Tender Loving Empire: Supporting Artists and Inspiring Community
Tender Loving Empire (TLE) started in 2007 and has since established itself as a cornerstone of the creative and small business community. Founded to support artists and inspire community, the small ‘mom and pop’ consignment shop has grown into a chain of six Portland-area retail locations.
The company supports hundreds of independent artists and small businesses and has released more than 100 albums on their internationally distributed record label. In stores and online, customers can also find a variety of unique gift items, Portland-specific souvenirs, art pieces, jewelry and apparel, various home goods, accessories and so much more. They also have a unique bulk gifting program that allows businesses to give perfectly curated and meaningful gifts to their employees and clients.
TLE employs more than 55 people and to date, an impressive $12.7 million has been paid to artists, makers, and musicians. “TLE is an inspiration hub and a go-to gifting spot for people who want to support their community and surround themselves with creativity,” shared Brianne Mees, owner of the company.
“Supporting our creative community is at the core of who we are. We just love art, music, creativity, and the people doing rad things in the community and want to share it all with anyone who will listen! We want people to feel welcome and have an authentic experience with the art and creativity of other like-minded people. I think people can feel that when they come into our stores.”
While inspiring and encouraging artists to pursue their art is at the center of their business operations, TLE recognizes that one of their biggest impacts is their commitment to keeping dollars with local artists and creatives, rather than with large corporations.
“The work we do truly makes an impact on real people in our community,” Mees said. “People have quit their day jobs to do what they love for a living. Shopping small supports a local economy in meaningful and important ways. Choosing to shop at Tender Loving Empire is a choice to support hundreds of makers, musicians, and small businesses. Together we can make our communities more vibrant, creative, compassionate, and connected.”
Looking ahead, Tender Loving Empire is excited about continued expansion. Through each phase of growth, the company’s goal remains the same: to continue to introduce more beauty to the Pacific Northwest through the eyes of artists of all kinds from all walks of life.
TLE is expanding their food and beverage selections at their Bridgeport Village location, making that a great opportunity for customers to buy or build a unique package of Oregon-made items.
The next major thing on the horizon is the company’s soon-to-open seventh location at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“We are so excited to support the Washington creative community even more and find new audiences for our current makers,” Mees explained. “This move will have a major impact on all the small businesses we represent, and we can’t wait to see it come to life.”