Our Favorite American-Made Companies to Support Now and Always
We're paying homage to mindful makers and handcrafted finds from local brands around the country.
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.
As a kid in San Francisco, Claudia Middendorf spent the city's famously chilly summers curled up on the couch in a giant afghan that had been crocheted by her grandmother. "It was the epitome of comfort," she recalls. After learning to sew at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied graphic design, Middendorf set out to re-create that feeling with quilts. She was drawn to linen for its natural breathability and durability, but also loved the way it dimpled unevenly as she stitched rows across it—and, in that wabi-sabi spirit, tossed one of her first pieces in the laundry. "It was an aha moment, seeing it waffle up in the dryer," she says. "The irregularity made it feel less precious." That puckering became a signature of the line she launched in 2017, as did her geometric patterns and touchstone colors—the amber of brick paths in her neighborhood, the navy of classic denim—which fade beautifully with age. The results are as warm as her early memories, but oh-so-cool, too.
Middendorf puts domestically sourced cotton batting between two layers of linen in every quilt. The combination creates "lovely loft and extra insulation," she says.
Shop Now: Mathilde "Cape Cod Navy" and "Blok II," in Blue, Brick, and Sand, from $450 each, mathildehome.com.
Styling by Lorna Aragon
At her Catholic grade school in Monterrey, Mexico, Mariana Barran Goodall learned to stitch by the time she could spell. Soon after, she started helping the seamstresses at her mother's dance studio embellish tutus with delicate medallions and beads. "I found joy in my ability to refresh something basic by hand," Goodall recalls. Working in human resources in Houston years later, she grabbed her needles again, embroidering blankets and powder-room towels as gifts for friends and colleagues. Their awestruck reactions—"You made this?"—inspired her to launch a line of "grown-up but more modern than your grandma's" textiles in 2015. Today, she teaches virtual classes, too. "I focus on greenery and florals, so there's no need for perfection," she says. "I tell my students if one leaf is longer than another, there’s plenty of wiggle room for it to still look pretty." Now that's a beautiful lesson.
Goodall designs new motifs every season—billowy hydrangeas, a twirl of ivy—but sticks to the same 13 colors for her crocheted, fringed, and hemstitched edges. "This way, people can grow a family of matching pieces over time," she says.
Shop Now: Hibiscus Linens Path of Flowers Cocktail Napkin, $28; Hibiscus Linens Anna Crochet-Edge Cocktail Napkins, $22 each; Cluster of Blooms Cocktail Napkin, $32; Hibiscus Linens Olive Crochet Cocktail Napkin, $22, hibiscuslinens.com.
Prop Styling by Suzie Myers; food styling by Greg Lofts and Riley Wofford.
For Mercedes Austin, owner and founder of Mercury Mosaics, tiles are pieces of a dynamic puzzle. The lifelong creative ("I drew floor plans as a little kid," she says) first took to the medium while watching her college roommate embellish a table with broken bits of ceramic. "It was a bold, colorful project, and very tactile. It inspired me to take note of an art form I'd never considered," says Austin, who studied painting and photography. In 2002, she launched her line from her attic, creating bubble and square shapes; since then, it's grown to include classic subways and unexpected designs like hexagons, slender diamonds, and Moroccan fish scales. Today, a team of 35 artisans hand-cuts her forms with wet saws, fires them, and brushes on glazes, each mixed to enhance one of three kinds of clay. This made-to-order process is perfect for custom jobs of any size ("We're as willing to outfit two square feet as to work with the big dreamers," Austin explains) and finding solutions for tricky corners and wonky outlets. "We just figure out a way to be friends with them," she says with a laugh.
Some of Austin's favorite configurations combine several colors. These beauties represent just a few of her 48 lead-free shades, which range from deep blue to sunny yellow.
Shop Now: Mercury Mosaics Small Hexagons, in Amber, $95 per sq. ft., mercurymosaics.com; Mercury Mosaics Small and Medium Moroccan Fish Scales, in Bluegrass, from $86 per sq. ft., mercurymosaics.com; Mercury Mosaics Medium Diamonds, in Blue Opal, $65 per sq. ft., mercurymosaics.com; Mercury Mosaics Subway, 2" by 6", in Grapefruit, $53 per sq. ft., mercurymosaics.com.
Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
In 2016, a hidden truth about Jack Daniel's whiskey bubbled to the surface: Nathan "Nearest" Green, an enslaved man, taught young Jack the liquor-making technique that would make him a legend. When bestselling author Fawn Weaver read the news, she was thirsty for more. She scoured historical records, dove into Daniel's biography, and spoke with Green's descendants, unearthing "a striking relationship of equality between the two," she says, "a story of love." To honor Green and create a spirit in his style, Weaver founded Uncle Nearest, and hired several of his family members, including great-great-granddaughter Victoria Eady Butler. She would become the company's master blender—the first African-American woman to hold the title at a major U.S. distillery. "Our whiskey goes into oak barrels at a lower proof, which means we can add much less water at the end," says Weaver, explaining its rich, hint-of-caramel flavor. A signature triple-filtration—through sugar-maple charcoal, then carbon from coconut shells and diatomaceous earth—also makes it "the smoothest whiskey in Tennessee." Critics agree: It won more awards than any other in the country last year. We'll drink to that!
To make the 1884 Small Batch Whiskey (shown), master blender Victoria Eady Butler personally sniffs, samples, and selects the whiskeys to mix from different barrels. The result: "It tastes like a baked oatmeal cookie, but with slightly spicy, savory undertones," she says. Our food editors enjoy it neat, or swirled into a whiskey sour.
Shop Now: Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, $49 for 750 ml, unclenearest.com.
Food Styling by Riley Wofford; prop styling by Naomi DeMañana.
Artist Ariela Kuh's mugs are just the thing to rouse a sleepy morning routine. A painting major in college, Kuh rarely dabbled in three dimensions—until a friend encouraged her to take a ceramics course at the Fleisher Art Memorial, in Philadelphia, where Kuh was teaching postgrad. It was love at first touch. "There was something so direct about the utility of what I was making that I found totally enchanting," says the Massachusetts native. But her years behind the easel were not lost on her work today: An eye for color gives her saturated line of dishware and hand-thrown vessels a unique appeal. "If you look closely at works by Canaletto or Giotto, you'll see dashes of brilliant red," says Kuh, describing the inspiration behind the glaze of her Cad mug (top row, middle). "It's amazing how a little bit of a bright, juicy shade can shift an entire scene."
When minerals in clay react with heat and a certain white glaze, they create a speckled effect (as seen on the Sparrow mug, near right). "I love that it's a natural pattern that is different every time," Kuh says.
Shop Now: Ank Ceramics Fever, Cad, Dune, Pink, and Sparrow Mugs, starting from $40 each, ankceramics.com.
Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart.
Gary Bodker Designs
The bowls, carafes, and bud vases Gary Bodker creates in his studio are as luminous and serene as rippling water. But when you consider the physically intense process that goes into making them—and it includes a giant electric furnace and a 2,300-degree metal forge—they're all the more astonishing. A New Jersey native, Bodker studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and found the spark for his simple, organic style on a trip to Japan. "I saw handmade glass objects, like chopstick rests and rice bowls, that were small, beautiful, and purposeful," he says. "In school, you're taught to be an artist; they discourage functional things. But when someone actually uses the item you've made, that's the biggest compliment."
To make his deep mauves, ochres, and bluey grays, Bodker places a small piece of colored glass on the end of his blowpipe, then gathers clear glass on top: "As I blow, the bubble of air thins the material, and the color spreads throughout."
Shop Now: Gary Bodker Designs Nesting Bowls, in Rose, from $80 each, garybodker.com; Gary Bodker Designs Tall Big Gem Vase, in Wheat, $48, garybodker.com; Gary Bodker Designs Square Big Gem Vase, in Charcoal, $48, garybodker.com.
The tables have turned: Cloth napkins, once reserved for special occasions, are now an eco everyday item at home. Better yet, the chic offerings from Atelier Saucier are sustainable from the start. Cofounders Staci Inspektor and Nikki Reed use high-quality surplus fabrics from fashion companies—denim, chambray, linen, and cotton—that would otherwise get thrown out. "We're not milling anything new," says Inspektor, who was previously a clothing designer. Every napkin, placemat, tea towel, and runner Atelier Saucier produces is carefully vetted. "Whenever we source a fabric, we do the 'lip' test to make sure it feels nice," says Inspektor.
Adds Reed, a restaurant consultant, "Our approach is Diana Vreeland meets Julia Child. The pieces are pretty and elevated, but if you spill wine on them, it's okay; just toss them in the wash!" Put them out for any meal, be it a weekday breakfast or weekend feast. Like your favorite shirt, they only get softer and better with age.
Shop Now: Atelier Saucier Cloth Napkins, in (from left) Candy Stripe, Tie-Dye Denim Linen, Blush Linen Orange, Rainbow Denim in Green, Rainbow Twill in Yellow, Rainbow Twill in Red, and Blush Linen Navy, $60 for a set of 4, ateliersaucier.la.
Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart
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.
Nikki + Mallory
Treasure Mallory's small-batch line of shoes, bags, and accessories—named after her nickname and surname—was the result of her search for a creative outlet, but she quickly realized that she already had one: She was altering her own clothes or recreating pieces she saw at the mall. Today, her business, which first launched in 2015, has reached women all of the world, including those on the red carpet. Her vegan leather satchels, beach-ready espadrilles, and home wares are modern and subtly bohemian, and the designs speak to her origins in Pasadena, California. Best of all, they honor the environment: A percentage of her pieces are composed of recycled or up-cycled materials and she's made a commitment to reducing the use of chemicals in her process.
Shop Now: Nikki + Mallory Walnut Tote, $385, nikkiandmallory.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
Nicole Crowder was working as a photo editor when she purchased her first set of chairs from a Maryland antique store, along with a few rolls of simple fabric, to attempt her first upholstery project. (This first go wasn't born in a vacuum: She was inspired by the work of Andrea Mihalik, an upholsterer working in Philadelphia.) As it turns out, she was a natural; within a week, an interior designer scooped up her chairs, which had been listed on Craigslist, and asked her if she had a showroom—she had clients that wanted to see more of her work.
A few years later, she launched her colorful, pattern-filled business from her living room in Washington, D.C., something several major players quickly noticed. She's filled the British Embassy, Audubon Naturalist Society, and the Pope-Leighey House, a suburban home in Virginia designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with her maximalist fabrics, which she sources from all over the world. Her pieces are filled with flair and feeling, and she attempts to imbue a mood into everything she creates. "I love making a piece look and feel like it's dressed," she says.
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.
If you're savvy in the interior design world, there's a good chance you've seen the work of Sheila Bridges. Her Harlem Toile de Jouy wallpaper is part of the permanent collection at The Cooper Hewitt museum; her creations has been featured in countless interior design magazines. Two years after launching her business in 1994—predicated on her interior design services—the New York City-based creative knew she had more to bring to the table. And so, her wallpaper and furniture business was born, right in Manhattan. Her wallcoverings in particular, are reflective of her locale, and speak to the stereotypes embedded into the African American experience. They are one of the pillars of her brands and have since been expanded into upholstery and additional home goods.
Shop Now: Sheila Bridges Design Harlem Toile Decals, $65, sheilabridges.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.
Ronni Nicole Robinson creates what she calls floral fossils—namely because she has always been intrigued by flowers, something that dates back to her childhood. The artist creates these botanical renderings using concrete and plaster, using a method that takes weeks from start to finish. Nothing about her creations are overly curated or composed: Flowers are whimsically pressed into clay, as a nod to the natural surroundings they were taken from.
Her work is also intensely timely: She can only work when there are flowers available, which is why the majority of her creative process happens during the summer, when blooms are at their peak. Purchasing her reliefs involves a wait (sign up for her waitlist here), which makes them that much more special—ultimately, they immortalize a moment in time.
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.
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.