Knoxville Weekend Feature: Shop Local

Video produced by Knoxville Weekend

Written by Susan Alexander

As the holidays near, The Maker City is promoting shopping local with Knoxville Weekend videos, our online holiday gift guide and maker directory, and feature stories in and Blank newspaper.

Why does it matter?

So makers like these can make a living doing what they love. 

Torrie and Anjannette Dreier were married in October of 2017 and decided to make candles to give as wedding favors. Afterwards people asked for more. Then when Anjannette’s daughter and son-in-law needed help to fund an adoption, they made more candles and sold out in a week. 

Though they both have fulltime jobs, they started 865 Candle Company in their spare (!!) time. They launched their website in March and are heading into their first holiday season. They sell primarily to 13 stockists – 12 in the Knoxville area – and at local markets and fairs. 

“I love what I do (as a social worker),” Torrie said, “but this business would give us freedom, and it could help take care of our kids.”

Lacey Sutton took a ceramics class as an elective at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., and fell in love. After she’d given her family and friends as many pieces of her work as they could manage, she started Sutton Ceramics. She operates from the South Knoxville home she and her husband are renovating.  She sells mainly at local markets, like the upcoming Retropolitan Holiday craft fair

“I realized I could make a living and be home with my girls,” she said. Her daughters are 4 and almost a year old. 

“My biggest challenge is balancing time with the kids and making sure I get work done during the day,” she said, echoing every working parent’s dilemma. “But it’s a good way to be creative, and it’s been a blessing to my family.” 

John Phillips has been working in metal and wood for about 15 years and has always loved cooking and serving great food. But when he started shopping for a nice kitchen knife, “everything felt like it was stamped out of a factory. So I thought, how hard could it be to make a knife? A lot harder than I imagined.” 

Phillips said he “made a whole bunch of crappy, weird things that seem very primitive now,” but as he nears 1,000 pieces completed, he has a much better idea of what makes a good knife. He repurposes steel from old tools for his blades and gives careful thought to edge geometry and ergonomics. 

He started Phillips Forged in his garage five years ago. Since then he’s gained the endorsement of nationally recognized chef Sean Brock. Locally, chefs at J.C. Holdway, OliBea and Rebel Kitchen use his implements. Most of his knives sell at his website and through Instagram. 

“I love working with old things. Certain materials add to the spirit of something that newer things don’t really have,” he said. 

Ready to shop local this holiday season?

The Maker City is dedicated to connecting local makers to customers, and one of the ways we’re doing that is through our Holiday Gift Guide. We’ve curated a list of locally-made gifts and goodies hand picked straight from our Maker Directory to help you shop for everyone on your list. From tasty treats to home decor and everything in between, check out our guide to help you give the gift of local.

If you’re looking for more local makers and manufacturers, visit the Maker Directory.