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In honor of Record Store Day, we thought it would be nice to profile a designer whose entire business is built on giving back to his community. Gabe Johnson founded Horses Cut Shop to, in his own words, save America.

He travels the country looking for small, independent businesses with cool logos and cool stories, then he makes and sells T-shirts for them and donates a generous percentage of the profits back to the businesses. We’re proud to say we carry two of Gabe’s record-store T-shirts, one from San Francisco’s Amoeba Music and one from Portland’s Jackpot Records. (All his shirts are made in the U.S.A., too.)

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We caught up with Gabe and asked him a few questions about how he got started, what his secret recipe for success is and what advice he has for young people who want to run their own show:

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BP.: Horses Cut Shop has so many cool T-shirt designs. How did you decide which ones you were going to feature for your women’s line, and when are you going to release more? (That Harborena T is looking mighty fine…) 

GJ: I’ve been spending a lot of time in the desert of the southwest with an Apache friend of mine searching for my spirit animal by listening to old vinyl in an old trailer.  Horse trailers and eagles, records and quiet, desert bones. Inspiration comes in many forms, best not to question it especially on a tight deadline. This summer I’ll be poking around in the big woods of the Pacific Northwest looking for new designs.  More gems from the logging roads less travelled coming soon.

P.S. I started skating at the Harborena Skating Rink in Hoquiam, WA, when I was nine and now when I go home to visit my mom I skate there on Saturday night. Two months ago I beat a dozen Jr. High kids in a Shoot the Duck competition. 30 years between victories. True story. 

BP.: What was your day job before you started Horses Cut Shop?

GJ: I followed all the rules for a very long time. Good student, college, fraternity, finance job, Internet job in cubicle, Internet job in office, Internet job in bigger office.  I still remember the day I arrived at work and decided that all the rules from yesterday no longer applied to me.  So I quit the job without any experience in apparel or design, bought a vintage truck and trailer and got lost. The rest is what my mom would call a “strange career move.”

BP.: How did you turn your t-shirt business into a real, live career?

GJ: Simply put, I created a solution to a problem. The problem is that our communities are losing their unique identities, which are made of independent businesses like the local record store, the bait shop, the skating rink, etc. When these businesses close we lose more than just a place run by a guy that sold some stuff. We lose a piece of personal history and a relationship that helps anchor our concept of home. My solution is to combine America’s love affair with the little guy with its passion for fashion and personal brand.

Horses Cut Shop uses T-shirts featuring real, iconic, independent businesses as vehicles of salvation, both financial and moral.  The T-shirt you choose to wear starts a conversation about why Jackpot Records matters and what Portland and America lose if it goes away.

BP.: Do you and your friends really get to cruise around the country looking for small businesses to partner with for T-shirt designs? Like, for your job? How is that even possible? 

GJ: I know. It’s true. It’s that much fun. I meet someone in Seattle who’s originally from Minneapolis and who knows a guy whose family owns a burger joint. Next thing I know, I’m there behind the counter talking to two generations of owners, hearing about how the business came to be and getting to know the regulars and why the place matters. If you look at the people a family business typically serves, you’ll simply see a larger family.

BP.: What advice do you have for young people who want to make and sell their own designs? Or just run their own show, period? 

GJ: My grandfather said we had to think about our purpose in life as a product and ourselves as the company that makes it. If your company is worth investing in, you just don’t do it when skies are sunny and you’re on the up-tick. You invest over the long term, in good times and when you’re about to lose everything.  You keep buying in and buying in. The short term may satisfy but it’s the long term that rewards. I think it’s called dollar cost averaging. [The preceding anecdote was brought to you by my late grandpa Stanley and Business Finance 101.] 

Have a strong point of view, and don’t be afraid to alienate some people. It’s easy to feel like we have please everybody in order to be successful. To be of the people, among the people, but not beholden to people takes an unwavering belief in yourself. It sounds so cliched, but there’s a reason cliches are true. The reason most small businesses fail is that people give up too soon. There’s an off-ramp every mile and half, and you have to have faith in what you’re doing. And don’t do it for the money. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Money won’t sustain you through hard times—passion will.

BP.: Any other advice to offer about life in general?

GJ: Think about the kind of person you want to be in 10 years and start surrounding yourself with those types of people. And be nice to your mom.

BONUS: In addition to a T-shirt company, Gabe used to run a social club and was profiled by fashion-world darling Todd Selby in a video for Nordstrom. Check it out:

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Today is National Record Store day in America! It’s a time to celebrate music for both today and of decades past, and to encourage people to support their local music stores.

There is an amazing record store in my town called Rainy Day Records. The Pacific Northwest is pretty proud of its music scene, so it’s awesome to have a place to go to find both local music and internationally successful records. Rainy Day is full of strange and wonderful things, and it never fails to keep me amused on cloudy days.

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National Record Store Day inspired me to create two OOTDs in honor of two of my favorite musicians. These looks are perfect for a weekend at an upcoming festival or concert.

1. The Boss
My first look is inspired by my hero-in-residence, Bruce Springsteen. I adopted one of Bruce’s classic American looks, with a jean vest and shortsbandana tied around my hair and angsty, brooding expression.

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2. Lana Del Rey
My second look is a take on Lana Del Rey’s famous flower crown outfits. I adore everything about Lana, from her mysterious voice to her ethereal style. Flower crowns are hugely popular around the festival scene lately, so try this look out at the next music event you attend. (The BP. blog has a great DIY flower crown tutorial.)

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Enjoy National Record Store Day and head out to your local record store today in an outfit inspired by your favorite musician!

Stay golden,
Lily

April 18, 2014

Friday Dance Party

Happy Friday! One of our BP. video editors, Sean (who is really cute, BTW—hi, Sean!), sent us this video with the simple-but-powerful recommendation, “Stunning video. But really the song, the song is so tasty.”

We’re inclined to agree.

I’ve been trying to be a little more daring with my style lately. Instead of just throwing on a comfy tee and jeans, I like to spice up a typical outfit with an interesting or even odd clothing piece. Recently, I picked up this athletic mesh top and decided to style an outfit around the sportswear trend.

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My tips for confidently wearing the sportswear trend:

  • • If you’re wearing a jersey-style mesh top (very on-trend!) make sure to wear a crop tank or even sports bra below it. What’s underneath is just as interesting as the mesh shirt itself.
  • • I love mixing textures with this trend. Jersey material, faux leather, and stretchier textiles are all great.
  • • Accessories can make or break the look. I’m absolutely in love with my faux leather baseball cap because it’s both stylish and functional.
  • • Buy “odd” pieces that might be a little bit outside your comfort zone and pair them with items you already own. I would also style this top with a plain black pair of high-rise jeans. You could also wear this sporty baseball cap with a sundress to add a bit of edge to your look.

How are you wearing the athletic trend? Post a picture on Instagram with #NordstromBP so I can see all of your lovely looks!

xoxo,
Clare

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Good news, high school juniors! Every year the Nordstrom Scholarship fund awards 80 high school juniors a whopping $10,000 each for college—and one of them could be you.

When you’re applying for a scholarship, it’s important to make yourself stand out. We caught up with one of our recent Nordstrom Scholarship recipients, Jillian, to get the inside scoop on how she did it.

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BP.: What made you want to apply to the scholarship?

Jillian: I read the application and believed in the principles the scholarship stood for. Naysayers scoffed at my plans to apply, feeling that I had no chance of winning. Being one of four winners in my state (Texas) felt awesome. This will forever remain one of my “best” high school moments.

BP.: How did you make your application stand out?

Jillian: I wrote captivating essays that revealed who I am as a person. I honestly shared my life stories and experiences in a compelling way that helped illustrate, with authenticity, my commitment to community.

BP.: Any tips for students who are thinking of applying?

Jillian: I would tell students interested in applying to be genuine and honest and to really express why they deserve to be a Nordstrom Scholar. Students should remain positive, focusing on the possibility of winning, rather than the odds against doing so. Students should start early, prepare all materials needed, be organized, follow instructions and be creative.

BP.: Tell us about college!

Jillian: I currently attend Columbia University in New York City. I am majoring in chemical engineering, with a minor in biomedical engineering. I am on the pre-medical track and plan to attend medical school after graduation.

I love Columbia University and cherish living in the city! I have been able to enjoy so many interesting experiences that are wonderful lifetime memories. I am so proud of myself for believing in my future and rejecting the advice of naysayers who said my chances of winning were miniscule. I won and so can other hard working, accomplished, committed students.  

Want $10,000 of your own for college?Applications are due May 1. Learn more and get started!

TEN4U


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Last saturday (April 12), BP. had its second Saturday Social! This month’s activity was DIY nail art for prom—although I personally think both of the looks shown could work for everyday outfits, too. If you weren’t able to attend, here is what you missed:

1. GLITTER OMBRÉ NAILS

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Step 1: Paint nails one solid base color. The color shown is BP. ‘Perfect Polish’ Nail Lacquer in Pistachio Paradise.

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Step 2: Apply a thin coat of glitter nail polish, starting at the base (the end your cuticle is attached to) and stopping halfway up. Apply another coat of glitter nail polish, starting at the base and ending 1/3 of the way up to create the ombré effect.

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All done. Now you’re ready for prom!

2. THE CHEVRON NAIL

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Step 1: Paint nails one solid base color.

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Step 2: Using a contrasting nail color, paint a thin angled line to create one side of the chevron (use tape if your hand is unsteady). Then repeat on the other side to finish up.

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Now that your mani is complete, throw on a fabulous ring (or two) to draw extra attention to your gorgeous nails.

If you decide to recreate one of these looks at home, remember to Instagram it using #NordstromBP so all your fellow BPers can admire your lovely mani. (If you do, you just might find yourself on the in-store wall, the BP. Instagram feed or elsewhere in the BP. universe!)

XOXO,
Alyssa

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On April 9 the 2014 We Day tour came to an end in Ottawa, Canada. Months of screaming, motivated youth; celebrity speakers and performers; and thousands of volunteer hours will finally power down. I’ve written about We Day and Me to We before, but since attending We Day in Seattle, I feel much more connected to, inspired by and even more eager to share the We Day experience.

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The Seattle We Day was incredible. Seriously. 15,000 kids who earned their tickets through volunteer hours all gathered to celebrate their achievements and get motivated to create more global change in the future. Some kids were 5 years old, a lot of kids were 18, but no matter what their age they rallied and cheered for the same universal goal: to create a better world.

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The day before the event, I got to take a backstage tour of the arena. I even got up on stage and met Marc Kielburger, one of the founders of the organization. It was so cool to see the arena from the speakers’ and celebrities’ view, to stand with Marc on the same place he’d give his impassioned speech the next afternoon. Meeting both Marc and Craig Kielburger was fantastic—they are both so committed to their cause and willing to engage their supporters.

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The greatest part of any We Day is hearing the accomplished and inspiring speakers. In Seattle, National Geographic’s “Explorer in Residence” told about the importance of having a broad mind, Martin Luther King III told the crowd to carry on his father’s legacy and Joe Jonas was beautiful as ever while talking about the influence of young people. One of my favorite parts of We Day Seattle (there were so many!) was hearing Edward Norton speak about his organization. He basically just told the crowd how awesome we all were, how we were “cooler than any movie star, sports god and rockstar!” And he was amazingly down to earth and relatable.

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Since we were in Seattle, of course the Seahawks showed up. Being underdogs and misfits who worked their way to world champion status, they were perfect guests for We Day. Derrick Coleman, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse shared advice about how to work for greatness and give back to your community. I think I cried for all of England when Russell hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Or actually I may have just disintegrated completely.

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There’s something about We Day that is more powerful, enlightening and inspiring than any event I’ve attended or book I’ve read. Thousands of people come together and celebrate their mutual desire for a better world. If you have the opportunity to attend We Day next year, I urge you to go! The powerful messages from one afternoon will continue to inspire you for months and years to follow.

Stay golden,
Lily

P.S. If you missed your local We Day event, you can still support the cause by shopping boho bracelets, charm necklaces, headwraps and more from Me to We.

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Unfortunately I don’t have tickets to any music festivals this spring or summer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dress like I’m going to one. Instead of attending Coachella or Lollapalooza, I’ll be daydreaming about what I’d wear if I were going to these outdoor concerts.

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Both Bella and I are rocking breezy, spring dresses from Mimi Chica!

xoxo,
Clare

This spring, clean out your closet AND earn Nordstrom Notes to revamp your wardrobe with FashionProject.com. Watch the video to find out how:

If that isn’t an incentive to rid yourself of all your grandma’s “vintage” (okay, save the Chanel), I don’t know what is! Happy cleaning! :)

XOXO,
Alyssa

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April 12, 2014

Inside the BP. Prom Truck

Most high schools are heading into their fourth and final quarter of the year, which can only mean one sparkly, bejeweled, glamorous and awkward thing: prom. That’s right, mom-who-loves-to-scrapbook, your time to bombard your teen with photos has nearly arrived. I would say the best part about prom is choosing the look—specifically, the dress! Shopping for a prom dress is a pinnacle process in a high school girl’s life, and should therefore be as fun as possible.

This year BP. has done their best to turn prom dress shopping into the most adorable and fun activity around. If you haven’t heard, BP. has sent a “Prom Truck” from coast to coast, showing off the latest prom dresses and accessories. The “truck” is really a remodeled VW Van, furnished and painted pink and blue! Take a look:

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I mean, how amazing is that? The van made its final tour stop this past weekend in Seattle, and I was able to check out the secret world concealed within its retro doors.

 

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My friends and I looked through the dresses on display, all of which were beautiful, vibrant and unique. Our favorite was this detailed ball gown:

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The van also carried prom accessories, everything from rhinestone pumps to statement necklaces and clutches. I couldn’t believe how many charming secrets were concealed within the prom truck!

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I absolutely love that blue bow clutch.

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There was room for my friends and I to sit inside and admire the enchanting interior of the van. One Direction was playing through the speakers when this photo was taken, so it was truly a beautiful moment. If you had the chance to see the prom truck, #nordstrombp and #countdowntoprom on any photos you upload to Instagram!

Check out The Prom Shop to see all of BP.’s prom styles. :)

Stay golden,
Lily