By Carla Turchetti

There is something really special about locally made items. Buying local items is like making an investment in your community. It supports your neighbors and it keeps dollars circulating nearby. But the best part of shopping locally might be discovering that your newest favorite product is made right in the neighborhood.

Happy Tassels
Happy Tassels began in September 2014 with owner and designer Caroline Price, a sixth grade year-round English teacher and recent graduate of UNC-Wilmington, wanting to learn how to do something new. She began hand-making jewelry, which began as tassels only, and wearing it herself. Soon, boutiques, friends, coworkers and family members wanted to buy her handmade jewelry. Happy Tassels has expanded beyond tassel jewelry, and Caroline now hand crafts unique necklaces with some of her favorite things including elephants, seashells, deer antlers and horns.

“I hand-make all of my tassels, and hand-string all of my necklaces, and I think that’s why people have really bought into Happy Tassels,” Caroline says. “I’m inspired by bright, fun, vibrant colors like pink, electric blue and orange creamsicle, but at the same time I do love soothing, coastal colors like mint, coral and aqua. I try to create pieces that combine all of that fun energy so that the customer has an eye-catching, made-with-love piece.”

To purchase
Palm Avenue and The Purple Polka Dot boutiques, and online at

Brewery overall pic blake.jpg

NC State Brew
While there are many college students who know a thing or two about beer, at North Carolina State University it really is a science. The University has its own brewery that is operated within the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences in support of teaching and research activities within the department.

“For the past several years we have been allowed to provide our beer exclusively to on-campus university events,” says Dr. John Sheppard, Professor at NC State and Undergraduate Coordinator for Bioprocessing Science. “In February of this year we obtained an ABC distributor’s permit, which also allows distribution to commercial establishments, but not to the general public. I expect the beer to be available in select outlets, on tap only, this spring.”

At university-affiliated venues or events and beyond, look for Pack Pilsner, Brickyard Red and the seasonal Wolf-toberfest in the fall.

To order
Online at

Klen Shop
Leigh Noonan and Allison Mays have built a business out of being concerned moms. Allison noticed that her 2-year-old daughter loved lip products, but that she mostly licked them or ate them right off her lips. So the founders of Klen Shop created lip balm good enough to eat – and free of alcohol, which the Klen team says companies add in order to dry lips out further, and create a cycle of needing lip balm.

“We are able to create a product that has four ingredients,” Allison says, “They are all-natural and safe to ingest.”

“With our four ingredients we have made a really great product that moisturizes your lips and does what all of these other companies are saying their stuff does – yet they have so many ingredients, and half of them you can’t even read off the back of the package,” Leigh says.

Klen has expanded into body cream, shower melts, and soy candles. Every product has six ingredients or less.

To purchase
The Green Monkey and Oxford Green boutiques in Raleigh, or

Raleigh Raw
If you are looking for healthy food fast, look no further than Raleigh Raw Cafe and Juice Bar. Stop in for raw, 100 percent organic, cold-pressed juice blends in their downtown location, or they will deliver them to your doorstep or even your desk. A 17-ounce juice contains up to five pounds of produce. The growing menu now also includes the West Coast favorite, poke’.

“It’s a fusion between Japanese and Hawaiian cultures where you have hot rice on the bottom, raw sashimi grade fish on top with seaweed salad and micro greens, and we top that with avocado and house-made sauces,” says Raleigh Raw co-owner Leslie Woods. “We’re the only place in North Carolina – maybe even the Southeast – that has that.”

For a new take on your favorite cup of joe try Raleigh Raw’s Cracked Coffee which trades cream and sugar for coconut oil and grass-fed butter. The additional fats are said to boost metabolism, satisfy you longer and slow the release of caffeine into the system.

To purchase
Raleigh Raw Cafe and Juice Bar, 7 West Hargett Street, or online at

Hail Mary Bloody Mary Mix
Hail Mary Bloody Mary Mix is handcrafted in Raleigh for connoisseurs who don’t want a side of chemicals with their favorite cocktail. Kelly and Blake Stewart were tired of grocery store mixes with too much salt and too many additives, so they turned to Grandma Edna’s recipe for homemade tomato juice as the base for a small-batch, all-natural, fresh Bloody Mary mix.

“We use a couple of different kinds of fresh peppers, fresh horseradish root and a blend of really high quality spices,” Kelly says, “What makes our product unique to the market is that we use the fresh juiced tomatoes. A lot of other products are made with a tomato paste and water, or powder and water. Our is fresh, healthy, and all-natural.”

And in case you think Bloody Mary mix is still just for brunch, Kelly suggests incorporating it into your
recipe repertoire.

“In the wintertime it makes a great chill base, and in the summer I make gazpacho with it,” Kelly says.

To purchase
Retailers including Southern Season, NOFO at the Pig and The Butcher’s Market, and online at

Slingshot Iced Coffee
The perfect pour of iced coffee is as close as a bottle of Slinghhot Cold Brew concentrate. The husband-and-wife team of Jenny and Jonathan Bonchak brews small batches of concentrate for cold brew coffee out of organic, in-season beans. And they brew it all in Raleigh.

“At Slingshot, we expertly brew a coffee that is incredibly balanced with a smooth body, exceptional clarity and distinct flavor profile,” Jenny says, “The versatility of Slingshot’s concentrate allows anyone to easily mix an iced or hot coffee, craft delicious cocktails, bake desserts or even make a savory marinade. Use recipes from our website, or get creative on your own.”

Slingshot is also brewing Cascara Tea by the bottle.

To purchase
Local stores including Whole Foods, Southern Season and Tasty Beverage, or online at

Emily Brooks Designs
Raleigh native Emily Brooks has a way with a pen. A trained designer who draws, paints and writes in elegant calligraphy, her local business was born when she stepped up to produce a goodie bag with a map for out-of-town guests attending her sister’s wedding. They were a crowd favorite among the wedding guests, and Emily started selling the canvas bags and quickly expanded the line.

“I added other cities and then the state of North Carolina, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Emily says.  I also really love doing custom work and wedding work as well.”

Emily’s maps have graced custom save-the-date wedding cards and in addition to tote bags, they appear on prints, postcards, mugs and more. And her calligraphy items will leave you wondering why they ever stopped teaching cursive handwriting in schools.

To purchase
Deco Raleigh, Relish Cafe, or online at

Always Poppin’
Always Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn is bursting with family tradition. Owner Scott Brammer is a huge fan of family movie night - and what family movie night is complete without popcorn? At the Always Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn Store in Raleigh, the locally-popped flavors for sale range from savory to sweet, satisfying palates with tastes ranging from dill pickle to red hot cinnamon. Pick some up for family movie night, stuff a tin or basket for a tasty gift or choose popcorn as a party or wedding favor.

“Popcorn makes people happy, that’s why it is associated with movies and sporting events,” Scott says. “We’re trying to make people happy with something they love and enjoy. I love what I make.”

Insider tip: Check out the best-selling Triangle Blend of caramel, yellow and white cheddar popcorn.

To purchase
Always Poppin’, 8801 Lead Mine Road, or online at

House of Swank
If you are clear on the dividing line in North Carolina between vinegar-based barbecue and tomato-based barbecue, well, House of Swank, has a tee for that. This Raleigh company features t-shirts, coozies, hats and more imprinted with designs that hit close to home, like “Bless your heart”, “Blackbeard is my homeboy” and the ever-popular “Let’s make some poor decisions”. Owner John Pugh describes the line as rad, and says it represents how he feels about his home state.

“I was born and raised in the big city of Climax, North Carolina and grew up with a deep love for my state,” John says. “From the mountains to the coast, North Carolina has it all. The people, the places, the events, the history. I love it all.”

You probably already have someone on your list who needs the coozie that says “Hold my beer and watch this!”.

To purchase
Online at

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