From the roads to the skies, the products created by the skilled hands of Alabama workers are in high demand in markets around the world.
But the state’s automotive, aerospace and other manufacturing industries don’t have the corner on craftsmanship.
In communities across the Tennessee Valley down to the Gulf Coast, there are painters, forgers, potters, woodworkers and other artisans who are turning heads with high-quality, inventive products.
Sherry Hartley, co-owner of Alabama Goods in Homewood, said people from across the U.S. and beyond often visit her store, which sells merchandise made in the state.
“When they walk in the store, sometimes I see their jaws drop,” she said. “I think it’s more than what they expect. They talk about how impressed they are with what the people in Alabama make.”
This year’s Made In Alabama Holiday Gift Guide highlights the craftsmanship of the state’s artisans, with items to fill every hole on your shopping list:
Flint Leather Co. Whiskey Wallet: This company crafts a line of high-quality leather wallets, bags, journals and accessories, including key organizers and AirPods cases.
Among its best-selling products is the Whiskey Wallet, which has an ultra slim style designed to hold just enough cash and credit cards without being bulky.
Flint makes most of its products in Birmingham, and everything that goes out to customers is made or modified in the local shop, said founder Kyle Nix. All custom heat stamping of items is done locally as well.
Nix started the company about five years ago, when he wanted to take a break from college and head out west. To make money before and during the trip, he and his friends sold leather wallets, key chains and bracelets on street corners to buy food and gas to continue their adventure.
“That is where the Flint name came from,” he said. “A catalyst of ignition. Just like flint we hope our brand ignites a fire in everyone to push them on to the next adventure.”
Storyteller Overland adventure vans: It’s a big-ticket item to be sure, but the vehicles produced by this Birmingham-based after-market automotive company are a great fit for road trip and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Storyteller Overland designs and manufactures adventure vans and high-quality outdoor lifestyle gear that help people bridge the gap between a daily driver and a weekend warrior vehicle that gives them long-range, on-road/off-road and off-the-grid travel capacity.
The firm’s packages, added to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit vans, were unveiled earlier this year at the RVX Expo in Salt Lake City. Highlights include an automotive grade lithium ion battery system for added convenience on the road and extended off-the-grid travel.
Other features address comfort for life on the road, such as a retractable indoor/outdoor shower, a foldaway workbench/murphy bed system and the RV industry’s first fully tested tri-fold seat/bed system with 3-point safety harnesses.
Alabama Iron Works custom fire pits: Get cozy this winter around a fire pit personalized with your family name, favorite hobby or sports team from a coastal Alabama maker.
Jim Trainer creates the fire pits at his Alabama Iron Works shop in Fairhope. The company also produces other custom iron work for the home, including railings, gates, screens and wine cellar doors.
All of the fire pits are made from steel plate and reinforced on the bottom to prevent thermal burnout. They can be easily moved by two people and have drain holes to aid cleaning.
Alabama Iron Works also makes plasma cut metal art and signs.
Vivian Drew earrings: Alabama mom Hayley Drinkard’s company is a labor of love named for her two daughters, Vivi and Drew.
Her search for a way to contribute to the family income led to creating her own line of custom earrings. Others are taking notice, as Vivian Drew jewelry has made an appearance in Southern Living and Good Grit magazines.
The collections feature elegant stones, silk tassels and other chic touches that pair well with everything from a casual outfit to formal attire.
Resonated Art cutting/serving boards and trays: Brilliant colors and the beauty of natural wood marry well in the pieces designed Lindsey McDowell of Madison.
A self-taught resin/epoxy artist and woodworker, McDowell combines live edge lumber and epoxy to create distinct cutting boards and serving trays made with food safe epoxy.
Other pieces include plant stands, wine displays, coasters and furniture.
(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)