Great Lakes Made Curates Products from 8 Great States

By Jane Whitttington on January 26th, 2016 / Comments

For Andrew Russo and Dustin Cronkright, co-founders of Great Lakes Made, bringing together the best products from eight states and one province with buyers who want something unique and local is what they do every day. Their one-stop shop, introduces buyers to sellers conveniently and efficiently for the benefit of both.

Both Russo and Cronkright grew up in Michigan, and loved spending time at any of Michigan’s many beaches. This passion was reinforced when they landed internships at Disney College in Orlando and spent any free time they had exploring and enjoying the shores of Florida.

Russo’s studies in graphic design at Central Michigan University and Cronkright’s IT skills, learned at Davenport University, along with their beach-loving spirits, gave them an idea for a clothing line designed with both salted (Florida) and unsalted (Michigan) beaches in mind. The Gone Beachin’ line, beach-ready clothes designed by Russo and screen-printed in his home studio, are for sale in 14 stores as well as online.

Russo says that the brand really took off when they began featuring it on their Instagram account, which now has over 3,000 followers. You can enjoy their beautiful photographs at www.instagram.com/gonebeachin

Russo says, “I won a couple of pitch contests at Central which helped finance us as we started up, and we got advice and guidance from the Small Business Association.”

He continues, ”Since our own sales were going well, we had the idea of bringing together a community of artists and artisans in the Great Lakes region and creating a website where they could sell their products and where consumers who were interested in  unusual and unique locally made and manufactured goods could do some shopping.. We now have 26 vendors represented on www.greatlakesmade.com with more anticipated.”

The website represents makers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.

Russo says, “We have a good mix of products with apparel and jewelry probably the best sellers. Our categories are beauty; collectibles; food and beverage; hobbies and toys; cottage and home; media; outdoor; pets; and electronics.”

The website is indeed tempting with its array of items, reasonably priced, well-made and definitely not run-of-the-mill. Visitors to the website can shop by state, category and/or maker. All the orders come through the website and payment is made to the creator once the item has been received by the customer. Another attraction is that all shipping is free, a convenience that is unusual for an online store.

The duo is currently working with the State of Michigan on products relating to the Tawas Point Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Huron. Russo says that they have also started offering seasonal subscription boxes, filled with an assortment of products available on their website.

He continues, “We just started a meetup group here in Grand Rapids for entrepreneurs between the ages of 21 and 31. We’ve titled it ‘Young & Restless’, a name taken from an old soap opera. It’s a good opportunity for those just starting out to meet other professionals in the same category.”

For more information and to shop for products, visit www.greatlakesmade.com

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.