FARMINGTON >> Rich in a history of innovation and artistry, New Haven, often known as the Elm City, offers a sophisticated urban destination to find unique items for the home.
Whether buying from a well-established family brand, a startup company or local artisan, you’re supporting industrious and creative-minded people develop businesses right here in Connecticut.
“I have a hanging wine bottle display and an iPhone speaker made by Hugo & Hoby,” says Michelle Morgan, a video producer from East Haven who crossed the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge to profile the company’s co-founders, Ben Young and Fred Kukelhaus. “When you buy a piece from them, you can be guaranteed that there’s a lot of care and thought put into the object. It just feels authentic.”
Inspired by their origins in New Haven, Hugo & Hoby, a furniture and home furnishings company, plans to showcase its “New Haven Collection” at this year’s third annual Made in CT Expo at the Farmington Polo Grounds on May 13 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Producing furniture made from sustainable, natural materials, Hugo & Hoby partners with local craftspeople to make handmade small batches to sell online. “Our furniture fills a gap in the marketplace between cheaply made furniture and expensive, big retail alternatives,” notes Ben Young, who met friend and co-founder, Fred Kukelhaus, while attending the Yale School of Management. “We were roommates at the time and realized that there were bad furniture buying options.”
“One of my favorite pieces is the Irving Custom Desk,” says Young. “It has a fun, dramatic pattern in the wood and you can’t keep your eye off of it. Its design is based on how we see New Haven — rugged and tough, yet also cultured and refined. It has a thick piece of butcher block ash paired with delicate steel legs that give it a light aesthetic. It’s very modern with a durability to it.”
A short drive from almost anywhere in Connecticut, the Expo hosts more than 300 booths all from right here in the state. Including Hugo & Hoby, there will be a host of companies showcasing products for every part of the home at the booth for “Made in New Haven” — a branding campaign to promote products made locally in the Elm City.
Locally made from their kitchen to yours
Embossed with the Made in New Haven logo on its jars, Skappo Family Kitchen all natural sandwich spreads — Classic Fig, Tangy Apricot, Savory Apple Plum, and Balsamic Red Onion — will be available for sampling. The spreads were born from the New Haven family’s restaurant, Skappo Italian Wine Bar, and its sandwich shop, Skappo Merkato, located at Crown and Orange streets in the Ninth Square Historic District.
“We wanted to be different and create a memorable lunch experience as in Italy,” says Marc Sincavage, who operates the restaurants along with the rest of his family. “Instead of mustard on a hot dog, try our red onion spread or pair apple plum with some brie on a hamburger.”
“We began selling our spreads at area farmers’ markets and at the shop about eight years ago,” he continues. “Now, we’re on the shelves of close to 175 grocery stores in CT, MA, RI, NY, and online.”
Ricky Evans, owner of Ricky D’s Rib Shack and the BBQ Food Truck, is looking to do the same with his own branded and trademarked Kansa-Lina BBQ Sauce, which he started bottling and selling at his restaurant and online about a year and a half ago. Built on Ricky’s philosophy: “everyday is a cookout,” he’s finding that his success stems from doing it his way.
“People would come up to me at the truck and ask, ‘What kind of barbecue do you do?’” he says. “I never gravitated toward any specific region when creating my recipe. It’s a combination between the sweet-savory taste of Kansas City barbecue and the vinegar Carolina-style barbecue.”
Light Up Your Room with Art
New Haven-based iPad Artist Raheem “Ra” Nelson is presenting his book of New Haven and New York based landscape paintings, “From The Elm to The Empire.” Frequent travels between the two cities to attend the School of Visual Arts, created many opportunities to create art, he says. Using an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, Nelson has created more than 100 paintings.
“I framed in rich dark mahogany a prominent, colorful iPad Art painting of a red brick historic building of the first New Haven-based architecturally designed school for African-American children (106 Goffe Street, built 1864) to introduce the cultural flavor of the art décor in our early twentieth century home,” notes Dr. Ann G. Robinson, Professor Emerita, Gateway Community College, New Haven.
New Haven multimedia artist Liz Pagano and co-conspirator and Ivoryton-based potter Hayne Bayless are also creating art. Their collaboration, Sideways & Askew artful illumination is creating one-of-a-kind handcrafted lamps. “These are not just your everyday lamps,” Pagano explains. “They are illuminated works of art.”
Working and selling out of their studios in both New Haven and Ivoryton, in addition to Fairhaven Furniture and other galleries, the duo’s art features shapes with a “playful animated feel that are decidedly sideways and askew,” Pagano notes. “We work with clay, stone, wood, concrete, metal, paper, textile and other things we find along the way. The paper used to make the shades is hand decorated using drawing, printing, painting, encaustic, or a combination on various types of papers.”
All natural for the bath
Also handmade and right down the street from Skappo, Cristina Lopes is selling her all natural and certified organic bath and beauty products. From signature bath bombs to soaps, body scrubs and lotions, her shop VoVo Organics shares unique products with aromas and ingredients that she herself uses.
“We practice what we sell,” says Lopes, who experienced a positive change in her health, skin and body after making a holistic lifestyle change a few years back. “I grew up in the Cape Verde Islands and learned a lot from my mother about how to make natural remedies from the nature around us.”
“My Almond Blossom Nourishing Skin Oil is made from 100 percent sweet almond oil, which is known for its intensive conditioning benefits,” says Lopes. “It really moisturizes and absorbs into the skin, leaving a nice glow.”
Lopes is excited to add a Detox Sea Salt Foot Spa to her shop this summer and looks forward to the Expo, where she plans to introduce her Coconut Lime Verbena collection.
Come and support these “Made in New Haven” companies and artists and all of Connecticut’s businesses and new entrepreneurs large and small producing goods, creating jobs and supporting the local economy. Admission is $8 for adults and children under 12 are free. Parking at the grounds is $5 per car. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/madeinctexpo/.