Made in Atlanta: An Insider’s Look at Locally-Made Products
As our culture continues to question fast-fashion, fast-food, and constant consumerism, we talked to a few local business owners, The Jack Ellis Company, Clover & Birch, Treehouse Milk, and Katherine Smith Jewelry, who prize quality, think sustainably, and produce one-of-a-kind products right here in Atlanta. We also share other locally owned businesses we love.
The People & The Product: During lunch breaks from her job in a library, Smith would walk over to a local bead store where she learned to make handcrafted jewelry. While she started making knotted string bracelets in the fifth grade (for The New Kids on the Block band members!), those working lunches gave Smith the tools and techniques she would later use to start her own jewelry business. Today she makes simple, minimalist jewelry for every woman and every occasion. Her mediums include 14k gold fill chains and findings, gemstones, as well as “a little bit of brass to keep it edgy.”
The Inspiration: Smith’s inspiration is reclaiming a bit of identity beyond parenthood. She explains, “For me, jewelry is such an effortless way to add a little bit of whimsy to my outfit and a little pulled together feel to my life. As a mom of an almost 3-year-old girl and an almost 6-year-old boy, jewelry gives me a bit of myself back outside of being mom. Maybe that is overstating things – but there are many days where I may not do anything but throw on jeans and a T-shirt and pull back my hair, but if I can grab a pair of earrings I feel pulled together.”
Hyper-Local: In addition to her popular “HUSTLE” and “BE BRAVE” hand-stamped brass rings, this Agnes Scott grad offers an “ATL” ring: a perfect gift for Atlanta lovers.
After Hours: Smith and her kids, daughter Liesel, 2, and son Peter, 5, love playing on the playground, exploring the creek, splashing in the splash pad, and riding bikes on the track at Perkerson Park in southwest Atlanta. When they want to splurge they head to Sensations Therafun. She explains, “I think it is the best indoor play place in the city and your money goes to funding a facility that caters to kids on the [autism] spectrum. Can’t beat that.”
The People & The Product: Taylor Melton, owner of Clover and Birch describes her bustling company as a “labor-of-love brand with a desire to provide purposeful, modern toys to eco-conscious families.” While it may take a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to create simple, yet intentional toys for that child: Melton has recruited a group of “lovely friends” to help her with the demand. Her team includes shop foreman BJ, studio assistant Tijana, graphic genius Priscila, as well as Pete and Bryttany who help with sanding and finishing work.
The Inspiration: Necessity was the mother of invention when Melton wanted her own children to have “beautiful toys made of natural materials that would become heirloom pieces – not just another disposable product” that would end up in a landfill.
Sustainable: All of their wooden toys are sourced from sustainably-harvested mills and lumber yards in Georgia. Melton and team tap into their creativity to minimize waste, coming up with new ways to use remaining lumber including making wooden blocks from leftover cuts of wood.
After Hours: Melton and daughters Carden, 4, and Collin, 2, love the outdoors and exploring new parks together. They also enjoy the Grant Park Farmers Market and Melton tells us that “if you see us there, we will probably be sharing a bottle of Golda kombucha.”
Check It Out: You can find these wonderful wooden toys in close to 100 stores across the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Australia and Norway.
The People & The Product: Kate Carter and Bess Weyandt of Treehouse Milk make fresh, all-natural nut milks, including almond, cashew and macadamia nuts. Their specialty is Georgia Pecan Milk, which is rich in antioxidants and loved by kids and adults alike.
The Inspiration: Weyandt replaced dairy milk in her diet with almond milk several years ago. “But,” she explains, “there were no natural, local alternatives to the additive-laden big brands found at the grocery store. Atlanta was, almost literally, thirsty for its own real non-dairy milk. Kate and I started getting creative in the kitchen together – and that’s how some of our other varieties, like almond oat milk and pecan milk were born.”
Hyper-Local: Not only are all of their nut milks made right here in Atlanta, but they also source local ingredients as much as possible and partner with local businesses.
Sustainable: Treehouse milks are delivered to their wholesale and retail customers in glass mason jars that are returned after use to be sanitized and reused. Carter and Weyandt are also very proud of their development of the first Georgia Pecan Milk because pecans are a local crop and far more sustainable than almonds.
After Hours: After hours you’ll find Carter and her boys Henry, 10, and Thomas, 8, out on bike adventures, weaving between their Candler Park home, the Freedom Park path and the BeltLine. Favorite stops include Freedom Farmers Market, the King of Pops window, Krog Street Market, Ponce City Market, Old Fourth Ward Skate Park, and Piedmont Park. Carter explains that it is “the best way to see the city with kids – eating local foods and exercising up and down the beautiful paths.” Weyandt enjoys walking on Constitution Lakes Park trail or Arabia Mountain trail in town, exploring restaurants on Buford Highway, as well as checking out her friends’ performances in the local theater and arts scene.
The People & The Product: Whitney Wolf, owner of The Jack Ellis Company, is not just the idea man behind his company’s custom-built furniture. He is an artist and delights in the design and execution. Most days you’ll find him in the workshop covered in sawdust creating furniture along with his main builder, Daniel Sussenbach. They build everything from a small cutting board to large conference tables.
The Inspiration: Wolf is inspired by taking a tree that is destined for the landfill or a mulcher and milling it into beautiful, usable wood products. He explains, “My father bought a sawmill years ago and I used to help him load logs onto that mill and watch it go from a log to slabs. It was like Christmas morning for me every time we made that first cut and opened up the wood to see the grain. I still feel that way to this day.”
Hyper-Local: An Atlanta-native, Wolf explains, “Being from Georgia and southern is a big part of who we are.” Accordingly, they make Georgia-shaped cutting boards from Atlanta walnut and maple trees and keep tabs on the history of the trees they work with. Currently, they are working with a walnut tree from Grant Park that has 100-year-old bullets lodged in it.
Sustainable: They only use local materials, domestic wood and recycled metals. Through relationships with eco-friendly arborists who deliver trees to their workshop (instead of dumping or mulching), they are able to tag the trees with their original location, how they came down (usually storms), and date them. That story stays with the tree as it is milled, slabbed, dried and turned into furniture.
After Hours: When he’s not managing the office or building custom furniture, Wolf enjoys doing local fun runs with his son, Jack, 4. The whole family delights in going to basketball games at Saint Thomas More School in Decatur. Wolf explains, “It’s free admission and [the kids] just love to watch action in a great family atmosphere.”
Montessori-inspired wooden toys and games to “inspire your inner child.” In addition to natural toys, Bella’s Casa also specializes in helping homeschooling parents set up Montessori-style classrooms. An e-course and private consults are available. Visit the Etsy store Bellascasa.
Chocolate that’s good for you? Yes, please. Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor Nicole has a lifelong love of chocolate and a deep belief in eating real, plant-based food. She makes delicious dark chocolate truffles from whole-food ingredients, completely GMO-free, and vegan. Visit nicobellaorganics.com and get 15 percent off with code atlantaparent17. The products are also available at Atlanta Made, Cacao Atlanta and Health Unlimited.
Artisanal line of seasonal and local preserved goods, including chow-chow, sweet potato butter, and sweet pickled peaches. Nationally renowned chef Courtney Renn keeps in touch with her roots by cooking up her family’s century-old recipes. Visit Taste Decatur, Atlanta Made and Lucy’s Market.
Original, handmade leather handbags and accessories. These bags are as beautiful as they are simple. Designer Rachel crafts her bags with a “minimal and modern aesthetic to produce pieces that can be carried anywhere.” Visit Alternative Apparel, COCO + MISCHA, Little Barn Apothecary + Co., Made Again, Miko + Boone Home or Young Blood Boutique.
Hand-crafted, all natural bath, body and home products. Favorites include a detoxifying charcoal facial mask, soy candles, whipped shea butter, lip balms and gift sets. Many ingredients are sourced from local farms and all products are vegan. This small family business operates just outside of Atlanta in Tyrone. Visit Hawkins & Clover Salon & Apothecary and Angela Michael Salon.
A stationery and illustration company that produces gorgeous notebooks, wrapping paper, greeting cards and fine art prints. All artwork is hand-illustrated by shop owner Erin. We adore her “With Georgia from Love” greeting card as well as the “Georgia on My Mind” floral print. Visit Citizen Supply, COCO + MISCHA, Hello Gorgeous Boutique, Made Again, Sam Flax (on Peachtree) and The Gibson Co.
Zen Tea is known for their pure, quality, whole leaf teas. Their most popular blends include “Serene” Sleepy Time, Wellness, and Black Petal Rose Tea. Their Rooibos teas are very popular for calming active kiddos (and even colicky babies) and their Mother’s Herbal Raspberry Leaf tea is a hit with pregnant and nursing women. Visit their tea room in downtown Chamblee or find their tea blends in the Atlanta Made store and Vivid Boutique.
Nick Cook is an expert wood turner and produces one-of-a-kind bowls and unique gift items at his full-service studio. Favorite gift items include wooden baby rattles, spinning tops, wine stoppers, and honey dippers. Preview Nick’s work by visiting the Atlanta Made store.
High-fashion, but easy-care handmade clothes for babies and toddlers. Atlanta-native and SCAD graduate Anna went to NYC to design high-end children’s wear. Her heart brought her back to Atlanta and we are so glad it did.
Mariama Davis’ line Climb is as diverse as her background in biology, chiropractic studies and engineering. Today she taps into her creative side by creating home goods and baby clothes. In addition to the adorable onesies (our favorites include the “Homegrown ATLIEN” and “Home Brewed”), Davis makes birth announcement prints, luggage tags and maps of Atlanta. Visit the Beehive store in Edgewood.
The experience is made of craft and vintage pop-up markets in Atlanta. Many of their vendors are from Atlanta and the majority are from the Southeast. Indie Craft Experience hosts markets throughout the year.
A group of makers who created handmade goods in Atlanta. They provide workshops and pop-up markets throughout the year.
This wonderfully-curated shop in the Westside Provisions District brings local to a whole new level: everything inside is designed and made in Atlanta.
– Jennifer V. Hutcheson