In which I go through all 63 pages of the Martha Stewart nominees so you don’t have to.
The Martha Stewart American Made Summit is coming up (last year’s recap!) and with that comes voting for the American Made Awards. I have a huge amount of respect for the time and attention devoted to promoting American made across all MSL channels and always look forward to seeing the finalists.
But, there are 63 pages of finalists, and the categories are helpful but not always clear, so I find the user experience to be a bit overwhelming.
To make it a little easier for all of you and to better support my favorite makers, I spent some time going through each and every page this week… and quickly realized many TAE A-List vendors were finalists! As a reminder, the A-list features my favorite brands – brands that I personally buy, recommend and have experienced myself. These are some of my very favorite brands and makers, and I’ll be happily voting for all of these finalists over the next month… I hope you will join me!
You can vote up to 6 times a day, but you do have to register. The A-list nominees, in alphabetical order:
Looks like voting will keep me busy this month! Let me know if you are attending the Summit this year… I haven’t decided yet, but would love to meet you if I do end up going!
*Note – Food purveyors are a huge focus for Martha Stewart but are not included on TAE. I think the craft food movement is incredible and support it as much as I can, but it is not a focus for this site. I also only included true makers as opposed to stores and resellers. If I inadvertently left an A-list brand that is also a finalist for the MSL Awards off of the list, please let me know!
In my attempts to clean up my beauty routine, deodorant has been the biggest challenge. I’ve spent a lot of money trying a lot of products… and most don’t seem to work, at all. I’ve know that sweating is good for me so I’ve accepted (begrudgingly) the lack of antiperspirant in natural products, but I’m unwilling to put up with something that leaves me sticky and smelly after a few hours of normal activity (maybe even less than normal – I work at a computer all day!). The few products I’d found that were acceptable were available only online, which is great in theory, but who has the time to be proactive about things like reordering deodorant? I’d finish the jar and then find myself at my co-op, desperately looking for a similar option and ultimately wasting a lot of money.
I’d given up and accepted that my deodorant choices would be less than natural… But it always came up when discussing natural products and I knew there had to be a better option. I saw Schmidt’s Deodorant at a local spa a few months ago – the shop girl raved about it – but I chose not to try it because I assumed it wouldn’t meet my expectations. Soon after, the team from Schmidt’s contacted me and asked if I’d like to try the products… I remembered what the woman at the spa had said, so I decided to try them out. Matt and I tested the products for about a month before I got back to Schmidt’s – I have to love a product to personally recommend it, and I wanted to make sure this line made sense for me. I was skeptical and assumed I wouldn’t like the product, but Matt (who hadn’t given up on natural products when I did) immediately liked it… it took me a while to get used to it (I still wish it came in a stick option!) but I can officially and truthfully say I’m a convert – I love this stuff! It manages the smell, doesn’t irritate my skin, and doesn’t stain my clothes. Easily the best natural deodorant I’ve ever tried. I’ve worn it consistently for a few months and am ready to reorder – but it’s also readily available in stores all over the country. The founder of Schmidt’s, Jaime, answered some questions about her background and natural deodorant (thank you to those of you who submitted questions via twitter!) – read on to hear from her and for an exclusive 20% off coupon code for the entire month of August!!
What is your background?
I grew up in Michigan and have an amazing family there. After finishing grad school in Chicago, I worked for a major charity there for several years, then made the move out to Portland. I worked in psychological treatment centers here while developing the product and meeting my husband; today we have a happy 4 year old son, Oliver.
What led you to start Schmidt’s? How did you learn how to make natural deodorant?
I started making personal care products for my family several years ago, and did a lot of R&D on various beauty products in the process. After sourcing and testing the highest-quality ingredients I could find, I developed the Schmidt’s recipe. It was really exciting because I had tried many natural deodorants on the market and they never worked for me, but the one I made did, and extremely well. I started sharing the product with others, and they had the same reaction–shocked and relieved that a natural deodorant could work for them. So I began selling it, and it was a hit locally here in Portland, OR. That was in 2012. Since then, the brand continues to grow and evolve, and we’re hearing every day from people who love the deodorant.
If you knew then what you knew now, would you do it again?
Even more so.
Why is it important to use natural deodorant? What are the concerns with conventional deodorants/antiperspirants?
The underarm is a sensitive area for humans, and we need to be careful about what we allow it to absorb. Conventional deodorants are not natural, and full of dangerous things you don’t want in there–parabens, phthalates, aluminum, etc. Furthermore, you often have to reapply them, and they may have a sticky or unpleasant feel on the skin. The deodorant industry has really been ripe for change for some time–the old ways of making it aren’t completely effective, and they can be harmful to your skin. People are ready for a change in the way they do deodorant.
Are there things we can do to manage body odor naturally? (diet, etc?)
A clean diet and staying well hydrated are crucial. Also, exercising will help the body sweat which is critical for eliminating toxins and bacteria that cause odor. For women, menstruation and stress often dramatically increases the degree of body odor. (note from Rita – I’ve also noticed that my arm pits seem stinkier if I use traditional (not natural) soaps – I’ve seen some people say that a secret to managing odor is not use soap at all in the armpit area, but I’m not ok with that… but when I use a natural, green body wash, I don’t have an issue.)
Is natural deodorant like shampoo, where you almost have to switch brands every year or so?
We have not found that to be the case with Schmidt’s. Our formula remains effective for an unlimited amount of time. Our bodies will, without fail, always take in things that are healthy for it while keeping it in balance. The great thing about the Schmidt’s line is that if you are looking for a change you can easily switch between our variety of scents.
My biggest issue with natural deodorant is the application process – it’s just not as convenient. The consistency feels similar to deodorant that comes in a stick – is there a benefit to applying with your fingers? I’d pay more for a stick form – is this something you have considered?
I cannot speak for other brands, but we package our deodorant in jars for several reasons. We don’t use any chemical stabilizers, which means the consistency of the product will fluctuate with temperature changes. We chose glass specifically because we hate seeing all those plastic applicators going to waste. Our jars are a more sustainable option and can be reused for a multitude of things! Lastly, in the words of our customers and the point I find most rewarding, is that the process of applying quickly becomes an anticipated daily ritual (we hear this regularly from men and women alike!). I love that a normally monotonous and mindless task can be transformed into an enjoyable personal routine.
Thank you, Jaime and Schmidt’s Deodorant! For the month of August, use code ALISTSCHMIDTS for 20% off your order. (I’m personally a fan of the Fragrance-free and Bergamot + Lime versions!)
Swimsuit shopping is absolutely my least favorite thing to do…the only good thing is that American made swimwear is readily available – and also pretty fantastic.
Curious as to why swimwear is made domestically? I asked around and learned:
– Special sewing machines are needed to handle typical swim fabrics (Spandex, Lycra) – these machines are still commonly available in the US which leads to more production capacity.
– The traditional swimwear season is quite short. Brands have no option but to manufacturing during peak production times, which can drive up manufacturing costs and limit traditional manufacturing discounts. Similarly, the brief amount of in-store time gives designers less time to react to sales and reorder from overseas manufacturers; domestic production allows brands to maintain consistent inventory levels and drive sales.
My swimsuit shopping rules: 1. Order online (from a retailer with a good return policy!) 2. Order multiple sizes 3. Try on in the morning, ideally following a great workout (and shower!) 4. Start with the largest size first! 5. Be nice to yourself! (Your body is far more valuable than a clothes hanger.)
I’m a huge fan of Maryanne Moodie‘s incredible weavings, so a few months ago, I visited her at her beautiful home in Brooklyn to learn more about her work. Maryanne’s weavings are intricate and gorgeous – the thought and attention to detail in each piece is remarkable. Maryanne herself is as wonderful as her work – she is one of the nicest, most humble makers I’ve met, and her love and dedication for her craft is apparent.
My favorite part of our interview was when Maryanne told me about her search to find a craft and creative outlet – when you see a talented maker like Maryanne, you typically assume that she just picked up the craft and excelled at it – I loved learning about the many crafts she tried on her way to weaving, and can imagine that each of her attempts helped her to become the talented weaver she is today. Our meeting was a great reminder to me to keep pursuing new interests and hobbies… you never know what will come of them!
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I was an Art teacher in Melbourne, and I also used to run a vintage clothing shop.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I started weaving about 3 years ago… I’d been creative, but not really creating, so I was looking for something I could make as a hobby. While looking for a craft, I tried basket weaving, knitting, and crochet, but nothing was the right fit. I’d seen and liked hanging textiles but didn’t know how they were made. While I was cleaning out a storeroom at school, I found a weaving kit and realized that the textiles I’d admired were weavings. I kept the kit and made my first piece and was so excited! I shared the item on my instagram account and received great feedback, which was validating. So I kept making more and posting and getting great feedback.
While on maternity leave, instagram and social media created a creative connection with society – I didn’t feel alone even though I spent a lot of time at home with the baby. It felt like everything clicked into place when I started weaving.
DID YOU ALWAYS PLAN TO START A BUSINESS?
No, initially I thought this could be a hobby or something I could give as gifts. But, people immediately asked to commission work – I didn’t sell right away though, I wanted to make sure I was ready to sell – I had to figure out the finishings, how the weavings should hang, how to make sure they’d stay straight and even, etc.
This may be an Australian thing – but I was worried about Tall Poppy syndrome – the idea that if you rise above, you are asking to be cut down. Don’t be too confident, someone will always bring you back down. I wanted to be humble and to make sure my work was worth it. I wanted the work to speak for itself before I put it up for sale.
I primarily do commissions, I sell wholesale as well when possible. I like to push myself and I always treat this like a business even though I love it.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Nick Cave’s embroidery and textures in the book, Doppelganger, Images of the Human Being. Ted Sabarese.
I like working with people who have a loose vision of what they are looking for so we can work together.
WHAT MADE YOU START TEACHING WEAVING WORKSHOPS?
I love teaching weaving – it combines my current role with my previous experience as an art teacher. And I love weaving so it is nice to share with other people who are also excited about it. The 3 hour class I teach should help you get to where I was after weaving for about 1.5 years – I learned a lot when I started and now I can teach people how to get started quickly, but you need to keep playing and trying to get comfortable with it. Learning to weave is difficult – when you google weaving, you only get information on hair extensions! It was a lot of work to find the right information – I can make it easier through my classes and kits.
The business has grown organically – I was making my own art, and then people wanted to buy it, so I sold it. Now, people want to learn, and I am happy to share. It’s a way to connect with people who are all over.