Made in Colorado: Merfs condiments, Becky's Buttons
When Kelly Schexnaildre moved from Louisiana to Denver in 2010, she concocted hot sauce as a hobby. “I just ate a lot of hot sauce growing up,” she says of her passion for fiery foods. Schexnaildre turned pro in early 2014, naming the company for her basset hound, and now makes five kinds of hot sauces, including the original Peaches & Scream (peach-habanero) and her bestselling Sriracha Hand Grenade. “It’s super approachable and delicious,” Schexnaildre says of the latter. She’s now in the process of launching a line of mustards this spring, with four varieties to start. “It’s really just exploded,” she says of the business. “It’s been a lot more profitable and busy than I thought it would be.”
About $5 to $9 retail
Made by Merfs Condiments, Denver, merfscondiments.com A store locator is on the website.
After launching in Austin in 2008, Ryan Cannizzaro moved his bike-building business to Denver in 2012. “We needed to expand,” he explains. “We were bringing all carbon fiber production in-house.” Two and a half years later, Cannizzaro says the relocation to a shop/factory off the Cherry Creek Trail was a good move. “Growth has been great. Colorado’s been treating us very well.” In 2014, the 10-employee company made about 400 bikes. “This year we plan on making a lot more,” he says. A good number of them will be new carbon-fiber hardtail mountain bikes that hit the market in March. Cannizzaro says his are the only bikes of their kind entirely made in the U.S.
$3,900 to $6,400 retail
Made by Alchemy Bicycle Co. Denver, alchemybicycles.com
Becky’s Buttons & Dioramas
Becky Wareing Steele started collecting buttons from her favorite bands in high school and the hobby “blossomed into a business” while she attended Colorado State University in the early 2000s. By the end of the decade, her button-making operation evolved to include dioramas. “I’m an organized and obsessive person, so I like to channel that into making very small things,” says Steele, who also works as a manager and buyer at Denver’s Fancy Tiger Crafts. “I spend a lot of time at Caboose Hobbies.” She now sells her wares through five Colorado boutiques as well as stores in Oregon and Texas, and the dioramas have taken on lives of their own. “In the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to integrate a storytelling aspect into my work,” she says. “I’ve kind of mapped out a storyboard of all of my characters.”
$6 to $88 retail
Made by Becky’s Buttons, Denver, beckysbuttons.com
Nick Lacroix started making guitars to play when he was a teenager, but he says it’s now the making, not the playing, that’s become his passion. “I started because I wanted to play, but the addiction became building guitars,” he says. In 2011, Lacroix launched Zoov (named for his online gaming moniker) and he’ since made about a guitar a month for clients all over the map. “Every one, I make from scratch,” he says. “I make the fretboards. I make everything.” Lacroix uses woods from ebony to cherry and focuses on balance and playability, noting that luthiers’ claims of great tone woods is overblown. “Ninety percent of a guitar player’s tone is actually in his hands.
$2,500 to $5,000 retail,
“depending on how out of hand you want to get.”
Made by Zoov Guitars,