I met Dani some years ago when she first moved to Portland from the region we both hail from: the Midwest. Her easy humor and aspirational outlook made it super easy to connect with her. We kept in touch mostly through the Internet, as we are both busy pursuing our independent lives as working artists. She recently asked me to photograph her in her studio, located in Portland's rustic NE Industrial Zone. The historic brick building is a modest gem among the massive industrial warehouses, old mills and wispy train tracks. A green barge parked on the Willamette River was the first thing I noticed walking to the back of the building. Suddenly, I looked up to a breathtaking 180-degree-view of downtown Portland— a panorama so good, it should be kept a secret. The skyline twinkled between the rusty chain-linked fence and barbed-wire along the river. Beams of gold light occasionally sprung from heavy rain clouds, making the wet asphalt sparkle. It seemed nobody was in the area, other than just us.
The downstairs studio of Brighton Place was like entering the concrete version of a middle school girl's bedroom. There were old drawings, notes and crafts scattered around the shop, along with funny lists and messages (both productive order and goofing off). She explained how some of the “funny” original sketches from notebooks that she drew with her sister when they were kids has influenced her current designs (such as the mouth necklaces). “They bring back fun memories of that time and I want to share that old school girly vibe through my craft.”
Dani's big smile and quick wit are no mistake on how seriously she takes her work. In addition to a full time job, she spends several hours laboring away in the shop. She is also incredibly methodical and organized. Her raw materials are sorted by color and her jewelry is neatly tucked away by its respective category. She rocks one of her husband's band shirts and spotty nail polish on her fingers, because when you work with your hands, they are never near perfect. We had a wonderful time catching up as she showed me the most recent jewelry she has been working on. I was genuinely inspired by how productive and dedicated she is with such limited free time.
"One of my biggest inspirations is to work with other women who are also trying to make something of themselves. I just find it so important these days, that we as women support one another in being successful." I couldn't agree with her sentiment more. Thank you Dani. Here is to you and all the other badass ladies out there who are making shit happen.