The much-loved record label, screen printing studio and retail boutique has had the tender loving part down since day one. But now founders Jared and Brianne Mees are finally making good on the empire portion of their vision. Born of a desire to do what they love, TLE has organically grown as the couple has followed their passions, but for the last several years, Jared Mees says they’ve “been tightening the screws on the business side of TLE” in an effort to realize new growth.
This started with moving their cramped upstairs office to a dedicated space in NW Portland, which allowed them to focus on future projects, like a fresh logo and a new line of signature items spearheaded by Brianne and designed by creative director Andrew Sloan—including kids shirts and baby onesies, greeting and postcards, and a line of prints featuring “some of our favorite lyrics from the 50-plus releases we’ve put out over the years,” whether inspiring, humorous or poignant, Mees says.
It’ll all culminate with the opening of a second retail location. Mees’ “epic” idea for the Hawthorne digs hinges on creating interactivity—from an automaton-style sculpture on the ceiling to a stage area where TLE will host stripped-down acoustic shows and which also doubles as lounge with digital and vinyl listening stations offering samples of the entire TLE catalogue. At 1,200 square feet (almost double the size of the downtown store), there’s room enough for “structures inside the structure,” Mees explains, and potential for art and trunk shows.
As for the TLE experience online, Mees says a new website featuring a pay-what-you-want platform that encourages charitable giving (called Generous) is imminent, with 5 percent of future proceeds going to nonprofit organizations. Expecting to open the doors by Black Friday, an official party is planned for early December. As always, the goal is to “keep doing jobs that we love and give support to artists that we love,” Mees says. “It’s as much about them as it is about us.”
Tender Loving Empire SE, 3541 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503.548.2927