When we first saw the remodeled, blacked-out Victorian home of Angela Medlin, we knew it would provide the perfect backdrop to our Spring Catalog. What we later came to realize is that Angela brings the creativity with which she reimagined her home to just about every part of her life.
That creativity vaulted Angela into the upper echelons of the apparel design world, as she worked as an apparel designer and design director for the last quarter century at places like Nike, Adidas, and Levi Strauss. More recently, she launched a new line of locally made pet goods called House Dogge, which was inspired in part by her Olde English Bulldogge, Wubbi. (The Rope + Leather Dog Toy was a natural fit for our Spring line.) We caught up with Angela to talk about her fascinating career, her beautiful home, and of course, Wubbi.
What are a few words or sentences that you feel best describes yourself and your outlook on life?
"I am a 'creativepreneur.' I never put limitations on my imagination or on what’s possible to accomplish. Anything I’m truly passionate about flows through other parts of my life. My imagination is my superpower! I use it for good. One of my favorite quotes to live by is:
'Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.' by Albert Einstein."
What, if anything, would you like people to know about you?
"I am a futurist, a world traveler, a writer, a science nerd, a designer, an artist, a sci-fi geek, a dancer, a music lover, an athlete, a dog advocate, a nurturer, a mentor, a sister, a daughter, a loyal friend, and a prolific dreamer."
Can you tell us a little bit about the path you took to get to where you are today?
"I grew up in the small town of Hamlet, NC. I spent most of my days as a kid with a pencil and sketch pad in my hands. I illustrated stories and creatively altered my own clothes for 10 years prior to entering NCSU College of Design. Soon after receiving my bachelor’s degree, I landed my first apparel industry job in Los Angeles with Cross Colours. Since then, my career has taken me around the world. For 25 years, I designed and directed apparel teams for global companies that include Nike, Adidas, The North Face, Levi Strauss & Company, and Eddie Bauer.
At the end of 2016, I left my position as Design Director at Nike to pursue a couple of persistent goals: 1.) To build the fun and sustainable, designer pet goods brand House Dogge, a brand that supports family dogs and inspires their beautiful people and 2.) To found an educational design program, The Functional Apparel & Accessories Studio, aka FAAS at Pensole. It’s a unique program that nurtures and promotes DIVERSITY in the industry and prepares the next generation of specialized designers to enter the global apparel arena with 'true to industry' knowledge and skills. Both businesses were birthed in 2017 and they are steadily gaining recognition and momentum. I am enjoying defining and shaping what they will both become!"
Creatively, personally or professionally, what defining moments have had the most impact on your life and direction?
"The defining moments are when I create something authentic to myself and it resonates with others. It‘s one thing to know internally that I have produced something I absolutely believe in but when others can connect to it, then I feel there is an innate purpose to it all."
What qualities do you find most important or interesting in a person?
"I resonate with people who are authentic, passionate, kind, curious, and generally decent human beings."
Tell us about your house – how long have you been here and what do you love most about it?
"The house was purchased a little over 2 years ago. We lived around the corner and I just happened to pass by as the real estate agent was staking the “for sale” sign into the curbside. The 110-year-old 'Miss Vicky' (my pet name for the house) stood strong in her weathered mustard and red trimmed silhouette. A year later she was given a confident, bold new all black coat. My favorite part is the contrast of the light interior to the dramatic dark exterior color. It’s a joy to open the door to a warm, light, inviting, and inspirational space."
What’s your style philosophy when it comes to yourself or your home?
"Both my style and my home are ‘wabi sabi simple’. The interior walls serve as blank canvases for artwork, found objects are meaningful, furnishings are lovingly worn, and the style is relaxed and eclectic."
Tell us about Wubbi! How did he come in to your life and how did he influence your decision to start House Dogge?
"In 2004, my previous dog passed away from cancer. It took me 8 years to decide I was ready to open my heart and home to another four-legged family member. In those 8 years, I continued to collect interesting objects from around the world that I hoped would one day inspire a designer dog product collection. I wanted to create something beautiful and fun for both the pups and the people who have chosen each other as their forever family. Finally, in 2011, the spell was broken. After a few obsessive hours of searching, I discovered a pup named Spot living with a young family in Mobile, Alabama. He was the last pup (out of nine) from their family dog. I had never heard of an Olde English Bulldogge before, only the English Bulldog. There’s a big difference. I found this out later as Wubbi started to morph into what looked like Falkor the Luck Dragon in The Never-Ending Story. You could say he went through an awkward teenage phase.
Lead by pure instinct and intuition, I boarded a plane to Georgia from Portland, Oregon the next day, drove five hours to Mobile, and met the family at a gas station next to an interstate highway. I took one look at Spot, a very round puppy with a perfect brown circle on his back and dubbed him Wubbi, the roundest name I could think of! He curled up in the passenger seat of the car next to me and we made the trek back to the PNW. I’m happy to say, Wubbi has been my road dog ever since (he even wears a seat belt.) He is clearly the ‘captain of this ship’! He is my wear tester, quality controller, crumb snatcher, hair shedder, paper shredder, couch warmer, an awesome mail man alert system, and the neighborhood mayor. Nothing gets past him!"
What does your creative process look like? How do you go from concept to execution?
"I start with problem solving and storytelling. My 25-year career predominantly designing for performance apparel companies that include Nike, Adidas, The North Face, Eddie Bauer, and Levi Strauss & Co. influence all products that I create. Just as in the apparel industry, I am creating sustainable, useful, and cleverly functional goods that are intended to add value to the consumer’s lifestyle. I enjoy being hands on in every part of the product creation process. I start with hand picking the veg tan leather hides from a local supplier. I strategically design the toys and textiles to minimize material wastage. I partner with a local (50-year experienced) horse saddle maker to cut, sew, and prep for me to hand emboss custom names and quotes into the leather toys. The goods are then polished with olive oil for a beautiful patina and lovingly packaged for safe transport to a very lucky House Dogge."
What has inspired you or enriched your life most? What are you most looking forward to this year?
"My family and close friends (dogs included) have always played an important supportive role in living my dreams. In 2018, I’ve been happy to share the large and small victories that have transpired in the last year. I’m looking forward to introducing additional products to the House Dogge collection by mid-year (unique, customizable designer textiles, collars, leashes, and waste bag holders). I’m having a really great time meeting other local makers, getting to know local shop owners, and growing the House Dogge family. I’m having a lot of fun!"
Favorite spots to hit up in Portland?
Lauretta Jean’s Café, Pepe Le Moko, Courier Coffee, Townshend’s Division Teahouse, Tea Chai Te’, Nong’s Kao Man Gai, Portland Night Market, Schoolhouse Electric, Powell’s Bookstore, Urbanite, Woonwinkel, Ambersand Gallery & Bookstore, and Una Boutique.