QB Artist Profile: HT+RP Clothing
by Lauren Steinhardt on 25 June, 2015
We are SO EXCITED to introduce the latest clothing line here in the shop! A collaboration between Queen Bee owner/designer Rebecca Pearcy and local designer/costumer Heather Treadway, HT+RP combines the talents of two of Portland’s most creative designers into one fabulous project. Featuring Rebecca’s iconic RPT prints, the shirts, tunics and dresses are sophisticated, flattering, and easy to wear. Did we mention that we’re EXCITED? This stuff is so cute you guys.
****Don’t miss our 19th Anniversary Sale event this Saturday June 27, featuring deals galore plus the in-store debut of HT+RP!****
We caught up with Heather and Rebecca for some real talk about collaboration, inspiration, and everything else…
How did this line come about? What's the story behind it?
Rebecca Pearcy: When we expanded the retail store at Queen Bee in 2013, we brought in U.S.-made clothing lines and at that time Heather and I talked about collaborating on clothing together. But then we were too busy with other things. More recently I realized that for myself, if we started really small then maybe we could manage to get something going. Clothing was my original entry into sewing when I was a young teen and designing and making my own clothing is one of the main ways I spend my limited spare time. So working on a line to offer to the public is an extension of something I’ve been doing for a long time. And collaborating with Heather made it feel more fun and possible than launching something on my own. Our paths have been overlapping for several years now - we both lived in Olympia, then migrated to Portland. She has worked at Queen Bee as a stitcher & in retail sales, and rents studio space in the Queen Bee building. So we have spent a lot of time working together and inspiring each other, so it was a pretty organic evolution to start talking about collaborating.
Heather Treadway: Ever since Rebecca debuted her Rebecca Pearcy prints line here at the Queen Bee headquarters, people have been asking "when is she going to start making clothes?!" It just seemed like a natural progression: from bags, to textiles and home goods, to clothing. I've always enjoyed RP's prints, they're abstract with heart, and you can feel the inspiration behind each design. My clothing line, HT, is one of the few local fashion lines represented here in the retail shop and I've had a positive response from people who come in for Queen Bee products. It just made sense to us to join forces, I'd say the time was right for a fun collaboration!
What inspires you most about the other's style/creative output?
RP: I have known Heather and seen her creative work for a long time. Her pieces are wearable, sometimes sporty, sometimes theatrical. And she is a big dreamer and visionary, which is really inspiring to me. She has great style and is just an all-around creative person. When I was pregnant she gave me a hooded knit tunic that she had made and it was my favorite thing to wear. I wore it up to the end and it made me feel GREAT. That’s saying a lot.
HT: So much inspires me about Rebecca's work. I've been a fan of Queen Bee since the Olympia days back in the early 2000s. I love how she is able to take inspiration from forms in nature and translate them into abstract design without being overt. There's a freedom in her work. A playfulness that stems from a place of wonder..if this makes any sense. She trusts her innate design sensibility, so her work emits an air of sustainability vs.fleeting trendiness. I can see in her designs how the everyday world, in nature and at home, are sources of beauty and abundance. That's what I love about her work. I'm also in awe of how she is equally creative and business minded. Her brain amazes me in that respect, to be free enough to produce new designs consistently as well as run not only a thriving accessories line, but a production house and retail store as well.
Talk a little bit about the process of working together.
RP: I have tended to be a mostly-solo designer with Queen Bee, so it is really refreshing to collaborate with someone! And Heather is a natural collaborator - it is a treat to have a back and forth process instead of creating alone. We worked on the top / tunic / dress design together, tweaking it as we worked through it, wanting to start with a simple silhouette that could work on a variety of women. And something that would allow the print to be a main aspect to the design. Once we finalized the clothing designs and had the pattern graded then we moved on to discussing print & color options. I have built up a library of my print designs that we’ve been using in my Rebecca Pearcy Textiles line, so we picked out what we thought would work best on our pieces and I started printing. A lot of it is still experimenting and seeing what works and what we like. I love having her to bounce my ideas off of and I feel comfortable both putting ideas out there and being open to what she wants to see happen.
HT: It's quite simple: After Rebecca approached me about collaborating, we met once at Box Social to chat about what we wanted to do, and after some sketching and a cocktail, decided to start with a shirt. Rebecca had a couple of tops that we both loved, and I had a knit blouse design that had been pretty popular over the years. So we designed a top based on all of these pieces. Our designer friend Summer Pinnick sold us some gorgeous soft black raw silk (that I've found that after wearing my top for months, it never needs to be washed and naturally wicks away sweat - AMAZING) We went back and forth, leaving notes for each other with our progress, a bit like pen pals. I was working full time at Columbia Sportswear during this phase of the design process so only had a few hours on the weekends and evenings to work on the line. From that one pattern the tunic and the longer dress were conceived. With Rebecca's natural design sense not only with prints but also with fashion (she makes amazing clothes!) it felt nearly effortless to move forward with designing these pieces. I am super happy with the prints we decided on for each piece and am curious to see which ones people are most drawn to.
What inspires you in everyday life, and how has it influenced this project?
RP: I’m very inspired by nature, flowers, plants, pattern, color, and people. I am always checking out what people are wearing and sewing clothing for myself that fills a need in my wardrobe or expresses myself. I like to dress in clothing that allows me to be comfortable and active (and if I can ride my bike in it, even better), and expresses my identity. I’m hoping to create clothing that I want to wear and that other women would love to wear as well. I am also influenced by aging and how my own style shifts as I age and my body changes. I think a lot of women experience this and want to be comfortable, attractive, and express their individuality as they age. I’m also motivated to design clothing that the owner will want to wear over and over again and won’t languish in their closet. Pieces that can be worn year-round and styled different ways. That creates a classic piece that doesn’t go out of style.
HT: Playing music is my biggest passion - aside from fashion design. I play drums and design costumes for the two bands: Secret Drum Band and HITS. I get a big release from playing music, it's my creative, physical and spiritual outlet. Playing in these bands affects my entire life and all of my other projects because it really gets that creative energy flowing! Also hiking in the woods and meditating are things I like to do regularly.
Rebecca, you've been in the bag business for many years, and have also made many of your own clothes, but this is the first time you've branched out into the apparel business (correct me if I'm wrong here!). How's it going? Is apparel something that's been a long time coming, or a relatively new interest?
RP: I started making and selling one-of-a-kind clothing when I was a teenager and through college. I kind of stumbled into bags and accessories from that and realized that it was A LOT easier than clothing since accessories don’t have to come in multiple sizes and try and fit the eternally varied female bodies of the world. But while I love bags and accessories, clothing is my true love, so I’m really happy to be working on this. It can be really hard to make any money producing apparel in the U.S. but we’re just going to see what happens.
Heather, you've been costuming and designing clothing for many years, and also working at Queen Bee for quite a while, seeing and working with these RPT print patterns every day. What's it like having two worlds meld into one creative project?
Anything else I should know about you guys/your creative process/this project?
HT: One thing I've learned from this project is: Be patient, keep it simple and put one foot in front of the other.
RP: We are starting small and seeing how it goes. Our initial soft launch features a top, a tunic, and a dress, each produced in one size run. So we have limited pieces to sell now but if people respond and there is momentum, we’ll keep going! The fabrics are a black nubby silk and a bamboo knit in a coral pink, so there is a nice balance of bright & fun and more subdued and elegant. We’ll be launching at Queen Bee’s 19th anniversary sale event on Saturday June 27th. The event will be happening 10am - 7pm and Heather and I will be there from 4-7pm to represent our line.