Shout-out to Erika Kelly of Portland Apron Company, who introduced us to Adriana Moreno, a textile designer, natural dyer, and the creative force behind Moonshadow Goods! As soon as we saw her beautiful work and the gorgeous photography that highlights her process, we knew we wanted to feature her. Thank you, Erika!
Name: Adriana Moreno
Where did you grow up?: I was born in Mexico, grew up in California.
Where do you live now?: Portland, Oregon.
Tell us about your career path: I’m an apparel designer by trade. After graduating with an AA in fashion design from a trade college in Long Beach, California, I started my design career in the action sports industry. I wasn’t designing right out the gate, I worked my way up to it. Along the way I learned a lot about the manufacturing process, costing, margins, garment constructions, materials, patterns, the nitty gritty about producing a piece of clothing. After living and working in Southern California for several years, my partner (who was born and raised in Oregon) and I decided it was time for a change of scenery. We moved to Oregon the summer of 2010, and while I do miss living by the beach and all the sunny days, we haven’t looked back. Two weeks after moving to Oregon, I started working at Nike as an apparel designer. After a while, I wanted to get back to the basics of working with my hands and cloth so I invested in a sewing machine. Sewing definitely keeps me from going crazy during the long winter months. In 2015, I was completely and totally burnt out in my 9-5, so I quit my job and took a much needed break. Now, I work freelance and focus on Moonshadow.
What other passions do you have?: I have a huge respect for nature. I enjoy the outdoors and try to tread lightly on the earth. I’m passionate about sustainability, I try to be mindful about what I consume, and I focus on making less waste not only in my work, but also in my everyday life. I believe small changes can make a big difference, like how we got a compost this year and have cut down on our overall waste. I’m also passionate about travel, experiencing different cultures, locally or globally and learning new things, new skills. If you’re not learning, then you’re not growing.
What is a “normal” day like for you, if such a thing exists?: My favorite days are Fridays. No alarm, I wake up slow, take an extra moment to snuggle with cats. Walk with my man to get coffee (with my reusable coffee mug) at the neighborhood coffee shop. We walk back, we chat, we laugh, we check out the neighborhood. Every Friday morning, I have a date with my eldest niece to play tennis, so I get quality time with her and exercise to boot. Later, I usually loose track of time and get wrapped up in whatever it is that I’m doing, whether it’s a dyeing project or sewing project or my nose in a book, or cooking a meal. All those simple beautiful moments.
Favorite thing about the PNW?: The variety of landscapes and ecosystems we get to enjoy.
Favorite season in the PNW?: Spring.
How do you take your coffee (or other preferred caffeinated/morning beverage)?: With a bit of cream, no sugar. When camping, I’ll take it black.
When you’re out, how do you protect yourself from the rain?: Well, it depends. If I’m running or hiking, a waterproof jacket and beanie will work. I make do with lots of layers in fall and winter, and I keep an umbrella in my car or tote.
Tell us about your experience launching Moonshadow Goods: My intention wasn’t to start a small business, so Moonshadow came about very organically. I was making the work for myself, as a creative outlet, I suppose. Then I started sharing my work, not because I wanted validation or praise but because I wanted to connect with my fellow maker community. Slowly, folks started asking where to purchase my goods, requesting custom quilts, and asking me to teach them about natural dyes.
How did your first workshop feel, compared to how workshops feels now?: It was a Shibori workshop and it also happened very organically. I wasn’t even thinking about workshops until I was asked to put one on. After that first one, it was all word of mouth. I was blown away, still am. Full disclosure, I am no expert, I am a student always…but I do love sharing what I know about natural dyes. I love seeing someone’s reaction when they realize that they too can make something beautiful and unique with only natural materials. I get excited every time!
What are your favorite materials? Are there any elements of nature that you’d love to dye with that you haven’t yet had a chance to work with?: I love working with hemp and linen. The first American flag was made out of hemp! It is a work horse of a fabric and it has a lot benefits. Plus, hemp requires much less water to grow and no pesticides, so it’s much more environmentally friendly then traditional crops, like cotton. I also use a lot of vintage denim in my quilts. I designed denim for a number of years and it’s a material I keep going back to. I ain’t talking about stretch denim either, I like my denim in rigid form. As far as dyes, lately I’ve been thinking about a natural black. I’ll be experimenting with making one this season.
How has the PNW and the culture here influenced you, your creativity and your business?: My work is rooted in Oregon, and I hope it shows through. I draw inspiration from the environment around me, the landscape, the natural world. The maker community is open and welcoming here too, and I’ve made so many amazing connections with some incredibly talented folks.
And, vice versa, how does your business affect your life in the PNW?: Same as above, it has opened me up to connections with some rad people, and to new experiences. It has also taken me out of my comfort zone, which I believe is a good thing. It’s also given me an opportunity to collaborate with other passionate artists and makers who believe in sustainability and who care deeply for the health of our planet.
What do you love talking about at parties?: Anything other than work talk!
What are people surprised to learn about you?: That Spanish is my first language, English second. Also, people always seem surprised to learn I’m 42 (they are just being kind). I believe in owning one’s age.
Has any specific woman or women in your life made a significant impact on you?: My mother has. She is the strongest, kindest, most giving, none complaining, hardworking human I know. She came to this country, to this strange new place, away from her family. She didn’t know the language, was poorer than poor, with a grade school education. She risked her own life, to ensure that we, her daughters, had a better one. How do you even begin to repay that kind of love and sacrifice? I am forever grateful to her and I remind myself of her struggles when I start feeling sorry for myself. Hopefully, I’ll grow up to be half the person she is.
What advice would you give yourself about falling in love and starting a family?: Don’t let society put you in a box or dictate the rules on how you should be living your life. Marriage and kids are not for everyone.
Any big “wish list” or “bucket list” items that you’re focused on/looking forward to accomplishing?: I’ve always wanted to run in all 50 states, 50 before 50. I better get on it!
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?: “You inspire me.” That’s pretty cool to hear!