Posted: April 01, 2013
Made in Colorado 2013: Kitchen & bathBy Eric Peterson
Rosy Rings, now a successful small business with nearly 20 employees and an international presence in Japan and South Korea, began in a basement with an old crock pot, dented molds, some essential oils and beeswax. Founder Shannon Cumberland’s hobby became a full-fledged occupation when she lost her day job in 1995.
Today Rosy Rings operates out of a 15,000-square-foot facility in Denver and Cumberland buys her wax by the ton. But some things never change. “We still hand-produce all of our candles and we make them the same way we did 16 years ago,” says Cumberland.
It’s this unwavering integrity that allows Rosy Rings to compete in such a crowded industry. A single botanical candle, Rosy Rings’ bestseller, requires two days of labor-intensive pouring, stuffing, re-pouring, melting and wrapping. “It’s a painstaking process,” Cumberland admits. “But the results are breathtaking.”
The Spicy Apple candle, for example, weighs five pounds and lasts 200 hours. “You get a ton of value for your money,” says Sales Director Stephanie Babich. Prices range from $20 to $80. A scented sashay for freshening drawers and closets was released last month.
Thom Vernon had a vision: a stylish fridge retro in design and modern in functionality. Vernon brought in his nephew, Orion Creamer, a then-recent graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Industrial Design Program, in hopes of developing something fresh.
The uncle-nephew team studied antique refrigerators and experimented with prototypes to get the look right before calling in other tradesmen for stamping, chroming and casting. The result, released in 2001, was the Big Chill: a cutting-edge, steel-body, chrome-trim appliance that came in eight classic colors. Today you’ll find more than 200 custom colors along with matching appliances.
“Mid-century modern is in,” says Creamer, “and we’re the only place making these fridges.”
Forward-thinking inspiration lurks in the details. Fridges, dishwashers and microwaves are locally and responsibly built in Boulder. Many appliances are Energy Star-rated, and the finishing process, a technique called powder coating, emits little to no gas.
California and New York are Big Chill’s biggest markets and the company also does substantial local business. Later this year Big Chill plans to open a division in France.
Sky River Ranch
Tucked between the state’s snaking namesake river and the breathtaking Book Cliffs, you’ll find a two-man furniture operation with an international reputation that soars far beyond the Western Slope. Sky River Ranch, a company that’s been around for about 20 years, is where Jeff Bates designs his stunning furniture.
There are two things you need to know about Bates: He’s a life-long artist and a cowboy. “Furniture was a natural progression from art,” says Bates, a jack-of-all-trades. He does the typical stuff – couches, chairs and tables – as well as more complex projects – bathroom vanities, custom chandeliers, even utilitarian stair railings.
“When it comes to metal and wood, there are millions of different finishes for each; put the two together and the possibilities are endless,” Bates says.
Bates’ custom designs are a caliber you don’t see much anymore. That’s because a strong work ethic forged during adolescent years spent on an Oklahoma ranch touches each handcrafted piece. “Generally you’ll get a very durable piece that will be handed down for generations,” says the artist. Bates works mostly with interior designers and homeowners. He also works with the municipality, turning everyday items like benches and bike racks into functional, aesthetically pleasing art.
Bloomin’s cards and paper products are embedded with seeds – plant them and watch them grow.
DENY makes everything from pillows to shower curtains artistic.
Everitt & Schilling
Wood tile made from old barns and other sustainable sources.
Tables, credenzas and dressers made with salvaged wood.
Udgar and Puja Parsons’ Growing Spaces has grown from a garage operation in the early 1990s to a 22-person company today.
Scott Bennett balances aesthetics and sustainability in his striking designs.
Hunter Douglas Inc.
Both functional and fashionable, Hunter Douglas’ window coverings make houses into homes.
The Miracle Baker makes cutting and portioning pies and scones as easy as, well, pie.
Melt Bath and Skincare
Most of Melt’s bath products (body scrubs to fizzy bath balls) are made in Denver.
Beetle kill goes to good use in these stunning tables.
Skincare and body care
The organic skincare company makes most everything in Boulder.
Personalized signs, frames and gifts.
Sashco has been in business since 1936 and makes a wide range of caulks and sealants at its Brighton facility.
Schacht Spindle Co.
Schacht has made hand-weaving looms and equipment since 1969 and today is based out of a 35,000-square-foot facility with 25 employees.
SPARQ makes a wide range of soapstone kitchenware and other products.
Lamps and accessories
Treeline’s lamps are made largely of upcycled bike parts.
Van Briggle Art Pottery
The world-renowned Van Briggle has been making pottery in Colorado Springs since 1899.
Victor Trading Co.
Brooms, candles and cookie cutters
Traditional products handmade with antique tools and machinery.
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