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Innovative new brands that prove the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in America are the basis of the 2014 Brand Innovators Made In America Top Brands To Watch. This second annual celebration of achievement spotlights 10 new brands that have made a mark, surmounting the odds to establish themselves in a demanding consumer marketplace.

Honorees were selected based criteria including consumer adoption, media buzz and awareness, ability to create brand equity and overall innovation in brand marketing through products made in the USA.

The 2014 winners will be officially honored at the Brand Innovators Made In America Summit, Thursday, July 10, at the Ford Motor Company Conference & Event Center in Dearborn, Michigan. There, established American brands such as Ford, Chevrolet, General Motors and Sears will join these newcomers in celebrating America’s manufacturing and retailing comeback, solid management, big ideas and the ability to use digital media to connect to consumers.

“Brand Innovators’ celebration of entrepreneurialism, exciting new brands and the American economic development brings attention to truly noteworthy companies,” said Brand Innovators Chief Content Officer David Teicher. “These start-ups offer insights into management and marketing strategies that companies large and small can learn from.”

The 2014 Brand Innovators Made In America Top Brands To Watch are:


  1. American Mountain Company Driven by a desire to make products with fortitude and inspired by our passion for the experiences only found in the mountains, The American Mountain Company makes mountain wear reminiscent of a time when climbing was in its purest form and excellence was found in all aspects of a product. Founders Chad Caudill and Brad Sawdon created the company around the idea of performance-wear that offers a more classic look. Quality of materials are as important as style and design as the most advanced technologies are employed to produce a line that combines cutting-edge with a timeless look.
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  3. Alex + Ani Alex and Ani is pioneering its own definition of corporate consciousness, creating high quality, thoughtfully-manufactured jewelry through sustainable initiatives and mindful actions. All pieces are hand crafted in America, where Alex + Ani retail stores are purposefully located on main streets to encourage growth in local economies. Items are designed for longevity, as artisanal pieces that can be passed from one generation to the next. “To us, sustainability is an essential idea that means contributing to a new way of thinking and acting that considers the wellbeing of our planet, our communities, and our individual paths,” says the company’s website, which goes on to describe the company’s ethos as “turning a lifestyle brand into a way of life.”
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  5. Bark & Co Bark & Co. is the handiwork of Matt Meeker, Henrik Werdelin and Carly Strife. Brought together by their love of all things canine, these three launched Bark & Co’s first product, BarkBox, with little thought as to how popular it was going to be. As BarkBox grew, so did their understanding of the loyal dog parents that loved their monthly box of goodies. The success of the box led to the creation of Bark & Co, a company that is dedicated to building products that foster the health and happiness of dogs everywhere.


  7. BucketFeet exists to connect people through art in everyday life, using clothing as its canvas, specifically shoes. The BucketFeet Artist Network consists of more than 2000 artists in some 35 countries. Painters, graffiti artists, writers, illustrators, tattooists and other creators are taking part in the movement. Born in 2011 when co-founders Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein had a chance meeting traveling through Argentina and decided to make a high-quality canvas shoe that would also serve as “art for everyone.”


  9. Buck Mason Los Angeles based Buck Mason designs and manufactures quintessential men’s basics, rooted in simplicity, character, and function. Buck Mason sells online, direct to the consumer, offering clothes individually and in curated home try-on packages. It’s a simplified shopping experience that’s uniquely transparent about its own American made manufacturing process. Erik Schnakenberg and Sasha Koehn founded Buck Mason with the idea of teaming up minimalist design, creative storytelling, innovative technology, and American manufacturing.


  11. Chalkfly A homegrown Detroit success story, e-tailer Chalkfly has its sights set on becoming the Amazon of school and office supplies. After cutting their teeth at Google and IBM brothers Andrew and Ryan Landau returned to Detroit and raised $750,000 in start-up capital to launch Chalkfly in 2012. The company’s website now offers more than 50,000 products that span the classroom to the breakroom. And Chalkfly supports local communities by allowing customers to donates 5 percent of every purchase price to a school or teacher of their choosing.


  13. DRIFT Eyewear This company seeks to change the way optical frames look and feel, through the product itself as well as the honest, thoughtful approach to creating it. Unprecedented use of a familiar material — laminated maple temples cut from a retired skateboard — rooted the business in the idea that glasses can be more than just functional accessories. DRIFT pays homage to a broad field of influence. From the architecturally-inspired steel core of a wood temple to the resonant beauty of the Delta Blues. Each design is embodied with a character and beauty of its own.


  15. Farmigo Currently operating in New York and San Francisco, Farmigo empowers people to eat better – by creating farm-to-neighborhood access to fresh and affordable food, benefiting local farmers and bypassing local supermarkets. Customers order their produce, meats, seafood, grains and snacks through the Farmigo site, and can pick up their delicious, natural food within 48 hours of harvest. The company is based in Gowanus Brooklyn, NY.


  17. Founders Brewing Co. Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers both had steady jobs when they decided to chase their dreams and open a brewery–which meant writing a business plan, quitting their jobs, and taking out giant loans. After producing some well-balanced but unremarkable beers and on the verge of bankruptcy they decided on a bold course: brew the kind of beer that got them excited about brewing in the first place: complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor. Founders beers are crafted for rebels and renegades who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted.
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  19. Sonoma Cider For more than two decades David Cordtz has been a leader in the modern American cider renaissance. Joining forces with son Robert and artisanal beverage guru Fred Einstein, he’s spearheaded a sophisticated offering of beverages that are organic “from the furthest Fuji branch to the last curve of the bottling line. Cider, once the preferred American beverage, has a unique place in our country’s history that Sonoma Cider is tapping into and making relevant for a today’s tastemakers.
Comments for this Post

One Comment

  1. Thank you for your piece on top American brands to watch. Inspiring to see so many companies doing their thing in the US. I own an e-commerce company specializing in upscale interiors designed originally for students living on campus. We started in the dorm, but are now expanding into home decor as well. We design and manufacture all of our own textiles in the Carolinas and all of our products are our site are made in America. Check us out at http://www.leighdeux.com.

    Leigh Goodwyn

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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