Produced in partnership with Explore Asheville.
Everyone loves bringing a special memento home. The best way to do that? By supporting local craftspeople, artisans, artists, and entrepreneurs who care deeply about the neighborhood, the environment, and paying it forward. These 14 are just a few of the businesses fostering a healthy and prosperous community with their good taste and smart, sustainable business choices. Get to know the makers — and highlights from their collections.
Throughout the early 20th century, the heartbeat of African American life happened at the juncture of Eagle and Market Streets — known as The Block — where over one hundred Black-owned businesses flourished until the city’s “urban renewal” project dismantled the community. A century later, during the pandemic (on Juneteenth 2020, to be precise), alexandria monque ravenel and Ajax Ravenel opened their boutique and art gallery to represent and showcase the fruits of Black artistic and entrepreneurial labor and creative thought. They founders were deliberate in their location — the historic YMI Cultural Center — and currently work with over a dozen local independent makers creating photography, jewelry, T-shirts, and wellness products.
Top Pick: Elizabeth Ivey’s limited-edition fabric collage prints (from $230)
Christi Apodaca, of the decade-old, plant-based skincare company C&Co. in Asheville, has a penchant for ingredient transparency and philanthropy — and a distaste for petrochemicals. At the downtown spa, skilled therapists administer facial and back treatments and massage; the West Asheville manufacturing lab produces ethically made exfoliants, repair creams, and moisturizers with heavenly scents of sweet orange, lavender, clary sage, and bergamot.
Top Pick: Facial Collection (from $7)
Award-winning furniture designer Brian Boggs pays homage to the trees with every piece of wood meticulously crafted for the unique Grand Lily Armchair and Sonus Guitar Chair. His wife, Melanie Boggs, brings the business acumen and a mission of social and environmental responsibility to the brand, assuring that any of the original pieces that you put in your home look good — and have good juju.
Top Pick: Herron Chair and Footstool (special order)
Just about all of the fragrant herbs and teas from this local company are sourced from regional farmers and growers in the southeastern U.S. Craft blends are inspired by the fresh mountain air and terroir of Appalachia. Teas are packaged in compostable and biodegradable tea pyramids, bags, and boxes. A partnership with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy adds clarity to the mission of conservation and stewardship. Not to mention that the Blue Ridge Mountain Mint is a real delight to drink.
Top Pick: Blue Ridge Gift Box ($39)
For the last 140 years, Diamond has been making durable outdoor goods (tents, bags, gear) using responsible practices and The Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, and Prosperity) approach to business, including profit sharing with employees. The company uses various methods to build toward their zero waste goal, like crafting with textile remnants and using Japanese mending techniques. Tents are water and mildew resistant and flame retardant with a cool vintage look. Bags and pouches have modern hippie-patchwork vibes.
Top Pick: Canvas Rucksack ($95)
Eco friendly, paraben-free, hand-poured coconut wax candles are made by womxn, and profits go toward paying fair wages and supporting womxn near and far through mutual aid and grassroots activism. The Black women-owned biz hosts candle pouring parties in town, but you can also order a DIY candle kit for up to eight people and host your own community gathering wherever you call home.
Top Pick: Party in a Box (for two, $60)
In the vein of Western North Carolina’s Penland School of Crafts, all the hand-blown glass lighting fixtures, vases, and vessels coming out of Lexington Glassworks are made with time-honored techniques and traditions and local materials. Visitors can watch artists at work — the studio has an open-door policy — and pick up cleanly designed glass pieces in the gallery.
Top Pick: Water Orb ($105)
The ceramics company has made a name for itself with its super stylish design, quality craftsmanship, and great customer service. Its climate-neutral certification and commitment to community values (passion, equity, sincerity, accountability, adaptive tenacity) is perhaps not as well known. These days the company, which began as a few potters throwing, firing, and selling clay pieces on an old Madison County tobacco farm, has an Asheville factory and a sunlit shop filled with dinnerware, vases, and useful objects for the home. It’s worth mentioning that The Mug has become an internet darling.
Top Pick: Mixing Bowl ($160)
The funky gallery and handicrafts shop works with 150 artists, writers, and craftspeople from the towns surrounding the Blue Ridge Mountains, which owner Melinda Knies thinks is essential for long term economic prosperity. On display on any given day: jewelry, ceramics, quilts, woven items, traditional Southern folk art, and contemporary mountain crafts.
Top Pick: Appalachian Naturals Soap ($6.50)
The Coates brothers, along with their wives, established the first business in Asheville’s WNC Farmers Market in the ‘70s. These days, it’s a full family affair — grandchildren included. Fresh produce, “greasy beans,” canned fruits, and pickles are their jam; the shelves and tables are stocked with all kinds of goodies from the land, including molasses, grits, honey butters, and hot sauces.
Top Pick: Corn Grits ($6)
Hand-painted and one-of-a-kind, Erin Castellan’s cozy knitwear is not only knitted together with superfine merino wool, but painted and hand embroidered to add additional layers of eye-catching color.
Top Pick: Painted and Embroidered Beanie ($95)
Each time you stop by Ann and Sandy Batton’s ceramics studio, the creative husband-and-wife duo are throwing around (pun intended) new ideas, adding texture and ornate details, and delivering a collaborative charm to each one-of-a-kind vase and decorative object. A bowl of lemons will never go unnoticed.
Top Pick: Carolina Coral Tiny Ice Cream Bowls ($24)
Local jeweler and metalsmith Amy Eliza Sreb is a passionate archaeologist who spent several years digging in Greece and at prehistoric sites across the U.S. Her bold and minimalist handcrafted jewelry infuses deco and ancient styles, inspired by the artist’s travels, lived-in spaces, and love for architecture.
Top Pick: Deco Seed Earrings ($105)
The original paintings, sculptures, lithographs, illustrations, and prints in this wild downtown gallery are rooted in neo-Appalachian art and craftways and housed in a deco storefront.
Top Pick: Humans, by Anna Bryant ($60)