Now that we completely thawed from Nor'Easter after Nor'Whatever, Greater Hartford is in full bloom... and so is allergy season.
We've been busy little pollinators ourselves over here at the Small Business Collective, meeting and mingling with makers and entrepreneurs in the Greater Hartford area. And from our traveling and chit-chatting, we managed to curate a number of really incredible products and events that will help you get out and soak up some sunshine.
1. CURATE A MORE COLORFUL HOME
I was fortunate enough to visit with Featherly Ever After co-owner and momprenuer, Stephani Izzo, and tour her CT-centric, maker-focused shop in North Branford. While you can find all kinds of treasures for any occasion, there were a few stand out pieces that will help warm up your home - including a piece from one of their newest vendors (and Greater Hartford Holiday Gift Guide featured maker) Living with Amanda.
And if the new season has you feeling like you're ready to take on a few home design projects, check out the NEW DIY studio at Featherly Ever After - featuring classes on everything from hand lettering to string art.
If a bolder palette is more your style, Vivid Hue has what you need. Add a pop of color to any corner of your home with a mix of loud and lovely pieces. And be sure to check out their design blog for more tips, tricks, and products to keep your home feeling vibrant all year.
2. UPDATE YOUR STYLE
Move over Vera Bradley. Local quilter and pattern pairing extraordinaire, Quilting After Dark, offers a line of one-of-a-kind handbags, wallets, quilts, and coin purses that range from chic to quirky. Some of the latest collection combines unique floral and science-themed patterns with gold-flecked cork or intricate embroidery to create carry-alls with extraordinary attention to detail and quality.
As for the gents... We see you!
While we know you're excited to break out the polo shirts and shorts, there are so many ways to update and upgrade your look this spring. Take it from local experts in fine men's apparel - Daswani Clothiers. Accessorize your spring wardrobe with belts and bow ties in fun colors, or amp up your office attire with a custom suit in the season's hottest fabrics.
3. FARM FOR YOUR MEAL
A huge benefit of Greater Hartford life is proximity to gorgeous rural pockets and bountiful farmland. And you can enjoy a piece of the farm in a variety of ways this spring and summer.
Our local restaurants go beyond the trendy farm to table jargon and directly promote and celebrate their local suppliers everywhere from social media to side dishes. One such supplier is Briar Ridge Microgreens - now available at eateries including J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks and Seafood in Glastonbury, Something Simple Cafe in Hebron, and Mercado Food Truck. Think those little green garnishes are just for show? Think again. There is a ton of taste and nutrition packed into these baby greens and chefs like Erik Blomstrann carefully select microgreen varieties to complement the flavor combo of each dish.
You can literally take home a piece of the farm by joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Enjoy a surprise variety of fruits and vegetables, each provided to a limited number of CSA members each year as they are harvested on the farm. Local farms including Sub Edge Farm in Avon, Rosedale Farm in Simsbury, and Wild Carrot Farm in Bantam run CSA or farm membership programs throughout the year.
Or stop by the Pickin' Patch on Nod Road in Avon as part of your grocery run and choose from an amazing selection of berries, tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, flowers, local honey, and so much more.
4. GET FESTIVE
It's spring/summer festival season and businesses are getting outside and asking our community to join them. The list of outdoor concerts, flea markets, fun runs, and food fests coming our way is extensive! But we gathered a list of our personal recommendations to get you out and about this spring and early summer.
Bring your appetite for the Farmington Food Truck Festival on May 26th and 27th. Area favorites including Meriano's Bakery & Cannoli Truck and Wing It On! Wheels and more than 20 other food trucks will be there. We recommend a really comfy pair of paints... with elastic.
Looking for a real party? The 2018 Hartford Puerto Rican Parade and Festival del Coquí on June 2nd is the ticket. The MUSIC. The FOOD. The entire city of Hartford will be dancing in the streets, so come ready for a good time!
The 32nd Annual Celebrate West Hartford is coming back on June 9th and 10th. Our advice... come ready to SHOP! The kind of tent city set up featuring small businesses and artisans nearly rivals the larger regional festivals. Grab a jumbo lemonade for the kids and get those biceps warmed up. It's impossible to leave without shopping bags on both arms.
Writing a blog post when you're hungry may not be the best idea...? But we couldn't leave out a fun and foodie-centric recommendation from our friends at The Scoop Glastonbury.
"Strawberry Moon is a magical time! It's held the evening of June 16th right in the center of town on Main Street and features a wide variety of Glastonbury restaurants. After many years holding this event, they have managed to keep it truly local and it has a very small town feel to it. Everyone is out celebrating, eating, and enjoying the local community," says Jackie Brousseau, the Founder and face of the small business-focused local media group.
Settle into the heat of the summer at the 19th Annual Black-Eyed & Bluesfest at Black-Eyed Sally's in Downtown Hartford on June 23rd. Admission is free and featuring Studebaker John & The Hawks, Michael Palin's Other Orchestra, and even a bluesy battle of the bands.
The annual Rose Arts Festival is coming to Norwich on June 30th and it features literally ALL of the activities. There is truly something for everyone, including a long list of local makers and artisans such as Soap for Days and S.S. Robinson Pottery.
So what are you waiting for... Get out there and support your local community! It's easy, so much fun, and you won't go home with an empty stomach.
We hope to see you there! As you head out to your favorite shops, farms, and festivals this spring and summer, tag us in your Instagram and Facebook photos. It's always great to connect with folks who love our CT small business community as much as we do.