MWM is in the holiday spirit. We’ve got Bean boots. Beauty. Bags. Check out the coolest local hats and more in our 2019 Gift Guide.
As the holidays approach, Maine Women Magazine has curated a shopping list for you. We love local, so we sent Maine business reporter Kathryn Skelton into the wilds of Maine (and Etsy) to come up with everything from the edible to the wearable for our Made in Maine list. It’s got some highly practical items, like tick armor (okay, gaiters anyway) and a garden tool made in state. But we’re all about indulgences as well, like South Street Linen’s new capsule collection, L.L.Bean’s ever-evolving Bean boots and some must-have handbags, including one dyed with Maine wild blueberries. We’re also including a guide to shopping for Millennials, written by Hannah Johnston, a recent college graduate who put all sorts of unexpected things on the list but was kind enough to leave off all OK Boomer merch.
Finally we gathered for a photo shoot at Home Remedies on Commercial Street in Portland. We dressed up the extremely obliging and kind Miss Maine, Carolyn Brady in everything from Jill McGowan to the cutest hats we’ve ever seen, including one knitted just for us by Liz Polkinghorn of Bespolk hats. A few non-Maine made items snuck in as well, like the heavy sweater to die for that Brady has over her shoulders in the accompanying photo and the super soft sheepskin rugs she’s sitting on (New Zealand wood, in single length for $135 or double $265, at Home Remedies). Then there are the furry clogs. A Case of You on Exchange Street is the only place in Maine to buy ultra-trendy No. 6 clogs, which prove that yes, a clog can be elegant. Black boot, lined with shearling, are $400 and the shearing-topped clogs $305. Learn more about Brady in Maine Style.
APPAREL & ACCESSORIES
Rough + Tumble, Brunswick
1904 Pack, $428 & Five pocket boho, $388
Rough + Tumble bags are made one at a time in Brunswick at the company’s design studio in Fort Andross, a light-filled space, rich with the smell of good leather. We’d take literally any bag founder Natasha Durham and her crew make. They’re that good (and getting noticed nationally; Garnet Hill started selling them in 2018).
Featured here are a small Five Pocket Boho Adjustable ($388) in double gilded mink with vintage brown straps and a large 1904 Pack in suede ($428). The Five Pocket Boho includes two deep side water bottle pockets. It can be adjusted to carry backpack, crossbody or on the shoulder. The 1904 Pack here is in a limited combination of caraway suede and double gilded mink details. Most Rough + Tumble bags are available in over a dozen or more color combinations. You will find plenty of choices at the company’s flagship store (127 Middle St., Portland) but you can also shop online. “We are excited to offer customers the option to go online to design a custom Rough & Tumble bag as well,” says Emily Smith, brand creative strategist. “Where the colors and design options are endless.” (roughandtumbledesign.com)
Maven Leather, Cherryfield
Francine hip bag, $125–$180
Emma Thieme wanted a bag she could wear while riding her motorcycle, so she could easily access her wallet. But busy moms and anyone else who’s ever wished they had more than two hands will also appreciate Thieme’s hip bag, a sweet triangle-flap leather purse that clips to the wearer’s belt loops.
“It’s great for concerts, too,” said Thieme. “I feel like I go to a lot of places where I don’t really want to put my bag down somewhere or hide it.”
Her mom taught her how to sew when Thieme was young, and in college, she started experimenting with leather after someone gifted her a bag of scraps. “I treat leather like it’s fabric because I don’t know any other way,” she said. “It’s just really become my medium.”
She makes every bag, backpack and even motorcycle seats herself in her downtown Cherryfield studio. In the summer, people pop in to shop while she works.
“The leather is all tanned in Maine,” said Thieme. “I also have a collection called The Barrens Collection, which I naturally dye myself using a totally natural leather and putting sustainable plant and insect dyes on top of that.” You can order online or visit one of the local retailers who keep Maven leather in stock, like Flowers & Candy (10 Exchange St., Portland), which stocks Francine in multiple colors or Suger (271 Commercial St., Portland). The gorgeous purple backpack ($485) shown here is part of the Barrens Collection and available at Flowers & Candy. (mavenleather.com)
El Bolso, Portland
We also fell for the sweet little clutches made by El Bolso, a Maine company that uses textile scraps and vintage fabrics to create one of a kind bags. These two are each about $42. (207–939–9770; elbolsoportland.com)
Erin Flett, Gorham
Bags, starting at $28
Erin Flett, whose creations have appeared in more than 50 magazines, opened a retail showroom and manufacturing space this year in Gorham.
“I have been obsessing over a lot of new ideas and product lines as well as how to connect with more hotels, hospitality and interior designers,” Flett wrote in a shop journal she started in October. “My real love is pillows and home and I want to nurture this a bit more even though BAGS have literally exploded in the shop.” If you visit (it’s so worth the trip) ask to pop upstairs and see the sewing machines at work.
Her bags come in 8+ sizes and styles. Pictured here see the pencil case (starts at $29.50), makeup zipper bag ($33) and a clutch ($38) as well as but the heavy duty canvas folder bag with leather handles is perfectly sized for laptops and work. It comes in 10 colors, all made to order, including the whimsical rain pattern in gold on linen ($95), sized just right for a laptop. (2 Main St., Gorham; erinflett.com)
APPAREL & ACCESSORIES
South Street Linen, Portland
New wool-linen blend capsule collection
We love how Lynn Krauss, co-owner and creative director of South Street Linen, is shaking up the formerly all-linen line with a new capsule collection that incorporates just enough wool to make it irresistible for winter.
Designer Ann Lindsay and Krauss collaborated on six new silhouettes in the new fabrics. They’re a little more fitted and youthful but still ridiculously comfortable. We’d happily march off to a holiday party in anything in the collection, but pictured here on our model Carolyn Brady is the stand-up collar top (25 percent wool, 75 percent linen) in winter white for $239. The pockets! (She did not want to take it off.) There’s a button-down version ($249) and a pair of wide leg pants in black ($239) as well as a sweet little dress ($329) with a subtle pattern. There are also dreamy scarves, including in the same winter white ($149). Drop by the Portland retail shop to check out the whole collection and more. (5 South St., Portland; southstreetlinen.com)
Signature Waxed Canvas Maine Hunting Shoe, $189
There’s some great design going on right now at L.L.Bean, particularly around its iconic boots, still made in Maine. We shot our model in an unusually sleek pair of Signature Waxed Canvas Maine Hunting Shoe in the 16” height ($189) and Marsh Brown colorway. You’ll spot a couple more versions on the cover, the Signature Wicked Good 10” boot ($249), with shearling just oozing out of a natural brown suede-like sheepskin, and an 8” colorblock limited edition in Camp Green ($139). Very holiday. But can you go wrong with Bean boots? We think not.
While we were drooling over the boots, we also grabbed a Signature Archive sweater ($189) in a Beige Fair Isle-style print with ducks on it that we promptly christened The Big Lebowski sweater. It’s a “coatigan,” meaning you can wear it instead of a coat until mid-January. It was the hardest item to return. Santa? Please? (llbean.com and naturally, in Freeport)
Wordy Winter Hats, $98
Liz Polkinghorn’s handknit hats ($98) are so popular that we had to borrow a couple that had already been sold for our shoot. She passed us off a Grinch hat in red and a Nice-ish one and then handed us one with a big MWM knitted into it. Swoon. Polkinghorn is a Maine native (her dad was Bangor Daily News legend Ralph “Bud” Leavitt) who lived in California for many years and returned home with a new distaste for winter. She greeted the cold in the barn where she used to ride horses (and muck out the stables) with an appropriate expletive. After she knitted that word into a hat warm enough to make the stables bearable, she started thinking about marketing them. You can find her designs at Jill McGowan in Portland or order them online in various word choices Polkinghorn has already chosen, or ask for a special order email@example.com. The wool is Quince & Co.’s osprey and it is thick and warm. (bespolk.com)
Jill McGowan, Portland
The Astrid Shirt, $175
You may know the longtime Maine-born designer as the queen of the white shirt and that’s apt. She’s got a spectacular holiday one of those in an eyelet fabric with a wrap-around bow. But her $175 Astrid shirt in red (with tiny white dots) seen on our cover model got us in the holiday spirit and went with everything, including the Dahlia pant ($198) in black ponte rayon spandex (no wrinkles, packs small, the perfect pant). McGowan grew up in a big Maine family, worked at the Hathaway Shirt Company and uses her niece as a model for many of her designs. The clothes are designed and made in Maine, the fabrics sustainably sourced. Shop at the new flagship store, 107 Exchange St., Portland or online at jillmcgowan.com.
Tygerlily Glassworks, South Thomaston
Maine beach memories pendants, $68–$78
Heidi Small crafts each hollow glass bead with sterling silver or copper end caps by hand and fills them with sand, tiny shells and sea glass that she collects at beaches like Birch Point State Park.
“I’ve had a few people send their own sand from vacations or just shells and sea glass from a beach that means something to them,” Small says. (etsy.com/shop/TygerlilyGlassworks)
Dog Not Gone, Skowhegan
No Fly Zone stretch gaiters, $28
These footless socks, infused with Permethrin, an insecticide approved for use in powders, sprays and treated clothing, snug up the calf and keep bugs at bay.
“The gaiters are our No. 1 seller just because that’s how ticks get on you, from the ground up,” says co-owner Julie Swain. “We can’t keep them in stock, we’re constantly making them.”
The company came out with men’s gaiters four years ago—they’re olive green and slouched around the leg—and added a stretch style in four colors last year after hearing from women customers who wanted a more chic alternative.
“It’s better than spraying (bug spray) on you—you just throw it on when you go out,” Swain says. Customers wear them to do yard work, while hiking and at outside sporting events. “I am now a soccer mom (and) we go to these different fields, we sit there and who knows if they’ve been treated or not.”
They’re made in Skowhegan, where there’s also a factory outlet on Dane Avenue that offers buy one, get one half-off or order online. (dognotgone.com)
Miracle Garden Hoe, Lisbon
Single tine garden hoe, $45
When Susan Rowland’s father, Robert Perdrizet, turned 89, he was done with gardening on his hands and knees. The family designed a single-tine hoe, light, with a long handle, so he could plant seeds and thwart weeds standing up. At 99, Perdrizet is still out there using it.
After Perdrizet gave a few of his family-designed hoes away to friends, others started asking, could they get one too? It’s hard to find garden tools made in the United States, let alone Maine. The Miracle Garden Hoe business was slowly born.
“Because it’s so skinny, you can make a row with it, you can do what my dad calls ‘precision gardening,’ you can go around flowers and delicate seedlings without disturbing the roots,” Rowland says. “You can also go nice and deep and go down and get a dandelion. You can turn it sideways and use it like a regular hoe and just scrape the weeds off the top.”
Is that the sum of its uses? Oh, no. She’s just getting started.
“If you’re landscaping, you can go around pavers and bricks and rocks up close, because it’s so fine,” Rowland says. “Also, if it’s hard-packed soil in August and you just want to seed and water things, you can just take that and go right around the plant, and then the water and food go right to the plant, they don’t pour off.”
Hoe handles are ash and made by Peavy Manufacturing in Eddington. Blacksmith Jeff Jelenfy in Union makes the heads.
In her Lisbon basement, Rowland assembles the hoes with a drill press, sands each one, peens it together, paints it and voila—garden like you’re 9 or 99. (etsy.com/shop/miraclegardenhoe or discounted at Paul’s Shoe Repair, 22 Cumberland St., Westbrook)
Wooden Alchemy, Thomaston
Votives, trivets and coasters, starting at $20
Rob Jones’ whimsical wooden creations have been a high-end gift shop staple for eight years—his work is found from the Owls Head Museum to the Smithsonian, according to his wife, Barbie Jones.
Last year the couple opened retail stores in Damariscotta and Rockland. “He says the stores feed his soul. He can continue to create and design and he can make one of something, he can make five of something and never make it again,” Barbie Jones says.
Jones’ designs are heavy on repeating patterns, spinning layer after layer of delicate wood slices into any number of different geometric creations. “Everything that is laser cut is made right here in Thomaston. He uses geometry and math, all types of math, in what he does when he’s designing,” she says.
The family business includes four of the couple’s children plus a cousin. (woodenalchemy.com)
Kreations Maine, Old Orchard Beach
Maine-shaped Maine sea glass art with a reclaimed wood frame, $30
Kris Fish was a firefighter in Old Orchard Beach when an autoimmune disease suddenly upended his life six years ago.
“I was in a wheelchair for a number of years,” Fish said. “We got a dog for my company. Raina (his wife) walked the beach every day for her sanity and she would take the dog and they would walk for miles and miles. She’d find treasures and just pick them up. Once I was better, she had a whole bunch of sand dollars and just wanted me to make something for her, for the mantle.”
His wife loved the piece. Friends asked if he could make something like it for them. Their side business launched earlier this year.
They make sea glass and seashell art in the shapes of flowers, trees and states mounted on reclaimed pallet wood. The designs retail at Whimsical ME in Saco and online.
The couple scours beaches from York to Boothbay for material. “We follow the storms, we follow the coastline,” he said. “You don’t want a smooth sandy beach if you’re looking for sea glass, but if you’re looking for sand dollars and driftwood, that’s the right place to go. There’s lots of rocky, coastal shoreline in Maine that sea glass is just abundant.” (etsy.com/shop/KreationsMaine)
Fletchers’ Mill, New Vineyard
USA-made salt and pepper mills, starting at $17.48
Go classic (Federal-style), bold (Marsala), cute (3-inch) or big (17-inch!), but whatever the choice, “everything except two screws is American-made,” according to Michael Conway, director of sales and marketing.
“All of the wood is cut from within 250 miles of our mill,” said Conway. “Once it comes into campus—we have a 22-acre campus here—it is cut to size, kiln dried, turned, painted and finished and assembled all on campus.” Each salt and pepper mill has a locking nut with 33 different positions for 33 different flake sizes. Decisions, decisions.
“If you’re doing salad and you want a nice big flake, you back that off and you grate it to a nice big flake,” said Conway. “If you want to season meat, close it down nice and tight and you’ll get a very small flake of pepper that comes out.”
The mills made by the family-owned company frequently appear on TV cooking shows and have a rare, lifetime warranty: if the inside mechanism stops working, easily pop it out and they’ll send you a new one. Pictured here, the matching salt and pepper Federal Pepper & Salt Mill, 6” in Cinnabar for $44.95 each. (fletchersmill.com/fletchers-mill-made-in-usa)
Heartfelt Cookies, Farmington
Traditional, vegan, Keto, sugar-free or gluten-free cookies, starting at $18/dozen
AnnMarie Comeau started Heartfelt in 1999 as a way to fill up her time when her husband was away long-haul truck driving.
“Gluten-free was for me because I’m gluten sensitive. Other people said, ‘I’m diabetic, you should make sugar-free,’” she said. “I like to experiment, because baking is a science. It’s basically just substituting different ingredients, seeing what works and what doesn’t work, and if it works, let’s see what else I can do.”
Her cookie varieties include chocolate chip, pumpkin, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, orange and chocolate, lemon, molasses, ginger, blueberry and apple, with most able to be customized. (heartfeltcookies.com)
Northwoods Gourmet Girl, Greenville
Ooo La La Sweet & Spicy Mustard, Wild Woman Jam and more, starting at $7
“Country Ketchup is the catalyst for the whole company,” says chef and founder Abby Freethy. “I was pregnant and I wasn’t a very good pregnant person in the beginning”—think lots of fries and the ketchup that she created to suit her appetite—“and here I was newly in Greenville, Maine, with a skill set that didn’t exactly match a well-paying job. I decided to strike out on my own and become an accidental entrepreneur.”
In the 15 years since, she’s offered a number of different flavor-filled pantry staples and winnowed the list down to the most popular 15, all made in Greenville.
Find them in her Pritham Avenue shop in town, where she also has farm tables, blown glass glassware and “anything that relates to food,” or online.
“We have a giant customer return base,” says Freethy. “We’ll see an influx of orders coming in soon. We really don’t see an enormous lull anymore.”
Dreaming of summer? Freethy also started Wicked Maine Pops in 2019, all-natural and organic frozen treats. Catch her at festivals and events around the state in warmer months. (northwoodsgourmetgirl.com)