So last week I told you I had awesome friends, right? Well here I am ready to prove it.
I’ve known Miss Lindsay Jo for probably about, oh, a year. I’ve seen her here and there, out and about, at different Portland events, or the river, or whatever it is we do around these parts, and every time I see her we promise each other we’ll hang out soon. Isn’t that just how it goes? But this time I actually followed through.
And I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that I went and was able to learn about such a rad business! All started by one of my most rad friends.
A couple of weeks ago, I hopped the bus after work and didn’t get off until I was dead center on one of Portland’s cutest, and probably hippest, avenues. I strolled down a side street into the residential portion of the neighborhood and found the only warehouse it contained, headquarters of MapleXO where the homegirl Lindsay Jo and her small, but incredibly productive team spend their days, and sometimes nights, creating one of a kind jewelry and accessories from recycled skateboards. Cool, right?!
Look. I’ve admired this girl’s jewelry for a long, long time, but nothing could have prepared me for how cool it was to see where that jewelry came from. For example:
This is the pile of donated skateboards that takes up a small section of the cavernous space. Each bunch of donated boards represents one plate of freshly baked, homemade cookies, that are sent in return as a thank-you.
“When we first started getting donations, I didn’t want to give people money, didn’t want to enter that gray area, but I had to do something..” Lindsay Jo explained, all 4’11″ of her (I was right!), garbed in a simple hoodie, blue jeans and adorably scuffed, tan patent flats.
“So…cookies?” I asked.
“Cookies,” she confirmed.
And then I died a little cause that tradition is so fucking awesome.
Well ok, so this is what happens to those skateboards:
And then fast forward through Lindsay Jo’s impressive explanation of a variety of power tools (go girl!) to this:
So wait, back up. You want to know how she got here, don’t you? I did too, so I asked …
“One day, when I was younger, I decided I wanted a clock in my house, so I took one of my skateboards [what up skater girl?] and my boyfriend at the time, his jig saw, and literally like, just tried to saw off the top and bottom to make a flat wall clock. Except I couldn’t get it to cut straight and all these slivers kept peeling off where you could see all the colors and it was just a matter of snapping them into pieces, stringing them on to paper clips, and wearing them as earrings.” (and yes, she still has the clock to this day).
I, Lou, am paraphrasing. For the record. This is how I remember her stories, so girl, correct me if I’m wrong. Oh also, for all the thousands of publishers reading this, I also have a way cleaned up, professional version of this article, ahem.
SO, I guess the paperclips eventually lost a little of their charm and Lindsay Jo was spurred to action.
“There’s this wood working shop in Portland and I just showed up one day and was like, ‘I want to cut circles!’”
She went on to tell me that, hilariously, this shop was geared toward people that already knew how to use the tools, knew what they were making, and just wanted to come take advantage of the space and equipment. However, the owner assured her she could stay and she fell under the reluctant apprenticeship of fellow workshop frequenter, Paul.
“He actually works in the space next to me now,” she says pointing through a door behind us, “he’s one of my, I mean he’s a 45-year old guy, but he’s probably one of my closest friends, and I think after like, the third day, he realized I wasn’t going anywhere.”
The story is all sorts of charming and I can just see Paul, exasperated, helping this tiny girl, warming to her each day she fearlessly walked through the door to keep learning. I mean, that could just be my wine sentimentalizing everything for me right now, but whatever.
The relationship that began five years ago has turned into a tried and true friendship and opened the door for multiple collaborative endeavors. She takes me over to show me his work and I’m once again enamored at the camaraderie that seems to exist not only within MapleXO, but within the entire workspace.
The MapleXO team spend their workdays creating classic hoops and bangles, necklaces, rings, belt buckles, and most recently, SkateBacks, their latest collaborative project with local company, Grove. They retail their products at small stores around Portland, recently had an order of SkateBacks picked up by Urban Outfitter, sell products online (here!: http://www.maplexo.com/collections/all/), and also have an adorably small showroom in the entrance of their warehouse:
And yet, in addition to the end goal of selling a really incredible product, what really stood out to me was the fun, creative environment this group works in. There’s minimal drama, everyone has their part, and they play and experiment with making new things everyday. Overall, it just seemed … fun! And genuine, so very genuine. Like, good job in doing it all so well you guys! And… don’t you want to work there?
As we closed up shop and tried on jewelry:
I couldn’t help but develop a total girl crush on Lindsay Jo because it’s not everyday you meet a girlfriend who can complain about not having a fresh coat of shellac on her nails while also explaining to you how she became comfortable using a sander.
“My nails aren’t done,” she complained as we left the shop and walked down the street to grab a couple (ok, it was like five in the end) drinks at the bar, “it’s just working all day and getting all dirty, I like to have my nails done. It’s my thing, makes me feel put together.”
“Well, we should go get our nails done!” I suggested, and from there, a very, very cheap wine friendship was born.
And that does it for my first profile post. Fashion-wise I should tell you that aside from liking a fresh coat of nail polish, Lindsay Jo is one of those assholes whose tiny feet can fit into all of the vintage shoes at all of the vintage shops. I’m always so pissed when every pair of perfect boots I find is for like, a size 5. What is with people’s feet from the 60′s and 70′s!? Lucky bitch!
And I love that she shows up to her dirty, sawdust-filled, work still looking adorable. You’ve seen the proof. Now go buy her jewelry.
Here are the links that matter: