Downtime with Puji Sherer

Jason E. Kaplan

Unwinding with Puji Sherer, vice president of marketing, color and brand at Miller Paint

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What are you reading?
I just picked up The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M. With color-coded pages, it is a book about the history of 75 different shades, dyes and hues.

What are you watching?
I just finished watching Belfast, a movie about Northern Ireland in the 1960s. It is a moving film with compelling cinematography that starts in full color and transitions into black and white, creating a beautiful visual experience.

What are you listening to?
In 1999 at the age of 23, I made the move from Wisconsin to Portland. Pioneer Square’s summer concert series kickoff with Indigo Girls inspired me to re-listen to some of my favorite musicians from that time in my life.

What is your must-have gadget?
My go-to in the kitchen is a microplane. I love making salads, and my first job in Portland as a server at the now-defunct Cafe Lena at Southeast 23rd and Hawthorne introduced me to a simple yet delicious salad dressing recipe that requires the light touch of a microplane. It’s balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and one clove of finely shredded garlic. Delicious!

What are your hobbies/interests?
Top 3: ceramics, gardening and DIY projects (specifically projects involving paint)! My husband, Oliver, and I have tackled some pretty big home-improvement projects over the past few years, so I am excited about getting back in the studio to translate inspirations from our recent travels to clay.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
My grandfather was an oil painter. I remember watching him mix colors on his palette and apply the vivid hues to canvas one brushstroke at a time. Like him, I wanted to dedicate my life to color and creativity. I wanted to be an artist.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Amsterdam is always at the top of the list. Inspiration can be found around every cobblestone corner. From the botanical garden to the Van Gogh museum, beauty abounds. Plus, we got engaged on a little electric boat on a canal in Amsterdam, so this special city will always have my heart.

What is your biggest extravagance?
We built an ADU in the backyard of our home in St. Johns in 2018. This still feels like an extravagance, as we were very naive about how things don’t always go according to plan in home-improvement projects. While we had fun with the design process and optimizing 400 square feet of living space, we learned the hard way about how construction delays and unexpected issues can impact a budget.

What motivates you to come to work?
For me, color is transformative. Being able to share my love for color and help people tap into the joy that color brings is one of my greatest motivators.

Who is your professional role model?
Female entrepreneurs who are passionate about color. Three come to mind right now for me: Bridgid Blackburn, co-owner of Cargo in Portland’s Central Eastside; Kristin Van Buskirk, owner of Woonwinkel in downtown Portland; and Laura Guido-Clark, founder of Project Color Corps. They are all committed to the power of color, leading with love and making a positive impact on the world around us.

What ambitions do you still have?
My fascination with ceramics was sparked by a field trip to a backyard pottery studio when I was a child. I was mesmerized by the medium and what felt like a secret spot dedicated to creativity. My hope in the near future is to open my art studio in this same way by offering workshops for children to explore their own creativity and play with clay.

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