Maine is world-renowned as an epicenter of hard work and diligence, as demonstrated by the state's long-lasting creations. From L.L. Bean's first pair of hand-stitched boots to today's artisan crafts, Maine is synonymous with quality. Thanks to the state's continued reputation for excellence, many of its designers' works are recognized worldwide—including Jill McGowan's famous white shirt, Angela Adams's bold textiles, and Thos. Moser's Shaker-inspired chairs. You can find their work as well as creations by other local designers at craft centers and boutiques throughout the state.
Maine textile designer Angela Adams works to capture the loveliness of nature. "I'm always inspired by the natural beauty of Maine—the snow, ice, sky, fog, moss and woods," Adams says. It’s easy to see the passion she has for the local environment in her rugs, curtains, pillows and other home accessories. While her products are carried in stores like Macy's and Anthropologie, you can also go to Portland to shop at her Congress Street store. "The best thing about visiting Maine is finding the little surprises," Adams says. Those begin right in her shop's East End neighborhood at the base of Munjoy Hill. It's an old, architecturally rich neighborhood with a mix of small stores, galleries and restaurants.
Visitors come from all over the world to Monmouth, Maine, to tour and shop Brahms Mount, which has earned a reputation for weaving luxurious and elegant blankets, scarves, throws and towels. The company is known for creating timeless designs rooted in history. "There's a tradition of making things in Maine, of manufacturing things using your hands, whether it's farming or fiber," says Claudia Brahms. Feel the legacy of hand-woven textiles and other carefully curated American-made products at their first and only retail store in Freeport, Maine.
Dynamic duo Mike LaVecchia and Brad Anderson started Grain Surfboards by handcrafting wooden surfboards from Maine-grown cedar in their York workshop. The boards they build aren't only functional, they're works of art. More than a few surfers have contemplated moving here after discovering the region's perks and experiencing a secret that Anderson and LaVecchia have known for a long time—the surfing in Maine is primo. "If I had a day free," Anderson says, "I wouldn't go anywhere else. I'd stay here and surf."
Maine clothing designer Jill McGowan's Great White Shirt has been featured on Martha Stewart and in publications ranging from Real Simple to The New York Times. "I draw a lot of my inspiration from Maine," McGowan says. She grew up here and designed her line with the state’s ethics in mind. She designs and makes her seasonal clothing collections in Portland and sells them at more than 300 specialty shops nationwide, including her shop on Main Street in Freeport.
Maine's Acadia region is filled with artists and artisans who draw inspiration from the local landscape. Just ask Dan Farrenkopf and Phid Lawless of West Sullivan. Their company, Lunaform, creates wheel-turned concrete garden pottery that has been featured in national publications. "There's such a deep gardening tradition here," Farrenkopf says. "There are several public gardens, and we feel honored that people want to include us in their garden tour."
"The salt air is great for the soul," says Beth Shissler, co-owner with Hannah Kubiak of Portland-based Sea Bags. The duo recycles sails into eco-friendly bags, taking their inspiration from the Portland waterfront. "There's an authenticity here that you won't find anywhere else," Kubiak says. Shissler and Kubiak aren’t alone in drawing inspiration from the coasts of Maine - - many local artists cite the shores of the Atlantic as their muse and their craft reflects this bond. Visit Sea Bags at their Freeport or Portland outlet and take home a piece of Maine’s seafaring history.
When it comes to woodworking, Maine has a well-deserved reputation as a center for fine craftsmanship. Many of the state’s talented artisans have earned an international following. One such master is Thomas Moser, who is renowned for designing and building handcrafted furniture from American hardwood. His designs are rooted in 19th-century aesthetics and Shaker values. Customers come to the Thos. Moser Store in Freeport from all over the world.
Some visit the Thos. Moser Store not only to buy, but also to build. You can enroll in Moser’s Customer-in-Residence program and spend a week crafting a piece of furniture under a mentor’s guidance. For a better understanding of Moser’s inspiration, you can visit the last inhabited Shaker village in the country, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village.
Shopping in Maine allows you to participate in Maine-made culture, and offers a way to support the thriving community of designers who call Maine home. And the best part is, it’s also a way to bring home unique and exciting artisan products that you can’t find anywhere else but here.