New businesses pop up year-round in Central Oregon. A special few conceptualize and produce their products locally. Even fewer sell their merchandise with the intention of effecting positive change.
The following innovators stand out from the crowd with a vision that goes beyond selling goods. These entrepreneurs are using their inspiration to creating local jobs and go after their dreams of making the community a better place both locally and globally.
This small leather studio is doing big things. Owner Alicia Lovejoy makes beautiful, earthy totes, clutches and embossed accessories designed for both travel and daily life, with the dream of changing the tide of sex slavery around the world. Originally from Idaho, the inspiration for her designs is rooted in her Northwestern upbringing. Lovejoy has made donating at least 10 percent of her earning to the effort to end sex slavery a fundamental part of her business mantra. Her products can be found on her website, online at Sudara.org, at Brave Collective in Bend and at Radish Underground in Portland.
Free Range Equipment
This business was born out of owner Tosch Roy's passion for the outdoors and the desire to help others experience freedom and creativity both in the mountains and in their own lives. Free Range products include sport-specific backpacks and outdoor apparel and accessories for the performance-focused athlete. All of the merchandise is made in Bend, helping to create local jobs. Just last year, in an effort to fulfill the business's mission more completely, Roy and his team created a new line production line called the Free Range Canvas Pack. Each pack in the line has art from artists in the outdoor adventure community printed across the main panel. The result is a stunning product that gives back to the featured artist and exposure to the importance of art in the community.
Roy's vision for his business continues to grow. He hopes that eventually he will be able to use his packs as a fundraising tool that will help get kids outside.
1234 NE 1st St., Bend
Natural Edge Furniture
Mike Ross, founder of Natural Edge Furniture and the Makers District, is committed to building a sustainable community. When he saw that a large portion of fallen yard and park trees were going into the waste stream, he knew he had to do something about it. Ross saw something in the tree remains that others couldn't: personality and a deep-rooted connection to the community. It was that connection that inspired him to start Natural Edge Furniture where he creates stunning high-end, sustainably sourced pieces of furniture that can live on as long as the tree that it was made from did. From dining and coffee tables to benches and artwork, each piece is unique and beautiful.
Natural Edge Furniture is dedicated to environmental stewardship. They only use lumber from trees that are storm damaged, windfalls or have to be removed because of age, insect damage or size.
135 NE Norton Ave., Bend