Photo by Terry Brennan
*Winner of the Outdoor category
Proprietor: Tim Shore
In 2013 Tim Shore’s wife Jen told him she wanted a stand-up paddleboard. Shore had never operated a table saw, let alone owned one, but after doing a little research on SUPs, he stumbled on hollow-core wood boards. He fell in love with their aesthetic, and hatched a hair-brained scheme to make one for Jen himself. “The funny thing about the story is that my wife still doesn’t have her own board,” he says of the business that began with some plans he found on an Internet forum and a carpentry lesson from his father-in-law.
“The first board I made, there were obviously little errors along the way and she was like, ‘You know what? Maybe this should be your board and the next board you make will be mine.’” Little did she know, that first board, albeit slightly imperfect, very heavy, and more than a year in the making, was perfect enough to net an order from an acquaintance. And then another. And then another. Thirty boards and infinite skill-honing later, Shore still might be a banker by day and make his paddleboards in his garage in Otsego by night (sometimes the middle of it in boxers if inspiration strikes—“I find myself waking up at 3 am and being like, ‘Oh! I should do that!’ And then I’ll go out and I’ll do it.”), but the head-turning craftsmanship of the boards and the time it takes to make each (roughly 35 hours) leaves little doubt that he’s not long for a suit and tie. “I always hear people say, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t even want to use that,’” Shore says in reference to the boards, which he’s meticulously refined to be lighter, more durable, and aesthetically amazing since that first fateful foray. “They can go on a wall, but I prefer them in the water.” shore-boards.com
"For the Outdoor category, I was looking for companies that get folks outside in Minnesota, which is a cause I believe in deeply, in a way that is true to this special place." —Made in the North Outdoor Judge Eric Dayton, owner, Askov Finlayson, Bachelor Farmer, Marvel Bar
Outdoor Category Finalists
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Photo by Cameron Wittig
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Proprietor: Kelly English
Kelly English wove her first outdoor play structure during her daughter’s naptimes using a truckload of willow her friend had dropped off in her backyard. “How do you know how to do that?” her neighbor asked as English bent and tucked sticks into other sticks in a way that would eventually amount to a human-sized hive. “I was like, ‘I don’t know!’” It was 2006 and English wanted to make a backyard play structure that wasn’t an eyesore. She got better at crafting the whimsical wigwams, and before long she had a Longfellow studio and built a business around it, Cheeriup. It’s been a whirlwind of orders (as far away as France) and press (The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living) ever since. cheeriup.com
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Photo courtesy of Brilliant Reflective
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Proprietor: Nick Lipetzky
Location: St. Paul
Sometimes products are so simple and useful you can’t believe they didn’t exist sooner. Enter Brilliant Reflective strips. “Consumers really didn’t have adequate [reflective] solutions even when they went out and bought a running vest, or decked out their bike with lights,” says Brilliant Reflective president Nick Lipetzky. The company uses 3M’s uber-bright Scotchlite reflective technology for its stick- and iron-on strips that can adhere to anything, from clothing to bike helmets to sneakers. The strips are also colorized so they match the surface they’re on. A strip that’s hyper-visible when you need it and invisible when you don’t? Go figure. brilliantreflective.com
Photo courtesy of Loll Designs
Outdoor chair by Loll Designs
Proprietor: Greg Benson
“You should be biking, not working on your furniture,” says Loll Designs founder and CEO Greg Benson of his high-design, low-maintenance outdoor furniture. “We have a saying that we’re ‘loosely tight.’ We play hard, we work hard, and we relax hard.” Known for its clean-lined, modern aesthetic, Loll started 20 years ago in Hamel as True Ride, a skateboard park building company, which uses recycled products like durable plastic made from old milk jugs. Benson was thinking of a use for skate park construction scraps and had an epiphany: “I really liked Adirondack chairs but they’re always in some state of falling apart,” he says. “So I was like, ‘We should design a chair that could be like the Duluth chair.’” Presto, Loll was born. lolldesigns.com
Meet the Guest Judge
Eric Dayton | Made in the North Outdoor Judge
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Eric Dayton graduated from Williams College with a degree in English and later received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He was a member of Will Steger’s Arctic Transect 2004, a six-month, 2,000-mile dogsled expedition. Eric then worked for Target Corporation prior to starting his own company.
In 2011, Eric and his brother, Andrew, opened three businesses inside a historic warehouse building in the North Loop of Downtown Minneapolis. Since then, they have helped to transform the area into one of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Their men’s clothing company, Askov Finlayson, has been recognized by Esquire and GQ as one of the ten best men’s stores in America. The brothers’ restaurant, The Bachelor Farmer, was named one of Bon Appetit’s top ten new restaurants in the country when it opened and Marvel Bar has twice been a James Beard national semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program.
Eric is a trustee of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and a member of NRDC’s Midwest Council.
*The Made in the North winners and finalists were determined by guest judges and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's editorial team.