It seems these days that everyone is talking about shopping locally and buying Michigan Made products. It's a great concept and we all know too well that our local economy could really use the boost. Sometimes though, it isn't that easy to find products made in our great state. You can try your local farmers market and some stores, such as Whole Foods, are starting to sell products from your area. However, that just gives you a small sampling of what is out there. This is exactly the issue that the newly formed company Mitten Crate is here to solve.
Mitten Crate is a web based company that's goal is to deliver a variety of Michigan Made products to your doorstep monthly. This ingenious idea is the brainchild of Cory Wright and Andrew Chmielewski. These two guys have been involved in the food industry for quite a while now, with Cory most recently managing a NYC farm to table restaurant and artisan market and Andrew running Dave's Sweet Tooth, who's toffee you may have tried a time or two or you might even be addicted to. With their experience coming from two opposite sides of the food industry spectrum and their interest in great Michigan made food, this company is bound to be successful.
We caught up with Cory and Andrew to find out more about Mitten Crate before they got ready to launch the official website. Here's what they had to say.
Hip In Detroit- What is Mitten Crate?
Mitten Crate- "Mitten Crate is a subscription box service for Michigan foodies. We deliver the best Michigan made food related products right to your door every month."
Hip In Detroit- What inspired you guys to do this? How did you guys come up with the idea?
Cory- "Both Andrew and I have backgrounds in the food business, but from different sides. We were talking about how artisan and craft producers struggle to make it and how end users are always vying for new and exciting products. That misalignment, coupled with the demand for locally made products, brought about the idea of connecting small companies with people that are eager to explore and support Michigan producers. Mitten Crate makes it easy for consumers to get carefully curated items sent right to their doors and gives smaller companies without advertising budgets or spare time the ability to reach a large segment of their designated target market."
Hip In Detroit- Tell us about your partnership with Gleaners.
Mitten Crate- "Being that our business is about food, we recognized that there is a social issue involving many Michigan families and the struggle to put food on the table. Gleaners Food Bank is on the forefront of fighting the problem. Therefore, every Mitten Crate shipped will put food on the table of three people in need."
Hip In Detroit- What is your favorite Michigan made product that you've come across so far?
Mitten Crate- "The thrill for us is in the journey, finding unique and delicious products that put smiles on taste buds is the goal. So our favorite Michigan made product is the one that you end up discovering that turns into your favorite."
Hip In Detroit-Is there anything you've seen a ton of Michigan companies making? Likewise, are there any products that Michigan is lacking?
Mitten Crate- "There is actually a large amount of diversity in Michigan made products. The local specialty food scene is still in it's infancy here, which is great for foodies, compared to other parts of the nation. It seems everyone is making something different, or has their own niche when it comes to creating interesting flavors. For example, there are a lot of jams, jellies and preserves being made, but no two are even close to tasting alike.
As far as products that we would love to see;
Andrew- "Marshmallows, I have an affinity for quirky flavored marshmallows, there's a company outside of Michigan that makes marshmallows flavored with crazy ingredients like ghost pepper, blood orange and coffee."
Cory- "Beef jerky, I'm literally addicted to beef jerky and no Michigan companies are making the salty treat with flavors that inspire, everyone seems to be making peppered, teriyaki or one of those types of flavors.
***Disclaimer - if you know of anyone making these products or other cool products drop us a line and let us know!!!!!***
Hip In Detroit- Cory, you recently moved back from NYC. In your opinion what is so appealing about Detroit and Michigan in general? What improvements can we make?
Cory- "Michigan is really stepping up to the plate in terms of artisan food production, it's kind of like the wild west in regards to small producers. I grew up in metro Detroit so I have my roots are here. The reason NY state is successful is because they all support NY state, Manhattan and Brooklyn support the whole state and not just segments. In Michigan we have to realize that we are all in the same state and work together instead of Detroit vs. Grand Rapids, Traverse City vs. Ann Arbor, North vs. South, etc. If we all team up and support Michigan as our designation everyone prospers."
Hip In Detroit- Andrew, you know how hard it is to be a small producer all too well, you are the owner/operator of the popular toffee company Dave's Sweet Tooth, what does Mitten Crate offer to smaller companies that need an advantage?
Andrew- "Mitten Crate really offers a win/win solution for companies and their potential customers alike. Most small companies are limited in distribution by their local area, they just don't have the wholesale network the larger companies have. However, almost all of these companies sell direct to consumers online, and Mitten Crate helps them reach people that could continue buying their products. Consumers receive unique items that they might not be exposed to at their local grocery store or farmers market. In my experience with Dave's Sweet Tooth, I've found that tasting new products is paramount in helping consumers make the decision to buy something they have never tried before. This discovery process, in turn, has obvious benefits for the small companies. These new potential customers have now been exposed to a product they think is delicious, and hopefully they want more."
Hip In Detroit- What sort of products can someone expect to get in a Mitten Crate? Can you give us any examples?
Mitten Crate- Everyone knows about Faygo, Sanders' and Better Made, and while these are great Michigan companies that people know and love, we will typically focus on the lesser known gems of the mitten state. This will include everything from funky jams and jellies to kicked up BBQ sauces, hand made pastas to gourmet cupcakes, boldly roasted coffee to soothing herbal tea, savory granola to sweet and salty popcorn. The list really goes on and on, basically if it's made in Michigan and it tastes great then it has a chance of arriving at your doorstep.
Hip In Detroit- How does someone buy a Mitten Crate?
Mitten Crate- www.mittencrate.com
This sounds like a super fun way to try out some new treats and a great gift to send to that foodie on your list too! To order your Mitten Crate, head over to www.mittencrate.com. While you are there make sure to check out the Mitten Crate Blog too! You should also head over and "like" Mitten Crate on Facebook to keep up with this up and coming company that, we have a feeling, will explode overnight. We wish Cory and Andrew the best of luck with this venture and we hope to see Mitten Crates on tons of doorsteps soon!