A local couple’s business is a nominee in Martha Stewart’s “American Made Award” competition and have a chance at winning $10,000 to further their business.
The award contest intends to find the rising stars in a new generation of small-business owners, and Robbin and Harry Firth of HeartFelt Silks could very well be those rising stars. Ten nominees are selected as finalists and the winner is chosen by the public, via online voting, from Sept. 7 through 24.
“A friend told us about the competition awhile ago and I thought, ‘No I couldn’t do that,’ but lots of support came in from our Facebook account, friends with text messages and phone calls saying ‘you really should try it’ and we decided to enter,” Robbin Firth said. “When I heard I was a nominee of course my stomach flip-flopped. We’ve done this all together as a family here in Stillwater and we’re really enjoying our experience so far.”
The Firth’s company is in it’s infancy — they just established their website — and was born out of Robbin’s love of felting and Harry’s passion for woodworking. Robbin creates scarves, ponchos, hats and other projects by pressing together silk, velvet and merino wool fibers while Harry’s handcrafted Palm Washboard makes the art easier on the body for those who enjoy felting.
Right now, the Firths are keeping their day jobs but they hope to expand their company to a storefront and studio in the future.
“Even if we don’t make it to the final round, we’ll keep trying to buy a studio, even if it’s an addition on to our home,” Robbin Firth said. “We could always have a studio there, but right now it’s hard to say what could happen.”
The company began when employees from Darn Knit Anyway asked Robbin Firth what projects she did with the materials she purchased. They bought some of her scarves and sold out of them in days. Since then, Robbin Firth’s hobby has taken on a life of it’s own.
“We’re getting all kinds of good feedback, and people are just loving the little tool. They even have recommendations on our Facebook page talking about how great it is,” she said. “We’re starting to ship things to Germany and the U.K. now, too. The post office is probably getting sick of us.”
Robbin Firth’s work has been displayed in the Season’s on St. Croix in Hudson, Wis. and the Textile Center Gift Shop, a nationally recognized organization for fiber and textile arts, in Minneapolis. She’s also taught classes at Darn Knit Anyway, The Yarnery in Saint Paul, and All about Yarn in Coon Rapids. She has classes at Darn Knit this month and the schedule can be found at Darn Knit’s website.
Robbin Firth creates unique kits for the classes and provides the tools so students can make their own works of wearable art. Her goal is to inspire other’s creativity.
“I want people to explore their own creativity with a simpler method of traditional felting,” she said. “So many times people will say that a project looks really difficult, then they try it and they’re so surprised by the outcome. I’m hoping that it opens their own creativity and the simplicity of using our tool is a big plus.”
If the couple makes it to the next round in the American Made Awards they’ll need some help from the public to come out on top. The finalist list releases on Friday and people can vote once a day from Sept. 7-24. In the mean time check out the Firth’s profile on the competition’s website just type Robbin Firth in the search bar.
You can find more of Robbin and Harry’s work on Facebook at HeartFelt Silks and their etsy site.