As luck would have it, ColoradoBiz Magazine’s annual “Made in Colorado” issue came out yesterday–just in time for a slightly-panicked blogger in need of good, locally-made stuff (no, not that kind of stuff…) to write about.
Showcasing an impressive 250 Centennial State manufacturers, the ColoradoBiz list includes a few companies whose products have achieved iconic status: Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ Orion spacecraft (made in Littleton); Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime Tea (made in Boulder); New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Fat Tire Amber Ale (made in Fort Collins); and Billings Artworks’ Grammy Awards (made in Ridgway). “‘Made in Colorado,'” writes ColoradoBiz’s Eric Peterson, “really means something. It’s a brand that carries value. Simply put, the state is an incredible launch pad for manufacturers in a host of industries.”
To choose CAMJ’s winners, I simply zipped through the ColoradoBiz list and chose whatever names popped out at me. Also called the Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway-Best-Picture-Oscar-Method, this technique gets the job done and doesn’t fret the details. Envelope, please:
CAMJ’s Top 5 Colorado-Made Products (in alphabetical order)
Celestial Seasonings Tea: Sleepytime Tea, a blend of chamomile, spearmint and lemongrass, has been this brand’s top-seller since its creation in 1972. “We sell about 4.5 million boxes every year,” General Manager David Ziegert, a 23-year employee of the company, told ColoradoBiz. “That translates to 85 million cups, just in the U.S.” Company workers are loyal. Senior blendmaster Charlie Baden–“known to sample 100 cups of tea in a single day”–has worked for Celestial Seasonings since 1975. The brand drives consumer loyalty, as well. Its Boulder factory–located at 4600 Sleepytime Drive–is a tea-drinkers’ destination, attracting at least 140,000 appreciative fans each year.
Connor Wood Bicycles: I’ve been in search of an affordable USA-made bicycle since launching this blog. Still haven’t found one. But Connor Wood Bicycles, individually made from sustainable local hardwoods, are worth a look-see. Priced at $3500–still out of my reach–they’re more affordable than other Colorado-made bikes (Moots Cycles: $11,599.00) and absolutely stunning. Founder Chris Connor says: “Wood is amazing. It is versatile, beautiful and strong. My bicycles are intended to be fully functional pieces of ‘art that moves you.’ They have an amazing ride and a unique look which is sure to start a conversation wherever you go. As you’re getting wherever you want to go you’re sure to be smiling. Riding one is an experience of its own.”
DadGear Backpack Diaper Bags: Timely idea! From the website:
All of our bags are made in Colorado. Sure, we could make more money by producing overseas, but we believe that we should support our own economy and after all, isn’t this country built on small business?
We have a long-standing relationship with a local manufacturer about 20 minutes from our office/warehouse in Colorado. They have been making many of our products since our start in 2006. Over the years we have worked together to streamline our processes and lower manufacturing costs…This seems like a simple concept, but it is difficult when manufacturing outside of the United States…
As we grow and evolve, we continue to seek out materials closer to home. We have relocated some of our custom plastic manufacturing to a factory a few blocks from us. We work with local artists, vendors and consultants and we even source our shipping supplies locally. This is something we consider important. Bringing sources closer to our location also helps us reduce our carbon footprint. Less fuel = better air.
We are proud of our dedication to supporting the United States economy as well as local Colorado businesses and jobs. Hopefully you’ll appreciate our efforts and feel good about your Colorado – USA made DadGear® & DaisyGear products.
Scott Shoemaker / President
New Belgium Fat Tire Ale : Don chose this one. A longtime fan of this brew, he was surprised to learn it’s not imported by a Belgian company but made in Fort Collins, CO. Founder Jeff Lebesch crafted this winning ale after returning from a European mountain-bike trip. He wanted to “emulate the great beers he tried in Belgium,” according to an interview in ColoradoBiz with New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan, Lebesch’s co-founder and then-spouse. The bicycle-themed logo was created by Lebesch and Jordan’s neighbor, Anne Fitch.
The Whole Works From its website: The Whole Works serves designers who are looking for small-run cut and sew production, and who are dedicated to manufacturing quality products in an ethical and sustainable way: Stitching. Community. Together. The majority of clothing bought by U.S. households up till the 1990’s was made domestically. Between 1990 and 2011, the U.S. lost 750,000 apparel manufacturing jobs – that’s 750,000 skilled people who found themselves out of work. The demand for clothing is not going anywhere. The Whole Works want to ensure that the jobs stop going anywhere but here. A Public Benefit Corporation, this company trains those who–for a variety of reasons–need a new start; an opportunity for employment. Read the brand’s True Cost page, which explains how their t-shirts are made. This company’s mission is admirable and needed in communities throughout the USA. Here’s their Kickstarter video: