Four Connecticut small businesses owners and entrepreneurs are among the finalists selected in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, which highlights the creativity in design, crafts, food and style that is thriving nationwide. Members of the public can vote on-line for their favorites, with the winners to be announced later this month. The Connecticut-based finalists operate in Hartford, Bridgeport, East Lyme and Stafford Springs. “Made in America” means that “all or virtually all” of the product has been made in America—that is, all significant parts, processing, and labor that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. Products should not contain any—or should contain only negligible—foreign material.
The descriptions of the Connecticut-based finalists:
- American Woolen (Stafford Springs - Design Finalist) is re-introducing excellence in domestic textile manufacturing and re-establishing the American "Metropolitan" style aesthetic. American Woolen occupies a red brick, textile mill in northeastern Connecticut. Originally constructed in 1853 and subsequently extended in 1919, the building offers textured surfaces and colors that provide continuous inspiration for our fabric collections.
- Paloma's Nest (East Lyme - Design Finalist) creates new traditions for modern families- heirloom gifts that celebrate wedding, baby, home & holiday. It is the creative work of husband and wife team Jose Vasquez-Corbalan and Caroline Colom Vasquez. Designing together since the day they met (literally designing furniture on cocktail napkins), the pair handcrafts each and every Paloma's Nest item in their coastal Connecticut studio from fine wood and clay materials.
- Raw Material (Bridgeport - Crafts Finalist) is one part street, one part rural Americana. The business’s DIY Knit Kits let anyone create luxe fashion with American-spun merino and alpaca yarn. Raw Material is a collaboration between mill, woodworker and knitwear maker, using American fiber, spun in an artisan mill. The business works out of a studio in Bridgeport, CT in the American Fabrics Art Building.
- Hartford Artisans Weaving Center’s (Hartford - Crafts Finalist) mission is to promote the craft of hand weaving in a supportive and creative community to individuals with low or no vision or senior in age. People may enroll in the program to get out of the house, to learn a new craft, or to earn extra income; however, “they find far more at our center. They form social bonds, dispelling the loneliness and isolation so common among sight-impaired, blind, and/or senior people,” the website points out.
Creative entrepreneurs and small business owners were encouraged to enter the Martha Stewart American Made Choice competition. From all the published nominees, up to 1,000 finalists have been selected to compete for the American Made Awards across the categories of crafts, design, food, and style. Of these finalists, up to 500 will be handpicked by a panel of judges. From the entire pool of finalists, one winner will be selected. Voting ends on October 19, 2015 at midnight. The Audience Choice Award Winner will be announced on or about October 23, 2015.
American Made “spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade,” according to the competition’s website. The program is made up of people and communities that have “turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life.” The categories are Crafts, Design, Food and Style.
Martha Stewart and the executive editorial team of Martha Stewart Living will serve as category judges and oversee the selection process of the finalists. The judges will base their selections on the following criteria: Innovativeness, demonstrated creativity, and originality of idea; workmanship; appearance; and embodiment of an American made theme.