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Made in Colorado: Blockworks, bacon jam, counter couture, vibrant juice


Living in cramped apartments in L.A. and New York, James Hixson regarded floor space as a prized commodity before a move to Denver in 2012.

In these "very small spaces," Hixson found inspiration for his modular furniture. "I was trying to figure out furniture that could change," he says. A table was great, for instance, until entertaining guests; then it would be much better if it could shape-shift into seating.

Hixson's vision evolved into Blockworks, which he launched in July after two years of R&D and prototyping. Made of furniture-grade plywood, the sturdy modules are sold in sets from two to eight pieces. "They all fit together and they all work together,” Hixson says. “It's really sturdy but you can just pull it out by hand."

The secret ingredient is Hixson's patent-pending joint system, he describes "as simple and user-friendly."

An example of Blockworks in action: "Say you're using a set of four for a coffee table," Hixson says. "You can pull apart your coffee table and use it as four chairs … in under a minute. Or … a half table and two chairs, or a desk. There are endless possibilities."

Set of two: $400 retail

Made by Black Hound Design Co., Denver

blackhounddesigncompany.com or theblockworks.com


After retiring from hotel management in 2010 and moving to Colorado, Kay Wolfe’s daughter urged her to sell her cookie and soup mixes. But it wasn't until she saw bacon jam on the Food Network that her culinary creations took off. "I decided I could do it better," Wolfe says. She brought her first batch to the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo in 2011 and sold out that day. "I stayed up all night and cooked 100 pounds of bacon jam." When ThinkGeek ordered 1,200 jars, Wolfe had herself a hit. Favorite recipes include: bacon jam on cream cheese and crackers with Wolfe's Ghost Pepper Jelly and atop spinach salad. "My mother, who's 89, eats it on scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes," Wolfe says.

$7 to $12 retail

Made by Kickass Edibles fueled by Kay's Kitchen LLC, Castle Rock



Jill Latham started making cold-pressed juice in 2011 in Santa Barbara, Calif., while studying to become a registered dietitian. "When I was in school, I was one of the first cold-pressed juice companies in Santa Barbara," she says. "By the time I graduated, there were five.” Latham moved to Denver to be on the front end of another juicing boom. She makes nine varieties she sells from a truck and her top seller is pineapple, pear, lemon, mint and flax oil. Three-quarters of her customers buy 18 bottles of juice at a time for a three-day cleanse ($195). Big news for 2014: "We're opening a retail store in Cherry Creek," Latham says.

$10/bottle retail





Kaelin Tillery started Counter Couture with husband Richard Duggan in 2011 after a lay-off. "It was kind of a happy accident," says Tillery, explaining that Duggan’s familiarity with screen printing led them to buy a press. "Our first job paid off the press." Today they illustrate and print a range of clothing and housewares. Top sellers include: T-shirts emblazoned with anatomically correct hearts and tea towels bearing images of eggbeaters to VW Buses. On deck: "A series of animals wearing people clothes," according Tillery, mentioning sheep in sweaters and giraffes wearing scarves.

$10 to $48 retail


 Also available at I Heart Denver Store, Indy Ink and other Denver retailers

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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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