Made in Colorado (Summer 2023) — Beer Can Art, Surfboard Wax and More
From campers to beer can art, Colorado does it all. Here are some of our favorite products made right here in Colorado.
All Made In Colorado’s winners and finalists have at least one thing in common: They all make products in Colorado.
It underlines the sheer breadth of the products made in Colorado. While the Colorado manufacturing base is not as established as places like the Rust Belt and the Southeast, it is also unconstrained by tradition and underpinned by innovation.
And that might be exactly what the domestic industry needs as it rides a winning streak fueled by the return of manufacturing from China and other overseas locales — no matter whether it lands in Detroit or Kremmling, Colorado.
5280 Beer Can Art
A high school choir teacher by day, Aaron Jaramillo started turning beer cans into art in 2019. He made a Colorado flag for his brother as a Christmas gift, then “the ball kind of got rolling,” he says.
That’s a bit of an understatement: As of March 2023, he’s made more than 700 artworks from cans, about four a week in the years since he started. Jaramillo collects, cleans, flattens, and sorts cans by color, then uses a router and a staple gun to craft his wares. He makes more Colorado flag art than anything else, but also takes on custom projects and has delivered cornhole sets to several Denver Broncos players.
Jaramillo says he was inspired by Peter 4:10 in the Bible: “It essentially says, ‘Use your gifts that God has given you in service of others,’ which is the main reason I am doing this.”
COST: $25 to $150 retail. Cornhole sets $450.
Buddies Outdoor Gear Surfboard Wax
Landin Goloja surfed waves all over the world before getting “hooked” on the thrill of surfing rivers in Colorado. “I started river surfing when I moved out here five years ago, and I started beekeeping the other year as well,” he says. “I kind of put the two together making my own surfboard wax.”
Goloja started using beeswax from his backyard hive and other beekeepers on the Front Range to make biodegradable surfboard wax. “That wax ultimately rubs off the board overuse and gets into the rivers, lakes, and oceans,” he says.
Goloja sees the wax as the first product of many. “Currently, I’m prototyping river surfing fins as well, for the bottom of surfboards,” he says. “We’re looking to collaborate with other local companies as much as possible and increase the community of river surfing through some good products.”
COST: $5.50 retail
Available online and at The Edge Ski Saddle and Pack in Pueblo.
Tune Outdoor Campers
Outdoor industry veteran Sean Kepler co-founded Tune Outdoor with designers Kris Arnold and Ryan Bricker in 2020.
After more than two years of R&D, the company launched the Tune M1 camper in early 2023. “What’s out there are heavier slide-ins and lightweight, wedge-tent frame campers, and we tried to bring the two together by doing a framed pop-up that provides dramatically more space inside than the wedges,” says Kepler. “It just feels immensely more spacious than the other campers that are out there right now.”
Tune builds the campers with “very innovative manufacturing techniques” in a 29,000-square-foot facility in northeast Denver. The M1 features patent-pending aluminum extrusions and composites typically used in boat propellers.
The market is responding in a big way, says Kepler. “We’re on forecast, so we’re totally stoked about that.”
COST: Starting at $12,999 retail
After giving birth to her daughter, Elizabeth Endicott started sewing “whimsical children’s items” in 2017. Her Weird Birds took off on Instagram with dolls and stuffed animals, and Endicott soon branched out into jewelry and illustration. “Now I have a bright, sunny studio full of fabric and sewing machines and ideas,” she says.
“I learned how to sew from my mother, who learned from her own mother, and every time I work, I feel tethered to a long line of textile artists,” Endicott says. “I try to make products that make me happy, and would’ve delighted my younger self, too.”
The Kitty Set, a fabric envelope with a cat and its kitten, is a top seller, and Weird Birds’ diverse dolls remain popular. “Every year around the holidays, I also make a bunch of different ornaments, from owls to emotional mushrooms to Blucifers, and they’re so fun,” Endicott says.
COST: Starting around $20 retail
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