Milkhaus Design

American Made Since 2011

Bethany Nelson

Madison, Wisconsin
Modern screen printed and hand dyed goods for you and your home. Made by hand in the Midwest.

Tell us about your business.

I always knew I wanted to own my own business and be responsible for my own success but never knew exactly what type of business to pursue other than it being design related. After learning to sew and to screen print it all came together in the Summer of 2011. Part of this was having a friend who started selling and she motivated me to just start making and selling. This worked for me because I could see how customers responded to the products I made and use that knowledge to create a collection that was marketable. For me, making products that are stylish but practical is important. I’m not into trends and I believe in making high quality products that people will use forever. I also knew that there was a market for women who wanted a stylish, handmade bag (rather than a mass-produced bag bought from a department store) to use for work, weekends, etc. With this in mind I have continued to come up with prints

What makes your business stand out?

Each item in the Milkhaus Design collection is a labor of love and an exercise in efficiency. As an independent business owner I am purposeful in my use of materials and aware of the entire process for creating so I do not waste time or money. My customers see how much I value the process, the materials, and the finished product and they feel the same. In addition, I am very focused on designs that will outlive any trends that are currently happening. I want my pieces, whether it is a bag or a home accessory, to complement my customer.

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

I think the best thing I’ve ever heard is that everything has already been done. Don’t stress about trying to fix a design that isn’t broken. For the type of products I make this is true. I stick with very classic designs because those are what have worked for a long time and it fits the mission of my business. What I do is put my mark on them. I may alter the proportions or add small details that make it my own. Using materials that I love and that I know my customers love is what matters. And, what makes my products stand out from the others is my own design and the fact that I have a hand in every aspect of the product from conception to completion.

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.

    See the finalists
  • 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

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