Columbus, Ohio has become a hotbed for creativity, with innovative artisans upping the city’s cool factor.
These 10 makers – some whose names you might recognize (Hello, Jeni!) and some who are about to make a name for themselves – represent the best of a city emerging as a top travel destination.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams — Photo courtesy of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Just say "Jeni" and all of Columbus (and anyone with a sweet tooth) knows you mean Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Combining superior ingredients with wildly inventive flavors, the James Beard Award-winning author of two cookbooks turned ice cream into an art form almost two decades ago, and she’s been setting the bar (which she sometimes embeds with almonds and covers with chocolate) ever since.
Thankfully you can order Jeni’s wherever you live, and it will arrive frozen and perfect, as if you had just picked it up at one of her shops. Note: consider joining the Pint Club because you will become addicted.
Fashion designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart — Photo courtesy of Jake Holler
Designer Celeste Malvar-Stewart is all about farm to fashion, and she’s on a mission to connect women with the clothing they wear, right down to the very fibers. In fact, she can tell you the name of the sheep whose wool she lovingly uses for each one-of-a-kind piece.
Everything about Malvar-Stewart’s designs is unconventional and eco-friendly – and drop-dead gorgeous. She uses salvaged fine vintage fabrics and local natural dyes that are timeless and authentic to create sustainable, hand-felted clothing so unique and personal, you will never have to worry about showing up in the same outfit as anyone else.
North Market Spices
Ben Walters, founder of North Market Spices — Photo courtesy of North Market Spices
With an eclectic collection of spices, herbs, blends and rubs from around the world, North Market Spices has something to spice up any meal. A fixture in North Market for years, the shop attracts both professional and home cooks looking for the highest quality ingredients.
Founder Ben Walters loves helping people find the perfect complement for whatever dish they’re preparing, and he’s always up for a challenge to create something new.
He’s made proprietary blends for some of Columbus’ hottest restaurants, and you’d be wise to listen to his suggestions as you take a whiff of the welcoming apothecary jars filled with exotic scents.
This wallet from zerOz is skinny enough to fit in your front pocket — Photo courtesy of zer0z
Paul Westrick invented zerOz when he couldn’t find a wallet thin enough to fit comfortably in his pocket.
These leather wallets are so super-skinny, they’re slim enough to fit in your front pocket as well as your back one. Sleek, sophisticated and simple, they’re redefining the category for both men and women.
Branch Line Leather Co.
Branch Line Leather Co. makes "Bespoke for the People" leather and wool bags — Photo courtesy of Branch Line Leather Co.
These "Bespoke for the People" leather and wool bags and accessories are made in house, by hand, one order at a time, and the attention to detail by proprietor Elaine Coifman and her fellow craftspeople is impeccable.
Choose a style from messenger bag to tote, belt to journal – then order a free swatch package to select your leather or wool, strap material and hardware finishes. Pick an interior pocket configuration, and leave the rest in their capable hands.
In 4 to 6 weeks, you’ll receive your bag along with bragging rights for designing it yourself.
10 reasons you need to explore Columbus, Ohio
10 reasons you need to explore Columbus, Ohio
The Candle Lab
Steve Weaver, co-owner of The Candle Lab — Photo courtesy of The Candle Lab
In the eleven years Steve and Katesha Weaver have been at The Candle Lab’s helm, the brand has become known as much for the candles other people make in their stores as for the ones they make themselves.
The Candle Lab’s soy candles are hand-poured and available in 120 scents, including everything from Clothesline to Campfire. If that’s not enough, the professionals behind the counter will help you custom-make your own scent and teach you how to pour your own candle at the candle bar.
Hotel LeVeque's amenity line from Cliff Original — Photo courtesy of Hotel LeVeque
If you’ve taken as many of the travel-sized Cliff Original products from your bathroom at the trendy Hotel LeVeque as you can fit in your carry-on, don’t worry! Luckily, the whole natural hair care, skin care and beard grooming line is available online.
Founder Jared Friesner named the company after his grandpa Cliff, who was a role model for doing things right. His namesake continues this legacy with a collection of grooming products made in small batches, using real ingredients.
They’re paraben-free, cruelty-free and free of sulfates and harmful chemicals. Grandpa Cliff would be proud.
Red Giraffe Designs
Kate Stevens, founder of Red Giraffe Designs — Photo courtesy of Red Giraffe Designs
Kate Stevens opened an intimate boutique to sell her custom-made jewelry, and it was such a hit, she now has three storefronts in Columbus, with another on the way.
This is a great place to buy gifts (one for them, one for you) because there are so many beautiful styles to choose from, and you can personalize pretty much any of the pieces.
There are empowering stamped and hammered bar necklaces and bracelets featuring mantras and affirmations and words of wisdom, but even the pieces simply made of metals and gems make a powerful statement.
Middle West Spirits
Middle West Spirits is Ohio's first craft distillery — Photo courtesy of Middle West Spirits
Ohio’s first craft distillery, Middle West Spirits has been picking up awards and redefining Columbus’ tastes since Brady Konya and Ryan Lang founded the company in 2010.
Its OYO vodka, drawn grain to glass from local ingredients, has become its flagship spirit but they make a collection of highly-acclaimed small batch gins, whiskeys and bourbons, as well.
Take a distillery tour and sample their wares. Better yet, order them to accompany a meal at Service Bar, Middle West Spirits’ award-winning restaurant, where Chef Avishar Barua is cooking up meals that are as intoxicating as the drinks themselves.
North Country Charcuterie
North Country Charcuterie is family-owned and locally-sourced — Photo courtesy of North Country Charcuterie
James Forbes, a.k.a. "Salami Swami," is the certified Charcuterie Chef of North Country Charcuterie, a business he runs with his mom and brother.
The family hand-makes its cured meats and locally sources almost all of its craft beer, cheese, wine, herbs and spices. Chances are they’ve got a cure for whatever ails you.