5 Handmade Artisans You Have to Meet
Join Lenise Willis, Editor in Chief of Gifts & Decorative Accessories, on a tour of five handmade artisans who create products with heart — and an awesome backstory.
With talks of tariffs dominating business conversations as of late, we sought out a handful of awesome local artisans who have a cool story — and product — to share. Tariffs and “Made in America” aside, though, handmade crafts, in general, are exploding in popularity due to their uniqueness.
Not only are many of these gifts made in America, but they’re also all made with passion and heart. Check out these five quality artisans, both local and international, who demonstrated their art at Las Vegas Market, to learn more about their craft and why your customers will love it.
This boxed set of CocoTutti chocolates displays the sweet treats like a work of art.
Elyce Zahn of CocoTutti Chocolates
Who doesn’t love a carefully crafted and delectable chocolate? CocoTutti chocolates are not only delicious, with such flavors as raspberry, strawberry-balsamic, blood orange and ginger caramel with spicy roasted peanuts, but they’re also beautiful. Each piece is hand decorated (in California) with colored cocoa butter to create individual “edible artworks.” The boxed sets, in particular, look like brightly colored collages or modern pieces of art. Founder Elyce Zahn began the company in 2010 after taking a break from her career in architecture. Her husband suggested she might be happier making chocolates than buildings, and thus her new passionate career was born. Editor’s Note: She only ships during cool months to prevent melting.
This father-son duo demonstrates Peruvian textile-weaving and shows off a few of the colorful products of Inspired Peru.
Carlos Arias of Inspired Peru
Although this is a Peruvian company, and not made in America, it’s still a worthy product to seek out, especially as multi-cultural crafts continue to rise in popularity. A family-owned business, Inspired Peru makes pillows, blankets, rugs, ornaments, jewelry and even stuffed animals using Alpaca—also known as “the cashmere of Peru”— as well as other quality materials. Its founder, Carlos Arias, learned the trade of Peruvian textile weaving from his father, who was on site giving a demonstration. Arias says the textile designs are all inspired by Peruvian traditions and local cultural motifs. Some products can take days to make since they are woven by hand. All of the products are vividly colorful and sure to catch customers’ attention.
Cute Laces, based in Los Angeles, is making shoelaces giftable with quirky and colorful designs.
Angela Bliss of Cute Laces
It wasn’t until a handful of years ago that socks became giftable. What seemed like a mundane necessity has now exploded into a colorful accessory of self-expression. So why can’t shoelaces be giftable, too? Angela Bliss, founder of Cute Laces, has embarked on setting a new giftable trend — that of bright and quirky fabric shoelaces. With a small-batch manufacturer in Los Angeles, the brand has grown across the country and worldwide; now Cute Laces are sold in more than 400 stores across the U.S. In addition to laces, Bliss also sells two sock brands. The collections come in a pack of three “mis-matched matching” socks.
This tiny pot by Sara Pilchman Ceramics is perfect as a matchstick holder or windowsill vase.
Sara Pilchman of Sara Pilchman Ceramics
At first glance, you might think these “tiny pots” are nothing more than a trinket— but they actually have many uses. Food-safe, waterproof and microwave-safe, these small pieces of pottery are perfect as windowsill vases, matchstick holders, sauce cups, shot glasses and succulent pots. Each one is meticulously crafted on the potter’s wheel before getting a unique glaze. Potter and founder Sara Pilchman also creates larger serveware or “display” bowls, which can be sold separately or used at the cash register to hold a few dozen tiny pots. It’s a great way to maximize add-on space.
Founder Emily Chiang’s original drawings are displayed on vinyl stickers, T-shirts, greeting cards, keychains and more.
Emily Chiang of Emii Creations
Illustrator and founder of Emii Creations, Emily Chiang is based in Orange County, Calif. She worked in the gaming industry for several years before pursuing her dream of sharing her illustrations with the world, in a way that brings happiness and laughter to customers. Her calendars, T-shirts and other stationery and gifts feature her own character designs, from a talking piece of sushi to a cute puppy. Each character has its own backstory and personality, making the gifts collectible and engaging.