In addition to being the capital of Tennessee and the home of country music, Nashville is also the home of SmallBusiness.com. Here’s another little-known fact: Nashville is the U.S. city that most reflects the demographics of the entire country, according to WalletHub.com. With such an insightful (or perhaps, just “average”) test market right outside our door, we decided to spend a Saturday morning visiting some “made in Nashville” product makers and artisans to find out what’s popular these days in the microcosm of America: Nashville, Tennessee.
East Nashville Spice Company
On the web: EastNashvilleSpiceCompany.wordpress.com
In their own words: “East Nashville Spice Company is a purveyor of eclectic and wonderfully versatile spice blends containing no artificial flavors, colors or anti-caking agents. Our premier spice blend & rub, the delicious ‘ORIGINAL’ (a.k.a ‘37206 Mix’) is an exciting all-purpose seasoning blend of 15 different herbs and spices combined and handcrafted right here in Music City. We’ve traveled the world & tasted the very best spices from Italy to Egypt, Turkey to Israel, Greece and beyond. The result of these travels is this versatile all-in-one seasoning. It goes brilliantly on everything—poultry, seafood, beef, pork, veggies, stews & soups, deviled eggs, coleslaw, potato, egg, pasta, tuna & chicken salads, even scrambled eggs. It also makes a wonderful salad dressing and takes your grilled foods to the next level. It harmonizes beautifully with your favorite foods to make all your recipes sing with flavor!”
Nicholettos Pasta Company
On the web: Nicolettos.com
In their own words: “We’re two Italian brothers, Ryan and Danny Nicoletto, obsessed with quality. Our pasta is made from a variety of select grains from North America in small batches (often 30 lbs. or less). We love pasta. Fresh pasta, dried pasta, you name it. We love it so much that we founded Nicoletto’s Pasta Co. to handcraft small-batch pasta in fresh and dried varieties using traditional pasta making techniques. Nicoletto’s pasta is bronze cut, slowly dried, and packaged in Nashville.”
Whistle Punk Mens Grooming Company
On the web: WhistlePunkGrooming.co
In their own words: “The Whistle Punk Mens Grooming story began with the idea that men care about what is in the stuff they put on their face and body. Too many of the grooming products out there do more than just keep us looking good, and it ain’t always pretty. The harsh chemicals in many shaving creams, beard oils, pomades and other products actually damage our skin. We just wanted to be dangerously handsome without killing ourselves with chemicals like isopropyl, diethanolamine, monoethanolamine, pthalates and synthetic fragrances. So in 2014 we began making our own products in our kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee and Whistle Punk Mens Grooming Co was born. We make premium quality grooming products in small batches with organic and all-natural ingredients. We named the company Whistle Punk Mens Grooming Co as a nod the dangerously handsome lumberjacks of the golden age of logging. The living conditions were primitive, and the low-paying work was difficult, dangerous, and intermittent, but these men built a culture that celebrated strength, masculinity, confrontation with danger, and resistance to modernization.”
On the web: FaceBook.com/mynolagranola
In their own words: “We believe that snacking can move beyond dull flavors and highly processed ingredients to an event that engages all the senses. Before tossing back Nola Granola, pause for a bit to notice the visual impact of the abundant ingredients. Breathe in the notes of cinnamon and spice and other aromas that delight the nose. Relax into the experience of the unique chewy bits with just the right amount of crunch. Savor the complex flavors resulting from an unhurried, multi-step preparation process. Experience why we believe Nola Granola is the last granola you’ll ever want to eat.”
Salemtown Board Company
On the web: SalemTownBoardCo.com
In their own words: “We started as two guys in Nashville with $300 who wanted to build skateboards and see the world outside our front-doors change, even if just a little bit. A couple years later, we’re Will (big brother/dreamer), Schuyler (younger brother/practical guy)* and a small crew of young bucks from the neighborhood. We are striving to do our part in changing our city by creating jobs for young men who need them here in Salemtown. Our calendars are marked by trips to the mountains. The rest of the time we’re covered in sawdust and paint. We build boards we love to ride and design clothing we wear almost everyday. Our hope is that our boards have a place in all your best weekend adventures and favorite memories. We love what we do and Salemtown is our way of bringing you a piece of that. From us to you, grab a board and ride until you’re lost.”
*Schuyler is the brother in the photo.
Needle & Grain
On the web: NeedleAndGrain.com
In their own words: “We’re Bryson and Susan Leach. Together, we created our small woodcraft and sewing studio focused on exploring and preserving the traditional art of making things by hand. Starting with his grandparents, Bryson comes from a family of tinkerers and builders. Encouraged from childhood to make and build, his love for craft hasn’t quit. His interests span from silkscreening and custom lighting to block printing and woodcraft. Coming from a similar line of makers, Susan has carried on the family tradition of sewing by stoking the fires of quilt making. With a mission to revive the fading art, Susan has poured her heart into every block and stitch to craft modern and traditional blankets, quilts and home goods. Nestled in the heart of historic Downtown Franklin you’ll find Susan and Bryson burning the midnight oil at their tiny home and leaky, antique garage. Together they work to promote the joys of hard work and family by creating quality products, uncommonly friendly service and wholehearted integrity. If you’re looking for a modern heirloom for your family, Needle & Grain would be so honored and happy to make it for you.”
Mitchell Bat Company
On the web: MitchellBatCo.com
In their own words: (From an interview withMitchell Bat Company’s Jeremy Mitchell by Sports Illustrated editor Dom Bonvissuto, Jeans & Ties) “Mitchell, 35, pours his enthusiasm for the national pastime into Mitchell Bat Company, where he sells hand-painted odes to the game he adores. His bats are blowing up. ESPN.com included them in its holiday gift guide. Ebbets, the king of baseball cool, sells them in its flagship store in Seattle. And a national clothing retailer recently reached out and wants to put them in its soon-to-open store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.”
On the web: EliMason.com
In their own words: “Eli Mason is here to help you ‘Reclaim Your Happy Hour’ and mix the best drinks with ease and consistency. Eli Mason makes small batch, spirit-forward cocktail mixers here in Nashville. While our Spirit Forward mentality is best seen in the company’s handmade mixers, it is also a mission that extends beyond the product itself. It’s not just about mixers that highlight (never mask) your liquor’s unique personality; living Spirit Forward is about exploring and embracing the world with open arms. We were the first to offer a premium Old Fashioned cocktail mixer and soon expanded our line with a fresh and versatile Mint Julep syrup, which is made with pounds and pounds of fresh mint. If you like to build sophisticated drinks from scratch, we also provide four ‘Bar Basics’ including Classic Grenadine, Gomme Syrup, Demerara Syrup, and Rich Simple Syrup. All of our mixers feature only the finest ingredients like pure cane sugar, fresh mint, and organic gum arabic. But we’re not just for cocktails! These mixers can also be your secret ingredient in dressings, marinades, desserts, and spectacular non-alcoholic drinks. Whether it’s your bartender in a bottle or favorite cooking companion, Eli Mason has perfected a variety of handmade flavors to fit your Spirit Forward lifestyle.”
Nashville Biketown Tee-Shirt
In his own words: You can find this t-shirt at most of Nashville’s best local bike shops. And while this isn’t in the words of the designer of the shirt, it’s in the words of SmallBusiness.com’s head helper who commutes by bike to work a few days each week and thinks this t-shirt is awesome.
Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Nashville that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at [email protected] with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.