’Tis the season for gifting! And for getting acquainted with the local inventors, designers and craftspeople who are “making” it in the Valley of the Sun.
One of the great fictions of modern culture is that fine art lacks utility. In fact, its purpose is concrete and tangible – to remind us of the bigger picture, a service rendered through the brushes, chisels and lenses of these Valley makers.
Watercolors by Paige Poppe
Swirls of mint, brushes of rose and a stroke of cerulean – the hues and shapes of Paige Poppe’s brushwork let the white space breathe, imbuing everything with light. Her paintings ($64-$385) depict cacti and cloudless skies, and her signature Arizona style adorns totes ($22), stationery ($5-$14) and jewelry ($32-36). paigepoppe.com
Paintings by Eric Cox
Shadows, fine lines and shifting colors figure prominently in the work of painter and sculptor Eric Cox. He tackles monumental themes – life, death, sex – and captures the human form in his exquisitely detailed work. He is also a sought-after portrait artist who’s created cover art for Phoenix New Times and PHOENIX magazine. Contact for prices. artsycoxy.wordpress.com
Ceramics by Studio K
Architect and mixed-media artist Kimberly Harris finds inspiration everywhere – from the curves of Isamu Noguchi’s design to the vibrant fluidity of Georgia O’Keeffe’s watercolors. It’s a bracing whorl of influences that manifest in Harris’ colorful and whimsical ceramic sculptures. Contact for prices. studiokphx.com
Photographs by Andrew Pielage
Pielage’s photograph of a monstrous haboob overtaking the city in 2012 went viral – it was published in media outlets around the world and named one of the top weather photos of the year by CNN. His compelling work spans genres, from starkly lit shots of roadside gas stations to terrifying and wondrous wildfire photos. $50-$150. apizm.com
Sculptures by John Tuomisto-Bell
Phoenix-based John Tuomisto-Bell casts and molds bronze sculptures – powerful pieces of gigantic heads (one work is called “Monumental Head”) and of the male form. His art has appeared in galleries and museums throughout the Southwest. $400-$10,000. tuomistobell.com
Meet Your Maker
“Drunky Bear was the first character I created, so I have a soft spot for him,” admits illustrator Sebastien Millon when asked which of his cartoon animals is his favorite. Drunky Bear has a sweet disposition and a sweeter face. But, like many of Millon’s cute-with-an-edge animal characters, he has a dark side: Drunky Bear likes the booze. There’s also Cat Dragon, a black kitty with a spiked tail, and a duck that warns you not to make him “unleash his inner baby demon fire duck.”
Millon studied to be a realistic-figure artist, but a prolonged illness after college left him unable to work for extended periods of time, so he started doodling for a few minutes here and there. This was when the pun-filled cartoon world of Millon’s imagination was born.
“I never would have done comics if I hadn’t fallen sick, but it is much closer to my personality than the work I was doing before,” Millon says.
One fan favorite: a potty-mouthed, oft-times murderous bunny who graces Millon’s greeting cards, dropping R-rated asides while looking downright cherubic. Millon rethinks the which-is-your-favorite question: “It’s probably the Bunny. I consider [him] to be my evil alter ego.”
— Jessica Dunham
Illustrated Prints by Sebastien Millon
When you first see a Millon cartoon, you might think “Cute. Cute. CUTE!” He draws bunnies, bears and ducks with teeny bodies and expressive faces. Then you read the accompanying text and realize these adorable creatures boast a biting sense of snark, thanks to the hilarious genius of their creator. Find Millon’s work on
shirts ($26), cards ($4) and prints ($30). sebastienmillon.com
Tie on a local beverage from these brewers, distillers, winemakers and additive artisans.
Where to Find It All?
Your best bet is Tops Liquors in Tempe (topsliquors.com). Even if they don’t have all the spirits, beers and meads on this list, they’ll have most of them, and the staff has a real passion for local liquids.
7 Interesting AZ SpirIts
Apple Pie Liqueur by CaskWerks Distilling Co.
Head distiller John Miller steeps neutral grain spirit from the Tempe distillery with fresh juice from California apples, cassia cinnamon, honey and sugar to create this lip-smacking cordial. It’s the perfect eggnog elevator. $25. caskwerks.com
Barrel Rested Gin by The Independent Distillery
Steeped with dried lemon peel, rose and lavender, this slightly smoky gin takes a six-week nap in charred oak barrels after distillation. The boundary-pushing Tucson distiller also has an absinthe in the works. $35. theindependentdistillery.com
Thundersnow by Grand Canyon Brewing Co.
“Unaged” corn whiskey? That’s moonshine, son – and our research shows it to be the only one of its kind made in Arizona. Head distiller Kris Bohm’s “grain to glass” sipper flashes hints of candy corn with a nice, viscous mouthfeel. $25. grandcanyonbrewery.com
Crown King Single Malt Scotch by Thumb Butte Distillery
Finished in oloroso sherry oak, this rare single-malt offering (pot-distilling only, all-barley mash) demonstrates owner-distiller Jim Bacigalupi’s emerging mastery of his craft. The ultimate Arizona-spirit dad-gift. $150. thumbbuttedistillery.com
Whiskey Del Bac Distillers Cut by Hamilton Distillers
Known for his game-changing mesquite-smoked whiskey, award-winning Tucson distiller Stephen Paul makes this sublime, unsmoked blended whiskey that purrs with nuance and maple-y, toasty richness. $65. hamiltondistillers.com
Park Rye Whiskey by AZ Distilling Co.
Concocted with an aggressive 95 percent rye mash bill, this spicy sipper from the Valley’s best-known distillery is the first rye whiskey made in Arizona. Head distiller Jason Grossmiller also makes a limited-run bourbon aged in Arizona wine casks. $32. azdistilling.com
Fossil Creek Whiskey by Adventurous Stills
Call it an “almost-bourbon.” The Tempe distillery mingles corn, wheat and rye grains in the mash, then gives the distillate a rest in American white oak, yielding bourbon-esque notes of vanilla and caramel. $30. adventstills.com
Cherry Adambier by Tombstone Brewing Co.
The best Arizona brewery you haven’t heard of? It’s almost certainly this scrappy upstart based in Southern Arizona’s best-known shootout town, which may produce the state’s finest double IPA behind brewer Weedy Weidenthal, and is starting to branch into the Valley with retail offerings like this large-format fruited ale, larded with pie space and funky fruit over-notes. Perfect for a white elephant party. $12. tombstone.beer
Juicius Caesar by Superstition Meadery
Those honey-fermenting freaks at Prescott’s Superstition Meadery sure do have fun. Head mead-maker Carlos Bassetti’s vast repertoire includes a sparkling cherry pineapple mead, a Marion berry and coffee mead, and this ode to beer-loving mead drinkers, with grapefruit zest and Amarillo and Cascade hops. It’s like mead and a Sierra Nevada had a baby. $25. superstitionmeadery.com
This is how co-owner and operations manager Kaylee Nedley explains the workings of Iconic Cocktail Co., the Valley enterprise she runs with her fiancé, veteran bartender Matt Farrow. Iconic makes and sells little sweetened and spiced potions that you combine with spirits to make instant cocktails. It’s sort of like Hamburger Helper for drinkers.
“Instead of just giving you a recipe, we want to provide a method,” Nedley says. “Two ounces of spirit, one ounce of our mixer, and half an ounce of tart – lemon, lime, grapefruit – that ratio is the start of any great cocktail.”
Iconic began, Nedley explains, because, “Matt and I always wanted to open a bar, so we started backward, with a catering business. We were creating cocktails for events.” Asked by a client if they could provide a giveaway for guests, Farrow and Nedley decided to bottle one of Farrow’s custom mixers, the seasonal Cranberry Thyme.
Out of this grew a variety of concoctions like Spiced Honey, Cascara Vanilla, Ginga Syrup and Lime Leaf Tonic, which Nedley calls “our flagship.”
Nedley’s own favorite? “That’s like asking me who my favorite kid is.”
— M.V. Moorhead
Spiced Honey by Iconic Cocktail Co.
We’ve played around with many a gins, and we still haven’t found a better quickie-companion for that misunderstood spirit than this hot-sweet elixir of black peppercorn, red pepper, ancho chile and cinnamon, suspended in a slurry of Crockett’s Valley Honey. Add some lemon juice and you’re a regular Ross Simon.
COOL & FUNCTIONAL ITEMS
“Made with purpose, for a purpose.” That’s one possible tagline for this cohort of useful craft goods, handmade right here in the Valley of the Sun.
Wooden Serving Boards by Jim Rogers
Phoenician Jim Rogers has been woodworking ever since he made slingshots for his neighborhood friends at 9 years old. Today, you can find his work – boxes, trays, vases and these wooden serving boards – at Practical Art in Phoenix. $40-$60. practical-art.com/jim-rogers
Driftwood Bikes by Preston Brown
Preston Brown began creating bikes in 2010, after fashioning a wooden bike frame at his reclaimed wood company Old Sol Lumber Co. He’s since shaped more than two dozen of the distinctive cruisers. Stop by his store or check out his website to see the sleek, light, one-of-a-kind Driftwood Bikes yourself. $5,000. brotherswoodworks.com
Coasters by Anthony Zeh
Anthony Zeh creates wooden coasters embossed with the molecular formula of your favorite vice: from beer and wine to coffee and tequila. Find an array of his art, which includes sculpture, woodworking and more, at Practical Art and Art One. $5 each. anthonyzeh.com
CellPhone Cases by Shawn Phalen
Arizona native Shawn Phalen began painting with bold colors in oil and acrylic while working through a tough divorce. By exploring the calming nature of painting, she discovered her art could be more than a hobby, and today, you can find her original paintings – which are influenced by the wildlife around her – on leggings, sports bras and these unique phone cases. $16. artbyshawnphalen.com
Soap Dish by Jim Sudal Ceramic Design
Two decades ago, Jim Sudal began working at Desert Botanical Garden in the community relations department. Inspired by the garden’s celebrated botanical menagerie, he began creating clay dishes with garden-inspired colors and images. Find these ceramic stunners at his art gallery in Scottsdale or gift shops across town. $50. jimsudalceramicdesign.com
Bottle Openers by Cathi Borthwick
Cathi Borthwick opened her first shop in 1982 and has been creating functional art ever since, forging her own metal components by hand. From benches and birdbaths to these unique bottle openers available at Practical Art, each of her pieces will be the talk of the party. $24 each. flagforge.com
Botanicals in Clay by Sandy Siegel
Sandy Siegel’s love for the desert shines through every aspect of her art. From necklaces and clocks to pots and pans, she etches local flora and fauna into each element. $12-$125. botanicalsinclay.com
Hunting Rifles by Johnston Arms
Phoenix-based gunsmith Steve Johnston has been making custom guns since he stopped cattle ranching two years ago. Along with his daughter, he teaches gunmanship courses in an effort to make their sporting lifestyle more welcoming and inclusive to all. Classes are $30-$50, custom hunting rifles are $1,500-$5,000.
CLOTHING & FASHION
Though no one would mistake Maricopa County for Milan, the Valley is replete with would-be Wangs and maybe Maddens. Meet them.
Personalized Onesie by Merch Mom
Native Phoenician Desiree Garcia founded Merch Mom last year, giving her a marketing vehicle for the T-shirts and other kid-friendly apparel she enjoys making in her kitchen. Find her unique shirts, décor and notebooks online or in-person at Practical Art. $20. merchmomaz.com
Leggings by Yogavated
Haley Byfield and Travis Strote started Yogavated Athletics with a mission to back their athleticwear by nature: The brand is zero-waste, all its leggings are limited edition, and it promotes local artists within every aspect of its design. Each piece of clothing is limited edition and the tag has a mantra word and quote from the artist who created it. Shop online or stop by its Carefree warehouse for a fitting. $86-$108. yogavated.com
Workout Tops by Firedaughter Clothing
Phoenician Samya Cochran and her firefighter husband searched for a firefighting-themed shirt for their daughter with no luck – everything was made for boys. So, she made one herself. That small project transformed into a business for activewear and casual loungewear. $33-$38. firedaughterclothing.com
Children’s Clothing by Alice + Ames
Suunday designer Stacie Lang struggled to find clothes for her daughter – they were too neon for Stacie, or too boring for her daughter. Enter Alice + Ames, a classic, playful clothing line she created to please both mother and child. $15-$50. aliceandames.com
Arizona T-Shirts by Kaeli Day
Graphic designer Kaeli Day says she’s “inspired by Arizona.” That’s why, in 2005, she opened an Etsy shop to sell her Southwestern and lady-centric designs. You can find her graphic tees, sweatshirts and more online or at Bunky Boutique. $32. kaeraz.com
“I don’t look the same in the things I wore in my 20s, 30s and even 40s, so I got very discouraged,” McMordie says. “So, I went home and sketched out what I was looking for. I started to develop it, and I called [my sister] and we started working on it together.”
As it turns out, McMordie and her sister, CJ Hersch, had a knack for designing lingerie for mature bodies, and Activ Intimates was born. Their pieces don’t have to be removed during the action, have a more sophisticated and muted color palette, and provide more support and comfort than typical lingerie while still evincing an erotic flair.
“We don’t always want to wear the same things that we wore when we were a lot younger,” Hersch says. “As we go along in life and things change with our bodies, we really want to keep that in mind.”
The sisters’ initial design ultimately evolved into their favorite piece: the Playlette, a version of a traditional teddy that’s tight enough to stay in place and has enough space to move around. It has since spawned an entire line of comfortable, sexy, confidence-building lingerie: the Lacy Playlette, the Sheer Playlette and the Playlette Mini.
“I think the change that I would want to see, is to see lingerie expand as far as who’s buying it and wearing it and enjoying it. I think age can limit us a lot,” McMordie says. “I don’t think you’re ever too old to feel beautiful and confident in the bedroom.”
— Christianna Silva
Playlette by Activ Intimates
Phoenix sisters Laurie McMordie (left) and CJ Hersch (right) were tired of not being able to find mature yet sexy lingerie. So, they designed and created the Playlette, a sexy take on the traditional teddy made out of black lace. Find the Playlette, which comes in three variations (lacy, sheer and the Playlette mini) online or at Belle Lacet Lingerie. $100-$198. activintimates.com
SKIN CARE & BEAUTY
Not high on L’Oréal? A groundswell of beauty- and health-minded makers is thriving in Greater Phoenix.
Vegan products by Herbal Dynamics Beauty
Co-founded by Scottsdale entrepreneur Moe Kittaneh, this line of affordable vegan and synthetic-free beauty products includes a Rose Water Calming Face Toner. The mix of aloe vera, green tea, witch hazel and chamomile shrinks pores and softens fine lines. $12. herbaldynamicsbeauty.com
Shaving Foam for Men by OliveSpa
Having ridden the humble olive to local culinary fame, Queen Creek Olive Mill co-owner Brenda Rea struck on the idea of exploiting the fruit’s moisturizing and anti-aging benefits. Her olive oil skin care products became so popular she started the Olivespa line, including this vanilla- and sandalwood-scented foam. $15. olivespa.com
Age Less Restorative Face Oil by LUA SkinCare
Phoenix-based painter Lori Fenn finds inspiration for her art in the Valley’s desert surroundings. Nature – in particular, Southwestern plants – also play a part in her vegan LUA SkinCare line. A few drops of the hemp- and grapeseed-infused Age Less Restorative Face Oil brightens up your skin like the desert sun. $26. luaskincare.com
Cleansing Grains by Wren Natural
Danielle Brabson started this Chandler-based skin-care company after weaning her family off synthetic products. Just add water and this all-natural mix of pure ancient grains will cleanse and calm your skin. $25. wrennatural.com
Unscented Soap with Goat’s Milk by Daisy G’s
While pursuing a dietetics degree at ASU, Valerie Gray discovered a recipe for soothing soap perfect for the desert climate. She started Daisy G’s in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. If you have sensitive skin, the Unscented Soap with Goat Milk cleanses without irritating. $5.95.daisygsoaps.com
The Scottsdale-based business owner may be biased, but she believes that transforming those little strips of hair above the eye sockets does so much more than change the look of someone’s face – it can alter their entire outlook. The studio’s Instagram page is filled with stunning before and after pictures of clients who are genuinely excited about what they see in themselves.
“It’s not just about superficial outer beauty,” Pruett says. “There is so much more than meets the eye of what we do. When I saw a 30-minute brow appointment could completely transform someone’s entire energy, it fueled me to want to make that transition for more women.”
Not even Pruett could have predicted that waxing, trimming, tweezing and filling in brows would become the trend that it is now. And she doesn’t see brow care fading anytime soon, either. After years of over-plucking and over-waxing, women are embracing thick and natural – though still maintained – brows. “I don’t think anyone wants those skinny, pencil-thin eyebrows from the ’90s back,” she says.
— Jason Keil
Holiday Brow Set by MELT by Melissa
Former chemistry major Melissa Pruett spent two and a half years creating a makeup line that uses quality ingredients and is easy to apply. This year’s stocking stuffer collection includes a brow powder, highlighter stick and clear brow gel. $65. meltbymelissa.com
JEWELRY & METALWORK
Precious objects come in small packages when these jewelers, lapidarists and metal-casting makers get down to business.
“Red & Turquoise”necklace” by Punkwasp
Visual designer Carrie Marill set out to make affordable eclectic jewelry inspired by Italian designers, Native American fabrics and California beach culture. This necklace, with 36 inches of African glass beads, wooden blocks, shells and silver beads, fills that bill perfectly. $68. punkwasp.com
Larimar pendant by Luciam Designs
Designer Carina Collins makes jewelry that she describes as “boho chic.” Her use of gemstones like larimar, with pavé white topaz on a wire-wrapped rainbow moonstone chain, give the wearer an otherworldly appearance that can be both alluring and healing. $148. luciamdesigns.com
“Three Galaxies” Bangle by pure life
Jenny Melissa Rodriguez’s Southwest-inspired handiwork first earned recognition at vintage/handmade markets like Bunky Boutique and Junk in the Trunk. This simple brass bracelet is one of the stunning creations she makes inside her Mesa studio. $42 purelifejewelry.com
“Bouquet necklace” by Diana Ferguson
This Phoenix artisan crafts unique, lightweight earrings and necklaces that are equally inspired by pop culture and origami. This piece weds stitched-glass cylinder beads to nylon coated stainless steel wire with a copper toggle clasp. $420. dianafergusonjewelry.com
Dragonfly Embossed Brass Guitar Pick Earrings by Somewhither Arts
Glendale-based Laura Nagaran-McCarthy repurposes everything from beads and buttons to Scrabble tiles and bullet casings to make colorful and layered designs. These beautifully patterned guitar pick earrings strum all the right notes. $12. somewhitherarts.com
“Seasons of the Sage” Virtue Ring by Mother of gideon
Phoenix artists Charis Elliott and Seth Fainkujen were inspired by the strong women behind history’s great warriors when creating their bespoke jewelry line. This opaque, rose-cut ring has been fashioned for the hand of a tenacious queen. $1,800. motherofgideon.com
Free Fly Mala by Silver and Sage
Founder Logan Mauldin’s jewelry line has its roots in the connectivity that comes with practicing yoga. Our relationships with the earth and each other are symbolized by the matte lapis and faceted smoky quartz on this brass Tibetan mala. $148. silverandsagejewelry.com
That chair you’re sitting on? Someone made it. Or, more accurately, something made it.
No such qualifier applies to these handcrafted beauties.
SLATE Concrete Coffee Table by Brandon Gore
The Arkansas native is all about concrete. His Tempe-based enterprises Gore Design Company and Hard Goods produce everything from sinks to coffee tables to Adirondack-style chairs ($250-$4,790). He also mentors tyro artisans through his Concrete Design School. Table as shown: $3,250. brandongore.com
Reclaimed Danish “commode” by Malefors Vintage Imports
Sweden-born, Valley-based furniture maven Frank Malefors finds pre-owned midcentury Scandinavian furnishings on frequent hunting trips back home, then refurbishes them into elegant, clean-lined conversation pieces like this chest of drawers in Brazilian rosewood with black lacquered legs. IKEA weeps. Furniture prices start in the low $1,000s; lighting and décor in the $100s. malefors.com
Wingback Chair with Footstool by Buffalo Collection
The custom, cowboy-style furniture at this Old Town Scottsdale emporium is upholstered with buffalo leather, sourced as a byproduct of the Colorado buffalo meat industry. Owners Michael and Laura Levenberg will steer the bison-curious through the process, with “branded” offerings like this Western wingback chair ($7,095) and footstool ($2,100). Contact for prices. buffalocollection.com
Meet Your Maker
Marty Oelrich probably isn’t the first artisan who found his muse simply because he wanted a nice present for his wife. “I’ve always preferred making gifts rather than purchasing them,” Oelrich says. “The first marquee was a Christmas gift. I made that first sign, which spelled LOVE, over the course of a couple of days in our garage.”
By “marquee,” Oelrich means a metal sign adorned with lights, something like the sign over an old-school theater. His wife, Lindsey, loved the gift, and her Facebook friends envied it enough to place orders with Oelrich. Soon, he was getting commissions, including one for “a well-known [San Francisco] 49er” who Marty says must remain nameless.
Though he was an experienced woodworker, Oelrich admits he “had absolutely no experience doing metalwork.” He picked up the necessary skills, he says, by “researching online, trial and error, and help from the guys at the HVAC shop near my house. I had no experience in welding, Computer Aided Design or computer-operated machines prior to the first sign.”
Saw&Steel, the dealership that grew out of these efforts, offers Oelrich’s creations in all shapes and sizes – cacti and maps of Arizona, California-style bears, American flags, yelping coyotes, flamingos, longhorns, unicorn silhouettes and any number of spelled-out words.
The inspiration for these charming light boxes comes from “anything and everything,” Oelrich says. “I hate the metaphor ‘think outside the box.’ My inspirational awakening was the moment I stopped assuming there was a box at all.”
— M.V. Moorhead
Marquee Lamps by Saw & Steel
Lindsey and Marty Oelrich are the power-tool-wielding power couple behind this Gilbert purveyor of cheery, decorative lighted metal “marquees” in a plethora of shapes, from saguaros to flamingos. They’re festive, indoors or out. $27-$1,608. sawandsteel.com
TEXTILES & HOME DÉCOR
Shopping for your home is no longer the exclusive province of Michaels and Bed Bath & Beyond, thanks to these domicile-minded local makers.
Candles by Vim + Vigor Candle Co.
It took Phoenix candle maker Kristin Boyd a year of experimentation before she made a candle she deemed worthy to sell. Minimalist and modern, the 100-percent soy wax candles burn evenly all the way to the bottom, leaving very little residue, and the copper vessels are an ode to Arizona. She also makes candles encased in attractive jujube wooden vessels. $28. vimandvigorcandleco.com
Pillows by MabreMade
Mabre Lencho-Armstrong draws images – a big-armed saguaro, a leaping jackrabbit – and then block-prints them onto pillows that look right at home in a boho-chic living room. MabreMade’s desert style makes its way to earrings, wristlets, dish towels and toddler tees. $12-$24. etsy.com/shop/mabremade
Epic Rock by Rare Earth Gallery
Nothing says “statement piece” like an inky black Peruvian pyrite cluster or an emerald-green chunk of malachite, polished to a gleam. At Rare Earth Gallery, go epic with a stone as big as a refrigerator – like a glittering purple amethyst geode – or keep it sublime with a tabletop-sized onyx sphere. Don’t miss the collection of Arizona petrified wood, some in a natural state, others morphed into wall art. The staff at Rare Earth aren’t just collectors; in-house artisans create the metalwork for each and every stone. rareearthgallerycc.com
Wall Sculpture by Brian Johnson
Phoenix artist Brian Johnson calls the saguaro his spiritual totem and uses the dried skeletons of the cactus as the frame for his sculptures. He braids and weaves hand-dyed cotton through the “bones,” adding turquoise and copper accents. Hanging on a wall, they look like an eagle or a phoenix, wings spread wide. Prices start at $300. brianjohnsonwallsculpture.com
Rope Bowl by Vesna Taneva-Miller
You wouldn’t guess it, but mixed-media artist Vesna Taneva-Miller uses cotton clothesline for her popular rope bowls ($30). At a sewing machine, she twists and turns the string, tilting the fabric as it takes shape, weaving in silk for pops of color. Other Taneva-Miller crafts: quilted cactus prints and embroidery collages made of fabric scraps and Shrinky Dinks. stitchplayinaz.com
Meet Your Maker
When designer Jaimee Rose was covering entertainment and local arts for The Arizona Republic, interior design was only a side gig. “But design was always my passion and my joy,” she says.
She soon made her hobby a profession with the launch of Jaimee Rose Interiors, creating luxe spaces for homes in Arizona and throughout the country. The journalist in her still seeps through, though, especially with regard to her artistic process – she asks her clients lots and lots of questions. Her approach to interior design means she likes to discover who her clients are, how they live, how they work, what they like, what they love and what makes them happy – all to help Rose design a space that will enrich their lives. And, like any good reporter, she also pays attention to the little things.
“I pull ideas from historic architecture, from great restaurants, from fashion on the street,” she says. “I love details and am always storing them up in my mind to play with later.”
— Jessica Dunham
Arcadia Wallpaper by Jaimee Rose
Even if you don’t live in Arcadia, you know the ’hood by its icons: Postino, The Little Woody, Camelback Mountain. In a cheeky nod to this part of town, designer Jaimee Rose teamed up with local artist Amy Crist to create stylish wallpaper that features hand drawings of Arcadia delights. $195/roll. jaimeerose.com
FOOD & DRINK
Supporting local has never tasted so good with these festive comestibles.
Wheel of pie by One More Bite Bakery
Do you get analysis paralysis when faced with a lineup of pies? Baker Jessica Vasquez knows the feeling. For the indecisive, she offers the Wheel of Pie – a Franken-pie made up of six slices of different flavors, from Jack Daniels pecan to cherry crumble – at her Gilbert bakery and on Saturdays at the Gilbert Farmers Market. $20. onemorebitebakerygilbert.com
Tea Blends by Lotus Gypsy Tea
Self-proclaimed “Lotus Gypsy” Alice Flores approaches tea with the healing directive of an apothecary, handcrafting loose-leaf blends including Bronchial Assist Tea (loosens mucus and suppresses coughs) and Mothers Love pregnancy and nursing teas. The Slumber blend is great for insomniacs. Starting at $13. Available at farmers’ markets and lotusgypsytea.com
Gourmet sauces by saucy Lips
The health-conscious Dalton clan – based in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Miami – whip up intensely flavorful sauces that satisfy difficult diets: vegan, Paleo, keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and GMO-free. The zesty cilantro, pineapple Thai and pumpkin mustard sauces can be used as drizzles, dressings, marinades and more. Starting at $10 per bottle. Available at farmers’ markets and saucylipsfoods.com
Snacks by Fluffy Vegans
Just because you go vegan doesn’t mean you lose your taste buds. That’s the credo behind Phoenix couple Kimberly Muro and Casey Ducheneaux’s vegan snacks, which range from sweet and spicy Kale-iente Chips to tropical Banandy Coconut Banana Chips. Starting at $7. Check website for stockists. fluffyvegans.com
Traditional Toffee by GoodyTwos Toffee Company
If butter equals love in your world, Donna Gabrilson and Stacey Barnes are your new Aphrodites. The Scottsdale mother-daughter team churns out the most buttery toffee in town, from traditional to chile-tinged. Starting at $4.95 per toffee square. Check website for stockists. goodytwos.com
Meet Your Maker
Chris & Bethany Priebe
Years of serving the Sunnyslope and Metrocenter areas of Phoenix as community advocates led husband and wife Chris and Bethany Priebe to recognize dire needs among the population.
Along the way, they also recognized the power of good coffee, which they sipped during countless grassroots meetings and mentoring meetups.
“We were surrounded by kids who were primarily in the foster care system and about to age out. They’re not equipped to go out in the real world and succeed as adults,” says Chris, who is also a pastor. “And then refugees – they’re coming here to a new country, learning a new language... So we just started asking the question, ‘What could we do to sort of fill some of those gaps?’”
Their solution: craft coffee, of which they’d become connoisseurs while playing in bands at coffee shops. Chris researched roasting techniques and built a roaster in 2017, and the business launched in earnest early this year. The Priebes use coffee profits and donations to fund life skills and job training for their Cultivate Cohorts, about 30 young adults from group and refugee homes. They teach them how to interview for a job and give them paid work experience (bagging coffee, stamping bags) to list on their résumés.
“We’re not going to solve all their problems, but we can give them one more advantage to actually get somewhere,” Bethany says. Their next projects are a mobile coffee cart and, eventually, a brick-and-mortar store in Sunnyslope, to “see the restoring of this community through great business,” she says.
“We want to not only cultivate and bring out the best potential of the coffee we roast, but we want to bring out the best potential in these youth we’re working with and the community around us,” Chris says. “It’s a double meaning to our name.”
— Leah LeMoine
Cultivate Coffee by Chris & Bethany Priebe
Caffeinate for a cause with the Priebes’ beans, which Chris roasts and the couple sells to fund services for foster teens and refugees. Buy single-origin varietals (Mexico is our pick; bourbon-soaked Kentucky Joe is a customer fave) by the bag, in a monthly subscription or in a gift box with nifty mugs. Starting at $13. cultivatecoffee.org
BAGS, BOOTS, HATS & WOOD
Motley? Maybe. But some artisanal articles are so unique, they belong in a common category.
Hats by Watson’s Hat Shop
The products of this Cave Creek chapeau shop are truly old-school – each custom-made lid, whether a fedora, Panama or cowboy, is crafted by milliner Eric Watson with actual 19th-century hat-making gear like brim molds and a conformateur. Sounds like madness, but after all, Watson is a hatter. Starting at $999. watsonshatshop.com
Boots by David Espinoza
Phoenix resident David Espinoza began learning the art of footwear while in high school more than four decades ago. His store on 16th Street, founded in 1990, is just the place to give your feet a re-boot. Starting at $399; less for clearance boots. espinozabootmaker.com
Bags by Soul Carrier
These handsome leather totes, clutches, satchels and messenger bags are the creations of ASU grad and NYC fashion scene veteran Jennifer Paige Boonlorn. She says the tanning and manufacturing process, in Leon, Mexico, is responsible, sustainable and, presumably, soulful. $136-$476. soulcarrier.com
Fanny Packs by Yai Cecream
Madrid-born, Valley-based muralist Yai Cecream’s work is like a collision of M.C. Escher and SpongeBob SquarePants – geometric patterns alongside happy-faced little critters, all in primary colors. Her designs adorn apparel as well as walls, including her popular fanny pack. $30. yaiart.tumblr.com
Meet Your Maker
Brandon & Katie Young
“Brandon and I were both teachers,” Katie Young says. “He was an art teacher, and I was an English teacher. That’s how we got our name.” That name being Lettercraft, purveyor of ornaments, keychains, magnets and other giftable gizmos made out of wood.
As is often the case, the mother of its invention was necessity. Wishing to make gifts for his sister and sister-in-law, Brandon reclaimed a few slabs of wood from around the windows of their Mesa home and turned them into one-of-a-kind wood-burned treasures: a Christmas décor sign for one, and a reproduction of the iconic “MADE IN OREGON” sign – which graces the side of the White Stag Building in Portland – for the other. This led to more requests from friends and family, and soon after, the chance to take the side hustle to the next level, under the guidance of Katie’s “uncanny business savvy.”
“Phoenix Flea was giving away a free booth space, and we won it,” Katie says. “It took off pretty quickly after that.” The project – which gave Brandon, who waited tables on the side, one night at home with his three kids – is now a lively business, with one full-time and two part-time employees and a space in Gilbert’s Barnone craft market.
Beginning with Arizona-themed items, the Youngs branched out into other goodies, most notably their laser-cut ornaments in the shape of celebrity faces – everyone from Bill Murray to Tupac. “Brandon always said to customers, ‘We can do anything, we can even put your face on it,’” Katie says. “Finally I said, ‘Put a face on it.’”
— M.V. Moorhead
Wood Curios by Lettercraft
Wood-burners Brandon and Katie Young turn reclaimed lumber into keychains, ornaments and other tchotchkes, in shapes ranging from the state of Arizona to a saguaro to a Mexican sugar skull to the face of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Prices start at less than $10. barnoneaz.com
ANATOMY OF A MAKER SPACE: BARNONE
3000 E. Ray Rd., Gilbert
“Either is correct,” legendary Valley restaurateur and food-tech tinkerer Joe Johnston says, when asked if his Gilbert craftsman hub is pronounced “barn one” or “bar none.” “You could also say bar-NO-nay, for a little Italian style.”
However you say it, Barnone is a nifty concept. Looking to create a shared space for maker-driven businesses, Johnston upcycled a ’50s-era grain storage building located on his ancestral family farm at Agritopia, the agrarian housing development he launched in the 2000s. The Joe’s Real BBQ and Coffee Plantation mastermind says his requirements were straightforward as he vetted applicants for 12 spots prior to Barnone’s opening in late 2016: “Basically, [candidates] needed to make their own stuff, be willing to put their goods on display and be passionate about it, and have a small business attitude rather than want to grow it into something ginormous.”
Celebrating its 2-year anniversary, Barnone has nonetheless become a ginormous success – all 12 of the original businesses are still operating, and the collective will host Barnone Christmas Market this month, with up to 80 makers from around the Valley. We asked Johnston to walk us through his one-of-a-kind maker hangar.
1. Technically, Johnston’s first tenant was himself. A certified engineer and food technology enthusiast, Johnston fabricates stainless steel salt-shaker tops for the Hillstone Restaurant Group under his Johnston Machine Co. banner. The company’s next project: a patented, shop-scale coffee roaster that “does the job a whole different way,” Johnston says.
2. Envisioning an analog-chic factory status board to make Johnston Machine Co. more interactive for visitors, Johnston enlisted vintage-sign specialists Saw & Steel in Gilbert (see page 97.)
3. Barnone includes three other Johnston family businesses: Joe’s brother, Steve, makes custom, high-end hunting rifles at Johnston Arms (see page 89); nephew Mark creates handcrafted stationery at Prickly Pear Paper; and son James spins wood-fired pizzas at Fire & Brimstone.
4. After the Johnston family, the first makers to sign on were Erin and Chad Romanoff, who operated Uprooted Kitchen as a food truck at Agritopia, and were eager to bring their brand of organic global cuisine to the new brick-and-mortar (or concrete-and-tin?) location.
5. Other maker tenants quickly followed suit: woodworkers Brian and Katie Young of Lettercraft (see page 111); florist Mireille Helm at Everybody Loves Flowers; hairstylist Shelley Miera at Wander; beersmiths Noel Garcia and Bryan McCormick at 12 West; and winemakers Brian and Megan Ruffentine at Garage- East.
6. Johnston and the other Barnone makers use the building’s rafters walkway for storage and mechanical space.
7. To celebrate Johnston’s 60th birthday, his family converted the backend of Barnone into a pop-up cocktail lounge called The Coconino Club and had these signs made. “It was a fun idea,” he says. “We’re going to hold onto The Coconino Club concept and do something else with it.”
8. A 13th maker is in the works, Johnston says. “It’s somebody who found and restored an old photochemical photo booth” like ones formerly found at malls and carnivals. ETA: December.
9. The winter’s biggest event at Barnone will be held outside: Barnone Christmas Market, an all-day makers’ fair on December 14 where visitors can pick up handmade fashions, kitchen gizmos, 3D printed flowers, locally brewed hot cider and the like. Visit barnoneaz.com for information.
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