Made in Colorado: Leechpit Hobo Nickels, VonMod, Backyard Soda

Handcrafted nickels, furniture, mocktails and fishing gear

Leechpit Hobo Nickels

“I say it all the time: ‘There’s no wrong way to deface a nickel,’” says Adam Leech, who’s been whittling coins into hobo nickels since 2008. Buffalo nickels are his preferred medium: He often carves away the metallic flesh and leaves a bison skeleton in its wake, using a microscope and tiny hand-tools. When he’s not crafting nickels into images of Stephen Hawking, dogs playing poker, and Star Wars Stormtroopers, Leech makes a line of rings and pendants cast from his creations, takes custom orders, and runs the Leechpit, a vintage store on the west side of Colorado Springs, with his wife, Heather.
$100 to $350 retail
Made by Adam Leech, Colorado Springs, or

VonMod furniture

An architect and designer, Jordan Vaughn takes a small-batch manufacturing approach to furniture from his space in north Denver. In late 2014, he upgraded his furniture-making operation for the 21st century with CNC machines “and a bunch of really cool software,” says Vaughn. “That’s allowed us to create a catalog of stuff we can make on pretty short notice.” Workstations have emerged as a forte, with a modern mix of wood and laminates that “can double as dry erase boards,” says Vaughn. “Our tagline is: ‘For designers, by designers.’”
Workstations start at
$1,800 in volume
Made by VonMod Ltd., Denver,

Backyard Soda Co.

Patrick Creager started making simple syrups infused with fresh fruit and herbs for cocktails as general manager of since-shuttered Denver eatery Olivea in 2008; but patrons loved them even without the booze. “The biggest surprise was how well the sodas sold on their own,” he says. “People would come in for brunch and have a flight of sodas.” Creager started Backyard Soda Co. with his wife, Ari Murdock, in 2011, as a cart that offered cold drinks and snow cones. They soon began bottling their cane sugar-based syrups – which are mixed with soda water to taste (or used as marinades) – in flavors like lemon-rosemary, strawberry-mint and mango-jalapeno. The couple has plans to eventually open “a modern-day soda shop,” but one thing at a time, says Creager. “We’re in phase one of our business. We’re looking at bottled sodas in phase three or four.”

$10 to $15 retail
Made by Backyard Soda Co., Denver,


Ski-mask purveyor Phunkshun had a sales rep using its winter-oriented product while fly-fishing on the river. That provided the spark to smooth out its seasonal manufacturing with a warm-weather product, says CEO Jason Badgley. “We had to make a product that was longer and could be tucked everywhere.” The resulting Fishmasks keep the bugs and sun off an angler’s face with breathable, moisture-wicking materials. Phunkshun, which has nearly doubled its staff to 15 employees since moving to Denver from Silverthorne last year, offers custom designs for retailers and corporate customers.

About $13 to $25 retail
Made by Phunkshun, Denver, or

Categories: Made in Colorado, Magazine Articles