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American Made Series: Catching Up with Sawkille Co.

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Just over four whirlwind months ago, we honored our inaugural class of American Made Award Honorees at the historic Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal and celebrated them in our November 2012 issue. It seems hard to believe that it’s almost time to again survey the country for this year’s crop of inspiring artisans and entrepreneurs! So, appropriately, we’re catching up with our 2012 Honorees to learn how their businesses have expanded and evolved since winning their awards and what they see on the horizon for America’s small business community. Below, we hear what’s new with Jonah Meyer and Tara De Lisio of Sawkille Co., based in Rhinebeck, New York.

How has business been since your selection as an American Made Honoree?

We received an incredibly positive response. The video that was made about us has given so many people a window into our company that we wouldn’t have otherwise captured – from both new and past clients to friends and other people within our community who really didn’t know our “story.” We both felt inspired and uplifted by being a part of the whole thing.

What’s new at Sawkille?

We had the opportunity to build furniture for a restaurant that will be opening this year in Manhattan! The restaurant chose to use all Sawkille designs for tables, chairs and bar stools, so we’re very excited to see the space come together and to be a part of someone else’s creative vision. We also have a handful of new designs that you can see on our blog and that will soon to be listed formally on our site. The Senate Chair is my favorite right now.

What did you take away from your American Made experience?

The opportunity to be showcased by American Made was not only a boost for our company but also personal boost. Doing what we do and living where we live, we go to work, come home, care for our family and take care of our responsibilities. Taking the time to participate in a week of events that celebrated what we do was quite mind-opening. Seeing the imagery of our company projected in Grand Central Terminal and meeting Martha Stewart in person impressed all of us here at Sawkille. The larger audience and praise our work received was pleasantly surprising for us all.

What’s next for Sawkille?

We’re working on our production and seeking to always improve our management of things. That might sound boring, but for two essentially “creative” people, it’s challenging, satisfying and completely necessary.  We continue to build new designs and also have some collaborative opportunities ahead.

How would you describe the current small business climate in America?

It’s exciting from where we stand. It feels like you can make things happen and that there is some increased appreciation for things that are small, American and authentic.

What advice would you give to those currently looking to pursue a small business venture?

The most important thing for us has been to follow our excitement because without that energy we wouldn’t have pushed through. When you’re coming up with a plan, aim high, imagine what you really want to be doing and say yes to everything that comes along. Come up with something you think is awesome and carry it out with perseverance.

What artisans do you look to for inspiration, and what up-and-comers are on your radar?  

We’re inspired by the sculptor Alma Allen, the father-daughter team Lance & Nicole Herriot of Herriot Grace, Workstead design firm and Billy Kirk. The artist Sean Sullivan is currently on our radar.

Tara: Years ago, I read a profile on Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin in Domino magazine. She spoke about her work, her studio, her daughter, and it has stayed with me since as a morsel of inspiration.

Our fellow 2012 inaugural American Made honorees were extremely inspiring to us. To gather with a small group of people and absorb their entrepreneurial spirit and learn more about them was very fulfilling.

 

(photos by Colin Clark)

Stay tuned for future updates and entrepreneurial musings from Jonah and Tara and our other 2012 Honorees! Follow @americanmademsl on Instagram to meet more local artisans.

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Kelsey Mirando is an Editorial Assistant in Books and Special Projects at Martha Stewart. She’s endlessly inspired by art, travel, and life in the Big Apple. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kmirando.

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