05 November 2013

Admirable Makers Part 1

If you've ever read Martha Stewart Living Magazine, it spotlights a lot of small business owners from across the United States who make products with their hands and hearts.

It was only fitting that those featured in the magazine over the years come together in a craft market called Martha Stewart American Made held last month at the Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Station.

Part of the event was to take notice of these "Tastemakers", who are described as the next generation of great American makers who inspire us with their beautiful goods, quality craftsmanship, and innovative ideas. These creative entrepreneurs turned their passion into a thriving business. 

They were recognized in an awards ceremony. Below are the 2013 American Made Honorees. Maybe their stories can help us take that first step in creating a business that we can each call our own. 

Spoonflower, a website where you can design your own fabric, wallpaper, decals and giftwrap. Gart Davis and Stephen Fraser, founders, acknowledge collaboration as part of their success: "It's the character of crafters around the world, creating a friendly, encouraging atmosphere."

Shinola, makers of watches, bicycles and leather goods. Heath Carr, business owner, has this advice: "Make sure you stay true to your original vision, and don’t get dissuaded by those who will want to tell you why you can’t do this or that. Focus instead on why you should, and what story you want to tell the world."

Folk Fibers, championing natural dyes and quilting. Founder Maura Grace Ambrose has these wise words: "It's okay to wait until you're ready. I got a job in "my industry" right after college and burned out after a year. The following six years I spent following my interests to different jobs including portrait photography, preschools, and farming. Now that I have Folk Fibers I can see a very clear connection between all these disciplines and where I am now. I learned to be okay with my path and trusting that things would work out."

Portland Meat Collective, a travelling butchering school. Founder Camas Davis has this to say: "I started a business that would teach me what I wanted to do. I suspect one could start a Portland Cheese Collective or a Portland Carpentry Collective using the same basic model. If you can't find a class to teach you the thing you want to know, create a class yourself! Also, it's okay to start small. Test the market. Don't commit yourself to a 3,000 square foot space until you know you have the clientele you need. Lastly, people love a good story. If you are passionate about something and you want to start a business based on that passion, be sure to tell your own story about your own passion. It will connect people to you instantly."

Lindsey Adelman Studio, lighting designer and owner, offers this advice:  "Work for other people that you respect first. Then be true to yourself and –– practically-speaking –– meet regularly with a business coach to get it started. It helps you plan and helps turn what you love into profit so you can live off of your work. And honestly I believe everyone benefits when people follow what they love. The support will show up."

More honorees and their businesses tomorrow. Have a nice day!

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