A Q+A WITH LAYERED LOGAN

One of my favorite parts of starting LES Collection has been becoming a part of this wonderful community of artists and fellow dealers. Our industry is busy, but LES has been fortunate to carve out a space amongst some truly inspiring and kind fellow creators. Rachel Miller of Layered Logan is one. I've been a fan of Rachel's for some time - her distinct styling and photography first caught my eye, and her sourcing and curation are incredibly thoughtful.

We struck up an IG friendship and discovered we came from the same home town! I was thrilled when Rachel agreed to curate a collection together. LES Collection x Layered Logan is our first vintage collaboration, and I couldn't be more thrilled with the collection. Shooting with Rachel was especially fun, and I love that the images have elements of each brand yet still feel cohesive and fresh. Read more about Rachel and Layered Logan below and shop the collection at the bottom of the story!

 

 

What led you to the vintage/collecting world, as well as entrepreneurship?

Treasure hunting and entrepreneurship have felt a part of me for as long as I can remember. I have photos of my mom and her twin sister planning our garage sale-ing route with me when I was probably four years old. She was always furnishing our apartments with flea market finds and a typical weekend involved hunting for oddities in a freezing barn in upstate New York or repainting my bedroom for the third time because we found a new chair. 

My first business was actually selling cups of worms to fishermen across the street from our home at the lake for $1 a cup when I was seven years old. When I was eleven, I remember having angry parents calling our house after their daughters had agreed to buy tons of makeup from me out of an Avon catalog. I was always scheming up ideas and wanting to try new things.

I was very undisciplined in school as a kid - a daydreamer. In my young brain and heart, I didn't think classes mattered whatsoever because I wanted to be working in the 'real world' where you instantly see cause and effect. My mom put me in martial arts for discipline and that was where I think I first became hyper-aware of the nuances of human form and movement. I also remember being so interested in body language and optical illusions - it’s funny how years later I see these things reflected in my collections.

I always knew I wanted to do something creative and exploratory and I wanted to work for myself. I have always journaled and probably wrote ‚Äėsell vintage‚Äô or ‚Äėdesign homes‚Äô hundreds of times over the years before I finally committed to doing so.

What have been some of the challenges and breakthroughs you've experienced since starting Layered Logan?

One of my challenges with starting Layered Logan was really defining what the company was going to be. My entire life I felt artistic, but without a physical medium I had no real compiled evidence of that to build upon. I knew I needed a portfolio of sorts - it started with mood boards and sharing the behind-the-scenes of homes I was selling (during my time in real estate) and quickly evolved into selling vintage items in early 2019.


 An imperceptible breakthrough was how much the market for home objects blew up in the midst of the pandemic…and by blew up I mean became huge. Everyone was at home among their things and wanted to make their spaces feel better. In a way, something that might seem meaningless in such a difficult time in the world actually held a bit of extra purpose.

 

Photography by Natalie Black for LES Collection x Layered Logan

 

Real Estate is such a unique industry. What about it attracted you? What did you learn about yourself while working in the industry? How did it inform your personal taste and style? 

Real estate, as a young person, felt like the golden ticket. I looked at it and saw a way to feel successful, work in and around homes, and have the ‚Äėfreedom‚Äô of working for myself. At 21 years old, I moved from my hometown of Rochester, NY to Boston and earned my real estate license. It was a wild snap decision that turned into nine years of high highs and low lows.

For a time, there was nothing more exciting than the buzz of working as a Realtor. I was able to contort my desire for creative expression into real estate via staging, marketing, photoshoots, etc. but a few years in, I wondered why, even while I was working for a top team and brokerage, did I feel like a failure? I was succeeding in my career but not in desire or purpose. It led to burnout - all that heightened performance felt out of line with what I actually wanted. I think that as creative people, we need an outlet and we need validation that our work is worthy. Without an outlet or honoring our creative desires, that inner voice can bubble over and that is where burnout, anxiety, and depression live.

I started Layered Logan while I was still an agent. I didn’t know what it would be yet but I remember closing on a beautiful loft for my buyer and instead of being excited about that victory, I was more excited that she let me shoot some of my vintage pieces in her new space. I wanted to lean into that feeling. In my last year in real estate, I remember a few clients that impacted me greatly. They both happened to be artists and had in-home studios. I had never witnessed the behind-the-scenes workspaces of creative people and I was fascinated. The paint drips, all of the tools, the hundreds of half-done projects, the pieces they were most proud of, things hanging from the ceiling - just a giant chaotic swirl of possibility and expression. That is now like the ultimate goal to me. 

Layered Logan wouldn’t be what it is right now without the real estate chapter of the story - I saw beautiful homes, worked with developers, staged for shoots, learned how to be detail-oriented and business savvy, met very inspiring people, but most of all, I realized you can give it all up and it will be okay.

 

 

   

  Photography courtesy of Layered Logan

 

Tell us a little about your sourcing process?

My ideal sourcing scenario is to spend eight hours straight, alone, in a town I’ve never heard of, with absolutely no agenda other than to hit every antique mall, estate sale, and architectural salvage place. Wandering through the high-end places for the thrill and inspiration and then digging in at the place that has no photos on google maps for that insane piece that has been waiting years to be dusted off. Any trip I take, I have to squeeze in some sourcing or I’ll always wonder what item I may have left behind. There is nothing that haunts you like an incredible piece you didn't bring home. My suitcases are inevitably packed with finds and searched by TSA. Sourcing often and everywhere is really the best way to find unique pieces. It is also very common to go to many places and find nothing. I leave empty-handed a lot and as I do this longer, I am perfectly fine with that. I have become more selective - I look for things that make me feel over things that technically hold value. Whimsy, shapes that look like they have movement, texture, familiarity, rarity, quirk, layers, craftsmanship, materials of the earth, history, complexity, a good hand feel and weight, a human factor, asymmetry…those things that just get you overly excited and make your gut churn. This is what I look for and just hope someone else might draw a connection to an item I offer as well.

The Layered Logan aesthetic is so distinct. What has the process of building out your personal brand been like?

Thank you! I truly appreciate that because creating a ‚Äėbrand identity' was never something I could hone in on. It felt too much like drawing a line in the sand for me. I like to evolve and change often - I crave it. I just buy and sell what I like and shoot how I feel like shooting in the moment. I have noticed in the last two years my brand has started to look more cohesive. There was a lot of necessary trial and error in that. That very trial and error period of this business is what kept me from starting it for years. I wanted it to be ‚Äėperfect‚Äô and I am so happy I got over that long enough to just START. I‚Äôve become SO cognizant of the smallest moments around me - sounds, lighting, shadows - I want to catalog all of them and embody a certain feeling with the Layered Logan aesthetic. Some things I can't really describe. They just are.¬†I've taken to imagery itself to speak a lot for me. I want¬†the styling¬†to be beautiful but¬†also a little unexpected¬†and impactful. Things that shouldn‚Äôt go together but somehow do. Pieces you haven't seen before. Where weird and lux meet.¬†

 

 

Photography by Natalie Black for LES Collection x Layered Logan

 

Where does the name Layered Logan come from?

Like a beautiful tattoo with no meaning, Layered Logan was born. I can say that Logan was something my mom thought to name me before Rachel was chosen...and that 'layers' are essential to design and the most intriguing thing about people...Those things are definitely true but I really just thought of it and liked it. Layered Logan. The alliteration did it for me and I didn't want to use my own name because when I started Layered Logan, it was something new after years of having to commercialize my own name in real estate.

You recently relocated to San Diego, California from Boston - how has that impacted you and your work?

My environment and surroundings have always been important to me - the feeling in a space, the mood, the vibe if you will. If I am going through a tough time in life, it gets reflected in my space in a chaotic way. Conversely, if I want to improve my mood, I can do so by changing my surroundings - opening a window, lighting a candle, putting on music, rearranging my furniture, etc. I was ready to shake things up. This move was a long time coming. The two cities couldn’t be more different. Boston and Cambridge offer familiarity and have such a charming history - great for a vintage lover. I had my favorite spots and the antique sourcing in New England is next level. San Diego gives me a shiny, new, anything-is-possible feeling. The weather here means I can shoot outside all the time which is huge for the natural lighting element of my imagery. The sourcing here is different - a lot more random avant-garde style and earthy objects but less true antiques. California has me in nature all the time which makes me feel close to my roots. It's nice to have wide-open spaces after being in the city for years. With San Diego's proximity to LA, it has opened a lot of doors for me to source for cool projects. I love both and have continued to source on both coasts. I could see myself moving many more times.

 

 
 
 

Photography courtesy of Layered Logan

  

At LES we believe in an abundance mindset - the more the merrier - and we've loved building a community of artists and fellow collectors and dealers. Can you tell us a little bit about how you've cultivated your own community within this industry?

This is something I admire about Lauren and LES so much. It is not easy to give of yourself so freely, especially in creative pursuits because they feel so personal and you feel sort of exposed. It is easy to look at the current reseller and artisan marketplace and feel like it is increasingly saturated. Watching Lauren embrace that and carve out a heightened value and voice for these artisans has been amazing to see.

In thinking about these questions, I went back to the beginning of my feed to remind myself of how things were when I started Layered Logan. I was reminded that it was solely for the artistic connection and community. I wanted to freak out with a like-minded person about the texture of a vessel or talk about the latest interiors podcast I’d listened to. I really had no idea this community existed until I put myself out there and now I can’t imagine not being immersed in it. I’ve had fun meeting other dealers in person and discovering insanely talented people across the world. In this online community of Instagram, people lead with creativity but you also get to see a slice of their thought processes and lives, and that has broadened my life perspective so much. During this time in the world, it is so important for businesses to have a voice and provide value beyond retail offerings. It has been rewarding to focus on the importance of sustainability via vintage goods as well as making donations to important causes through Layered Logan.

 

 Photography by Natalie Black for LES Collection x Layered Logan

 

Our collaboration was so much fun! How did you approach this project differently than you would if you were working on your own?

I had the best time! So much was different! After a few years of tackling my visions and shoots on my own, I had been craving an epic collaboration. When Lauren came to me with this idea, I knew right away that I was on board. That‚Äôs how you want to feel as a small business -¬†certain about something as personal as sharing¬†your¬†business that doubles as your passion project. Usually, when I offer a collection on Layered Logan, I carefully consider and love all of the pieces but there are typically a few that are star pieces. In this collection, they all have main character energy. We were able to take months searching for truly special pieces and tailoring the collection to feel just right. As my brand has evolved, my styling concepts have gotten bigger and those things are hard to execute on your own. Oftentimes when I am shooting and styling, I‚Äôm setting up a timer and physically running into the shot, hoping I get that one picture I‚Äôm envisioning. Lauren‚Äôs team was fully invested in the execution of the shoot and we were able to try every idea that came to mind. It was also nice to simply say, ‚Äúdo you like how this looks?‚ÄĚ When normally I'm only able to trust my own intuition when posting things I like and hoping that they land with my audience. I feel this collection became a perfect medley of both of our aesthetics and coming together challenged us both to push the envelope into a new style.

When you look to the future, what do you see for Layered Logan? Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline?

Future thinking is fun! I have so many ideas - my issue is focusing on one at a time haha. More vintage collections, of course. I want to expand my business to offer editorial styling services. More collaborations? Ultimately, I want to have an in-house range of objects. I have been sketching endlessly but it will be a long journey. I‚Äôve noticed that when I am thinking of designs, I immediately start in the cerebral, ‚Äėwhat items do people want?‚Äô ‚Äėwhat¬†will sell like mad?‚Äô but I think that is designing from a place of fear - fear of failure, fear of the money investment, fear of in-necessity. So, I won‚Äôt release pieces until they feel right. I think progression in design comes from creating for no other reason than the artistry itself.

 

 
 

 

A special Layered Logan collection, with proceeds supporting Nancy's Nook and Endometriosis research. 

 

Photography courtesy of Layered Logan

 

SHOP THE COLLECTION:

 

Brutalist Brass Candelabra

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 Vintage Embracing Sculpture

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Art Deco Style Female Sculpture

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 Vintage Brutalist Studio Pottery Vase

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Figurative Slab Vase

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 Vintage Studio Pottery Vessel

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Rare Early Mission Style Hand-Hammered Candle Holder Set

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 Vintage Ikebana Vase

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Fossil Stone and Brass Jewelry Box

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 Marble Abstract Sculpture

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Cerused Wood MCM Woman Figure

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 Stone Figurative Sculpture

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