Archives

August 28, 2015

General Pencil Company: Writing America’s Past, Present and Future

General Pencil Company of Jersey City, N.J. is the oldest and one of the very last American-made pencil companies left in the world. For more than 125 years now, General Pencil Company has been manufacturing quality school, art and craft supplies in the U.S.

Photo credit: facebook.com/GeneralPencil

Photo credit: facebook.com/GeneralPencil

Edward Weissenborn and his son Oscar A. Weissenborn founded General Pencil Company in Jersey City, N.J. in 1889, where it remains today. The company quickly earned a reputation for producing quality pencils, but was nearly destroyed during World War I when a British blockade made it impossible for pencil manufacturers to get lead from Germany. Unable to get their leads, Oscar experimented and came up with a way to make his own. It was during this time that many of General Pencil’s unique drawing formulas consisting of graphite and charcoal were created.

Keeping the Pencil Moving

Withstanding the Great Depression and Second World War, General Pencil Company later expanded operations into California to become closer to the incense cedar supply and to the Western market. In the late 1970s, the company expanded its product line, increased sales and distribution capacity, leading General Pencil Company to become a worldwide supplier of fine art and craft products.

General Pencil Company’s pride in handcrafting quality, American-made pencils and artist materials remains today. Now in its sixth generation, the family-owned and operated company continues to handcraft its pencils using genuine California incense cedar wood and traditional quality formulas in the same Jersey City factory where it first started more than 100 years ago.

To learn more about General Pencil Company, visit generalpencil.com.

August 21, 2015

Yankee Candle Illuminates America’s Homes

In 1969, 16-year-old Mike Kittredge of South Hadley, Mass., couldn’t afford to buy his mother a Christmas present. Desperate for a gift, Kittredge melted down some crayons in his parents’ garage and made her a scented candle. Before he could give the candle to his mother, a neighbor saw it and was so impressed, she convinced him to sell it to her. With these new funds, the teenager bought enough wax to make a candle for his mother and another one to sell. That was the moment that Yankee Candle was born.

Photo credit: yankeecandle.com

Photo credit: yankeecandle.com

America’s Best Loved Candle

Today, Yankee Candle is the largest American manufacturer of scented candles. There are more than 565 Yankee Candle retail stores and 35,000 other locations worldwide, but only one manufacturing plant, and it’s right here in the U.S.

Yankee Candles are made at its plant in Whately, Mass. near the company’s South Deerfield headquarters. Operating as the largest candle production line in North America, the Massachusetts plant makes over 200,000 scented jar candles a week and it’s projected that they will make about 75,000,000 this year for worldwide distribution.

Yankee Candle remains the #1 most-recognized name in the candle business and the country’s best selling candle brand – something the company attributes to its devotion to American craftsmanship and quality.

The company certainly has come a long way since its garage days in South Hadley.

To learn more about Yankee Candle, yankeecandle.com.

August 14, 2015

Cycling Through America with Heritage Bicycles

If you had asked Mike Salvatore what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answer most likely wouldn’t have included anything involving bikes or coffee, let alone any combination of the two. Today, Salvatore is owner of Chicago-based Heritage Bicycles, a part bike shop, part coffee shop that offers custom, American-made heritage style bikes within the setting of a coffee house.

Photo credit: heritagebicycles.com

Photo credit: heritagebicycles.com

Bringing Heritage Home

Before opening Heritage Bicycles, Salvatore helped establish Bowery Lane Bicycles in New York City. But as a native Chicagoan, Salvatore wanted to bring quality, American-made bikes back to his hometown. In 2012, Salvatore and his wife, Melissa, opened Heritage Bicycles on the North Side of Chicago.

Everything Heritage Bicycles does is centered around the company’s commitment to the community, including local manufacturing. Made from American steel, and welded by hand and assembled locally, Heritage Bicycles is proud to be the first completely Chicago-made bike since Schwinn production left the city in the 1970s. What’s even better is that at Heritage Bicycles you can enjoy a cup of locally roasted artisanal coffee while you shop or wait for your bike to get repaired.

In addition to being the wheels of choice for many Chicagoans, Heritage Bicycles has also made bikes for celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay Z and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

To learn more, visit heritagebicycles.com.

August 6, 2015

Cade&Co: Taking America’s First Step

It’s an important milestone in a baby’s life when he or she learns to take first steps. Equally important are the shoes they’re wearing when they take those first few steps. Handcrafted in America, Cade&Co is a Utah-based company that specializes in designing American-made, all-natural leather shoes for babies and toddlers learning to walk.

Photo credit: cadeandco.com

Photo credit: cadeandco.com

A Step in the Right Direction

In 2003, after the birth of her second son, Naomi Doyle was determined to find a higher quality, better-designed and creatively styled shoe for her child. As an avid runner, Naomi constantly saw her son’s feet poking out from the stroller. Wanting something that stayed-on, but offered more protection than socks alone, Naomi went on a search for the shoes she was looking for. Unable to find soft-soled shoes that had the high-quality and creativity she wanted, she decided to make her own.

Today, Cade&Co is recommended by pediatricians from all across the country. The natural suede sole provides protection while allowing babies and toddlers to feel the ground beneath their feet as they learn to stand and step.

Every shoe in their inventory is American-made with care in their Park City, Utah studio/shop. In fact, customers and others can walk right by the shop and see Naomi and her team busily sewing the next pair of shoes. To learn more, visit cadeandco.com.