By Eric Peterson | Nov 28, 2021
Supply chain maelstrom or not, it's giving season again. For those who crave all things local, here's a cheat sheet for some of our favorite gifts made and manufactured in the Centennial State.
Roaring Fork Spice Co. (Glenwood Springs): Jennifery Dockery and Tony de Moraes make a prodigious amount of spice blends, ranging from Bee Sting, with hot peppers and honey powder, to Vanilla Latte Sweet Seasoning. It all started with the Wired Espresso Blend that Tony made for a bowl of ice cream during a hockey game. The couple started experimenting with spices instead of paying attention to the game, and the catalog of savory and sweet small-batch artisan spices and honeys snowballed from there. $8 to $14. www.roaringforkspice.com.
RedCamper Preserves (Denver): Maura Gramzinski's serendipitous journey began with greeting cards made from old travel snapshots before diverting to Deliciousness, a line of preserves that spotlight local spirits with fresh fruit. Colorado Whiskey Peach features Laws Whiskey House's brown spirits with peaches from Paonia, for instance, or the Absinthe Orange features the former from Leopold Bros. and the former from California. New for this holiday season: an old-fashioned cocktail kit with all of the fixings. $6 to $18. www.redcamper.com.
Laws Whiskey House Spirits (Denver): Alan Laws' renowned distillery has been aging brown spirits for more than a decade now under the motto: "There are no shortcuts." Case in point: Everything is distilled in-house and aged in Colorado for a minimum of 24 months. Perseverance has paid off, as the distillery has cemented its standing in the craft spirits industry. Laws continues to innovate with such limited releases like bourbon finished in a cognac foeder. 750-ml bottles start around $60. www.lawswhiskeyhouse.com.
The Modern Christmas Tree (Denver): Matt Schill's late grandfather, Lawrence "Bud" Stoecker, built rockets for NASA and A-frame cabins in the Rockies. He also devised a modern, minimalist take on the Christmas tree consisting of a series of concentric rings that hang together to form a conical shape. In 2011, Schill developed a product based on the design that he's been selling ever since. Engraved with Bud's signature as a tribute to the inventor, the Modern Christmas Tree is available in models ranging from tabletop to 10 feet. The eight- and 10-foot models are manufactured in Colorado; Schill sources acrylic rings from Laird Plastics in Denver before assembling in-house. $297 to $2,197. www.modernchristmastrees.com.
Beak-a-Boo Birdhouses (Denver): Lori Midson's colorful and whimsical creation looks like avian abodes from the mind of Dr. Seuss. Each birdhouse is a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind artwork with a name like Fairy Castle, Winter Wonderland, or Castle Condo. $45 to $135. www.beak-a-boo-birdhouses.com.
Holden Studios Red Rocks Wall Art (Denver): An environmental consultant turned woodworker, Lee Schafer's a-ha moment came in the form of beetlekill scrap he upcycled into wall art resembling Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison. The idea caught on as Holden Studio's flagship product. Also available: wooden Colorado flags, wooden Denver skylines, and wooden wall maps. $95 to $275. www.holdenstudiosdenver.com.
The Peak Antler Company Chandeliers (Woodland Park): For chandeliers, furniture, and decor made from naturally shed deer, elk, and moose antlers, look no further. Founder Jeff Musgrave has been in the antler business for nearly 20 years, and developed an unrivaled supply chain sourcing naturally shed specimens. Often hobbyists, pickers find and sell them by the pound to artists like Musgrave. Beyond the catalog for human-focused products, the company also turns antler scrap into dog chews for that special canine in your life. Prices vary. www.peakantlers.com.
Precision Peaks (Leadville): Utilizing CNC technology and topographical data, Peter Frykholm transforms beetlekill pine into small-scale replicas of 14,000-foot peaks, ski mountains, and national parks. The stock catalog of tabletop and wall-mounted creations is complemented by custom capabilities to create "any peak, any pass, any place" a customer might want. $35 to $595. www.precisionpeaks.com.
Autumn Teneyl Designs (Denver): Exclusively made in Colorado from organic or upcycled fabrics, the Autumn Teneyl catalog is impressive, spanning jumpsuits, skirts and skorts, tops and bottoms, and dresses. The eponymous founder, Autumn Teneyl Warner, started designing clothes as a hobby, but found a ready market for her colorful and functional line and established manufacturing in Denver from her home base in Pagosa Springs. $54 to $370. www.autumnteneyl.com.
Elisabethan (Paonia): Sourcing fabric from a ragman in Oregon, thrift stores on Colorado's Western Slope, and a T-shirt manufacturer in North Carolina, Elisabeth Delehaunty upcycles fabric into a wide-ranging array of new apparel for women and kids, including sweaters, skirts, hats, and gloves. Most products $40 to $200. www.elisabethan.com.
Phoenix Fiber Mill Socks (Olney Springs): Giving socks doesn't get any better than this. Manufactured by the extended Dietrich family in southeastern Colorado, Phoenix Fiber Mill's socks are made largely of natural fibers -- including angora, merino, and alpaca wool -- with up to 15 to 20 percent Spandex and polyester and named for mountains in Colorado. The top-of-the-line thigh-high socks are designed for the wintriest of weather. $18 to $130. www.phoenixfibermill.com.
Apres Ski Jewelry (Denver): Heather Mullins was interested in repurposing materials into her art and custom furniture. Making a table from old skis, she realized the scraps had an aesthetic appeal that was perfect for jewelry. Her line now includes earrings, necklaces, tie clips, and other products all made from retired skis. $24 to $36. www.apresskijewelry.com.
Field Supply Floral Subscriptions (Denver): A mobile, woman-owned florist, Field Supply offers subscriptions of vibrant bouquets that are perfect gifts for flower aficionados on your shopping list. Every week or month (or another frequency of your choice), a new arrangement of vivid blossoms and assorted greenery arrives for a present that keeps giving every season. Contact for pricing. www.fieldsupplyfloral.com.
Lucky Tree Studio Jewelry (Montrose): Armed with a laser cutter, Leanna and Jordan Johnson craft eye-catching earrings, necklaces, rings, and other products from bamboo. After cutting the elements for Leanna's nature-inspired geometric designs, each piece -- many of which double as diffusers for essential oils -- is sanded and finished by hand. $14 to $85. www.luckytree.studio.
Maruca Design Handbags (Wheat Ridge): Rex Maruca launched his namesake handbag manufacturer in 1994. After building a loyal customer base for more than 25 years, he retired in 2020, and sold the company to Renée Real. The ethos remains the same: Craftsmanship above all. Every bag in the catalog -- which includes crossbody handbags as well as backpacks and totes -- is cut and sewn by hand. $45 to $150. www.marucadesign.com.
Deli Fresh Design Fishing Gear (Denver): Ross White sews sustainable gear from repurposed sailcloth, climbing rope, skateboard scrap, billboard vinyl, and waders. With a focus on fishing, the Deli Fresh Design catalog includes a number of packs, bags and totes along with wallets, dog leashes, and beer koozies. New for 2021, the Neversink is a fishing pack made with anglers in mind, with a drop-down zippered pocket for quick fly changes. $25 to $225. www.delifreshdesign.com.
Palma Cigars (Denver): Master Cigar Roller Clay Carlton hand-rolls cigars at his downtown Denver cigar bar from premium Dominican Republic tobacco. Or he'll come to you: Carlton also rolls cigars at events of all kinds. $11 to $14. www.palmacigars.com.
Emerger Fly Fishing Side Bags and Fly Wallets (Fort Collins): Chris and Randi Freeman started Emerger in 2014 aiming to create functional fly-fishing gear without compromising style or simplicity. The company's line of side bags and fly wallets are made of tough materials like waxed canvas, English bridle leather and brass to withstand the rigors of the river. $60 to $259.99. www.emergerflyfishing.com.
Filana Crayons (Paonia): The rare domestic crayon manufacturer this side of Crayola, Filana eschews paraffin and other petroleum-derived waxes in favor of organic beeswax. Founder David Kennedy experimented with 140 iterations before settling on the final recipe for a notably smooth-drawing crayon that's non-toxic and vibrantly hued. $14.95 to $19.95 a box. www.filana.us.
Estes Rockets (Penrose): Vern and Gleda Estes started making model rockets in 1958, basing the business southwest of Colorado Springs in Penrose. The company changed hands a number of times before new ownership took over in 2018. Estes remains a leading name in model rocketry, making the engines in Penrose and the model rockets with contract partners. Most products $10 to $50. www.estesrockets.com.
Zometool Kits (Longmont): Making polyhedrons fun for more than 25 years, Zometool makes a number of kits that underpin geometric works of art modeled after ice crystals, DNA strands, and other STEM-centric forms. The toys are also marvels of manufacturing that required about a decade of R&D to get off the drawing board. Most products $50 to $200. www.zometool.com.
TenMileBlankets (Frisco): TenMileBlankets offer a trifecta: style, comfort, and sustainability. Inspired by traditional Amish quilts, Annie Fierman makes cozy coverings from Polartec fleece (which in turn is made of recycled plastic bottles) that are named for peaks in the Ten Mile Range between Frisco and Breckenridge. $125 to $450. www.tenmileblankets.com.
Manastone Steel Tongue Drums (Crestone): Founder Noah Pulver has crafted more than 2,000 drums since starting the company in 2012. Nicholas Penn relocated from Kentucky to join Pulver in Colorado's San Luis Valley in 2020, and the pair have scaled up the operation, making drums in more than 25 different scales as well as pick-your-own-notes custom models. Most drums $300 to $500. www.manastonedrums.com.
Vortic Watches (Fort Collins): Restoring and manufacturing top-notch timepieces since 2013, Vortic Watches machines many components in-house and sources others from a network of domestic suppliers in order to build new watches around antique movements. Some customers send in family heirlooms, but Vortic sources many movements from buyers of estates of watchmakers and jewelers all over the country. The company launched a "Watch of the Day" program offering a new watch for sale every weekday. Watches start around $1,000. www.vorticwatches.com.
Eric Peterson is editor of CompanyWeek. Reach him at email@example.com.