Thursday, November 14, 2013

Slow down, be present, connect to nature: That's Woosah

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Rapid Growth Media
November 14, 2013

Brooke, left, and Erica, right, at Harmony Brewing Co. 

What's Woosah? It's the sound of a meditative breath, time spent in nature, and a local artist duo's creative art and clothing line that's selling all over the country. Zinta Aistars gets the women behind Woosah Outfitters to take a load off their hiking boots and sit down for a chat at Harmony Brewing, where their artwork is on display.

Inhale. Exhale. Be present. And there, you have just reached a place of Woosah.

Wander into the world of Woosah Outfitters, the world of Erica Lang, 22, and Brooke Ruble, 25. Lang and Ruble are seniors at Kendall College of Art and Design, but the couple has not put off their career dreams until graduation. Their nature-based clothing line and artwork is available online and at Harmony Brewing Company at 1551 Lake Drive SE in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the two have painted a large mural on the outside of the building, but have many of their paintings and woodcuts on exhibit inside, with a woodcut as part of the restaurant’s menu.

Woosah art and clothing also appears in pop-up shops (popping up for a day or two before they move again) wherever you can find them throughout greater Grand Rapids, and the demand for their clothing especially has taken off like gangbusters since the two hung out the “open for business” sign in January 2013.

“We became an LLC the December before,” Lang notes with pride the moment of filing limited liability papers, the stamp of being serious about doing business.

Lang is majoring in printmaking and drawing, and Ruble’s major is in industrial design. The two met in class at Kendall. With both being full-time students, both working other jobs, whether their art or elsewhere, time management has always been a challenge.

“So we began to collaborate on art as a way of relaxing,” says Lang. “I’d do something, then pass it along to Brooke, and then she’d pass it back.”

“Our styles differ a bit,” says Ruble. “But we both have the same end in mind.”

Woosah Outfitters offers short- and long-sleeved T-shirts, tank tops, hats with their designs screen-printed on the fabric. A winter line is planned with more long-sleeved tops and sweats. A line of shirts and hats are Michigan-based, too, created around the theme of the Michigan “mitten.” Patches and stickers are available with the Woosah logo: a sloped and craggy mountain with five tall pines on its left slope. Along with clothing, Lang and Ruble co-create artwork, paintings and etchings and woodcuts.

In large part, the connection the two young artists found was their love of nature.

“Woosah is the pronunciation of meditative breaths to reduce anxiety, anger or frustration,” says Lang. “Both of us go to nature when we need to relax. We use the word Woosah as a verb. You know, let’s Woosah!”

Ruble laughs and nods. They are both wearing hiking boots, as if in constant readiness to take off for the woods. Both have family members who own cabins in northern Michigan, so the women travel north, when opportunity allows, to “Woosah.”

“That’s how people got interested in what we are doing,” says Ruble. “We’d post something on our Facebook page like ‘making art tonight!’ and people would ask questions. We would ..."


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