Sugar Island, Merewif vie for national contest


Among the nearly 300 nominees for the national 2014 Martha Stewart American Made contest are two local businesses hoping to make it all the way.

Samantha Smith has owned and operated a bakery in the Wilmington area for years, and a year after relocating her business from downtown Wilmington to Surf City as Sugar Island Bakery, Smith said the wholesale orders have continued to grow for her cakes, pies and cookies.

Smith learned of the American Made contest through Nye’s Cream Sandwiches owner Christian Nye, whose business competed in the 2013 contest.

Started in 2012, the contest is limited to food, craft, design or styling businesses using only materials made in America.

For Smith, her Cheddar Pigs and candy crème pecans were an easy choice as the products she wanted to focus on for the contest.

Made of cheese and bacon, Smith said the cheesy Cheddar Pigs crackers combine two loves in her life.

“I have a cheese problem and I had pet pigs when I was in high school so I love pigs,” Smith said. “I just did it on a whim downtown because we would always have gluten-free people or people that could not eat anything sweet and we needed something for them.”

The recipe for the candy crème pecans is a twist on a recipe Smith found in an 1864 cookbook, “The New Dixie Recipe Book,” which was given to her by a couple of regular customers. Smith said the pecans are good additions to granola or ice cream, and as a garnish on cakes.

“Those two things are uniquely Southern and nobody else makes them,” Smith said.

Another local businesswoman creating her own unique products is Savannah Watson, owner of Merewif handmade jewelry.

Watson, a Wilmington native, started Merewif in 2012 following a stint in the footwear industry upon graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 2008.

Merewif translates to “mermaid” in Old English and Watson uses the sea as her inspiration in creating her earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings predominately featuring gold or silver plated casts of seaside finds like sharks’ teeth, starfish and pieces of coral.

A friend who owns a footwear company in Los Angeles told Watson about the American Made contest and she felt it was a natural fit for her brand.

“I really appreciated the focus on American-made products and highlighting designers that are committed to the cause,” Watson said. “It is amazing how much cheaper you can buy supplies and manufacture elsewhere, but I am more interested in the investment in our local and national economy.”

The pool of nominees for the contest will be whittled down to the finalists from June 23 to Sept. 8. If Sugar Island Bakery or Merewif are included in that list, the public may vote for each online from Sept. 15 through Oct. 13.

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