I was so thrilled when i received a message from Portland-based photographer Ashton Morgan inviting me to an a women’s only, collaborative event called Suitcase Laundry. I had been obsessing over Ashton’s work since I moved to Portland, so I was over-the-moon excited to get an invite. Styling in general is one of my biggest passions but as soon as she said “no boys allowed” I knew it was a perfect match.
The day before the event, I had a feeling I was about to have the most amazing day ever and couldn’t imagine doing it without my styling partner and longtime best friend, Keasha Brown. Luckily for me, the producers allowed me to bring an assistant that month. We had no idea what to expect and we were excited as hell. We loaded up our incredibly eclectic wardrobe, full of decorative vintage coats and sequins, into her jeep and hit the road.
When we arrived we were both blown away. The space was stunning and there were beautiful girls of every shape, size, age, and color running around everywhere. Suitcase was held at Swift that month which is one of Portland hippest creative agencies. Props to them for creating such a incredible work space. Every room had it’s own specific vibe. You couldn’t help but feel inspired being there.
So here’s the rundown on how it all works: Nic Porter, founder of Suitcase Laundry, has all participants take a survey on who we want to work with and what style of shoot we are interested in doing. She then carefully plans out our teams for the once-a-month event. You can tell she really puts her all into this, every team I’ve ever been on has been pure magic. It shows me over and over again how special it is to work as a team; each persons individual style is being trusted and expected. We really are better together. Every month Nic chooses a different location for the event, and we get to work with totally different people every time. It really gives you the opportunity to see what larger production shoots are like.
After the first month Keasha and I were hooked. We had met so many amazing talented women and it really challenged us to be the most creative we could be, to the best of our abilities. I had never worked with an art director, general assistant, or prop stylist before and let me tell you, it makes one hell of a difference. I am not the most observant chick out there, so there are times where I think I have a perfect shot but then when I’m home editing I’ll notice things that were off, such as hair out of place or clothing not laying correctly. With more hands on deck those small details are always addressed and you end up with a much better final product. It feels so good to know that someone with different strengths then me has my back. That’s one of the best things I’ve taken from this event. Learning that trying to do it all isn’t always the best. Having help from other creative people really can make a major positive difference. We all have strengths and weaknesses and thats okay. If we band together we don’t have to be amazing at everything.
In recent shoots i can see how much Keasha and I have grown, and we really owe it to this event. Just from being able to work on these different sets, I’ve gained so much confidence in my vision. I’ve learned to trust myself and to speak up when I have an idea. Not every idea you have is going to be gold but it always worth trusting your gut and throwing your ideas out into the world. Also not every idea someone else comes up with is going to be great either. But its always good to listen to the people you’re working with and trust their creative ability. I feel very fortunate to be involved in Suitcase Laundry every month. It really has become one of my favorite things to do. I think Nic has really started something special here; giving women a place to learn and grow TOGETHER, and have a really great time time doing it.
Author – Harlee Case