American Made Since 2011

Courtney Wichtendahl

Mankato, Minnesota
My mission is to finesse functionality - to bring beauty and convenience together - pretty AND practical.

Tell us about your business.

My creative interests have always been broad and deep, but as I began inventing new practical applications for my ideas (custom-designed storage cabinets for my art supplies, for example), family and friends pushed me to start sharing my gifts with a broader audience. So in 2011, after making a few handpainted signs for my own rookie backyard garden, I stepped into the Etsy world and set up shop. I've met with unexpected success in the last couple of years, and have now begun travelling to craft fairs and other "live" venues to promote my business and products. Everything currently offered by C3Studios is garden-themed, but my vision is to expand even further. My particular passion is spacial organization. As I continue to hone my woodworking skills, I hope to eventually offer original and custom storage cabinets and accessories geared toward other hobbyists (storage for specific crafts, hobby supplies, etc). I would like to market some of my designs, in addition to handmade products.

What makes your business stand out?

It is small (just me!) and highly personalized. Most of the sales made in 2012 were individually made-to-order for clients from all over the globe. I work hard to maintain a steady inventory, but I never stop playing with new concepts and ideas. My focus is on providing service - meeting needs. Nothing I can make will ever be a miraculous, 'blanket' solution. New ideas are always necessary - in addition to new twists on old ideas! So I'm always on the lookout. Always pushing to see what can be done better. Always asking for feedback, looking for suggestions. It keeps my creative mind challenged; it gives my heart for people a tangible method of service - practical, meaningful products delivered with a personal touch.

What's the best business advice you've received?

Just START. (See Jon Acuff's book NYT Bestselling book "Start" for more great advice like this. That was an unpaid plug, by the way...) One of my greatest weaknesses is over-thinking EVERYTHING. I critique and 'what-if' myself into countless corners. While self-editing is a valuable tool, it can be crippling in a business setting where the purpose is to GET THINGS DONE! Don't let fear paralyze you. Don't let mistakes define you. Don't let your emotions cause you to stop moving forward. Not all motion is progress--but certainly progress does require some motion; so don't just stand there! Move forward. START.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 9, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    Vote now
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

    Buy tickets now

More Finalists

  • Vote For Me

    No Evil Foods

    Sadrah Schadel
    Locally handcrafted plant meats with in your face flavor & textures that make mouths happy! A modern take on seitan from the vegan butchers!
    Food, Agriculture & Sustainability
  • Vote For Me


    Susie Parish & Veronica Janssens
    We craft delicious ice cream using only real ingredients and no strange additives, while sourcing locally and Fair Trade where possible.
    Food, Sweets & Baked Goods
  • Vote For Me

    Midwinter Co.

    Caelen & Samantha Bird
    Modern gemstone jewelry made with fair trade materials in an eco-friendly east coast based studio. Minimalism + fresh perspective = Midwinter Co.
    Style, Jewelry
  • Vote For Me

    Simple & Crisp

    Jane Yuan
    Simple & Crisp is a small batch maker of elegant, beautiful and tasty dried fruit slices that are the perfect pairing for any culinary craving.
    Food, Dry Goods