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Coffee Culture || Tyler Wendling

Ben Ashby


I've known Tyler Wendling for years now. I have followed along on his aesthetic journeys in Michigan. From coffee culture, to lifestyle shoots, to having an eye for the little things in life...Tyler is such a treat to follow. Today we sat down with him to learn a bit more about his love of coffee. 



My name is Tyler Wendling. I'm a graphic designer, photographer, and stylist living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I write, design, and photograph for the blog Wendling & Boyd. You can usually find me in the kitchen making some delicious or out having fika with some friends. 



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP || My favorite coffee shops is Harless + Hugh up in Bay City because I love the ambiance, the coffee is amazing, and a lot of my friends are from bay city and own the coffee shop. 



WHAT CAMERA DO YOU SHOOT WITH || I shoot with a Nikon d5200 with a 35 mm lens.





WHY DO YOU LOVE COFFEE CULTURE || I love coffee culture because it brings people together and it's something that is extremely communal. I remember as a kid (at age 4), I'd always drink coffee with my grandparents every morning before our days began. So there's a bit of nostalgia there as well. 




GIVE US A PHOTO TIP || Let your composition breathe. Don't make your picture to cluttered.  


WHAT CITY HAS THE BEST COFFEE || Well, I haven't traveled as much as I want to but I'd pick Grand Rapids or Detroit. My blog started at a coffee shop in Detroit. 




WHAT MAKES A GOOD COFFEE SHOP || The ambiance, how warm and welcoming it is, and the coffee. It has to have good quality coffee. 




When It Rains || The Playlist

Ben Ashby

Today has rained and rained. They say its the hurricane coming through. The town is quiet. I sit up on the hill above town watching the showers fall from the sky, bounce off the still lake and sink beneath the surface. The thick forest of oaks and pines in the front yard hang low with hours of watered weight. Candles burn and reflect in the window glass. Wildflowers sit atop a stack of Eurdora Welty's works. This playlist came out of the sounds of rain and the sounds of the thick clouds overhead. My love of Americana runs deep into this playlist. 

A PNW Moment

Ben Ashby


Nothing beats the PNW. Sure, you see those 3 letters all over social media, but you really can't grasp the intrigue of this region unless your feet are in the dewy morning grass of Seattle. Waking up to breaking clouds and perfectly roasted coffee will you put you in a zen like state you've never felt before. Prior to a sunset fire on the beach, we worked our way out of the city and into the trees... In a Subaru of course :) Petite coffee shops, old railroads, and running creeks line the windy roads that lead you to a nature like you have never seen. So, grab a ticket, pack a bag, and take your friends to the PNW for the perfect weekend getaway.



Our Chicago Food Tour

Ben Ashby




A few weeks ago we headed up to Chicago for the weekend. The goal was to visit a few of our favorite restaurants. We managed to get four stops in over the two and a half days in Chicago. I've been trying to figure out what sort of food Chicago is known for...beyond hot dogs I'm not really sure what their signature foods are....but they have a thriving restaurant scene....



Bernie's was a new one for me. Sure I'd seen its wall designs in many an Instagram photo...but I had yet to visit this trendy spot on N. Orleans Street. For our visit to Bernie's we asked for a sampling of the menu. Typically when we are visiting places for the first time I feel it is best that they select the dishes instead of us. I reckon it is an excuse to avoid the monotony I usually do on trips—way too many burgers. 

We started with two different salads, moved on to a delightful mussels dish that was the highlight of the evening, moved towards a prosciutto and toasty bread number, and ended with the most wonderfully creamy parfait. 

I do have some tips for visiting Bernie's...go as early as possible and get the good seats by the windows. This place is super trendy and super perfect for all those Instagram and Snapchat moments. We were surprised at how quickly the place filled.

We did a selection of small plates and appetizers at Bernie's and all shared. Their menu is broad and this felt like a good way to try it all.

— @Bernies_Chicago — @ChefRyanSand




Frontier in Wicker Park is by far my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago. I make an annual trek to the frontier themed spot. Yes...I said frontier in high class Americana foods. They had me at the bacon flight and the reeled me in with their selection of wild boar, bison, and a variety of bacon options. 

For our brunch at Frontier we started with the beignets, which are one of the chef's signature foods. Designed around his grandmother's recipe and better than any you'll get in New Orleans. 

If you're going purely for the sweets skip the meat and go straight for the house-made pop tarts. They're massive and a part combination of tart, sweet, and flaky goodness. Frontier fills up fast so we always go early for brunch. Grab the big booth in the front for the perfect photo light. 

After the pop tart grab some bacon and and apple absolutely delightful combination. I have an obsession with french fries. Frontier doesn't disappoint. The sandwiches are all perfect for a hot summer's day. 

— @FrontierChicago — @ChefJup



G & O

G and O (Grand and Ogden) is actually the final place we visited on our trip. After three insanely large meals we decided we'd have to go small at G and O. G and O is a local diner style place with tons of outdoor seating. It appeared to be filled with groups of friends that were there to hang out on a Sunday morning.  

I had the spiced biscuits and gravy...which had to be the very best biscuits and gravy I've ever had north of the Mason Dixon Line. A perfectly sized portion of perfectly soft biscuits covered in perfectly spiced sausage gravy was the perfect end to a very nice food tour of Chicago. 

If you're looking for something more filling go for the oatmeal. The portion was huge. After four meals that all included may be safe to say that Chicago should just be called the Bacon CIty. Each of the four places we visited serves their own version of thick cut bacon. It would be unfair to select which place did it best...instead you're just going to have to visit them all!

— @GrandandOgden

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This was not our first rodeo at Cochon Volant. We knew to come prepared for a big meal. Last year we visited for brunch. This year it was decided we would go for dinner. That was a wise decision. 

I'm going to go ahead and call it now —Cochon Volant has the best steak in Chicago. Yes, yes I did bring 3/4 of the steak back to Kentucky with me and eat it in bed the next day. I have no shame. 

Cochon Volant is just south of the river in downtown Chicago. It is perfectly decorated with surfaces that glitter and glow. The accents are encrusted in brass and the room really is aesthetic perfection....but that isn't we were there. If the interiors are perfection...there isn't a word to describe the food. 

I love steak tartar. It is one of my favorite foods. I think steak in general is a favorite. We started with an appetizer of tartar. I could have made it my entire meal. Cochon Volant is known for their boards. We learned that last time at brunch with their pickle board. This time we went for a cheese board and a pickle board. These seemed like pleasant ways to cleanse the palette between courses. 

For our main courses I went with an dry aged steak, and as I already said it is enough of a reason to visit Chicago. It is served with french fries, but let's be're going to want to skip those and hold off for desert. Nick had two entrees. He started with a crab leg platter. A petite display of unbelievably fresh crab awaited him...and a shrimp cocktail. 

We closed out our food tour of Chicago with creme brûlée and chocolate mousse. I am not usually a mousse fan...but like everything else at Cochon Volant it is done to perfection.

— @CochonVolant_ — @ChefMattAyala

—@Jschatan — @JonasFalk_ #FlyingPigGram

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Sure, I know what you're thinking...but only four have so much left of Chicago to cover. Oh yes, I agree, you are totally assured we are already planning many return trips. Chicago is one of the easiest of the major US cities to navigate. Chicago is also much more affordable than New York City. 

If you're a bacon lover...time to load up the car and head to Chicago. 

American Field Washington DC — Roundup

Ben Ashby


A couple weeks ago I flew to DC for the latest American Field. In a time where the market, fair, barnsale, and show market have peaked American Field continues on. Founded in 2012 American Field has gained a reputation for supporting American made makers. Originally a market exclusively for American made menswear makers the market has since shifted towards a more inclusive appeal. In fall of 2017 American Field will hold markets in Washington DC, Brooklyn, and Boston. Here is a round up of some of my shots from the event.


Worn + Company

Ben Ashby


Somewhere between the thousands of barrels of bourbon and the thousands of acres of pasture that surround Lexington, Kentucky a style has developed thats equal parts southern, preppy, and equestrian...but has always skewed a little to the old side. It has taken far too long to get pleats out of Lexington. That is all changing with the introduction of Nick Nardiello's new shop Worn + Company. With a flair similar to big city menswear stores the shop brings American made goods to Lexington with a unique blend of equestrian and camp themed vintage and antiques. To learn more about Nick's shop I popped in a few weeks ago to check it all out.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY DO YOU LOVE LEXINGTON || I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky on a horse farm that my dad owned. My mother is an artist and a teacher. I was able to travel a little bit during high school and college while living in different parts of the world. After all of that traveling I knew that I would end up back in Lexington. We have a very worldly and eclectic community. I got my idea for my store after realizing that I have always been a big collector and I am always hunting for new pieces for my own collections. I chose Lexington because I felt that we were lacking a good mens store to go in and buy a pair of jeans and a little something else.

I wanted to share my appreciation for items both old and new and show uses via my store for each item. To me it matters so much that people get to come in and touch and handle the clothing or the antiques or vintage finds instead of shopping online and just looking at pictures. I wanted to create a destination store. I've already seen how it only takes one shop to create a movement that leads to a city becoming a destination. The east side of Lexington seemed like the perfect place to get it all started!




WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ITEMS IN THE STORE || My favorite items in the store have to be hats, selvage denim, and even my mothers painted feathers!


WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT BRICK AND MORTAR || I support brick-and-mortar because when someone walks in my doors I want to evoke every one of the senses in their experience


Coffee Culture || Wes Taylor

Ben Ashby

This week's coffee culture Monday is dedicated to Chicago based photographer Wesley Taylor. Wesley makes special moments for coffee wherever his travels and photography take him. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP || My favorite shop in Chicago is Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Logan Square. I'm crazy productive any time I go there! Crema in Nashville holds the record for my favorite cortado, The original Sightglass in SF has my favorite ambiance. 







WHAT CAMERA DO YOU SHOOT WITH || Canon 5D, 35mm 1.4 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DRINK || My favorite drink depends heavily on the weather. When it rains, a dirty chai with oat milk. On any given day a cortado is always a good choice... On sunny days, either an iced matcha latte with oat milk, or an oat milk angeleno which is basically a vanilla latte with an extra extraction of espresso, shaken. 


WHY DO YOU LOVE COFFEE CULTURE || I love coffee shop culture because it'shonestly for everyone. you can get as deep into it the brewing and tasting aspects as you want, you can be obsessed with coffee or get tea. but at the core it's about bringing people together, and there's not much better than that.

GIVE US A TIP FOR A GOOD COFFEE SHOP PHOTO ||  It's simple, but the best coffee photos just come from good light. stand by the window or go outside, I promise it'll be worth it. Also, work quickly! Latte art often has a short photo life, so get your shot set before your order so you can make it happen fast. 


WHAT CITY HAS THE BEST COFFEE || San Francisco is home to some of my favorite coffee shops! But I may also just be smitten by the toast. 

WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD COFFEE SHOP || Whenever I check out a new coffee shop, I tend to care about ambiance first. I want to make sure it's not too loud to have a conversation, and hopefully a place I can get some work done. comfortable chairs are also super important.

The Playlist | Route 66 Throwback

Ben Ashby

For this weeks playlist I wanted to throw it out west to the landscapes of the American southwest and to provide sounds that capture those vibes. After riding down Route 66 and experiencing the tiny time forgotten towns along the way it only made sense to include as many throwback songs as possible. 

Thriving Photography: An Interview with Bronson Farr

Christophe Chaisson

California raised, New York living, Bronson Farr is a phenomenal photographer whose love and passion for people is evidently displayed through his work. His very presence lights up a room with his radiating optimism & positivity, which is a pretty useful skill to possess being in a profession dependent on light.  We had the privilege to hear about his journey and career as a photographer.


Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Bronson: Growing up, I though photos were really only to commemorate the happy stuff in life. When I was a child, I went to a wake for my Gramps. My uncle was taking photos of Gramps in his coffin and I super confused by it. I asked my Uncle why he was photographing this particular moment. He replied with something along the lines of "all aspects of life are important to document, even death". For me, this was a total and complete revelation. Photos aren't only for the happy moments, but photos are for ALL moments. Moments that we will all look back on and pensively reminisce over and moments that our posterity will look upon and know that we all existed and lived good lives. There is something magical and romantic about that, this is when the idea of photography became something meaningful to me. 



C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

B: Self, Friends, Youtube tutorials.

C: How did you develop your style?

B: Practice and Collaboration.



B: Natural light is my absolute jam! I like to work with interesting locations in the city where there is a good mix of direct sunlight and shadowed back drops. Most times, my subjects choose me. For my art series, a lot of subjects reach out via instgram, but if I think you look interesting I have no problem being that creep asking to take your photo. When it comes to clients, I always have a consultation to make sure the vibe is right. Nothing is worst than working for a client you can't stand or truly collab with. 





C: How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?






C: What inspires your work?

B: My absolute favorite part of my work is working with people. People inspire me and my work. 

C: How do you compose an image?

B: One thing that is always on my mind is the rule of 3rds. 


C: Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

B: A bit of both. You need to know what you want to accomplish in any given shoot. Location, tone of voice, lighting etc should be worked out before your shoot, but if you aren't open to inspiration in the midst of creating- then what's the point? If you are looking at the model and your set and get a great idea that you are enthused about- the best advice I can ever give is to try it! You'll hate yourself if you don't.


C: What do you hope your art says to people?

B: I really just hope it makes people happy and make them want to work with me or try to execute what they've seen me do. 

C: Why did you choose photography as your craft?

B: It's the best mix of working with my hands, working directly with people, and actively trying to be creative and thoughtful. It just works for me.


C: How hard was it to become profitable at it? 

B: Thankfully I didn't struggle too much to get in the green. One of the first projects I worked on was a fundraiser for my friend's dad who had throat cancer. I shot loads of family sessions and gave all of the proceeds to my friends family. A few days after the project was done one of my roommates handed me an envelope with all of the money I had made and donated. He said someone dropped it off for me and said to not mention who it was from. To this day, that person is the reason why my equipment is paid for. 


C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

B: Just show up. Take every opportunity to shoot and learn.
Be with other creatives. Train your eye and your hands.
Cloud based storage will be your friend.
Shoot RAW and in manual mode.
Practice with prime lenses.
Stop if you don't love it. Thrive if you do.


C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?


B: You know how Uber partners with hella companies to do cool stuff? I wanna be the guy to set up those partnerships...

Puppies would be in every car.








C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?

B: Shooting an huge Indian wedding in San Francisco. The groom's family blocked off part of Union Square and the family danced and sang while the groom rode in on a white horse. It was the most magical display of tradition I'd ever seen. 




C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

B: I was transfering data from one hard drive to another. I got a bit too stoned and ended up deleting If I could start from scratch, I would get that cloud based storage off the bat, for sure.


C: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?

B: I was shooting a fashion show for Marc Bouwer and got to meet some of the cast of Orange is the New Black and some of those Housewives from BRAVO, that was pretty cool.



Ben: Is flannel really always appropriate? 

Bronson: Obviously.



C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?

B:I don't think I've been around long enough to have too big of complaints. 


To capture all the moments of life as Bronson does really causes him to stand out. That to me is authenticity at its finest. He captures the good times, the hard times, and everything else in between. To follow his journey or even be a part of his shoots, check out his Instagram and Website below!

Bronson Farr's Website 







Share the Lex[ington, KY]

Ben Ashby

Lexington, KY is my favorite small-town-city. Perpetually locked in an identity crisis between being a small town and being a big city. Perpetually locked as a treasure box of southern days gone by. I lived in Lexington for eight years. I went to school in Lexington. I learned so much about the world outside my tiny western Kentucky town by watching the world slowly creep by in Lexington. Over the past ten years Lexington has experienced a refreshing amount of growth. From new faces and leadership to an ever evolving food and culture scene. Lexington is doing its damndest to catch up to the trendy cities across the US.

By being the northern most southern city in the US—Lexington serves visitors a more liberal and less antiquated version of southern culture. Gone are the vestiges of many of the southern stereotypes. In their place stands an open and colorful town. As I find myself frequently visiting Lexington I wanted create a short guide to a few of my favorites places. This list will grow over time. 


Lexington's food scene is quickly putting itself on the map. From trendy bars and farm-to-table spots, to quick lunch spots, to fine dining Lexington has it covered. My personal favorite is County Club in Lexington's Jefferson Street district. The pountine with brisket is the only reason needed to visit. The aesthetics are worth staying for.  

I asked my friend James where he recommends: 

1) Distilled at Gratz Park

2) Heirloom (a short 10 minute drive to Midway)

3) Dudley's

4) Cole's 735 Main

5) Lucy's at the Red Light

For those looking for classic southern comfort food, local chain Ramsey's is a must visit. Wallace Station and Windy Corner are both worth the drive outside of town to visit. Malones, the staple of Lexington is 100% worth skipping. 



Shopping is not one of Lexington's greatest assets. Beyond a handful of fabulous shops and boutiques you're left with the stand Anthro, Pottery Barn style. My absolute favorite is Fable + Flame near the mall. James, the owner, brings an incredibly pleasing aesthetic to his shop. With legendary sales and constantly rotating inventory the mix of new and vintage is the perfect excuse to visit Lexington.  

When it comes to shopping for vintage fashions Foxhouse has it covered. A tiny gem of a shop near UK's campus, Foxhouse offers everything you need for a completely vintage outfit. Recent additions to the shop include American made art, jewelry, and accessories. 

Worn + Company is my favorite new store in Lexington. Nick's menwear stores focuses on classic American made men's staples, a flair of hipster, and a timeless, yet modern, southern meets outdoorsman style. 

Michler Florist and Greenhouse is absolutely 100% out of a dream. A handful of time worn greenhouses cover the wooded grounds of the urban property. A beer garden and vegan restaurant are carved among the trees. The greenhouse specializes in plants native Kentucky. Every inch of the property is worth photographing, but the plants really do take center stage. If you're looking to bring the outdoors into your home you want to make a stop at Michler's. 

This literally doesn't even scratch the surface of places to visit in Lexington. Stay tuned for more. 

A Motorcycle & Route 66

Ben Ashby

They came from foreign lands, they came from distant cities. From Chicago, from New York City, from tiny Connecticut towns, they came from Miami, and they came from Los Angeles all searching for something more, searching for something different. The reality is we live in an overly digital, overly connected world. They came searching for a reprieve from the 24/7 political nightmare, from the 365 biased news overload. They came searching for places that had been untouched, places that meet the morning horizons with zero traces of man or modernity. They came for a motorcycle tour of Route 66 with Los Angeles based motorcycle touring company EagleRider



When I got the call asking if I’d go on a motorcycle tour down Route 66 with a touring company I had several concerns, questions, comments, etc etc. We’ll address those as we go, but for the sake of the beautiful narrative I have in my head lets continue with where I was headed. 

The kids on the trip showed up in their Ubers clad in the standard all black uniforms of the American cities. they brought with them every device short of beepers. Constantly connected to business emails, to Instagramers, to Twitterers, to txting, and weird side projects they were working on. The majority had never been on a motorcycle, and the majority had never been deep into the desert out west. After a brief mixer at the Eagle Rider headquarters they quickly found common ground. Three worked in the same tower off Columbus Circle. One would soon be the other’s boss. The phones slowly were used less and less and real tangible connections were made. The CEO of EagleRider greeted us and welcomed us to what would be our three day tour. He began it all by telling us a motorcycle tour of Route 66 is as American as apple pie. A rite-of-passage that every American must do. EagleRider was the perfect means to make this possible.

EagleRider was founded on the idea of providing motorcycle riders with motorcycle rentals in locations all over the world. You can rent them in a very similar fashion to renting a car at Enterprise or Hertz. EagleRider also offers guided tours of routes all over the world. From short ones like our three day tour of Route 66 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, to a complete tour of Route 66. EagleRider has locations all over the world. 


After the CEO’s introduction we were fitted in our motorcycle jackets and outfitted in some appropriately themed gear. Indian is one of my favorite bike brands. I quickly went for anything I could find. We packed up and headed out…to basically the best BBQ in L.A…I’ll report back with the name. 

For our tour we were all strangers. We walked into the tour with only one thing in common…a love of words. We would each be responsible for writing our thoughts on the trip. Over dinner we discussed our angles and our plans. We discussed our backgrounds and who our audiences were. I quickly realized I got the lucky job…I have the audience with a love of adventure. 

As worlds connected and the millennials connected the guards and walls of urban dwelling and politics and whatever this weird round the clock negative news world we live in fell away. Moods became lighter and the excitement build for the journey that would begin as the sun rose over the southern California mountains the following morning. 


In the American west the sun rises over the dusty mountains the same as it has for hundreds of years. The march of time has turned coastal deserts of southern California from a vast sandy sea of succulents and cacti to a wild treeless wilderness of horse paths, tiny mining towns, outlaws, and tall tails, to an urban jungle of kids seeking an escape into wanderlust. As the sun rose helmets went on, bikes were mounted, engines were revved, and the tires carrying the millennials were hitting the sun-baked asphalt of Los Angeles. This mornings route would take us high into the mountains towards Palm Springs. The interstates began to fly by as we made our way towards the forgotten highways leading east. 

I’ve already driven from Kentucky to California twice this year in a rented Chevy Malibu. I’ve driven across the US and back in Cadillacs and Toyotas, but I’d never been on the open road on a bike. I’d never felt all the cliches, I’d never felt the wind in my hair. I’d never felt Bette Midler’s wind beneath my wings. The bike ensured a sense of freedom, a sense of abandon, a sense of independence. The wind swept past, the bumps and curves were felt, it was just you and this man made machine. It was you, without a hand to hold a phone, a hand to text, or an ability to talk to those around you. It was just you, your thoughts, the sun, and a reckless spirit of Americana. It was exactly what was needed. 

The cityscapes and the suburbs gave way to orange groves and cattle farms. The ascent up the mountain began. The air grew chilled. The ride slowed down as the curves became tighter and the pack of motorcycles became narrower. Our trip has one main guide and three additional guides that were joining us for the trip. The lead knew all the routes and the curves. He led us the entire trip with a flawless pace. Between the four guides on the tour they complete hundreds of tours a year leading Americans of all ages and tourist across nearly every state in the US. With all of us being from the world of media this was all new territory for us. Hardly any of us had ever been on a bike, much less ridden it through deserts or over mountains. EagleRider specializes in keeping an up to date fleet of bikes and having guides that not only know the roads but also know the details and histories of all the areas they’re visiting. 



We stopped for lunch high in the hills surrounded by pines and cabins. This new landscape seemed an extreme exchange of the landscape we had been immersed in just a few hours ago. The goal of this trip wasn’t to just ride a motorcycle down Route 66…it was about experiencing something different and about being in nature and out of the urban element. The mountains and the mountain themed restaurant were a reminder of that. We all vowed to experience everything as it came and to savor the moments. Basically I am just trying to say we had zero cellphone service as dramatically as possible. Conversations seemed authentic. It is an idea we will be exploring in depth this year—but it seems the idea of living in real life rather than living a digital facade is where we millennials are heading. If you’re looking for a festive way to start that journey—grad and EagleRider bike and head out. 

I am a sucker for Palm Springs. There is something about it being totally lost in time that really speaks to me. Maybe its the desert vibes or the mid century aesthetic, but I am obsessed with the place. The winds outside of town are a true experience for a motorcycle rider, but absolutely worth the thrill. EagleRider has the accommodations perfectly prepared. All luggage follows behind the group of bikes in a sprinter van and everything is unloaded at the hotel. Bikes were parked and we all went inside to freshen up. The digital world was once again available, but few indulged. Being disconnected had become a luxury not worth giving up. 

The next morning I broke away from the group to meet up with a photographer friend to photograph the Desert X house in Palm Springs. This meant I would be picked up by the Jeep that trailed behind the group. It also meant I would be skipping the nearly full day exercising into Joshua Tree National Park. 



We met back up with the group for BBQ in 29 Palms. The rest of our day would be driving through the extremely open roads of Arizona and California. During that afternoon with my Jeep driver I learned a few things about taking a motorcycle tour:

  1. You will be much hotter in black than you will wearing white. In the middle of the summer ditch being stylish for being comfortable.
  2. Stay hydrated. The wind will dry you out. 
  3. Wear every bit of sun screen you can slather on. Don’t forget to coat those fingers and hands well and often
  4. If you want to take a tour but don’t have a motorcycle license grab a three wheeled Slingshot.
  5. Learn the hand signals. 
  6. Know the limits of your bike. When it gets to a certain temp motorcycles (and helicopters) get too hot to operate. 
  7. Put your phone away.
  8. Don’t try to show off. You are absolutely not as good of a driver as you say you are.
  9. When in doubt just ride in the Jeep. 
  10. Always go for the gas station hot dogs. The risk is always worth it.

Our day concludes with a boat tour along the state line and a rest at a casino outside Las Vegas. They tell us we have a long day tomorrow, but refuse to say anything else. 


The hotel sits along the banks of the river in a deep valley. The sun rises slowly yet the heat quickly creeps in. We continue to skirt the Nevada state line. We take routes of Route 66 that seem like a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Roadrunner should be leading our group. Wild donkeys rest alongside the highway and one of the oldest ghost towns in the US sits over the horizon. Oatman, Arizona is a town of legends. A tiny mining town that has been the center of folklore for decades is a nearly preserved reminder of the former America and the newly embraced Chinese made consumption obsessed American tourist. Dew rags and t shirts coat the derelict wooden structures with a vile mix of tacky and trashy. This is the America was have set out to escape. Our bikes quickly become a comforting reminder that we will escape this nightmare as quickly as we entered it. 

Back on the road we are told that we must hurry towards our final surprise of the trip. We are all well bonded and unhappy with the idea that our trip will soon be over. We head across Hoover Dam and head towards the sins of Las Vegas, but first we stop at one of the regional airports where a fleet of helicopters await. 

For many of us this was our first helicopter experience. For all of us this was the perfect ending to our trip. We rose high above the landscape. The desert gave way to the jagged and indescribable beauty of the Grand Canyon. We soared over the walls and the Colorado river. We had final conversations over headsets and we lamented on the fact that the depths and wonders below would soon give way for a rude reality that our overly digital overly connected lived await. 

EagleRider is a company that was founded on the idea of giving people the freedom of the road and the ability to experience America. Eagle Rider has since provided countless people of all ages with the ability to escape this absurdly negative world. It affords its riders with the ability to head towards an America and a reality that is void of connection. It affords its riders the ability to find tangible connection with strangers, with the sun, with the road, with the time forgotten landscapes or America, and it allows its rides to find a connection with themselves that we millennials are in desperate need of. 

We, the seven millennials were all strangers from foreign lands seeking an experience, and escape, and a connection with each other. We left as seven new found friends with a shared experience and a shared appreciation for a life less modern. 


10 Tips || Buying American Made

Ben Ashby


I've been in this American Made game a long time. Six years seems like a lifetime. I've seen countless American makers come and go. I've seen brands skyrocket and I've seen brands crash. I've seen brands totally change the game and brands that are as stale as week old white bread. I'd argue that by now I am an expert on American Made...and I've seen more brands than most anyone. When we first started promoting American Made I was a bit of a snob and said you should be all American made all day every day. In the years and in the economic and manufacturing shift since I no longer stand by that claim.


Today you'll find me still screaming from the rooftops to buy American Made...but not exclusively. The idea of buying exclusively American Made is bad spending. You aren't Trump. You can't just get Russia to get you out of debt. Be wise with your consumption. Years ago I worked with a girl that, when we'd promote makers, argue that the key was investing in statement pieces. For her that was a love of handmade jewelry. She would collect massive, chunky, pieces of jewelry that would complete an outfit. When she first started promoting the idea I thought she was brilliant. Her stance a college student, it would be nice to buy all American Made, but like, that isn't possible.



In the years since I've added to her original platform. You may want to sit down for this...but...I've seen a lot of brands..and I can assure you...American Made isn't always worth the price. Some of the most poorly constructed pieces I've owned are American made. Why is this? Isn't American Made supposed to be the be all and end all of integrity and quality. Well 100 years ago that was likely true, but the art of quality died as most American companies moved production overseas. With that departure the decades old machines went overseas with them and the skilled American craftsmen were left behind.



Today as brands and makers shift back towards American production there is still a learning curve and a cost curve. New makers are having to purchase new equipment that is insanely expensive. Having to teach themselves the trade, and having to work incredibly hard to source the raw materials.



I've been teetering for months about how to best write this piece. I feel like simply providing ten tips for buying American Made is most practical.



But first back to her ideas about statement pieces. Rather than buying massive quantities of poorly made American Made simply to say you wear exclusively American your money and invest in really high quality pieces that will last for decades. Buying American made has never been about following trends. In a world of fast fashion...if you're looking for trendy tops and sneakers...go for the fast fashion. Save up and invest in American Made leather goods, jewelry, or outerwear. She always liked investing in pieces from makers we worked with so that if people complimented the pieces she wore she could educate them on the maker, the brand, and the movement. A grassroots effort is largely what has brought American Made back to the limelight.


Over the years I have a few brands that I personal feel are worth investing in and wear almost daily. If you were to go into my closet you'd find:

Luggage and watches by Filson
Anything by Ball and Buck (in my opinion the best made American Made brand)
Waxed canvas by Neverest Outfitters
Leather Accessories by Loyal Stricklin
Candles by PF Candle Co
Underwear by N2N Bodywear
Blankets by Woolrich
Shirts by Stock Manufacturing
Leather bags by Fount


10 Tips for Buying American Made

1. Invest in pieces that will be timeless. Luggage and bags are the best place to start.
2. Shop markets and fairs for handmade jewelry. Get the pieces in your hand to make sure they're well made and will hold up. Look at Hobby Lobby to see if their pieces are sourced from there.
3. Check the sticking in denim. Is the crotch going to rip out fast. The US made denim industry is plagued with poor quality. Some brands will last a lifetime. Some brands won't last a season. When in doubt hold off buying and grab a pair of Levi's instead.
4. When buying bags look at the stitching and the seams. If you can see between the pieces of leather the piece will not hold up.
5. Most candle companies source their scents from the same bulk supplier. A $5 candle and a $45 candle often times both have the same scents. Go for brands like PF Candle Co that have custom mixed scents rather than the bulk standards.
6. A brand may say it's American made, but in reality may only produce a small percentage of their goods in the US. Don't buy blindly thinking it's all made here. Woolrich makes their blankets in the US. The majority of the clothes are made in Asia. New Balance makes a small percentage of their shoes in the US. Their US shoes are worth the investment.
7. If you're looking to invest in boots, American Made is the answer. Red Wings can be passed down for generations. Go for Asian Made sneakers and save up for American Made boots.
8. The best way to be introduced to American Made makers is by going to markets and fairs. See the products in person. Meet the makers and hear their stories. My favorites are American Field on the east coast, the Country Living Fairs in the east, Made South in the south, and Liberty Fairs in the major cities.
9. Follow makers and brands on social media, you'll save by watching for sales and buying directly from the maker.
10. Don't feel obligated to buy American Made all the time. Buy what you like, when you can. Don't waste money on things you'll quickly tire of simply because it's American made.

Capturing Coffee Culture : One Cortado at a Time

Christophe Chaisson

No better way to start a Monday than doing it with a cup of coffee in your hand. Coffee isn't just a bitter brown liquid with caffeine, rather coffee has its own culture and ability to gather community.  Grab yourself a cup however you like it and join me and Laurie Unger as she talks about coffee and photography. 



Christophe: What is your favorite coffee shop?

Laurie: My favorite coffee shop is Zoka @zokacoffeein Kirkland, Washington.  The high ceilings and the light and airy atmosphere is what originally drew me in, but the coffee and sense of community keeps me coming back.






C: What Is your favorite coffee shop drink?

L: A Cortado or a triple espresso is my drink of choice.  I occasionally will drink both if my energy level needs a boost. I really enjoy tasting the flavors of strong coffee so I don’t usually drink coffees that have lots of milk in them.  







C: What makes a good coffee shop?

L: A coffee shop that is flooded with natural light and a good design sense (especially if it has lots of black and white) is always my first choice.  Of course, great coffee is the most obvious, but without good lighting it is a no go.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and there are a lot of grey days and rain. Light and bright is important to me.







C: Why do you love coffee/coffee culture?

L: The coffee culture has brought in a modern sense of community/gathering place. It is more than just drinking coffee; it is an experience wherein in you can enjoy meeting up with friends, conducting business, or just relaxing and taking time to enjoy a cup of coffee any way you might like it.



C: Your favorite coffee culture photo tip?

L: Paying attention to natural light is perhaps the single most important step in taking a good photo. I always try to be aware of what time of day it is, weather conditions and the direction of the light.  Walls, tables and floors are always good backdrops to be aware of so that the picture is interesting.


Laurie captures everyday bright moments that adds a special light to the day. She finds the adventure in the simplicity and joys of everyday life. To follow more of her creative journey, you can find her on Instagram here: @:LAURIEUNGER

It is now time to pour ourselves another cup.

Happy Monday everyone!

The Playlist | 90's Country Throwback

Ben Ashby

Lets call this an hour of power. Since I've been discussing my 90's childhood all only makes sense that this weeks playlist is dedicated to my favorite country queens of the 90's. There will be a lot of Faith, Martina, and the Le(e)Ann's. I assume it is this way with every generation, but the music of my childhood continues to be my favorite era of music. Sure with jams by N'SYNC and Brit-brit and my obsession with Lance Bass' frosted is it possible to dedicate this just to country....well all in good time my friend. All in good time. 

From the Vince Gill cassette tapes that littered the truck, to the sweet sounds of Pam Tillis or the subtle sex appeal of Shania the 90's was a roller coaster ride for country music. Long before Taylor was spreading pop sounds all over our steel guitar anthems there was the 90's and the 90's was good.

Throw the stone away...and listen today. 

Coffee Culture Monday || Paige Denkin

Ben Ashby

It is the start of a new series. Our millennial culture is obsessed with coffee and coffee culture—from the shops to the roasting of the coffee and everything in between—we love it all. Each week we share a cup and a moment with a master of the coffee culture. This week we begin our series with New York City based photographer and coffee lover Paige Denkin. 


We must begin by having a collective moment of silence in memory of Ost Coffee in the East Village. May its memory and marble floors live on forever. 


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What/Where is your favorite coffee shop: My favorite small chain is Blue Bottle, their espresso is addictive. But my favorite local shop is currently Ludlow Coffee Supply. Great coffee and atmosphere which is important to me.



What camera do you usually shoot with: My Fuji xt1 is my go to walk around camera. I love the color from the Fuji sensors and the wifi capability is a life saver for social media. Plus it's lightweight and portable for walking around NYC, and gotta love the rangefinder ergonomics of the Fuji lineup.



What is your favorite drink: Dirty chai, hands down. And at least two shots of espresso, I won't get out of bed for anything less. Perfect balance of robust earthy espresso and sweet/spicy chai flavoring. If it's not available on the menu, a good strong latte is my next choice. The vanilla bourbon latte at Ludlow is on point. 


What do you love about coffee culture: I live in a very chaotic city and my early morning coffee stop is necessary for me to not only gain consciousness for the day, but to sit down and have a moment to myself, sans distractions from my home. I can organize my thoughts and enjoy the soft morning light during the uncommon slow New York morning moments. I crave it.





Please give us a coffee shop photo tip: morning window light is your best friend. I have difficulties balancing the tungsten lighting common is cafes, and the beautiful natural light. I tend to sit and stage all my images next to windows, but those tend to be the first seats to go. I've been known to wait outside a coffee shop before they open to secure the best spot. And my favorite general tip to give.. watch your corners! If you cut off objects, make it intentional or your viewer will get stuck in the tension spots. It can ruin your whole image.




What city has the best coffee: I'm biased to New York, it's where I do most of my coffee exploration. I've had some great cups in LA from places like Black Top or Verve and my favorite southern spot.. Bandit Coffee Co in St. Petersburg, FL. But the little NY gems are still closest to my heart.



What makes a good coffee shop: Step one, good coffee and educated baristas. There's nothing worse than a bitter espresso and an even more bitter barista. Rude workers are my biggest turn off, even if the cafe has perfect natural light... which is step two for a great shop: the atmosphere. Must be inviting with multiple places to sit by window light. Doesn't hurt to have well designed and complimentary tables, cups, saucers, plants, textured walls and flooring. The more elements I can create with, the better chance I'll be back to try more. Concrete floors are my favorite, the texture and the drop off from the light hitting the table tops always make for perfectly moody images.




Cole Kiburz and a Very Troubled Child

Ben Ashby

'After carrying this beautiful Wes Anderson-inspired bag throughout my travels to India, I’ve had a tough time setting it down. Recently, I packed the bag with supplies ranging from camera gear to a woven wool blanket and brought it along on an excursion to the Grand Canyon. I’m one that tries to shy away from rampant materialism, choosing rather to curate a few beloved items that have enough personality to become a part of the story themselves. I like to imagine this Savanah No. 4 bag by @verytroubledchild as an heirloom down the road, after it’s and my travel days are done. Scars earned, skin and leather worn, a million tales to tell within our confines.'

– Cole Kiburz, Photographer.

Undress to Impress || Related Garments

Ben Ashby

Last week Heath, Trey, and I went out into the woods of Kentucky to shoot some images of Related Garments underwear and socks. After shooting was complete I asked the folks at Related Garments to tell us a bit more about the brand...

David and Mike Appel were prone to fighting over almost anything as kids, even the unique underwear their mom would bring home from the department store. Looking back, it was this very underwear that gave the brothers the infinite confidence of superheroes as they’d spend countless hours running around the house and yard. Fast-forward years later and the brothers had a revelation: the women in their lives were always giving them raving compliments on their refined taste in underwear. As they set out to disrupt the clothing industry they found a very common theme: when women were asked, “What is the one thing you’d change about your man?” their overwhelming response was, “his underwear!”.

Time after time, when faced with the chance to change one thing about their guy, women continued to say they would kick those ratty, mix-matched undies to the curb. Time to make a change. RLTD spent years sourcing the best fabrics and most responsible manufactures in order to get a quality and affordable product to our customers. Our production partner is certified by the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing. Related was built on the belief that too many men are ignoring a quick and effortless way to improve their style: upgrading their underwear.

By presenting guys with simple, coordinated, and comfortable options, David and Mike have made it easy to ditch your gross, old underwear and put on a more refined set of undergarments.

For David and Mike, Related is about much more than just introducing men to a new way of thinking about style, it is a vehicle for raising awareness around some of the biggest health challenges facing men today. This includes working with The Movember Foundation to “change the face of Men’s Health” through combating various cancers such as prostate cancer.

Nature's Kindle | Meet the Maker

Ben Ashby

When most students are trying to make it through college, they get a job waiting tables, but because he was already burning a candle at both ends that didn't work for Diosdado Velasquez. When his hectic college days started to make money tight, he started making candles. That small idea because a small venture in time, and eventually Nature's Kindle was formed.

How did you start Nature's Kindle?

Nature’s Kindle began as a crazy side hustle during college with an impossible internship schedule and the need to pay my bills.  I was looking for a way to get by but was unable to have a typical “college” job, so I decided to hone in on my entrepreneurial spirit and go for it.  

Who taught you to create candles and fragrances, or were you self-taught?

I started Nature’s Kindle buying and reselling candles that I felt had scents inspired by nature, but truly didn’t own the brand until I started developing my own products and learned how to make them by hand.  I did some research and found a class, where I learned the basics of candle making. That is also when I learned about soy candles and the natural benefits of working with soy wax.  From there, I started blending fragrances and developed our signature scent Woodlands. 

What was the first product you made and how was it received?

The first candles we ever made were heart shaped candles for Valentine’s day.  It was our first show and we went above and beyond for what we thought would be “popular” which was the total opposite of who we are.  That was a huge learning lesson for us to be ourselves.  I literally sold 1 candle and decided from then on to go with my gut and properly brand my business to truly represent who I am.

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

When I first started making candles I had no idea that I would start my own brand.  Once I knew I had a product that customers started coming back for, my wife and I had a heart to heart about what our goals were.  We wrote down what was important to us and how we felt our brand should be represented, and Nature’s Kindle was born.  As we are always inspired by nature, we felt we should always have scents inspired by nature and we took it from there!

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?

We have a few product ideas lined up for the upcoming year that are in line for Nature’s Kindle.  We’ve thrown around a lot of different ideas but we always come back to who we are and what we need to continue representing.  Keep it simple.  Our photo shoots are usually in house and collaborative with our awesome photographer, lots of natural light, and based around nature inspired home décor.

What are your inspirations?

My wife and I inspire each other.  Our business inspirations are almost always on a road trip to the mountains, hiking and talking, or late nights at the warehouse after about 10 cups of coffee.  As long as we are together we are inspired.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

We love hiking, backpacking, camping, and just generally hanging out outside.  During our adventures we love to dream big and loud and figure out the next scent or product we can start working on.

What has been your biggest challenge?  

My biggest challenge was taking the leap of faith to take this on full time in 2016.  While working full time and having a steady income I was able to play it safe.  Both Nature’s Kindle and my previous job required full time attention so with the moral support of my wife I took the route that allowed me to live my dream of being an entrepreneur.

What's been your best advice you've been given?

The best advice I had been given was to chase your dream and give it all you have to make them come true. 

 What's your favorite thing about sharing Nature's Kindle with others?

My favorite thing about sharing my product is seeing the reaction of when they pick up and smell our candles.  Scent is a huge memory trigger for most people, so to hear about my customers memories when they experience our candles really makes my day.  I love hearing feedback from my customers and as we grow I hope to share more of our story and journey with others and inspire more people to experience nature as well.

Designs from Upstate: Meet Wolf Jaw Press

Christophe Chaisson

We love upstate New York! between Earth Angels, Upstate Stock, and now Wolf Jaw Press we are itching for a visit! Recently we sat down with Alicia Burnett, the owner of Wolf Jaw Press for a brief chat about what she does, why she is a maker and why you should support American made. 


FOLK: Hi! Please introduce yourself.

WOLF JAW PRESS: I’m Alicia Burnett, and I am a designer, artist, and all around maker. I’m also the sole proprietor of Wolf Jaw Press, a small independent printmaking studio that produces fine art screen prints inspired by the beauty of the natural world.


Where in the world are you located? 

Right now my studio and I are located in the northern Hudson Valley region of New York State. I’m really happy living and working here. I think it’s a great location for makers like me that love nature and feel more comfortable living in the country versus living in a city. The countryside and farmlands of Upstate New York are a beautiful place to live; it can be quite rural, but it’s not so rural that I feel isolated and disconnected to the surrounding makers and local arts communities. I love the fact I’m surrounded by serene farmland and plenty of open space while still being close enough to New York City, Hudson, and Albany to be physically involved the art communities of those cities. 

Why are you a maker?

I am a maker because it feels like the most authentic and natural way for me to live my life and make a living for myself. I am a maker because for as long as I can remember, I have had an insatiable compulsion to create. It’s just something that is in my DNA I guess. 

What do you make?

Through my studio, Wolf Jaw Press, I make limited edition screen prints. 

How long have you been a maker?

While I’ve always identified as being a creative, artistic individual with a strong desire to make and create, professionally, I haven’t been a maker for that long. I graduated with my MFA from Pratt Institute in 2015, and shorty afterwards I established Wolf Jaw Press. I’ve been a professional maker for less than year! Establishing my own studio and business has been quite the process, but putting in the long hours and hard work has been so worth it. Everyday I learn something new, and seeing my studio slowly but surely grow and flourish gives me an indescribable sense of satisfaction. 

Why did you decide on what you do?

It took me a long time to find myself artistically. I attended the Rhode Island School of Design where I spent most of my time as an undergraduate student trying to find a medium that felt comfortable for me. I watched so many of my friends as freshman and sophomores immediately gravitate towards a specific major, and then to a specific medium or process. Meanwhile, I felt like I was interested in too many things. I wanted to do any try everything, but nothing I artistically experimented with felt right. 

It wasn’t until the tail end of my junior year that I had a moment of clarity. On a whim, I decided to take a screen printing class with RISD’s printmaking department during the spring semester of my junior year. Within weeks I was completely in love with the screen printing process, but it still took me a few years to find the courage to establish my own screen printing studio and business.

The catalyst that finally pushed me to take the leap of faith and start my own studio were the repeated failures I had at trying to break into the corporate world of design. After my graduation from RISD with my BFA, and then from Pratt my MFA, I had interview after interview with companies and design firms, but it seemed that no one wanted to hire me. In hindsight, these “failures” in getting hired, while discouraging and frustrating at the time, pushed me to realize that maybe I should try to open my own studio and be self employed.

Favorite part about being a maker?

There is so much I love about being a maker! In short, I love the freedom and control it gives me in my personal and professional life. While being self employed undoubtedly comes with an expected level of uncertainly and stress, I have been able to experience a level of freedom that is both liberating and exhilarating. By being a maker, I get to do what I love everyday and I get to be my own boss. I decided what I want to make and when I want to make it, I create my own hours, I decide what projects and collaborations I want to work on, and I get to decide how and in what direction I want my business to grow. 

I also love that each day always hold something new and different. I could never have a job where I do the same thing everyday sitting at a desk. As a maker and a self employed artist, I get to first and foremost create the art that I love to make, but I also get to explore and learn about financial management, business strategies, legal procedures, accounting, and marketing. I’m learning and exploring so much. I find that my days bouncing between slinging ink in the studio, compiling and analyzing finical reports hunched over my laptop, or researching small business growth strategies are engaging and deeply rewarding. 

Why support makers?

When you shop for items made by artisans and makers, you can expect receive high quality goods crated with care while your dollars contribute to and strengthening a local economy. By supporting makers, you are also helping support someone’s passion. We makers care so deeply and passionately about what we do, and through buying our goods you enable us to make a living off of our authentic passion for creating. 

— Wolf Jaw Press

Kelsey Wallace and her Paisley Pig

Ben Ashby

 I realized I was traveling the world shooting and meeting makers and small business owners...all while never paying nearly enough attention to downtown Beaver Dam. When I found out Kelsey was opening a shop in my old building...I knew it was the perfect place to start. The Paisley Pig opens tomorrow! I sat down with Kelsey this week and asked a few questions about opening a store in a small town, who inspires her, and the idea of returning to her hometown. 

Questions and Answers:

Why did you want to open a store?

  • Upon graduating from OCHS, I moved to Bowling Green to attend WKU. I found myself spending every free afternoon in Downtown Bowling Green at the Square. I found so much joy strolling in and out of their shops because it was a convenience I had never been around. Living in Ohio County my whole life I didn't have the chance to walk out my front door and be two minutes from a contemporary clothing store, it was in those days window shopping on The Square that Paisley Pig Boutique began to form.

Why did you want to open Paisley Pig in a small town?

  • I chose to open Paisley Pig Boutique in a small town because so many times small town people are forced to go outside of their county to find trendy clothing. I so vividly remember coming home from school the day before a big event to my mom loading us kids up to make a quick trip to Owensboro for a new dress. Paisley Pig Boutique hopes to bust the myth that you can only find cute clothes in big cities.

Why is it important to support small towns and small businesses?

  • Small towns are a snapshot into the past. In a world that is ever changing and at a high speed pace, small towns are a break from reality. Small towns still hold on to the roots and values in which our country was founded upon, letting small towns go would let the heart of America go. By supporting small town businesses you are keeping rural America alive and thriving.

What are you most excited to carry?

  • Paisley Pig Boutique will carry women's sizes S- 3XL, children & men's clothing. Along with popular boutique brands Paisley Pig will feature items from Shop Local KY, Matilda Jane and Southern Point Co. Shoes and accessories will also be available. I am most excited about carrying "Mary & Milvie" Jewelry, because the jewelry is locally made by a team of sister entrepreneurs at ages 9 and 13.

What do you see being your biggest asset?

  • My biggest asset is easily my family. Each and everyone of them have put their own touch on the store from building displays to steaming clothes, Paisley Pig Boutique is made possible by them.

What do you see as being your biggest hurdle?

  • I feel my biggest hurdle is changing the mindset of community members from believing they have to drive out of town for cute and affordable clothing.

What/who inspires what you're doing?

  • I am most inspired by Joanna Gaines, not only because she is a successful business woman in many different areas but because even though she is successful she still remains humble and gives all her glory to God.


Paisley Pig Boutique can be found on Facebook @paisleypigboutiqueoc & on Instagram @paisleypig_oc.