Small Business Profile: Kara Green, Owner of Field Trip

 

Hi Kara! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I'm Kara, mother of 2 littles (ages 5,6) living in Portland OR. I was born and raised in NY and CT and went to college in NYC at Parsons for a fashion design degree. I was a clothing designer for over a decade in Manhattan before leaving the industry to be home with my kids. I opened Field Trip two years ago and continue to balance that with being a stay at home mom. 

What was your first job?
My first job was an assistant clothing designer at Ecko Unltd in Manhattan, an urban streetwear brand.

What lead you to begin Field Trip?
Throughout my design career I did a lot of market research trips and always loved visiting the small shops and chatting with the owners. I always had a tinge of jealousy and that usually clues me in to something I need to figure out in myself. I started a business plan when I left the design industry but put things on hold when I got pregnant with my son. I picked it back up when my second turned 2 and decided it was time to go for it.

Tell us more about the origins of the brand’s name.
My husband and I were bouncing ideas back and forth for a long time. We wanted a name that made people feel light and free. He came up with the name and I thought it was the perfect description for the shop. Field trips are a fun way to explore something new, connect and step away from routine. With our workshops, rotating artist exhibits and feel good products, I like to think of the shop as taking a field trip!

How do you source what you have in the store?
I find a lot of artists over social media (Instagram) and have quite a few people who reach out and connect. I'd love to travel more to find products. Someday I will make that happen!

Do you have a team? What steps did you take to build it?
No team, it's myself and one employee. I've just recently put a few more people on rotation so there's more flexibility in the schedule. I check in during the week and work weekends because I am still with my little one most days.

How do you connect with your customers and community?
The most rewarding way for me is in person in the shop. When I'm there working, I love chatting with everyone that walks in. I've made some amazing friends this way. We also connect community with our workshops, talks and art gallery. We have openings, creative classes, inspiring talks and pop ups that bring the community together.

What are some brands/designers that you are excited about that we should know of?
I recently stocked Drifter Organics (we were connected by a friend) which has been amazing for my skin. I've had keratosis pilaris my whole life and this body butter has been the only thing that has ever worked! I'm also very excited to bring superfoods and adaptogens to the Portland community. I've been using them for years and love what they do for my health, and I wanted to offer these products in a more modern and relevant way (like in your morning coffee and tea). These brands include Sun Potion, Moondeli, Roots + Bones and Moon Juice.

How would you like to see your neighborhood/community evolve?
I think Portland can be a very introverted place. With all the rain and winter gloom people can just cozy up at home for months on end. I hope to offer a space where people feel like it's worth their time and effort to come take a class or hear a talk and get out of their comfort zones. I think creating those connections with others is one of the most rewarding things.

Why do you think it’s important to shop small and support local makers?
I think shopping small supports personal interaction and connection. We have to leave our homes and experience things in person. There's emotion behind it that you don't get when you shop online. I hope people continue to value that experience so we can stay in business and small makers can continue to thrive.

What is your favorite thing about your workspace?
The best part is seeing everyone in action during a workshop. It brings in all different kinds of people, some come for the teacher, some for the space and others for meeting new people (or all of the above). I love watching the interactions and connections made during these classes. People get so inspired and that inspires me.

What role has Portland played in the development of Field Trip?
Portland felt very accessible in terms of starting a business. The rent is still fairly reasonable. The community is very supportive and other small businesses want to see you succeed.  

What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
The Portland community, as well as the amazing products people are creating. I am really passionate about self care and find it especially important when balancing so many demanding roles (like mom + business owner). When I find new products that support your well being that I can expose my community too, I get very excited!

What are some of the setbacks or challenges you faced when starting Field Trip?
Retail is an interesting world. There are lots of ups and downs and inconsistencies. We had more rain this year than in decades so that was tough. Predicting consumer behavior is also hard. Also, the current political climate effects people's shopping behavior. I am learning to let go a little and trust the bigger picture more.

At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I think there are enough things in this world challenging us that we don't need to also do that to each other. I am so thankful for all the women business owners I connect with in Portland. We want to help each other, not bring each other down and I really crave that support. Putting yourself out there in your business is vulnerable and risky. We need to empower each other.

What creative women do you find inspiring?
I really love what Amanda Chantal Bacon has done with Moon Juice. Her confidence in her business and making health and self care modern and beautiful feels refreshing to me. I love everything from the packaging and logo, to the products themselves. I am also loving the women circles that are happening around the country. Spirit Weavers and other women retreats are so inspiring. All these amazing women in one place. It's on my list to get there one of these years.

What have you learned from owning your shop that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
I've learned that you have to take one small step at a time. Sometimes I try to figure everything out in my mind first and then it feels overwhelming and stops me from doing anything. But once I boil it down to what I need to do first - the steps start falling into place and suddenly I'm a lot farther down the road than I realize.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Summer! With all the rain we have had I'm excited for our warm weather and having my shop doors open and more people out and about. We now serve coffee and snacks, have some amazing artist exhibits and openings coming, as well as some outdoor classes and events.  

 Photos by  Mikola Acccuardi

What do you wish more people knew about you?
I truly believe anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. I have so much faith in my friends and family and what people are capable of. I know we can all manifest the things we want in life if we believe in ourselves.

How do you manage a work/life balance?
The balance is a constant effort. Some weeks I have to be home more (like if my kids are sick) and some weeks I have 4 workshops in a row and I'm living at the shop. I'm finding the key is just to be kind to myself and know I'm doing the best I can.

What are some of your favorite places in Portland?
Sweedeedee for food, Heart Roasters for coffee and the monthly Portland Flea for vintage treasures.