Portland Fashion Week Interview

Interview with Portland Fashion Week Designer Hart Mind Soul

Portland Fashion Week’s 20 Questions With Hart Mind Soul

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?

To be honest, I don’t really think of myself as a fashion designer. I used to be an artist, then I got tired of starving. Fashion and design are merely cogs in the wheel for something so much greater than ourselves alone.

2. What inspired?

At the age of 15 I had been to more of my friends funerals than I could count. I realized exactly how fragile life was and decided not to waste another day. Consequently, the fire of passion was lit and continues to burn to this day

3. How would you describe Hart Mind Soul?

Hart Mind Soul is the most colorful, creative, aggressive, custom design and marketing company, hands down. Our revolutionary mission statement is: To transfer the inner creativity, opportunity and excitement from one’s personal interior to the exterior world.

4. What is the inspiration behind your current collection?

All the animals running around our Urban Jungle. Come on, we can do better than this. And in the process, we can take better care of the natural world as well.

5. Do you have a favorite piece that you designed?

Our Full Color Parrot Print is extremely technical and embodies 20+ years of custom screen printing excellence. Featuring black on black embroidery and precision printing, this is a very strong conceptual design.

6. What considerations go into building an eco-friendly brand?

Integrity really sums it up. From the fabric and garment selection to the embellishment process and how we choose to spend our profits. Every choice you make either pulls you closer to, or pushes you further away from your goal. As in any undertaking, the emphasis is on self discipline.

7. Is there a storytelling element to your design process/creation?

Absolutely. The world is such a fucked up place. We need a little bit of romantic passion and day dreaming to remind us of what is truly possible. Just look around you and the hallmarks of a declining civilization are all around us. We need people with character and charisma to boldly lead us into the future. Will you accept the challenge? It won’t be easy.

8. What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?

If I stopped to think about being scared, I would have been out of business a long time ago. The world is full of people who will knock down what takes you years to build. Commit to yourself and to your dream then shut out the darkness.  Every obstacle you encounter can be overcome if you stay focused on the light rather than fear and insecurities.

9. What is your favorite part about being a designer?

Again, I don’t think of myself as a designer. We really couldn’t do any of this if it wasn’t for the great team of people that are dedicated to excellence. I never received any formal training for design and most of the people who work for us dropped out of, or never attended college. Besides, helping others fulfill their dreams is really what Hart Mind Soul is all about anyway.

10. How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?

That is a rather politically charged question. Because Hart Mind Soul believes in equality, I would hope that both Men and Women would feel the same way when wearing our clothes. Comfortable and confident. Hart Mind Soul believes strongly, that we are all cut of the same cloth. Let’s focus on what makes us similar rather than our differences and we can move beyond gender debates.

11. What are your aspirations with Hart Mind Soul?

Together we are working to make the world a better place. From our annual donations to help Save The Sea Turtles to art programs and motivational speaking, our goal is to create value by helping others. With the addition of water based screen printing techniques and more eco friendly garment styles, we are setting an example for the industry as a whole.

12. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?

I read an article about how retail giants are going out of business. Seriously, the economy is the strongest it has been in almost 30 years. If you can’t cut it now, it is time to shutter up shop. Planning on starting a new business? There has never been a better time.

13. What would you like remembered about you?

A tenacious ability to face fears with no guarantee of success. We started this business out of the kitchen in an apartment while working a minimum wage job almost 20 years ago. Through trials and tribulations we have emerged to become one of the strongest competitors in the industry. Not that we as individuals are so great, but that the things we aspire to are. Compounded by the fact that we had no working capital, cell phone, internet or credit cards, the story really is one of resilience and courage. And you can do it too. So pick a dream, and paint by number.

14. What is the best advice you’ve been given?

“Don’t argue with fools.”

Two men are walking along a narrow path and meet each other  in the middle. One says to the other, “Step aside. I will never move for a fool.” The other steps off the path and replies, “You go right ahead, I always will.”

15. What item in your closet do you wear the most?

A belt. Was that supposed to be a riddle?

16. What is on your bucket list (personal and/or business wise)?

Walk on Mars and return to tell the story.

17. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? 

Keep faith. People hate it when you can do something that they thought was impossible. Do it anyways.

People will knock down overnight, that which took you years to build. Build anyways, and be prepared to rebuild.

People will laugh at your ideas and make fun of you for having a dream. Fuck them. They work as a server and live with roommates. The concept of paying off credit cards and owning a home is something they will never experience.

These people consistently settle for mediocrity, so don’t let their naïve mindset influence your passion.

You will have to sacrifice health, family and free time for your goals. In the end you will reap peace of mind, time to raise your own family and financial independence.

18. Does your hometown or current city contribute to your design aesthetic? How?

“A Doctor’s advice is ignored in his own home and prophets are without honor in their hometowns.”

That said, it really isn’t that amazing how little support we actually get from the city of Portland. However, this environment has driven Hart Mind Soul to create a national distribution chain (HMS nation) and exceed our wildest dreams of profits. By selling to areas of the country where people have more expendable income, we have been able to exceed growth projections for the past 5 years.

19. Where can we find you when you’re not designing for Hart Mind Soul?

Being Zen in my Rose Garden or playing with Legos.

20. Where are your favorite local places to shop? 

Bud Clark’s Goose Hollow Inn and their family owned coffee shop, the Hof House. You should stop in and buy a sandwich. Make sure to tip well, these are good, hard working folks.

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