Amy Beams is an Oregon-based creative badass. Working her way from the bottom up, Amy has worked for various apparel brands, run her own vintage shop, and is currently growing her own handmade jewelry brand. She has spent her adulthood running various art-based businesses and inspiring the growth and creativity of those around her. Check it out as we discuss fashion, nostalgia, and the art of getting your shit together.
DE: Tell us about yourself
AB: Oh my.
Jewelry maker living in Beaverton, OR. (peyotelover.com) For the last 10+ years, I was an apparel designer for various Orange County based, action sports companies. Right now, I’m an interior designer for my own home. I can also speak to my 3 cats without even saying a word. I have an amazing boyf of 11 years and we’ve managed to survive.
I’m also 1/32 Choctaw Indian which Im very proud of.
DE: What’s your background? (How’d you get into design/ fashion?)
AB: Ex deadhead, 90’s hippy who used to sell whatever I could at dead shows. Armpit licks never were a best seller but my hand-beaded jewelry and patchwork clothing did great. That was my 20’s. My 30’s, I decided I really needed to get my shit together so I left a job at my favorite health food store (Mother’s market & kitchen) to work in apparel.
I faked my way into payroll, learned that for a year, then saw an opening in customer service/allocations, did that for a year, then got my foot in the door in design. All at the same company. It was nice to learn the facets of operations.
My start in apparel was at the bottom. I packed and shipped boxes, steamed and folded clothes….basically licked the bottom of the designers shoes. I was the “sample coordinator” so excel spreadsheets were the bane of my existence. I worked my way up in the Women’s design department helping out wherever I could. I learned Adobe illustrator, shadowed the designers and asked a lot of questions. I would say “yes” to any job in design I could. That’s my personality.
From there, I became a designer and have had plenty of design jobs. I’ve worked full-time at companies such as PacSun, Ambig Apparel and Rusty Surf. I’ve also freelanced (worked from home) for companies such as Burton Snowboards, Roxy Swim, Skechers Performance Apparel and a few smaller LA brands. I’ve also done everything from production to product development, merchandising and technical design. All parts of the bigger picture of apparel manufacturing.
DE: When did you start making jewelry and what inspires your work?
AB: I have been wearing and collecting Native American jewelry since I was 13. I’m very influenced by textiles and older jewelry from Bali, Thailand, Pakistan, China….these are fascinating areas of inspiration. I would daydream of going to Thailand and having my own silver jewelry made. I used to make hand-beaded jewelry but that was excruciating and I didn’t get paid for the time. A pair of earrings would take hours. Then you’d see Cost Plus or F21 selling them for $10.00.
In college, I took a couple of silversmithing classes. At that time, I didn’t have the space, time or money to put into it. Now, since I have been working from home, I was able to start experimenting with the different techniques I learned in college. There’s a ton of YouTubers that will teach you anything. I follow a many fellow silversmiths both beginner and advanced and they all have inspiredme.
DE: Golden State Goods was extremely influential on a large group of creatives. What inspired you to create that space and how did you move forward after it ended?
AB: RIP! So sad right? When we got the space in 2008, we bought it as an existing skate shop (furnace skate shop) and I quit a high paying job, cashed in my 401k and borrowed money from my parents….in 2008……the beginning of the recession….
So here I am, behind the counter putting boards together for boys who wondered if I was at all capable of gripping their boards. I even had fathers ask me if there was someone else who could do it for his kid. We also had to deal with “core skateboarders”. If you know any, tell them to leave the room because they’re basically big babies. They love drama and as an outsider looking in, they are the ones who killed skateboarding. But I digress, my boyf (and business partner at the time) is an ex pro so there was no shortage of skateboard culture in my life. I grew up around it. But paying $6000/month in rent to cater to “the homies” who only wanted things at a discount just didn’t work. I had to go back to work (designing for a skate apparel company) while my shop was failing. We got robbed big time so that initiated the change.
That’s when I fought to change the concept of the store. We kept skateboards but brought in vintage and hand-made goods. It was at a time where people were sick of the same-same at the malls. They needed a curated space to not only hang out, but feel at ease with what they wanted to buy (and wear). Stores get either stuffy with product that’s unattainable or the core skate shops only want their friends to shop there. I can’t tell you the pressure that was lifted off of us after we changed the concept and the name. It was like people felt ok to come in, and they did.
We came up with the name, “Golden State Goods” from a shop in Atascadero, CA. The boyf took me there (his home town) and we visited a vintage / thrift /antique shop of the same name. The owner was so cute, she asked me if i wanted to buy the place. She still has it today so I don’t know how serious she was, but we all know that for the right price, everything is for sale. So I borrowed the name. We’d tried everything. We had people coming up with names and nothing stuck. GSG was the name for me. She knows.
We had arts hows as a skate shop. But it was a police magnet and we’d get shut down. As GSG, no one cared. So we took it further by having open-mic nights. I believe Clayton’s group’s show called, “A Golden state of mind” (which was BEFORE PacSun’s dumb campaign) was looking for a space to hold their open mic nights. So we went for it. His group had high schoolers so we got in with the Arts group at the high school and held their open mic nights too.
It didn’t last very long, but what we did do was pretty amazing. We both agree, had we changed the concept from the beginning, it might have become profitable.
(Editor’s Note: I was one of those High Schoolers.)
DE: What do you look for in vintage garments? Any quality tips?
AB: I’m so mad at apparel right now. I come across so many vintage knock-off’s as I’m flipping through the racks at Goodwill or Savers. I’ll see a print that looks vintage and I’ll pick it up and its F21. Fuuuck themm-they straight knocked vintage off. Really I just love vintage because it’s so unique. Vivid prints, unique styling and weirdo fits are what makes vintage unique. Everyone should have vintage pieces in their closet so they don’t look like everyone else. It’s the only thing these days that will separate you from the masses of mall shoppers.
Vintage tends fit pretty small and weird, so I recommend to try it on. Also key pieces are coats and jackets. Everyone should have a vintage jacket in their closet. I just moved from Sunny So Cal to Portland, OR and I finally get to wear my coats.
DE: Who are some of your favorite style icons?
AB: I have to say Iris Apfel. She basically told everyone to fuck off with her over-the-top style. Vintage magazines and early 70’s style is my favorite. Bianca Jagger, Cher (70’s cher, not 90’s cher), 70’s Karl Lagerfeld. Even men of the 70’s were wild. David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Dennis Hopper….man what a decade of fashion. Late 70’s too….Debbie Harrie, Sex Pistols. It was a revolutionary time.
Brands I look for are Biba, Patricia Field, Young Edwardian and Contempo (from the 80’s).
DE: What is your favorite outfit you own?
AB: My favorite everyday are vintage tee’s. I love paper thin tees with great random graphics. Sweatshirts too. My favorite dress is a JPGaultier bondage dress from the early oughts. Remember, Vintage is 10 years or older so now even F21 is vintage. My obsession is vintage shoes. I found these amazing 100% Gucci loafers at Goodwill Boutique store many years back. They fit me perfectly.
DE: What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
AB: Just being somewhat influential on other people. Helping people be who they want to be, providing a creative outlet in GSG. People are still talking about that store and I’m super proud of that. There are shop owners who came into the shop and told me they were going to open up a shop “just like GSG”. And they have. I’m proud to have influenced a small group of people to do big things.
I’m also super proud of the GSG kids that worked there and its regulars (like you and Clayton) and where they all are now. I’s been fun to watch you all try that thing called “adulting” (I’ve tried it, I don’t recommend it)
DE: You’ve done a variety of creative work. What inspires you to branch out?
AB: Money. I’ve worked with straight-up artists all my life. Should I mention I was the Cardboard Robot in the movie of the same name? Anyways, working with true artists can be excruciating. Artists are artists for a reason and they’re not always the best at business. I’ve never really considered myself an artist. My mind is more practical and pragmatic. So I’ve gone where the money is, but in industries and areas that interest me. I’ve started at the bottom and worked my way up to learn everything about it. If I didn’t like it, I moved on. Human beings are inherently hunters and gatherers. We want stuff. Money doesn’t drive me, but I know I can’t own a home in Oregon without some sort of income. Plus I like whiskey and that ain’t cheap either.
DE: Is there anything else you’d like to try that you haven’t yet?
AB: My dream has been to play the drums. If I’d started when I wanted to, I’d be John fucking Bonham by now.
DE: What are five songs essential to your road trip playlist?
AB: Funny you should ask because I took a 2 day road trip with my the boyf and 3 cats and all I had was the boyf’s IPOD. (The boyfriend drove the Uhaul with one cat, I had two very vocal cats)
First is Bob Dylan’s “Times they are a Changin” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”. Aren’t those two songs just fitting for today? Timeless.
Then Arcade Fire’s Album, Funeral, Beastie Boy’s Ill Communication, Pink Floyd’s The Wall (only part one was there, you can’t listen to 1 without 2). I tried Bob Marley’s Legend but that was a mistake of an album. I also tried Beatles early days but that shit is too boppy. I don’t think I have the right hair to listen to the Early Beatles. I also love old Jazz and Classical music. It stimulates your brain cells.
DE: What’s next for you?
AB: Trying to figure out how to live in my own home in Oregon and not sell my soul. In So Cal, it’s so fucking expensive that you HAVE to work. I had a stressful last few years with a really stressful job at a failing company, the passing of my pops and then the passing of my mom last year so I’e been trying to regain my constitution and composure. There’s a lot to do up here. It’s a creative city and I can’t wait to dive in head first. If I could make jewelry for a living I would. We’ll see.
DE: Why Oregon?
AB: #keeporegonweird and affordability. Plus it’s fucking gorgeous.
DE: Finally, what’s the last book you read?
AB: Books are for burning. That’s always been my motto (though it just doesn’t feel funny anymore).
My absolute life-changing book that I highly recommend for you youngsters is “This Book is Not required” by Inge Bell. I’m reading “Accounting for Dummies” so I can learn how to have my own profitable business. Cross your fingers.
Amy Beams is a professional badass. She is a self-made businesswoman and entrepreneur currently based in Beaverton, OR. When she’s not taking over the world, she is a freelance stylist and jewelry artist. Her jewelry design can be found on etsy here. Her instagram where you can follow her many adventures can be found here.