Heads Full of Lightning
A Look at Some Bright Ideas Lit by Sun Valley’s Young People
Photography: Mark Oliver
(page 6 of 6)
LaRece Egli, 30, will tell you she ties knots for a living. For the last 10 years, she's split her time between the Wood River Valley, where she reconstructs cashmere and marino wool sweaters into hats, gloves and scarves, and Naknek, her Alaskan hometown, where she ties together gillnets for the Sockeye Salmon fishing season.
Nanek, she says, can be reached only by plane or boat. What ends up there, she says, stays there, and is reused and reinvented for other purposes, a way of life that inspired and led, rather logically, to her opening her own business, LaRece Construction.
When she's not working, traveling around the Valley and the country for trunk shows or leading reconstruction workshops, she scours the thrift stores of Sun Valley in search of raw materials.
"It's easy to navigate here," she says of the Sun Valley-area. "It's liberal, it's rural and it's also the sweater mecca of the world."
And while there may be a lack of opportunity for young people like herself, she says, it doesn't affect her that greatly.
Referring to culture with a capital "C", she says, "I'm not here for the creative community, I can find that elsewhere. It's the actual community that keeps it cozy."
Sun Valley Bar
Despite the name, Sun Valley Bar is not a place to belly up and unwind, though with an office tucked just behind Grumpy's, they've had more than a few inquiries, according to Sarah Walker-McLaughlin.
The Sun Valley Bar is a line of nutrition bars developed "accidentally" in Walker-McLaughlin's kitchen in 2004. Walker-McLaughlin, 33, says she wanted something to nosh on during the day. All she knew was it had to be nutritious, taste good and give her energy for her active lifestyle.
Before long she was getting calls from people curious about what she was doing, asking if they, too, could order up a batch. Walker-McLaughlin spent that summer making what became the Sun Valley Bar before temporarily leaving the Valley to earn her Master's Degree in nutrition. But before she left, she met up with Ann Scales, who helped Walker-McLaughlin, in her ab-sence, turn her "accident" into a business.
Now, Sun Valley Bar supplies stores as close as California and as far away as South Carolina. The packaging is slicker, but the bars are the same vegan and wheat and dairy-free snacks designed to help people living active lifestyles avoid the spikes and crashes induced by sugar, or, worse, not eating at all.
"We owe a lot of the Sun Valley bar to the people of Sun Valley," says Walker-McLaughlin. "It was made for them, inspired by the lifestyle they choose to live."
He's a photographer. She's a trapeze artist. Together, Spencer Hansen, 29, and Shayne Maratea, 33, are also the brains behind Heathen, which designs men's and women's clothing, jewelry, hats, spats, belts, wallets, shoes and toys.
They split their time between the Bay-area, Bali, where their goods are made, and the Wood River Valley, where they spent their formative years.
Hansen says the Valley's been good to him. He sent himself to art school by working as a message therapist at Zenergy and by painting murals for clients in the Valley, and continues coming back to the area each year, camping out sometimes for weeks on end in the mountains. And Maratea often comes back to visit her parents who brought her to the Valley when she was just a toddler.
Locally, Heathen lines can be found at Urban Zen and Ketchum Dry Goods.
"Basically we make anything we think of that sounds interesting and fun," Maratea says. "We definitely like to climb and swing and run and jump, so we better be able to do it all in our clothes."
She says she thinks the clothing line will just be the springboard to other, equally vibrant things. In the Bay area and in Bali, they're not just designing clothes, but also helping their friends shoot photos and Internet videos. Maratea says people kept telling them to stick to one thing and do it right. "But," she says, "I think we are doing it all, and doing it right."
Chad Walsh’s thousand points of light now shine over Portland, Oregon. where he is using his ingenuity to penetrate a sagging employment market.