For the Community category of our 2014 Honorable Mentions List, we chose six small businesses with truly admirable ambitions: to transform a neighborhood, reinvent an industry, or simply inspire people to join their cause.
Jewelry maker Amy Peterson employs disadvantaged women in Detroit’s shelters, empowering them to gain confidence and live independently. The colorful patterns on each piece of Rebel Nell’s handmade silver necklaces, earrings, rings, and cuff links are actually found pieces of the city’s graffiti.
Entrepreneur Phillip Cooley’s vision: create an incubator for Detroit makers to help them pool resources, experience, and industry connections, then share their knowledge with the community through free classes. At Ponyride, a 30,000-square-foot warehouse, rent is subsidized, which has given more than 25 small businesses, including Detroit Denim and Anthology Coffee, the opportunity to set up shop for just 25 cents a square foot.
Karen Kimmel and Stacy Bernstein
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday commitments. At Crafting Community’s events, Karen Kimmel and Stacy Bernstein inspire Los Angeles-based families to take the time to unleash their creativity together. They partner with inspiring designers and artists to create fun, immersive learning experiences, such as leatherworking and printmaking workshops.
Ron Finley would sometimes have to drive 45 minutes away from his home in southern Los Angeles to find fresh produce. Enough was enough, so Finley turned a roadside strip of dirt into a green oasis bursting with fruits and vegetables. His urban garden is teaching his fellow city-dwellers the importance of community gardening and nutritious foods.
San Geronimo, California
Regional co-op Fibershed Marketplace aims to help fiber growers connect with makers in Northern California to nurture a sustainable and profitable textile culture in the area. Everything in the shop is hyperlocal: their farmers, artisans, and millers are all located within 150 miles of San Francisco.
Since opening its doors in 2001, women’s clothing label Alabama Chanin has employed more than 500 local seamstresses, giving these women -- often primary caregivers at home -- the opportunity to set their own hours. Along with their sewn-to-order organic cotton jersey garments (each product is signed by the person who handcrafted it), the company also sells a machine-made line and holds DIY workshops.