Having just attended the Martha Stewart American Made Summit in New York City this past weekend I am still in awe of the passion, creativity, innovation and dedication that the small business owners who attended and presented displayed. All of their companies are based on American made product, utilizing the workforce here in the United States. Some of them revitalizing communities that are in dire need of this kind of interest and assistance to reinvent themselves. Some of them bringing to life an idea born of a passionate hobby. Some of them displaying incredible levels of excitement and energy born out of a desire to change their every day environment and lifestyle. To control their own destiny so to speak. In order to do that though, they all agreed, that they have never worked so hard in their lives and have never enjoyed that work so much!
The Summit was held in the Martha Stewart Omnimedia Headquarters in New York City which was fascinating for me to see. I have to confess that I have followed Martha Stewart since the late 1980’s, reading her books, watching her television specials on entertaining and crafting and then subscribing to her magazine as she broke new ground in elevating the art of “keeping a home.” Being newly married and a creative soul, there were very few personalities at that time who celebrated “Home Keeping” in a stylish and beautiful way that was do it yourself and could be accomplished all by yours lonesome and in your own home. I was hooked, through all five children and tried to elevate the “everyday” steered by Martha’s ideas. She really was the one who propelled me to create more of my own ideas and integrate them into my family’s life.
The workspaces of Martha Stewar’st Living every day operations were shrouded in huge white shades that rolled down from the high warehouse ceiling above.
The space was light filled and all white, perfect for highlighting the design, decor and products of the finalists and winners of the American Made Summit.
Of course, the opening reception the night before the event was done in true Martha fashion with each part of the country being represented by food and beverages indigenous and symbolic of that region.
(That is our neck of the woods!)
Inventive ways of displaying the food was the norm and and creative ways of mixing the flavors was even better. I do have to admit that nibbling never really fills me up so afterwards I did find myself drawn to one of the many open diners to enjoy an omelet, solo at 10:30 pm. LOVE NYC for you can ALWAYS find food at any hour!
After a yummy breakfast of Chobani Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and homemade granola served in compostable bamboo bowls, we were treated to a day long seminar composed of various panels of experts in their fields; recent winners of the 2014 contest, business owners and executives, social media gurus, shop owners, company founders and many more. A wealth of information was disseminated from a white stage clothed in white and punctuated by the large silver map of America that hung behind the stage.
The founder of Alex and Ani spoke to the topic of Building a Brand – From Dream to Reality. She gave her story of how she revitalized the jewelry capital of Rhode Island by utilizing the talented labor force who had been silenced in that area due to companies taking their business overseas.
We met successful business owners who started their companies from a passionate idea and have persevered to bring these companies to fruition and run them successfully today. Included in that panel was the Executive Editorial Director for the Crafts Department of Martha Stewart Living, Hannah Milman.
We were treated to Words of Wisdom from three of ten award winners this year, Floret, Detroit Dirt and Clark’s Botanicals. Rachel Shectman told her story of the founding of her hugely successful and unique store in New York City named Story, whose business model is anything but the norm.
Martha interviewed her friend and neighbor who also happens to be the actress Blake Lively on her new venture as CEO and Creative Director for the online site of Preserve.us.
We then broke for lunch which was creatively served in bamboo trays and dishes that are again compostable. Me being the recycling tyrant at Life’s Patina, LOVED those trays!
The salad was delectable with grains, kale, sweet potato, dried fruit, pepitas, pears and an unknown dressing that I will be sure to try and replicate. I cleaned not only my plate but my entire tray. It really is all about the food you know!
We were treated to a variety of topics in the afternoon sessions from Show Me The Money: Financing Your Business in Today’s Market to Crafting a Brand to Social Chatter and the Role of Social Media in Building Your Brand to an Ask the Expert Panel at the closing. Entertaining panelists were sprinkled throughout and some even kept us laughing, such as the large personality of Barbara Corcoran, Founder of Corcoran Group and Investment Shark on Shark Tank and the well spoken and also humorous Charlotte Beers, a Speaker, Author and past CEO of Ogilvy & Mather in New York City. My brain was on overload taking in all of the pertinent and valuable information as well as processing the inspiration and ideas that kept pooping up in my own head as how to add to and change some of Life’s Patina mission.
How can I encapsulate the event and what I took from it? Wow, tough question, but I would have to say that it was truly inspirational to see how people, just like you and I, took a dream that they truly believed in and took a risk by leaping into bringing that dream to fruition and are doing what they longed to today.
and the originality, all combined to create an event that helped me to refine some of the goals and the direction in which I hope to move Life’s Patina. I certainly hope that I will be as fortunate to attend again next year.
Maybe the weekend’s perfection was in part due to the fact that I got to then met up with my college friends of thirty years…ahem…not sure how I have known them that long since I am only thirty nine but that is for you all to figure out! We had a killer time catching up, hitting some cool places in the city and laughing until our sides hurt. Now that is what I call a perfect weekend!
New York City is such a city of contrasts.
all blended into one seamless city.
It is kind of like a friendship of thirty years, cemented in the shared experiences of the past but enriched by the newly made experiences of the present.
Thanks girlfriends and Martha for giving me two enriching memorable experiences this past weekend!
I will be following up this blog with a highlight of the vendors who will be participating in this coming weekend’s barn sale. All of whom are AMERICAN MADE!
~ Until then~