Saturday, May 18, 2024

North Carolina’s craft vendors make gift-giving easy

Sure, you could get all of your holiday shopping done through a certain ubiquitous online retailer, but what’s the fun in that? Whether shopping for employees or out-of-state clients or picking up a little something for yourself, here’s a curated selection of vendors and artisans showcasing made-in-North Carolina craftsmanship.

ColsenKeane Leather

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The Charlotte-based business was started in 2010 after Scott Hofert began making simple yet durable leather items for himself. Popular corporate gifts include portfolio cases, journals and travel cases. The leather bags, travel accessories and more are crafted at the eight-employee company’s Charlotte studio and have a lifetime guarantee. Products range from $25 keychains to satchels costing upward of $1,500. For a one-time fee of $295, ColsenKeane can create a die with your company’s logo to be used for current and future orders. Clients have included FedEx, Panasonic and Subaru.

Videri Chocolate Factory

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Since 2011, Videri Chocolate Factory has made chocolate bars, bonbons, hot chocolate mix and more in Raleigh’s downtown warehouse district. The company plans to open a second, larger production facility at Transfer Co. Food Hall in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shop warehouse by mid-2019. Owner Sam Ratto also launched Rottar, a chocolate-making equipment company — his machines have been sold in nine countries. The seasonal Jingle Bell Caramel Box, with eight assorted caramels, retails for $21 or can be combined with other delectables in a build-your-own gift box. Corporate gift orders will be accepted until Dec. 14.

The Country Bookshop

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Autographed, personalized books are a thoughtful way to say thank you to clients and customers. Business North Carolina’s bookseller partner in Southern Pines offers a few hand-picked titles by N.C.-based authors. The Range Bucket List by acclaimed golf writer James Dodson takes readers on a journey around the world and into the lives of characters large and small, from lunch with Donald Trump to rounds with novelist John Updike and intimate conversations with pro golfer Arnold Palmer. The Farm House Chef by North Carolina native Jamie DeMent offers 150 recipes for every occasion and stories of the author’s life on a working farm: On 55 acres of Piedmont farmland in Hillsborough, DeMent and her family raise sustainably nurtured heirloom varieties of produce and livestock. In Southern Sunrises, author Tom Bryant reflects on a lifetime spent outdoors, walking the woods for game and for the nourishment of the soul. Further details, plus instructions for bulk orders, author personalization, gift wrap and shipping information, are available at

Pens by Ryan Brown

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Brown, a former cabinet-maker who lives in Mount Holly, started making hand-turned wooden pens about five years ago after taking early retirement from the military. His hobby evolved into a part-time job, and now Brown crafts pens from a range of materials including acrylic, rebar and circuit boards. His wooden pens are the most popular — Brown works with varieties such as walnut, Bethlehem Olive and other exotic hardwoods from around the world. He’s even made pens from wood recovered from the decks of the U.S.S. North Carolina and other battleships as they have been refurbished. Most of Brown’s pens sell for $50 or less, with some in the $60 to $100 range. Check out his display at Catawba Coffee in downtown Mount Holly, or at

NC Made

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Nicole Bogas launched NC Made in 2014 with a goal of supporting small North Carolina-based, craft-food businesses. The Durham company offers about 15 gift-box assortments on its website, and customized boxes for corporate gifts also are available. Prices range from a $29 box of blister-fried peanuts from First United Methodist Church of Mount Olive to a $145 Live Oak Gift Crate featuring Cloister Whipped Wildflower Honey (Charlotte), Sea Love Sea Salt (Wrightsville Beach), Ritchie Hill Bakery Cheese Straws (Concord) and more. A best-seller is the Pine State Sweets Box, which includes Postre Caramels (Asheville), Escazu Chocolate (Raleigh) and other confections.

Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin is the managing editor at Business North Carolina magazine. She can be reached at

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