Shop local series highlights three unique Maine-made goods

'After almost a year of trial and error and a few bloody knuckles...'

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 3:30pm

For the holidays, we’re launching a new series to shine the spotlight on local craftspeople who make things by hand. It’s important to shop local and to support the innovators and entrepreneurs who keep the creative economy alive in the Midcoast. So each week, until Dec. 25, we will bring you this series until you can’t take it anymore. Ready. Set. Go.


Woodriver Stones, Inc.

The back story:

It’s clear that Brandon Kimble, who owns Brandon T. Kimble Designs custom furniture and cabinetry, has a knack for working with wood. Last year, he decided to launch a new business making wood “stones” from more than 100 species of trees from all over the world. Calling it Woodriver Stones, he says, “After almost a year of trial and error, a few bloody knuckles and some very bad first efforts, we found that it was easy to make crude stone shapes — the hard part was making the stones beautiful and refined.”

As you can see from the photos, the bloody knuckles were worth it after all. They make all of their stones by hand, one at a time. Each stone is cut, shaped and polished at their shop in Camden.  They use wood species from all over the world and when possible, use reclaimed or recycled wood.  They also take advantage of the trees native to Maine such as poplar, cherry, oak, ash, maple, and fir. 

Where to find it/price range:

  • Once A Tree, Camden
  • Abacus Gallery, Freeport, Kennebunk, Portland

Prices range according to each store.

In his words: “With so much scrap wood going into the landfill, we decided that we would make something with it.  There has not been a better time to start being more environmentally conscious than now!”



LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls

First of all, how can you not love the fact that the owner’s name is Cyndi Prince and her email is (For those of you who don’t immediately get the reference, you need to brush up on your How The Grinch Stole Christmas, in which little Cindy Lou Who melts a little piece of the Grinch’s heart.)

The back story

You know what? We’ll just let Cyndi tell it.

“I learned about wool dryer balls in 2009.  A wool dryer ball is a felted ball of wool that you use in your clothes dryer to help separate your clothes.  Having several in your dryer creates a constant motion that allows for more air to circulate around your wet laundry so your clothes will dry faster. When we made the decision to cloth diaper our son, I realized that we would have to give up using dryer sheets.  At first I really was sorry to see them go.  They eliminated static, and added very fragrant smells to our laundry.  But after doing some research, and learning about the harmful chemicals that are in dryer sheets and the negative impact they can have on clothes and on your dryer, I was happy to make a change and consider a more natural, healthy alternative.  That’s when I discovered wool dryer balls.  I purchased some online, they worked great and I started to see all the benefits that they offered, but the quality was lacking and only lasted a few months before they started to unravel.  So, I gave it a shot and tried to make some of my own.  I have a creative background and have always loved to make things so it was and is a lot of fun going through the trial and error stage to come up with a solid finished product.  During this time, I had taken New Ventures course through Women Work and Community and have known for awhile that I wanted to start and run my own business.  In Oct. 2010, I launched LooHoo (formerly Wooly Rounds) in Midcoast Maine.  I love that this business is really about providing a sustainable alternative that will help protect your family’s health and that helps to reduce our impact on the environment.”

Where to find it/price range:

Online,, $27.99 for a Deluxe starter pack.

Also can be found at:

  • Clean Bee Laundry, Camden
  • Maine Cloth Diaper, Damariscotta
  • Jo Ellen Designs, Camden

In her words: “I saw that there was a demand for wool dryer balls and a lack of companies that were producing them in large enough volumes to supply the retailers that were interested in selling them.  Also, I think it's amazing to be in the business of creating a product that helps reduce the environment impact that clothes dryers have on the planet and to help homes take steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle.”




FlowFold iPad sleeves


The backstory

Charles Friedman, 24, has been all over Maine news in the last couple of years with his 100 percent made-in-Maine sailcloth wallets. Featured in Downeast Magazine, Maine Today Media’s “Forty Under 40” entrepreneurs, as well as other statewide publications, there is a reason why he is getting so much attention. This is how the story goes: As a teenager Charles Friedman worked sewing sailboat sails in Yarmouth. When his grandfather’s old leather wallet fell apart, he crafted a new one from scrap sailcloth and the first Flowfold wallet was born. The company officially launched in 2010 on Peaks Island. Over the years, hundreds of prototypes were made and put to the test. They have refined their methods and produce wallets, business card holders and iPad sleeves with a conscious decision to make everything locally and sustainably. And (this just makes you want to hug the guy), this past spring the company adopted four baby leatherback turtles from The Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) in Malaysia. They did this with a donation derived from the sales of one of their special wallets.

Where to find it/price range:

Online, at, $24-35

In his words: "We are really excited at the opportunity to make functional products at a reasonable price, it makes buying quality local products more accessible."


Kay Stephens can be reached at