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Made in Colorado: Base Layers, Salsas and Strummable Song-Machines

A collection of Colorado-made brands and manufacturers


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The January-February 2018 round-up of products made in Colorado:

BAMBOOL THERMICS

Co-founders Craig and Jessica Woods loved their bamboo sheets and wanted base layers that matched their soft feel. But they found nothing on the market, so they developed their own bamboo-Merino wool fabric and started making base layers, neck gaiters and socks. “It’s a really cool fabric,” Marketing Director Tory Rebhun says. Not only does it have the softness of bamboo sheets, she explains, it also has the warmth of wool. The original Bambool line was made by the since-shuttered Whole Works in Rifle, and Bambool is currently looking to partner with another contract manufacturer for its next line. “Our goal is to stay in Colorado,” Rebhun says

Most products $49 to $75

VAIL


F&J BRAND SALSAS & SAUCES

Brothers Frank and George Scaff immigrated to the U.S. from their native Lebanon in the late 1800s and opened a grocery store in Swink. They launched their F&J brand from La Junta in the 1930s and saw the business grow to 125 products and 25 employees at its peak. Ron Davis and his wife, Maryann, bought Scaff Brothers in 2013 and run it from the same factory with the same recipes for steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salsas and other products. “The salsa recipes were written in the 1960s,” Davis says. “They called them ranchera sauces.” The brothers were ahead of their time, he adds, and not afraid to experiment: “They made some strange stuff like grape catsup.” Davis doesn’t make grape catsup, but he does make salsa with Carolina reapers (the world’s hottest peppers) that he grows himself in La Junta. “The bottom line is, I’m a retired middle-school principal of 30 years,” Davis says. “This is enjoyable. I love it.” 

$2.50 to $10 retail

Made by Scaff Brothers

LA JUNTA


LONEWOLF COLLECTIVE JEWELRY

After taking a metalsmithing class in St. Louis, Caitlin Ward moved to Crested Butte in 2012.  “I came to visit for a month and couldn’t leave,” she says. While waiting tables, Ward started making rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings as “a creative outlet,” she says. Ward now crafts gold, silver and other metals into two annual collections of distinctive designs. “Most of my pieces are simple pieces you can wear every day,” Ward says, describing them as “dress-up or dress-down” and “fuss-free.” She recently quit her job at Montanya Distillery’s tasting room to focus on Lonewolf Collective full time. “I’m trying to give jewelry a shot,” Ward says.

Most products $25 to $100 retail

Made by Lonewolf Collective

CRESTED BUTTE


TODD PERKINS GUITARS

With a background in home remodeling, Todd Perkins made an unexpected career move in 2013. “I got tired of putting toilets in and started making guitars,” he laughs. Not just any guitars, mind you, but playable works of art. He started by dumping out his toolboxes and affixing nuts, bolts and other metal widgets to his first “Steamfunk” guitar. Perkins has since made guitars bedecked with license plates, comic books and Star Wars toys. Perkins starts with generic bodies and adds “anything that is flat enough to put on a guitar.” The end results are some seriously eye-catching instruments, bearing the likeness of Johnny Cash made from Swarovski crystals to a strummable Millennium Falcon. His work is evenly split between his own artistic creations and commissioned projects; he makes about 10 guitars a month. “Most of the time I have four or five going at a time,” Perkins says.

Most guitars $600 to $800 retail

Made by Todd Perkins

DENVER

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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