"At Martha Stewart Living, we have always recognized artists and artisans who preserve traditional ways of making and doing things while searching for new and different results and interpretations," said Martha Stewart, Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. "Creative entrepreneurs are a key to revitalizing our economy and our communities by generating jobs, spurring innovation and fostering connections. It is important to recognize their influence on American life and I am very happy to be honoring an extraordinary group of men and women for their contribution to our culture."
"We believe we are at a defining cultural moment, when so many people are making a go of their creative passions," said Pilar Guzman, Editor in Chief of Martha Stewart Living. "Our careful selection of our American Made honorees is the result of an exhaustive search for the next generation of creative entrepreneurs, and we're excited to be able to celebrate their quintessential hands-on Americanness, and their collective courage, in hopes of encouraging others to take a similar leap."
The 2012 American Made Awards are created in partnership with title sponsors, Avery Dennison and The UPS Store, and official sponsors jc penney and Toyota, in close collaboration with Etsy.
The honorees are as follows:
- Jonah Meyer and Tara De Lisio , Sawkille Co., Rhinebeck, NY (Design)—When Tara De Lisio stepped into Jonah Meyer's art and furniture studio in the Catskill Mountains for the first time, "it was magical," she says. De Lisio wound up marrying Meyer, and today, the two set up shop in the small town of Rhinebeck, where they work with a staff of five to craft furnishings that reveal their love of tradition, such as stools, tables, and bed frames, made from locally milled and sustainably harvested wood. sawkille.com
- Erika Allen , Growing Power, Inc., Chicago, IL (Community)—Truth be told, Erika Allen didn't love working on her family's farm when she was a child. But her father, Will Allen—a 2010 TIME 100 Hero—kept saying, "Someday, you'll thank me." Years later, she says, "He was right." In 2002, building off her father's work at Growing Power, a nonprofit he founded in Milwaukee to provide low-income communities access to healthy food, Allen opened a branch in Chicago. Today, she runs eight farm sites around the city and works as the national projects director; she and her team teach adults and at-risk youth how to grow food and create a sustainable food economy, selling the fruits of their labor at farmers' markets around the city while composting refuse and providing resources and job training. growingpower.org
- Andrew Tarlow, Jed Walentas, and Peter Lawrence , Wythe Hotel, New York City (Design)—Like many good ideas, the concept for their new hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, started over a few beers between friends—in this case, hotelier Peter Lawrence and real estate developer Jed Walentas. The pair joined forces with Andrew Tarlow (owner of Marlow & Sons and a pioneer in the food scene), and the trio set out to convert a 111-year-old textile factory into a 72-room hotel. The plan was to preserve the building's historical integrity—fashioning original ceiling beams into beds, for example—and to work with local businesses to design other features. The result is a laid-back space that feels like more than a place to sleep. "We knew most of our guests would be out-of-towners," says Walentas. "It's important to us that they feel at home." wythehotel.com
- Alisa Toninato , FeLion Studios, Madison, WI (Crafts)—Consider this for a workplace: Thirty-year-old Alisa Toninato makes art in front of a 2,800-degree fire, hot enough to vaporize exposed beads or pop a bag of popcorn (both of which have happened). "We build our own furnaces, and we break down our iron by hand," says Toninato. "But we're also creative. Everything was paid for by selling art pieces and a Kickstarter campaign." Toninato's sculptural items include the Made in America series, a collection of limited-edition cast-iron skillets in the shape of the 48 contiguous United States, which can join together like a puzzle, and which Toninato conceived of as an ode to American optimism. felionstudios.com
- Makie Yahagi , Maki e, New York City (Fashion)—Makie Yahagi's mother, an expert dressmaker, taught her daughter how to sew, knit, and embroider starting when she was just 5. After moving to the United States, Yahagi continued her childhood obsession and in 1999 opened Makie, a boutique in New York City's SoHo district featuring her handmade clothes for infants and children—and, after repeated requests from customers, for women, too. Yahagi is hands-on in all aspects of the design process, making every pattern and working with a team in the city to execute a finished product. Her minute attention to details like how many stitches are needed or what type of seam is required is what keeps her customers and wholesale clients loyal. "This thing is my baby," she says. "I want to keep doing this until I am a grandmother." makieclothier.com
- Brett Binford and Chris Lyon , Mudshark Studios, Portland, OR (Crafts)—Brett Binford and Chris Lyon, founders of the six-year-old ceramics cooperative Mudshark Studios, credit their success to a simple business plan: "Never say no," says Lyon. As a result, Mudshark has grown from a basement operation to a company with 25 employees and a 17,000-square-foot facility. The model succeeds on several levels: creating contracted work for established companies but also producing small runs for up-and-coming designers, a job that reveals the partners' commitment to expanding the art of ceramics. In a world where global manufacture is out of reach for many artisan studios, Mudshark stands out for the breadth of its capabilities, its craftsmanship, and its commitment to being a production resource for other potters. mudsharkstudios.com
- Andy and Mateo Kehler , The Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, VT (Food)—After apprenticing with several local and international farmstead cheesemakers and perfecting their own artisanal cheeses, Andy and Mateo Kehler—who are brothers—built a cave: The Cellars at Jasper Hill. The network of seven climate-controlled rooms that required hauling away more than 2,000 truckloads of rock allows the Kehlers to produce rich blue and washed-rind soft cheeses; it also lets them serve as finishers for other dairy farmers, who would otherwise never have access to a cave (Jasper Hill also provides the staff who hand-turn the cheeses). The results are on par with the best offerings from abroad—and challenge any ideas about supermarket products: Cabot's award-winning Clothbound Cheddar is a joint venture with Jasper Hill. cellarsatjasperhill.com
- Flora Grubb , Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco, CA (Garden)—Flora Grubb saw her chance at having her own business in 2003, when she shifted from designing gardens to owning a plant nursery. Working with partner Saul Nadler, Grubb did a makeover on a palm-tree nursery in the Mission neighborhood, expanding and moving it to a 28,000-square-foot space in San Francisco's industrial Bayview district. Housed in a new steel-frame and barnwood structure, Flora Grubb Gardens is a trend leader that Grubb feels reinforces her mission of "introducing a real peace and joy in city dwellers' lives through the act of gardening." floragrubb.com
- Lena Kwak , Cup4Cup, Yountville, CA (Food)—Lena Kwak vividly remembers the day when, as a new chef at the French Laundry, she went to pitch an idea for a gluten-free food line to her boss. She arrived to talk with Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller armed with tales of diners with dietary restrictions who had thanked her, even cried, when Kwak made gluten-free bread for them. "I was caught off guard when he said, 'How can we do this and what do you need from me?' Just like that," she recalls. With Keller's support, Kwak developed a gluten-free flour called Cup4Cup, which can be swapped for regular flour and tastes remarkably like the real thing. Kwak left the restaurant to have time for her flour, which is now sold at Williams- Sonoma and other outlets. cup4cup.com
- Carter Cleveland , Art.sy, New York City (Technology)—Soon after his senior year at Princeton, the now 25-year-old Carter Cleveland founded Art.sy, a website that curates art for users based on their artistic preferences and "favorites." Borrowing language and programming from the music site Pandora (whose CEO is an advertiser), Art.sy calls these revealing choices "genes." "To my knowledge, it's the first time there's been such a deep collaboration between computer scientists and art historians in the name of furthering art education," says Cleveland, whose endgame is making the world's art freely available through the Internet. The site also lists artwork for sale, employing specialists who are appointed to users upon account activation to help facilitate purchases from galleries or artists, while famous not-for-sale works can be viewed online as part of the same visual database. Just about to launch its public beta stage, Art.sy already has more than 50,000 registered users. art.sy
- Brian Howell , Bee Man Candle Company, Canastota, NY (Audience Choice Winner)—Brian Howell got his start with bees and candle making after apprenticing under a beekeeping neighbor in Canastota, NY. He worked with this neighbor at the New York State Fair and other craft fairs before being given his own hives and launching Bee Man Candle Company at the age of 13. After graduating from Cornell University in 2003 with a degree in English Literature, Howell moved to North Carolina where he operated a Bee Man Candle store and made candles for wholesale before returning to Canastota this year. Bee Man Candle Company candles are made in 34 colors and are naturally smokeless, dripless and long-burning. The enterprise is also one of the largest providers of bayberry wax candles in the country. Environmentally conscience practices are part of Howell's mission and he plans to use his $10,000 prize money to further develop the educational component of his new retail store in Canastota so that customers can learn to make candles and understand the value of bees to the environment and community. beemancandles.com
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