The Local Branch: Featured Brand

Mackenzie and Blaine run The Local Branch from their Airstream workshop

Tell us your story?

 

Sorry… this is going to be long, I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll start at the beginning.

We launched The Local Branch in 2009 out of our little mountain apartment in Northern California. We had just moved to CA from Upstate New York, and since the recession had just hit (and we were young 23 year olds right out of college), we couldn’t find a job in our industry. Etsy was really new and no one we knew had really heard of it yet — but we saw it as an accessible way to start a business using our creative talents. We knew how to sew and began dabbling in leatherwork, screen printing and hand sewing accessories like headbands and jewelry – all the while working our day jobs.

Eventually we broke into the creative industry with our full-time jobs and moved into San Francisco – but we kept The Local Branch going through Etsy, and a few weekend craft shows. In early 2012, we had this wild idea to travel full-time (but we knew we had to work!) – so we wanted to open a mobile retail shop with The Local Branch. We were just slightly ahead of this mobile retail/tiny house movement, which meant we really had no examples to look to for guidance. So, we started from scratch.

We spend a whole year working our full-time jobs — and also waking up at 4am/going to bed at midnight to squeeze in time to plan this next venture. We planned, planned, planned over the year… and did things like re-worked our logo, photographed, designed and launched www.TheLocalBranch.co (we knew we needed our own website by this point). We quit our day jobs (scary!) and launched our Kickstarter campaign from Thanksgiving – Christmas 2013. We raised $15,000 to help us launch our mobile lifestyle-traveling brand. We bought the Airstream in early January and spent 4 weeks gutting it, renovating and decorating it ourselves to be our beautiful workshop on wheels! Our initial idea was to travel the country full-time for a whole year — making and selling our goods out of the Airstream and at various craft shows, festivals, pop-ups etc. We spent the first year traveling to visit every little corner of the country (I think we crossed the country 6 times and visited 45 states last year).

After the year was over… we realized we had just started to get our footing and were embracing all of the challenges of living and working on the road full-time… so when January 2015 rolled around, we decided to go for another full year, with lots of learning under our belt and different goals in tow.

What is your favorite part about your whole story? The brand, traveling, meeting people?

 

Ohh, that’s a tough one, we love it ALL!

Looking back, I am proud that we just went for it. We had a wild idea and we worked really hard to make it happen… but beyond that, there was no way to be certain exactly how it would go.

We have met so many truly incredible people from all over the country and have traveled more than many people get to do in a lifetime. We wake up everyday and get to make something with our hands. We also decide if we’re going to work an extra long day in the studio – or if we want to go out on an adventure. We are really, really grateful for all of those things.

What advice can you give to people that want to do what you have done?

 

Just like anything that’s worth it… it takes a lot of guts, hard work, patience and confidence to make it happen for yourself. There are many times that you’re on top of the world, and many times that is hard – really, really hard. You just have to stay focused and keep pushing on!

What’s next, will you do another year?

 

Well, we’ll be finishing up TWO YEARS, which is really hard to believe. Next year we will settle down a bit more and hopefully on a bit of land… we’d love to grow the business in different ways, but keep the Airstream around to take us on many more adventures!

How did you figure out what to design/ make in your small space? Was there a trial and error of things that didn’t work?

 

We really designed the whole space to fit everything we needed, perfectly. Since we were already running The Local Branch before we moved into our Airstream workshop, we knew we needed our sewing machine, sergers, screens, inks, shipping supplies…etc.

We designed the whole space around a certain visual aesthetic, because it was important for us that it to look a certain way but it also needed to be highly functional. Living in tiny quarters, means everything for the business and for us personally needed to have its own home…  and really that’s the only way to make 200 sq ft for a growing business work!

Do you ever see yourself having an e-commerce site or opening a brick and mortar location or going back to the work you left behind?

 

We definitely see ourselves settling down in the next year on some land in Upstate New York where we can continue to grow our business. We’d love to have a lot of property where we can continue making our goods (maybe out of a cool old barn or something) and open up a shop there too. We’ll still take the Airstream out to some of our favorite festivals and shows of course!

To find out where The Local Branch will stop next or to buy some goods, visit the online store front.

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Brian Davie: Featured Artist

Motion Picture Production Designer, Brian Davie

Tell us your story. How you got to where you are?

I always had an artistic calling and was fortunate to be accepted into some excellent art schools. After graduation I kicked around between low-paying art jobs like hand-painting jewelry, coats of arms, or signs writing – sometimes getting a commission for some graphics work or a painting. Luckily the movie business started flourishing in Vancouver where I lived, and all the odd art jobs I’d been doing turned out to be invaluable training for an entry-level job in the art department.

 

What is a production designer?

A production designer is responsible for the visual look of the film. In it’s fullest definition, this extends to translating the script into visual metaphors, creating a palette, establishing architectural and period details, selecting locations, designing and decorating sets, coordinating the costume, make-up, and hair styles into a pictorial scheme, and collaborating with the director and director of photography to define how the film should be conceived and photographed.

 

What is your creative process? Inspiration?

My creative process always begins with the script. Like most people do when reading a book, I read the story and imagine the setting. I analyze in great detail what the setting should look like and how it would best support the story. The trick is to find the fine line wherein the production design best supports the story, without distancing from it.

 

Of all your projects, what has been your favorite and why?

I have fond memories of many projects for different reasons, but perhaps the most unique project I’ve worked on was Ridley Scott’s epic “1492: Conquest of Paradise”. It was relatively early in my career when I found myself working in Costa Rica with some of the finest film workers on earth. The film is a biopic about Christopher Columbus and participating in the research, building sets, which included pre-Columbian villages and the first Spanish settlement, then working on-set with the great Ridley Scott was a remarkable and very educational experience.

 

If you were not a production designer, what would you be?

I’ve been in the movie business for most of my adult life, so it’s difficult for me to imagine not being in the movie business. If I were to start over again, I might pursue a career in directing.

 

Give advice for those who would love to work with you or have a job like yours one day!

A great advantage that young people have today is information! When I started out, nobody owned a computer and just trying to find out how to get into the film business was next to impossible. Today a person can go to websites for film organizations such as I.A.T.S.E., which often spell out the entry-level requirements. Skills like computer drafting, graphics, and 3D modeling are highly sought after. Although I hire a lot of people, I rarely hire entry-level positions. Film production is like a giant pyramid system where each level hires the next. A director or producer hires me, then I hire department heads like the set decorator, props master, etcetera, and then they hire their assistants and so on.

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Oxblood Fashion Show Promo Video

Oxblood Fashion Show, the video

Last October Ansel and Opie styled and photographed the Oxblood Fashion Show in Des Moines. It was a great night and a terrific event full of entertainment. If you haven’t seen the images of all the looks, check them out here. Then watch the awesome video that was put together by Luminary Creative.

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Hadriel Gonzalez: Featured Aritst

Hadriel Gonzalez; Photographer for Team Black Productions

Lets start with the basics, how did you get started in photography?

Ever since I was very young, probably about 5-7yrs old,  I remember being drawn to the camera from the first conscious moment that I was introduced to it. I was at a zoo with my family, and somehow I got my hands on a disposable camera. I would not let go, even without knowing exactly what it did/how it all worked. I was told that at that moment, I wanted to take a photo of EVERYTHING; from the bird, the tree, etc. It wasn’t until freshman year in high school though, when I realized my passion and started to take it seriously. Towards the end of the school year I found out about a photography class in my school so I was determined to be there for sophomore year no matter what. Once in, all I did for the next couple years was teach myself everything there was to know about the subject, in and out of school. It even got to the point where I was very surprised that I was teaching my teacher a few things. It was a very humbling experience and it is how I quickly began to notice I was heading in the right direction.

What led you to fashion photography?

‪”Fashion Rocks 2007 – In My Tribe by Steven Meisel”. I was serious about photography but I did not discover the art of fashion photography until one day in a library. I looked through various magazines for curiosity but this one specific image in the editorial really changed my life. It was titled “goth” and it was a group shot of various models styled in a goth dream scenario. The whole editorial showcased different styles like “punk”, “raver”, etc, all shot as a group. Why that image stuck out to me was because I was your typical teenage goth at the time, chains/eyeliner and all, so when that image connected with who I was, I was immediately drawn to it and began to understand it.

What is something you would change about the fashion industry if you could?

I would like to see less of a monopoly. I feel like people are getting tired of seeing the same group of top individuals produce & star in anything that is considered major. I would like to see top guns bring up new talent, giving new people one chance could change their life & shape the future of art history. I believe in using your platform to help move the world forward with a positive influence.

How did you establish yourself as a fashion photographer?

It was really all about trial and error for me because I was self-taught. I would also describe it as a snowball effect, one small shoot you do can land you a gig two years from it, then that gig becomes a serious situation and it brings other gigs, which then lead to a celebrity and it keeps on going from there, for example. I tried to take any opportunity no matter how minute it seemed at the time because I began to see how small seeds planted can bring out a tree. My young age also played a big factor because it worked against me instead of for me, which was surprising. I was very young, in my teens, really trying to establish myself as the serious professional that I was. People would not take me seriously, simply for that fact. I am however glad that I pushed through and did not stop, because now 23, I have been named the youngest photographer to land an Elle cover!

Can you tell us about your production company?

Team Black Productions, is a company that I and my business partner, Phoenix Golden, worked on for almost two years before launching in May.

With my art direction, fast turn around, unique shooting style and master retouching, combined by years of Phoenix’s Hair/Makeup/Business skills, and our conjoined connections in the industry (Phoenix also being a former director of an International Modeling agency); We merged our producing/branding skills and birthed www.teamblackproductions.com.

Now, with an array of key team members, we cast/shoot/ and produce the overall project and/or brand design under the client’s direction, with or without them on set. Our trend forecasting, listening, understanding, and final adjustment skills allows our clients to trust their BRAND visuals with us. We are in full communication every step of the way, regardless of time zones.

To keep up with all of Hadriel’s current work be sure to check out his website and blog! This production team is going places!

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All About Texture

Photography: Ansel and Opie
Styling: Ansel and Opie
Make-up: Shelby Stingley
Hair: Thompson & Co.
Model: Tamia Ayoki-Davis, Creation Model & Talent Management

Tamia also rocked the runway in the Oxblood Fashion Show in Des Moines

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