We were discussing the vibe of the space and how we wanted people to feel coming in when my husband said ‘field trip!’ and it described it perfectly. We both have such great memories of going on adventures when we were kids and exploring with our school and friends. It is a break from the daily grind and a chance to reconnect to that fun carefree part of ourselves we can lose in our day to day responsibilities.
When people walk into the shop I want them to feel lighter, relaxed and excited at the things they see or the class they are about to take. I had worked in retail over the years while designing for bigger brands, so it’s always been a part of me. I’d say my most recent inspirational trip was to Ojai last year. I found myself spending hours in shops talking to the owners and feeling my heart swell. I knew at that moment I needed to bring that feeling to Portland. It also became clear that I was finished daydreaming and ready to make it happen.

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What is one thing you always find yourself discussing amongst Portland-based fellow shop/small business owners? 

I have found that most of us connect immediately on that fact that we don’t have all the answers and feel a bit insecure about whether what we are doing is going to be successful and supported by the community. Most of us shop owners are creative and passionate people, but learning to run a business and adjusting things to make the business a success requires a different set of skills; ones that we are figuring out as we go. I am a very open person and I like to be honest with people about running a business. I find the more I put myself out there in an open and honest way, the more amazing people come my way, and that’s really rewarding. I have talked to so many other Portland small business owners and seriously everyone is just so great!

What role have the workshops played in shaping the overall shopping experience?

The workshops have been really interesting to me for a few reasons. Many of the classes bring people in solely for the class and the teacher. A person that may not have otherwise come shop is now in the space and becoming curious and engaged. Another great thing is that by learning these new skills, it helps people understand the work that goes into handmade products and why things cost what they do. My shop is all small makers, so by supporting them on the retail side and also supporting them by showing the details of their craft, it really bridges a gap that sometimes exists between the consumer and the maker. There’s also such a great energy in the space when people are “workshopping” while shoppers come in and observe.

What role do you think creativity plays in some of the world’s bigger conversations and how do you think Field Trip is contributing to this shift in thinking? 

I think it’s amazing that people are getting back into these older crafts, like knitting clubs and macrame, because it means we are ready to be social, to engage, learn a new skill and get off our phones and computers! It feels like we are craving simplicity in a world of “too much” and I love that Field Trip can offer that by offering a space to come meet new people and make something really beautiful that you can take home and keep forever.

Talk to us about the product assortment. How has your eye for curation/buying developed over time? 

Before having kids I worked for over a decade in the New York fashion industry designing clothing. We did lots of research trips and production travel and I have always had a love for curated shops and well-designed products. For many years I dreamed of opening a store and now that I’m in it, it has been really fun having my vision come to life. As my business grows, I know I will need to evolve with that and grow with my community. Luckily I love change and am excited to see how the shop continues to get better.

What evolution do you hope to see Field Trip endure as it becomes more rooted in Portland culture?

Portland is very big on the DIY culture and I am seeing a lot of shops incorporating workshops and classes in their space. I hope that I can continue to offer classes of value to people and topics that are different. I am definitely working towards more self-care classes, inspirational talks, meditation circles and things like that. We will also be bringing in creative speakers and people from other places to contribute their knowledge and passion to Portland. We have had some great people already like Maryanne Moodie/Weaver from Brooklyn and Sonja Rasula/Unique Space from LA and we all get super excited and inspired when they teach in Field Trip.

What’s been one of the most interesting elements you’ve discovered about the small business community in Portland since opening?

What has been amazing is the support! I’ve had lots of other small business owners reach out and come chat. Everyone has been welcoming and wishing me luck and success. It feels great to have that supportive energy in such a fragile state of starting a new business.

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The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration, and transit. With this in mind, what is your “the style line” in your wardrobe? 

I love really classic looks that stay through the trends. Like the products in my shop, I appreciate the small makers and beautiful (but pricier) pieces –although Madewell jeans are a current obsession. Most days you can find me in my No.6 boots that I’ve had for over 5 years and are still amazing, Madewell jeans, a vintage button down top and my Janessa Leone hat (definitely a hat girl).

What is one question you wish people asked you more often? 

Can I help? I love when people reach out and offer their products or services or connections. The whole basis of Field Trip is community and working together and supporting each other. I’d love to find a business mentor and a merchandiser. I am always looking for new artists for my gallery wall or students wanting to learn. I think people can be scared to put themselves out there, but the best parts of my day at the shop are the ones when people come in and tell me their story and want to be a part of mine.