Teenage girls are experts at the art of back talking. They practically win gold metals like its nothin'. But the chickas of Backtalk, the new-ish retail store in NE Alberta are giving us the positive side of "backtalk". Katie Freedle, designer behind RillRill Jewelry and purple-haired, vintage queen Elissa Hall, came together earlier this year and we are so glad they did.
E+E: What is the inspiration behind Backtalk?
Katie & Elissa: Backtalk was inspired by a very basic obsession with art and design. Katie and I continually ran into each other at design events in Portland and had an epiphany that the establishment and maintenance of a space would serve as the perfect catalyst for channeling this shared love. We collaborate on projects, cultivate personal projects and showcase the work of our friends and community. Backtalk allows us to facilitate all of this as a constantly evolving, creative space.
E+E: Since this is our girlfriends issue, tell me a little bit about the dynamic between you two. How is it owning a store with your best friend?K&E: Our friendship developed simultaneously alongside our business partnership. As soon as we met each other we recognized a matched creative ambition so we just rolled with that momentum. Basically, it is awesome to go into business with another early-20s, inspired female who shares similar interests and convictions. We can riff off of each others' creative energy and fill in each others shortcomings. For example, Katie rocks it with illustrator for events, while I write the copy. Sure, it gets tricky to navigate between business and friendship sometimes but we keep it light. We go camping. We bring each other lunch. It's like couples counseling.
E+E: What kinds of items do you feature in the store?K&E: We feature a diverse variety of products from emerging designers and artists. The bulk of our clothing collections is carefully sourced vintage, street wear but we also carry a few designer lines that align with our ethics. Wintercheck Factory out of Brooklyn is huge for us. We have a rotating collection from Portland design houses REIF, House Line and Sea Echo. Apart from that, we feature items that are extensions of our lifestyle: cassette tapes, small press, pocket knives, utility packs, whatever seems to make sense at that time for us and people like us.
We also have monthly art exhibitions by friends and local artists. It's pretty fun.
E+E: What's your favorite thing to do with your girlfriends in Portland?K&E: We eat a lot of pho and burritos. Apart from that we venture outdoors for hikes, swims at Washougal, the Gorge and Sauvie. We also go to a lot of shows. Typically you can find Katie or I (or both us), chilled out, taking in some beer and music with our buddies.
1609 NE Alberta
Photos courtesy: Katie Freedle & Elissa Hall
EYES & EDGE