It’s no secret that I’m a fan of locally-made businesses: our series on unique local makers across America helped us discover a ton of new favorite brands last year. Now that you’re all caught up, why not take another trip and see some different small businesses worth checking out? We’ve already checked out the South, so let’s head north to celebrate the best handmade, eco-friendly and small batch goods that the Northeast has to offer.
Connecticut: JAW Woodshop
A custom furniture workshop out of Newtown, Connecticut. Johnny Williams began his furniture design business in a way that most people only dream of: one day he quit his stuffy office job and began taking woodworking classes. And thus, JAW Woodshop was born! It’s a one-man operation crafting a beautiful range of custom pieces; everything from sleek modern desks to live-edge wood tables that respect the original materials. If you’ve been searching for a stand-out piece for your home, Johnny’s your man.
Maine: Split Rock Distilling
Maine’s first organic craft distillery. You can’t rush a good thing, and no one demonstrates that better than Split Rock Distilling. After building their own distillery by hand, Matt Page and Topher Mallory sought out only organic and locally sourced ingredients that would be the unshakeable foundation of their spirits. While it’s an awesome initiative to only use materials that are recyclable or reclaimed, it’s made even better by the fact that the spirits produced are so delicious sounding! From White Whiskey to Blueberry Vodka, get your next party started with some Split Rock!
Massachusetts: Benjamin Bott
Handcrafted leather goods made in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Fast fashion may mean that you can get a ton of stuff for cheap, but wouldn’t you rather invest in something for life? Benjamin Bott‘s handmade leather goods are meant to last, as the material only develops in character as it ages. The wallets, key chains and passport sleeves come in a variety of colors, and you even have the option to go bold with colorful hand-stitching. So no more cheap solutions: find the perfect locally-made fit for your style and enjoy it for life.
New Hampshire: Elly Guitar Co.
Bespoke guitars carefully handcrafted in New Hampshire. If you’re a passionate musician looking to really celebrate the craft, get your next guitar from Elly Guitar Co. Whereas “normal” guitars are mass-produced on an assembly line, Elly Guitar Co.’s talented team of artisans handrcraft the instrument down to the last detail. Everything is customizable, even going so far as to offer guides on how different woods can affect the sound produced. Music to our ears.
New Jersey: Just Jersey
A retailer stocking wonderful products made in New Jersey. What began as a school fundraising effort in 2012 is now a great resource for the best of the Garden State! Just Jersey is a Morristown storefront and website dedicated to celebrating everything locally-made or New Jersey themed. Handmade soaps, homegoods, jewelry and even compound gift boxes are all up for grabs. So rather than dig around for the best talent in the state, why not make one stop at a place that’s so well-curated?
New York: Apoterra Skincare
Natural and sustainable skincare handmade in New York City. As someone who has yet to find a skincare routine worth sticking to, I can confidently say that Apoterra Skincare is a refreshing break from the sometimes harsh (or ineffective) beauty regimens that stock our shelves. Everything from the ingredients to the packaging are eco-friendly and sustainably-sourced, and the team tries to shop locally whenever possible. They even list batch-specific ingredient information, sometimes providing the exact location of origin. And all of this natural goodness comes paired with the fact that their products are effective, healing, and an essential part of a good beauty routine.
Pennsylvania: Zimmerman Shoes
A family-run, handcrafted shoe business over 50 years in the making. In a time when so many businesses are shipping production overseas, Zimmerman Shoes is utilizing local talent to make something proudly American. Sisters Amelia and Audrey are continuing what their great-grandfather started in 1962: a children’s shoe factory that produces beautiful modern designs with a consistently old-school, handcrafted approach. I was immediately drawn in by photos of the skilled workers making the shoes; everything from cutting the material to final boxing is done on site, and every pair looks meticulously well-made. Just another example of how kids get all the good stuff!
Rhode Island: J Schatz
Colorful ceramics designed and handmade in Providence, Rhode Island. Jim Schatz and Peter Souza are the creative minds (and makers) behind J Schatz, a ceramics studio that specializes in clean, modern design. Aside from tableware and vases, the company also makes some stunning lighting and inventive art pieces: I’d never thought to consider porcelain as a good material for curtains, but consider my mind permanently changed. As a fan of design that leans toward minimalist and clearly well-made, this company stuck out from the beginning.
Vermont: Red House
Lifestyle essentials lovingly handmade in Vermont. Like Johnny Williams’ wakeup call, Matt and Britt Witt one day decided to transition their lives into one of purposeful production. The duo behind Red House developed the skills necessary to produce lifestyle essentials: everything from satchels and aprons to linen napkins and flower bags. The designs are modern and crisp, all handmade, and some of the hardware are repurposed antique pieces. And since they come in beautiful neutral tones, you can easily work any piece into your existing decor (while supporting a great small business).
Washington DC: Little Wild Things City Farm
An organic urban farm in Washington, DC. A big issue with urban farming is dealing with space limitations, which is why so many food deserts can pop up in major cities. That’s why DC locals are lucky to have Little Wild Things City Farm, a local producer of organic microgreens and veggies. The seeds are sourced from American producers, and there’s a surprisingly big range of produce for such a small space. Radishes, squash blossoms, swiss chard, 22 individual varieties of microgreens…I’d be willing to bet that some supermarkets might not have as great of a selection as Little Wild Things!
Have any other favorite companies making their goods in the Northeast? Let us know in the comments! And we’re taking suggestions for our next installment in the Midwest!