Our Favorite American-Made Companies to Support Right Now
Every maker has a story. Whether you use an age-old method of indigo-dyeing that you hope to preserve and pass on or are trying a new way to brew all of the benefits that nature has to offer with a single pot of floral tea, the motivations behind what we make are endless. That's why we at Martha Stewart Living are dedicated to spotlighting and honoring various makers and their inspirations, in hopes that they may ignite the next generation of local creators and ever-passionate doers.
Paying homage to, and continually supporting, homegrown talent is at the core of our work. Looking to shop with companies that make their goods close to home? This list of our favorite American-made retailers and their top products will help. And if you're someone who hopes to turn your dreams of creating into a full-time reality, we're here to inspire you with their stories.
Sure, it may not always be easy to get started. Take maker Windy Chien, for instance. She left a high-profile job in the tech world to pursue more creative endeavors working with macramé, sacrificing her steady paycheck (and the approval of her mother) for something she believed in. For the Los Angeles-based duo behind eco-furniture brand, Kalon Studios, creating something new meant pushing their design limits to create something that was ethical and sustainable while still being beautiful. Both stories—along with the others you'll read—are a reminder that while it may not always be a breeze to create, the effort you'll put in is most certainly worth it.
Row 7 Seeds
The tale of a crisp cucumber or crazy-juicy tomato begins long before it sprouts from the soil. "Typically, vegetables are bred to be sideshows," says Tarrytown, New York-based Row 7 cofounder and visionary chef Dan Barber, of Blue Hill at Stone Barns fame. "The focus is on shelf life and uniformity. But if we want them to take center stage, they have to be bred for deliciousness." With that in mind, he partnered with vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek and seed producer Matthew Goldfarb to create organic, non-GMO varieties, and gathered a network of farmers and chefs to grow them, cook them, and report back. Today, Row 7's catalog offers 11 cultivars, from honeyed, velvety Robin's Koginut squashes to Badger Flame beets so sweet and pure in taste, you'll want to crunch into them raw. And as the company's name suggests, these gems are just a start: The periodic table's seventh row was originally left blank for elements yet to be discovered.
Want to plant the company's seeds, but don't have a garden? No problem: Row 7's Beauregarde snow peas and Badger Flame beets thrive in containers. Plant them in three- to-five-gallon pots, using a trellis for the peas and a soil depth of at least 10 inches for the beets.
Shop Now: Row 7 Seed Packets, from $3.50 each, row7seeds.com.
New Leaf Tree Syrups
Pure maple syrup may be the gold standard for pancakes, but this company will inspire you to branch out. Its cofounder, Michael Farrell, a former director of Cornell University's Uihlein forest-research program, uses reverse osmosis and high-pressure steam evaporation to create elixirs from trees that have been long passed over because of their relatively low sugar content. The sweet outcome: He's bottled the natural fruitiness of birch; the piney, floral qualities of balsam fir; the butteriness of beech; and the pear notes of walnut. Indulging with a drizzle at breakfast is only the beginning. "The maple-walnut is great over vanilla ice cream," Farrell says. "And birch sourced late in the season has a sour kick, zesting up savory sauces and glazes." All the more reason to go out on a limb.
New Leaf's maple-birch blend is the happy result of great timing: There's about one week in April when both saps are flowing, Farrell says. Combining them yields a lighter take on the classic, with subtle notes of raspberry.
Shop Now: New Leaf Tree Syrups Maple-Birch Blend, $18 for 12.7 oz., newleaftreesyrups.com.
MG by Hand
Ceramist Melissa Goldstein's love for beautiful, age-worn objects is matched only by her passion for the creative process. The artist pored over 17th-century botanical illustrations for inspiration, and now works in small batches to make her one-of-a-kind tableware, which includes plates, bowls, and vases. After shaping a single piece, she fires it, paints a design in cobalt, glazes it, and then fires it again in a gas kiln to draw out the clay's metallic pigments. You never know where they'll emerge, but that's part of the beauty: "It's the one moment where I cede control," she says with a laugh. By day, Goldstein works in photo research for fashion brands and magazines. But nights and weekends, she's behind the wheel, blissfully losing track of time.
"There are so many ways to depict a flower," says Goldstein, who has clocked countless hours studying drawings of the natural world at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. In her work, you'll find daisies, tiger lilies, and fritillaria, plus birds and numerals that nod to scientific notations.
Show Now: (from top) MG by Hand Number Dinner Plates, Flower Salad Plates, and Bird Dessert Plates, starting from $90 each, mgbyhand.com.
Greentree Home Candle
When these two married artists collaborate, creative sparks fly. Trained as a painter, Jenifer Green had an epiphany in 2000 after seeing her woodworker husband, Don, craft a set of maple and cherry candleholders for his home line. "We can't put just any tapers in them," she thought, and set out to make her own from a material as beautiful and natural as hardwood. She found it in beeswax, "a renewable resource with a slow, clean burn." Today, the Catskills-based couple work in tandem: Jenifer sources striking objects—bamboo from her sister's Hawaiian town, her mom's apothecary bottles—and Don casts them in silicone molds. She hand-fills them with the wax, and together they help set the world aglow. Greentree Home Candles come in 20 colors, and their wicks are pure cotton.
Shop Now: (from left) Green Tree Home "Twig" Taper in Black, $28 for 2; "Josee" Squat Pillar in Terra Cotta, $32; Twig Taper in Sage, $28 for 2; "Josee" Medium Pillar in Antique, $32; and "Josee" Tall Pillar in Natural, $30, greentreehomecandle.com.
Little Apple Treats
Plant farmers Joanne Krueger and Dan Lehrer certainly know how to make the most of something—especially when it comes to apples. The husband-and-wife duo bought land in 1999 with the simple goal of expanding their nursery business, but the 22-acre orchard they found on the plot became their calling. Its fruit famously flavored Apple Jacks cereal in the '70s, so they decided to tap into its full potential. First they turned the property organic (a rigorous three-year process). Then they began fermenting cider vinegars in oak barrels from a nearby winery, and quickly garnered a fan base at the farmers' market. "Then I thought, What else can I do with apples?" Krueger says. Her answer: buttery caramels, chewy granolas, and bracingly tart and delicious shrubs.
Shop Now: Little Apple Treats Original Apple-Cider Vinegar, $20 for 12.7 oz.; Ginger-and-Hibiscus Shrub, $25 for 12.7 oz.; and Meyer-Lemon-and-Green-Coriander Shrub, $25 for 12.7 oz., littleappletreats.com
Sarah Kersten Studio
If ceramics projects had levels of difficulty, Chinese water-lock fermentation jars would be off the charts. To seal in vegetables until they reach their pickle-y peak, the crocks require seamless construction and airtight closure. Lucky for us, Sarah Kersten is a whiz. A firm believer in probiotics (and self-described sauerkraut enthusiast), the potter has spent years refining a liquid-clay recipe, a mold for slip-casting, and a foolproof technique. Along the way, she's perfected their looks too. Fermenting takes weeks, she explains: "They had to be pretty enough to leave out while working their magic."
Shop Now: Sarah Kersten Vegetable Fermentation Jars, from $175, sarahkersten.com
Two Tree Studios
Allison Samuels is more than an artist. She's an excavator of inner beauty, sawing, carving, and sanding rough timber from local fallen and downed trees to create amazingly graceful vases. "Unlike metal, wood has life of its own," she says. "I try to highlight its warmth and history in everything I make. Samuels embraces knots and kinks, playing up what's seen as imperfect in traditional woodworking, and hones organic curves that give each one-of-a-kind vessel the elegant balance of yogi in tree pose: serene yet energized. Fill one of her pieces with flowers, and nature comes full circle—from decades-old lumber to budding life. Samuels's vases come with steel flower frogs (and glass vials, in taller styles) for easy floral arranging. She also creates serving boards and custom furniture, all using rescued trunks and Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber.
Shop Now: Two Tree Studios Vases, from $120 each, twotreestudios.com.
Bee Local Honey
"We make each jar from a single origin to preserve its sense of place," says Bee Local Honey owner Ben Jacobsen, who sources from 125 different hives across the Pacific Northwest. That's why a batch from eastern Oregon, where bees forage on buckwheat, tastes robust and smoky and pours as leisurely as molasses; whereas one from the Willamette Valley, home to a riot of wildflowers and rain-ripened berries, has a lighter color and floral and fruity notes. Unlike many commercial honeys, Bee Local's honeys aren't pasteurized or ultra-filtered.
Shop Now: Bee Local Honey Assorted Honeys, from $11, jacobsensalt.com.
Gorgeous, high-quality, and sustainably made lingerie is always a worthwhile luxury in our book. Botanica Workshop's Misa Miyagawa, the former ready-to-wear designer who launched this Los Angeles-based line of sweet nothings in 2012, was searching, fruitlessly, for stylish options made from eco-friendly fabric, and ended up taking matters into her own hands. "I use silk and domestically milled organic cotton with a pared-down aesthetic made to fit in any wardrobe," Miyagawa says of her artfully cut underwear, bralettes, and loungewear, all manufactured locally. Pick your size, and slip into something far more comfortable.
After dabbling in ceramics, leather crafting, and shoemaking, San Francisco-based Isobel Schofield happily found her true calling with clogs. Each pair of Bryrs is made to order by one of eight talented women in Schofield's studio. And with 25 flattering styles and a painterly palette of supple leathers available, consider yourself warned: It'll be hard to pick just one pair.
Calico Wallpaper and Studio Cope
First, we fell for Calico Wallpaper's made-to-order wallpaper. Now, Nick and Rachel Cope, the brand's husband-and-wife duo, have launched a new collection of seriously lust-worthy, ready-made wallpapers, fabrics, and pillows under the name Studio Cope. The results—featuring painterly designs, watercolor brushstrokes, Japanese suminagashi marbling, and ombré techniques—gorgeously blur the line between classic and modern.
Amana Woolen Mill
Buttery-soft and startlingly sturdy, Amana Woolen Mill's snuggle-worthy (and machine-washable!) blankets are woven with care from American-grown cotton and wool. First crafted in the Iowa River Valley nearly 160 years ago by German immigrants, today, the blankets are made by a group of local artisans working with descendants to carry on the handmade tradition.
When it comes to the work of California-based woodcrafter Silvia Song, less is more. Trained as an architect, the Brazil-born maker eventually left the field to pursue the art of carving. Today, her timeless wooden pieces, which may have a minimal design, promise to leave a maximum (velvety-smooth) impact in any space.
Sourcing all the materials for her work locally and sustainably, New Hampshire-based basket maker Alice Ogden weaves every creation with the utmost care. Embracing form and function in every piece, the self-taught artisan also tops off every basket with her signature hand-carved handles.
Ayako & Family
For these Washington-based jam-makers, canning the essence of summer is a family affair. For the past decade, Tokyo transplant Ayako Gordon has teamed up with organic farmer Katsumi Taki to turn Taki's second-choice fruits into a delectable spread. Today, Gordon's daughter helps run their business, Ayako & Family, continuing the trio's "made with love" philosophy.
Shop Now: Ayako & Family Farm Exclusive Jams, $14, ayakoandfamily.com.
The Shelter Collection
Inspired by dreamy muses, from colors of the southwestern sky to artist Georgia O'Keeffe, ceramacist Erin Reitz's company The Shelter Collection is where elegance meets modern design. First launching her work as a fashion designer, today the North Carolinian handcrafts gorgeous glassblown and locally harvested clay creations to create one-of-a-kind pieces worth passing down.
Black Swan Handmade
Stirring, scooping, and serving become infinitely more beautiful when you have one of Park Swan's creations in hand. The Virginia sculptor uses traditional metal and woodworking techniques to forge, sand, and polish every piece available at Black Swan Handmade. Committed to sourcing all his materials from the United States, it's his passionate attention to detail—subtle curves, textured finishes, signature rivets—that truly sets his work apart.
Having left a big job at Apple to run full-speed into the world of macramé, this San Francisco woman redefines what it means to chase your dreams. (And we're so glad she did!). With eye-popping structures, like extension cords woven to imitate double helixes, Windy Chien continues to push the boundaries of knotting, and knowing, one's craft.
Reviving time-tested farming methods, Chinami and Rowland Ricketts are on a mission to recapture the art of indigo-dying with their company Rickettes Indigo. The Indiana-based couple not only focuses on crafting beautiful and distinctively heirloom-worthy textiles, but they also pride themselves on incorporating historical and environmentally sustainable methods.
Leaves & Flowers
If there's one thing that Ann Morton and Emily Erb know, it's a cup of really, really good tea. That's why the two friends teamed up on Leaves & Flowers, where they concoct heady herbal brews, sourced from sustainable farms across California, Oregon, Vermont, and North Carolina. Each brew, from cult favorite Ajna to the bright and refreshing Flower Sun Tea, are highly aromatic and visually vibrant, and guaranteed to transport you from the very first sip.
Believing that high-quality furniture need not compromise a beautiful design or sustainable practice, Los Angeles-based Michaele Simmering and Johann Pauwen of Kalon Studios are passionate about building ethical pieces made to last. Their family-friendly line only uses biodegradable, nontoxic, and food-safe materials so you—and Mother Nature—can live in harmony.
As the only single-estate rum producers in the country, Karin and Erik Vonk not only do all harvesting and distilling on their property, but they start each batch with only the purest organic Georgia sugarcane instead of molasses, an inexpensive and less flavorful alternative. Plus, each Richland Rum mixture is aged for up to six years in barrels made of Wisconsin white oak, resulting in a spirit that transcends tiki drinks and cola pairings.
In a converted garage surrounded by 30 acres of lush New Hampshire forest, Peter Sandback spends his days transforming basic materials—wood, nails, glue—into works of intricate beauty. Sandback finds inspiration all over: Japanese katagami stencils, indigo prints, old textiles, even the infomercial fad the BeDazzler. While the tables are elaborately embellished, he still keeps his methods and materials basic. "There's no mystery in how I construct the tables," he says. After he erects a piece by hand, he lays down a pattern, pre-drills holes, then glues in aluminum, brass, or black resin nails. Once they're dry, he cuts them flush to the surface and sands everything down to a smooth, satiny finish.
Working out of her charming New Orleans studio, Jane Scott Hodges of Leontine Linens isn't just making personalized heirloom linens with a contemporary twist: She's telling a story. "We wake up every day in a bed, dry off with a towel after a shower, use napkins and tablecloths at meals," she says. "Linens are some of our most intimate objects; they should be special."
When glass-and-ceramics artist Simon Pearce moved his business from Ireland to the United States in 1981, he fell in love with a 25,000-square-foot vacant mill on the Ottauquechee River, in Vermont. It wasn't just the picturesque location that lured him but also its potential for hydropower. "I set up shop and quickly added a turbine to produce electricity," says Pearce. "It made us self-sufficient and a little kinder to the planet." The turbine powers the company's flagship store–restaurant in Quechee—as well as, most important, its glassblowing furnaces. "Glass furnaces are usually powered by gas, but we use electricity," he says. "It allows us to produce a very high-quality glass that has the same refractory index as crystal but without the lead." Yet unlike special-occasion crystal, a Simon Pearce glass piece is made to be enjoyed every day.
Shop Now: Simon Pearce Woodstock Pendant, $1,775, and Nantucket Bowls, from $75 each, simonpearce.com.
General Pencil Company
Even in the digital age, pencils are everywhere—in the classroom, in the art studio, and throughout the home. The longest continuously operated pencil company in the United States, and also one of the last, General Pencil Company has played an indispensable role in keeping it that way. Founded in 1889 by Edward Weissenborn and his son, the company still churns out boxes and boxes of pencils at its Jersey City, New Jersey, factory every day.
The manufacturing process is the same as it was more than a century ago. "We barrel-mix our graphite and drawing formulas," says Katie Weissenborn Vanoncini, president and great-great-granddaughter of the founder. And despite pressure to move operations out of the U.S. to reduce costs, General Pencil isn’t budging. "We are staying here,” she says. "We don't want to exist otherwise."
There's much to admire about General Pencil’s elegant pencils and charcoal art supplies, but its commitment to the environment is especially laudable. The company uses western-cedar wood from California and Oregon; it's "sustainable and strong, sharpens smoothly, and smells really good," says Weissenborn Vanoncini. And in addition to using packaging made from recycled and recyclable material, General Pencil sends its sawdust waste to Duraflame, where it's turned into fire logs for homes.
Shop Now: General Pencil Company Cedar Pointe Graphite Pencils, $24 for 3 dozen, generalpencil.com.