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Made in West Michigan: Shop hyper-local for the holidays

William Campbell, Anvil Goods.

The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us, and Rapid Growth has the scoop on how to shop hyper-local for the holidays. Kara McNabb offers up a bevy of talented creatives in and around Grand Rapids who take 'Made in Michigan' to a whole new level. Before you make your list and check it twice, read on.
Look around your home. Look at what you’re wearing. Most of your daily necessities -- like furniture, home decor, your backpack -- can likely be made by someone in West Michigan. As you start your holiday shopping, consider gifting products made in Michigan.

Rooted in industrialization, Grand Rapids still personifies a maker mentality. But it’s not always large-scale. For many local craftspeople, it’s about creating high-quality and sustainable products, and pouring their passion into every single good.  

Anvil GoodsWilliam Campbell of Anvil Goods, furniture and home accessories, says he can fully stand behind each product made, as he, like so many other local makers, sees his products through from start to finish. “I didn’t get a part from China, have it assembled in another state, then stamp my name on it,” he says. “I buy the lumber I use from a local sawmill that can tell me exactly where the tree came from.”

Anvil Goods grew from Campbell’s experience designing end tables for Oprah and trophy cases for Michael Jordan. “But I wanted to make high-quality practical products for people at our level, not $50,000 cabinets,” he says. And in 2010, Anvil Goods was born. Think of it as usable art. Understated detail and clean, modern design are signature to Anvil Good’s wood work, a result of Campbell and co-creator Megan Shanahan's aesthetic. You won’t find paint or wood stain coloring custom-ordered furniture, light fixtures or handmade kitchen tools; rather, the natural color is the result of varying wood types. Because every piece is handmade, no two designs will be alike. Anvil’s most popular product is the box lamp and their stand-up desks. Follow Anvil on Instagram to see their latest products, order direct from www.anvilgoodsdesign.com or find products at Have Company.

Nick Stygstra, Teamwork.Teamwork is an ever-evolving collection of bags and products from reclaimed and repurposed materials. The company got its start in 2006 stitching sailboat sails and tractor tire tubes. Co-founder Nick Stygstra grew up on Michigan’s lakeshores, so creating messenger bags using salvaged sail material preserved a sense of this Michigan culture.

While Teamwork has expanded its material since inception, the philosophy remains: make environmentally sustainable products from material that would otherwise sit in a landfill. Every Teamwork product has a lifetime guarantee. Stygsma says, “What’s the point of salvaging material if it’s just going to end up in the landfill?”

TeamworkMinimally and simply styled, a Teamwork bag means one-of-a-kind. A large manufacturer may produce 10,000 identical bags, whereas Teamwork’s usual run is about 50. With nationwide sales and the inconsistency of salvaged material, the odds of running into anyone with your same bag is slim to none. You can buy Teamwork products straight from the website, with the option of local pick-up. Products change often as supply is limited to the amount of material.

Sean Maginity, and Marianne Gardner, Bird and Feather.Bird and Feather satisfies a whimsical nature. Marianne Gardner started making terrariums in Los Angeles. She uses natural colors, rocks, crystals and other elements to make a product that mimics nature. The black sand and clear quartz is a top seller for men, while the bright pop of reindeer moss is an element everyone wants in their terrariums. But Bird and Feather’s paint-dipped air plant pods quickly became their biggest seller, enticing even Anthropologie to start selling the product draped in a “California modern” style. Gardner and Bird and Feather partner Sean Maginity returned to Grand Rapids in 2014 and have found the community to be extremely supportive and talented. On being successful, Gardner says, “You don’t have to live in Los Angeles or New York to be creative.” Bird and Feather products can be found at Have Company or online at www.birdandfeather.com.

Recirculating money into our community is imperative, and that’s why Teamwork and many other local makers partner with others in the area to source their supplies. And the more they partner, the more skill they attract to our city, and the more growth for our community. Buying local is certainly attractive from an economic perspective, but it also supports a labor of love, a signature characteristic of the West Michigan community.

Bird and Feather.“Making handcrafted furniture is not something I do to ride the tails of a trend; this is my life. I wake up every day to do what I love,” Campbell says. “You know how antiques become family heirlooms? I hope my work is that someday: a piece so well-made that it’s cherished and passed down generations.”

Anvil Goods, Teamwork and Bird and Feather products may be the perfect gift for those on your holiday list who appreciate beautiful, one-of-a-kind products. So might these other items made right here in West Michigan.

Bike Antlers -- Give a unique twist on taxidermy. Inspired by a faux vision of yard equipment and a deer carcass tangled together in a pick-up truck, Bike Antlers was born. Turns out those deer antlers were actually bicycle handles.

Direct Trade Coffee Club -- If taste is important, sign your family up to receive a subscription to coffee sourced straight from the farmer and roasted right here in Grand Rapids.

Give -- Drink in style with a flask rom Give. Phrases like “Liquid Courage” and “Fire Water” dance across these colorful stainless steel pocket bottles made in Holland.

Hruskaa -- Pronounced her-oo-shh-ka, this local Etsy star creates mobiles, wall prisms, planters and more using Scandanavian-inspired geometric shapes inspired by Himmeli.

Lief Design -- Hand-crafted stationery, temporary tattoos and more are adorned with the iconic type style of Lief Design.

Mercy -- Find hand-crafted leather and canvas-made goods like bags, aprons, belts and more.

Proper Fit Clothing -- Designed and handcrafted right here in Michigan, give the gift of unique clothing.

The Story of Two -- Jewelry with a soul, wedding rings and more are designed sourcing material as close to home as possible.

Victor Axe -- Functional art in the form of an axe or hatchet, these tools are designed to last a lifetime.

You can find many of these gifts and more at the 26th annual UICA Holiday Artists’ Market Dec. 6-7 at the Steelcase Town Hall. Find gifts that celebrate Michigan during the Pure Michigan Holiday Show at Parliament the Boutique on Division Avenue from Nov. 7 to Jan. 6.

Kara McNabb is business manager at Bloom Ferments, communications consultant and enjoys freelance writing.

Photography by Adam Bird
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