STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATIE SOX
Bend’s Makers District is a stylist trend that began quietly three years ago focusing on “the creative side of the tracks.” In 2015 Mike Ross, proprietor of Natural Edge Furniture, told Cascade Business News how he founded the District with a focus on creating creative space — functional and fashionable — in a somewhat forgotten part of Bend. The District runs from Greenwood and Olney between First and Second Streets.
Businesses range from whiskey distiller, custom natural edge furniture from salvaged, reclaimed and recycled hardwood materials, year-round indoor farmers market and educational programs, Oregon Hazelnut Toffee, aggregator/distributor of sustainable food to kitchens of all sizes, commuter bicycles, kombucha, rustic/vintage/repurposed accessories, gifts, home décor and all kinds of creative stuff.
Most businesses are equal parts showroom in the front and handcrafted, handmade, locally produced and regionally-focused production in the back. The District’s icon, a decorative spade denoting light industrial production, represents its objective to support local businesses and local products — all homegrown.
“The attraction of the District is making things ourselves — the workroom in the back, and the showroom in the front,” explained Ross. “There are no parameters on the business type, but just locally produced. With our business, we take customers to see the actual trunk. They can smell it, they can connect with it and see the process of design and simply know where it came from.”
Oregon Spirit Distillers/ Barrel Thief
740 NE First Street
Brad and Kathy Irwin and John and Sharon Becher are the owners of Oregon Spirit Distillers that has 14 employees in the Makers District. Oregon Spirit Distillers was established in 2009 off of Butler Market and moved to First Street in 2015, opening the Barrel Thief Lounge at the same time.
Their production manager/lead distiller is Molly Troupe, a native Oregonian, born and raised in the Portland area. She is proud to be the geekiest spirit geek on the production team. With her love of
learning, her masters degree in brewing and distilling and her bachelors degree in chemistry, she tackles all sorts of whiskey business at Oregon Spirit Distillers.
When she is not distilling, Molly enjoys exploring the great outdoors, grabbing a cup of coffee downtown, travelling, binge watching Netflix, entertaining her dog, Logan, and, of course, working on her palate by sampling every kind of beer, wine or whiskey she can.
The company produces award-winning whiskeys including Oregon Spirit Distillers Bourbon, Ottis Webber Wheat Whiskey and J. Becher Rye Whiskey. All have won double gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition in the last two years. They also make Scribbles Dry Gin and Wild Card Absinthe.
Troupe says, “At the Barrel Thief Lounge we serve our spirits in craft cocktails and provide great food. We have a beautiful patio. Oregon Spirit Distillers has access to great resources available in Central Oregon, combining the great agriculture of Oregon (corn, wheat, rye and barley) with great water and relying on passionate people to make great whiskey. Having staff who shares our vision to deliver excellent whiskey is our strongest asset.”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: Oregon Spirit Distillers and the Barrel Thief Lounge are proud to be in the Makers District. It is the center of Bend. The property is a beautiful place to make whiskey and the location is great for our lounge. There is always parking and it is easy to get to from any place in Bend.
Tasting room is open 7 days a week, Sunday–Tuesday Noon–6pm and Wednesday–Saturday Noon–8pm.
Natural Edge Furniture & Splinters Local Hardwoods
135 NE Norton Avenue
Mike Ross is the founder and owner of both Natural Edge and Splinters and employs five people at the company. He opened Natural Edge Furniture in 2010 and plays a vital role in every aspect of the business. He’s been
spotted doing everything from hauling fallen trees to writing and producing a local television ad. Mike spent a lot of time with his grandfather and dad building, fixing and tinkering. After school he spent many years learning his craft by working at multiple furniture and cabinet companies. Mike really enjoys the ‘producer to consumer aspect’ of his business as well as the environmental friendliness.
As the founder of Bend’s Makers District and an Orchard District board member, Mike is heavily invested in building sustainable inter-connected community in Bend. Besides being an entrepreneur and community builder he enjoys anything outdoors, traveling the world and eating great food (especially tacos!) He is a white water guide for friends and family and his snappy sense of humor is always getting him in trouble. Watch out for his story about the psychic and the German Shepherd.
Natural Edge makes custom natural edge furniture from salvaged, reclaimed and recycled hardwood materials. “With our personal collection of local hand selected and air-dried wood slabs, we will find the perfect piece for your project,” explains Ross. “Every project is personal —
from the tree, to our craftsman, to you. Visit our showroom in Bend, order online or contact us for a custom project. We ship nationwide.
“We have started a small retail store selling wood. The name is Splinters Local Hardwoods. The location is across the street from Natural Edge Furniture in the little tan and gray house. 138 NE Norton Avenue.
“We have sorted and priced over a thousand pieces of all shapes, sizes and species. There is a lot of burl and figured wood. We have a whole room dedicated to Walnut slabs, a great selection in Western Maple, Black Locust and Elm. We also have a few pieces of Myrtle, Oregon Oak, Juniper and Ponderosa Redwood. Most pieces are surfaced or sanded so you can see the grain and figure. We have a few sets of surfaced flat book-matched table slabs and are looking at doing more. All of this material is truly dry and ready to use.
“We have a few turning blocks right now, but will be adding a lot more shortly. Green turning wood is available by request.”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: Bend’s Makers District is all about community. As a loosely organized group we have partnered with each other to bring attention to perhaps the coolest neighborhood in Bend. A gritty little neighborhood where people make things. People who make things tend to have extra personality, are able to find creative solutions and are truly entrepreneurs, so we are fun to be around. What other group has built a Human Foosball court?
We have everything from Kombucha to hot rods, baked goods, custom bikes, car racks, jewelers and wood shops. You can work out, lease a home, get a massage, buy a toilet and get insurance all before you eat lunch in this neighborhood. The Makers District has connected all of us and made us stronger as a group. We actually know our neighbors!
Central Oregon Locavore
1841 NE Third Street
Founder and President, Nicolle Timm, RN, BSN, IBCLC created Central Oregon Locavore (COL) in April 2009 to educate the Central Oregon community about the health and social benefits of fresh and nutritious food that is
sustainably produced by local farmers and ranchers. Currently COL employs five people.
In carrying out this mission, COL improves access to fresh, in-season, nutrient-dense local food to all members of the community. There are many outreach programs run by COL to target youth, low-income families and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
COL’s education, outreach and gatherings serve to support sustainable food systems within Central Oregon while simultaneously contributing to the local economy, public health, an educated public and a brighter future for the local citizens.
Timm, a Bend native, grew up eating fresh seasonal produce from her mother’s garden, grass-fed meat from neighboring ranchers and various local foods of all kinds. She went on to earn a nursing degree and moved to Denver, Colorado, where she first worked as a labor and delivery nurse.
COL serves as a year-round indoor farmers market and
“We believe that supporting local farmers and choosing local food benefits the community, the economy and the planet at a very fundamental level,” says Timm. “Local food contains more nutrients than conventional, is fresher, better tasting and more supportive of vibrant health and well being.
“Choosing local supports the local economy. When you buy local, you are supporting a person, a neighbor, a local family vs. a large industrial corporation. Local eggs and meats come from animals that have been treated humanely, living their lives outdoors in pastures and the sunshine vs. confined to unsanitary cages, pens or corrals. Locally grown/raised products are better for the planet and the environment as local farmers tend to use organic and biodynamic practices, fertilizing with manure and compost vs. petrochemicals that damage the ecosystem. Shorter transit times from farm to market decrease the use of fossil fuels. Lastly, local farmers pay local workers a living wage, supporting social justice. This is what makes us tick, to create a better world, we believe if you start with food, something that EVERYONE, no matter what nationality, religion, social status, needs, the impact is exponentially transformative and powerful.”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: The fact that most of the businesses here are local and interested in creating co-supportive community. We frequently work with the Habitat for Humanity Restore, they donated many items when we moved into our new location to help support us and get our feet on the ground. They drove their forklift over to help us unload our large fridges multiple times. We love that everyone in the Makers District is supporting a trade or skill that is often overlooked in our industrial, consumeristic society. These are skills that are important, but dying out in the modern culture, much like farming, ranching and food preservation are.
1234 NE First Street
Teafly, who created her brand in 1975, explains her company, “It’s just me, making stuff, building stuff, drawing stuff, coloring stuff, teaching stuff.”
Teafly is an artist — anything creative that needs to comes to life. Plus — she offers classes for young artists she calls Studio Teafly
“When people ask me what I do, I always answer ‘I am an artist.’ Most people don’t know what that means or it seems vague — do I draw? Write? Photograph? Sculpt? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Mostly what I do is look at the world, examine and respond. Sometimes, I do that for money, sometimes I do that for my community. Sometimes I do that for myself.
“As a graphic designer, I create logos for businesses or any type of assets you might need for that business like — websites, photographs, social media content, etc. If you are a business and need a creative touch, I am a good person to ask. I take my eye as an artist and fix it on what you do and help tell your story.
“As an artist, I create commissioned illustrations, giant walking puppets (I created the Earth Guardians for The Environmental Center’s Earth Day Celebration), large coloring boards and more. Plus — I sell my own art as prints, originals, pillows, hair clips and more.”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: The trains. They are the most punk rock thing about this town — they don’t care that you need to get across town in ten minutes, they are crossing, so watch out. I love that. They just make everything stop. Plus, once-in-awhile, when the trains are parked across the street, I can see some really cool art traveling through on the various cars — some really amazing graffiti pieces. For me, they are a beautiful reminder of being connected to other places and other people. Like a mobile gallery. It really inspires me. Plus — the trains serve as a great reminder that if you don’t like where you are, if you are not happy, you can always go somewhere else, there is always a way out. And then I realize that this is the place I choose. Whatever other options are available, I choose this place to call home. That’s why I love it here. Trains.
Utilitu Sewing and Design
Holm Made Toffee Co.
1470 NE First Street, #800
(kitchen facility, not open for retail)
Holm Made Toffee was founded by Donna Holm in 2007 in Glide, Oregon after retiring from a career as an elementary school teacher. It is now co-owned with her daughter-in-law Randi Holm and they employ eight people
(part time and seasonal).
Although Holm Made Toffee is now headquartered in Bend, Donna has been making this particular toffee recipe for 30+ years to share with friends and family. After retiring from teaching she decided to pursue toffee making as a business as everyone was always asking to purchase her candy.
The unique product is Oregon Hazelnut Toffee in six year-round flavors plus seasonal flavor batches. It is all handmade by the Holm family utilizing ingredients from Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
“The Holm Made Toffee Company is founded on the principle of creating happiness — plain and simple,” says Donna. “We love what we do and there is no greater feeling than bringing a smile to the face of a friend or loved one. We live for life’s precious moments and in our own way seek to wrap up our own slice of happiness in every bag of Holm Made Toffee.
“We’re an artisan confectioner of the world’s greatest toffee. We’ve been making toffee the same way for over 30-years and plan on doing so for generations to come. And when it comes to making our toffee it’s made with everything good.
“The combination of hazelnuts, dark chocolate, butter and sugar is simply magical…you won’t be disappointed. It melts in your mouth — a delightful, sweet experience.
“We pride ourselves on using the same high-quality ingredients and small batch process we’ve always used. And it shows. We’ve won multiple awards — most recently Best in Show 2017 and Honorable Mention — Best Chocolate Candy at the Oregon Chocolate Festival in February. Took home the fan voted Best Booth award at the OSU Art Festival in May (third year in a row).”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: We love how creative and eclectic it is. Our “neighbors” are all so talented. Just steps from my kitchen door I can buy a last minute gift from James Michelle Jewelry, pick up my weekly CSA basket from Agricultural Connections or grab a gluten-free treat from Honest Baking.
And Honest Baking supplies me weekly with their fresh baked shortbread cookies that I then dip in chocolate and our toffee and take to sell at my weekly Farmers Market booths. The cabinet makers have built me shelves when we first moved into our kitchen space and I can run down to Locavore to deliver toffee for re-sale and pick up any last minute ingredients. I love the ease of collaboration in our
Bend Velo Bike Shop / J. Livingston Bikes
1212 NE First Street
The founder of Bend Velo Bike Shop is Eric Power —owner, passionate cyclist, cycling advocate. He created the company in 2008 and has two employees: Tory and Willow.
The shop is the exclusive builder of J. Livingston Commuter Bicycles along with a complete bicycle shop with expertise in touring, mountain, gravel and commuter bikes. It offers a complete selection of tested gear for your next cycling endeavor.
“Our pure passion for changing lives through bicycles is what makes our company tick,” says Power.
“My company is named for my good friend John Livingston. John was the first person I met while visiting Bend for the first time back in 2002. He is an advocate for community, a caring father, a huge bicycle enthusiast — and a bit of a cheapskate, as he will readily admit.
“After I moved to Bend, John and I became great friends, and while our love of cycling was our bond, our choice of bikes was very different. John’s bikes were a mishmash of parts he’d acquired from who knows where. Mine were expensive racing bikes. One day on a cruise around town, John challenged me to explain what made my fancy bike any better than the bike he’d cobbled together from a 1980’s steel mountain-bike frame.
“As I attempted to formulate my argument, I realized I had no case! And so, what started as a friendly argument, ended with an idea for a new bike brand.
“That was over 1,000 bikes ago. Today we build J. Livingston Bicycles from our shop, Bend Velo. We have stayed true to our roots and continue to repurpose old steel bikes into very popular commuter town bikes.
“Every day around Bend I get to see people riding stylish, comfortable, affordable bikes repurposed in my shop. I’m now on a mission to bring John’s vision nationwide and make the world a better place, one bicycle at time.
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: Great group of like-minded business individuals that build relationships before profits. Our little business hub in the city is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit.
1470 NE First Street, #150
Co-Owners Elizabeth Weigand and Manya Williams make up Agricultural Connections, along with two employees. The company brings sustainable food to kitchens of all sizes. Specialty aggregator/distributor of local and
regional food for kitchens of all sizes, offering pickups/deliveries to Bend and Central Oregon.
Agricultural Connections started in January 2010 when founder Andrew Adams recognized that there was an unmet need in the community of Bend: people wanted fresh, local, organic food year-round. Once the farmers markets, CSA and gardening seasons ended, there was nowhere to find it. Andrew set out to find sources and create relationships with farmers in our greater region to satisfy this need. The program started off with produce boxes, a few a la carte items and one weekly pickup location in West Bend. In fall of the same year, Andrew shifted his roots to eastern Canada and Weigand was hired to keep the business running while Andrew started a new life chapter.
About a half year later Weigand became the new owner of Ag Connections and ran it solely with a few key, exceptional part-time employees for the next six years. In the summer of 2016, inspired by Agricultural Connections’ mission to be the catalyst of a food system that honors the farmer, the consumer and the land equally, Williams came on board and joined Weigand as a business owner and partner in spring 2017.
Since 2011, Ag Connections has grown as a tiny and mighty team that has steadily fostered a more extensive list of farm partners, a growing restaurant client list, an online platform dedicated to commercial client order management, various retail pickup locations throughout Central Oregon, a warehouse/office location, a contracted valley courier and delivery driver, two employees and an 18 foot refrigerated truck.
Elizabeth (Liz) grew up on a farm north of Madras and was blessed to be introduced to nourishing food by her mom at a young age. She’s always had a love for plants and gardening and nurtured her roots with a graduate degree and career work in landscape architecture, food systems and planning. She believes in a community vision where local farmers are recognized heroes for every meal we eat!
Liz continues to be active in the local food community, working with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) on various food projects, speaking in classes at COCC, consulting about the development of local food systems and serving on the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance board. When she’s not surrounded by veggies at the office, Liz is concocting yummy food at home, paragliding, backpacking, dancing, skiing, crafting, traveling, paddleboarding and hanging out with her partner Bryan, friends and family.
Manya is a health and wellbeing guru who has inspired countless others through her personal journey with food and mood. Her friends lovingly call her “the folk remedy woman” because she believes, despite our technological advances, we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves. Manya developed her passion for plant based food plus yoga as a means of finding balance. It was with this work that she saw sustainable and local food as an ally to transformation. In addition to coaching private clients and serving as a wellness expert and private chef, Manya also founded and operated JuiceWell, an organic cleanse cafe and eatery in New York City and New Jersey that became a community hub for clean eating and higher thinking. In 2014, Manya moved to Bend with her husband, Josh, and seven-year-old son from New York City and is so happy to call Oregon her home. These days, when not out connecting with clients over local veggies, she can be found adventuring in Oregon or creating seasonal culinary art in her kitchen.
“We aim to become more food secure, support our farmers and enrich the lives of our community,” says Weigand . We recently launched our new website and a convenient, online program to offer farm fresh food to Bend and Central Oregon year-round. Our products and services are accessible to both home and commercial kitchens. For the home we offer three sizes of Produce Boxes with weekly and bi-weekly subscription options. We sell local meats, eggs, cheese, milk, beverages, pantry/dry goods and a la carte produce.
“We are a tiny and mighty Bend-based team who loves what we do and who is honored to contribute to the successful evolution of our regional food system. Our farmers are the heart and soul of our work as, without them, we essentially have no need to exist. We care about the nourishment of the land and the nourishment of everybody.
“We foresee joyful communities that know their farmers by name and know the seasonal veggies that come from our soil. Our craft is one of the connector; we build enduring relationships and local food is the thread we weave all the way from our farm partners to our amazing and supportive customers.
“Agricultural Connections (AC) delivers farm-fresh food year-round. We sell local (Central Oregon) and regional (throughout Oregon, mainly from the Eugene-Junction City Willamette Valley area) food that bridges the gap between farmers and consumers. We strive to supply Central Oregon homes, companies, restaurants and grocery stores with the freshest, most local, organically grown and high quality products year-round.”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: Midtown and the Makers District is an epicenter of Bend without the hustle and bustle of being on Third Street or downtown. It is home to numerous locally owned businesses with inspired business owners. We are a collective of creative, enthusiastic, playful people who offer numerous unique products and services. Our annual fall event is becoming well-known in the community and although disbursed, we are a unified, supportive family. We LOVE our neighbors and love that the Makers District is the home of our business.
1125 NE Second Street
Humm Kombucha was founded by Jamie Danek and Michelle Mitchell in 2009 and today employs 91 people. It all started in Michelle’s kitchen with a shared dream of bringing kombucha to the masses. Today, just a few short
years after that fateful kitchen conversation, Humm is available in 50 states as well as Sweden and Guam, with further expansion plans around the corner. Recently Humm has moved into a 40,000 square foot production facility in NE Bend and hired dozens of Central Oregon residents to accommodate the ever-growing desire for Humm Kombucha. Through it all, the company has maintained and continues to focus on the core values of optimism, healthy business, partnership and quality that Jamie and Michelle began the company with.
Humm delivers a feel-good feeling, 14 oz of kombucha at a time. They suggest you also try feel-good on draft.
Humm’s living culture is thriving in their kombucha and their team. In 2017, a new seasonal flavor, Hopped Grapefruit, has been released into the market. With the bright, summery flavor of grapefruit paired with Cascadia and Citra hops, this once taproom-exclusive brewers batch has struck a chord with fans looking for the next best thing from the Humm brew team. In addition, the cold season classic, Chai, will be returning to the market as a fall/winter seasonal flavor toward the end of the year.
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: The Bend Makers District is revitalizing an industrial space just blocks from downtown Bend. They are keenly focused on highlighting locally made products and vendors through collaboration on events and word-of-mouth initiatives. What could be better than celebrating local businesses and talking about them?
541 Trends, formerly Fabulous Finds
190 NE Irving Avenue, Suite 2
The CEO and founder of 541 is Matina Christophersen who employs two plus people. The company was formed 2005 with a store front created six years ago.
“As a teenager I had the incredible experience to sell shoes for Nordstrom. I loved the company and the opportunities but wanted to work Monday-Friday, so I took a position at a water utility in Washington State and ran the billing department,” she explains.
“Then moved into the utility software industry requiring me to relocate to Bend 21 years ago, happy to say the best move I’ve ever made, and I met my best friend and husband. After that I received a psychology degree from University of Oregon. Opening a store was never on my agenda or bucket list, but after selling accessories at local events, salons and pop up shops, here I am six and a half years later with a store front. The business has grown and evolved so that is why we felt a name change would be in the best interest of the store.
541 carries women’s clothing, accessories, gifts, home décor (new and rustic/vintage/repurposed).
“I am proud to say that I cater to women in the mid 30s and up,” continues Christophersen. “I have items for all ages (especially in jewelry, scarves, hats and gifts) but the clothing is more for the maturing woman. My clothing customers range from 35-70. They like the age appropriate, trendy yet casual clothing for the Bend lifestyle. Many of the lines I carry are a relaxed fit so they fit an array of sizes.
“The hand selected lines and styles are all smaller boutique lines that are not sold in big box stores, and customers love that they do not see themselves coming and going like you do with department/chain store clothing. Our prices are moderate and we work hard at keeping our prices low by being located off the beaten track in Midtown.
“Customers love the unique and funky warehouse setting and how we display as well as easy access and plenty of parking.”
What you love about being in Bend’s Makers District: I love the access to a larger location, a warehouse with a roll up door, reasonable rent and being part of an area that is up and coming. I only see fun and positive aspects for midtown and the Makers District and I am excited to be a part of the up and coming part of Bend.