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Hancock/Peterborough

The competition is on

Two businesses vie for votes in Martha Stewart’s American Made contest

  • A tote bag by Evon Cassier, made by recycling on old red sport coat.
  • The showroom at Peterboro Basket Company's headquarters in Peterborough.
  • An ash picnic basket from Peterboro Basket Company.
  • An early basket from Peterboro Basket Company held a dozen workers.

Every year, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart sponsors a contest called American Made, in which visitors to her website can vote for their favorite products created in the U.S. This year, two local companies are nominees for awards, which will be made after online voting concludes at the end of September. But to qualify for the grand prize of $10,000, they’ll first have to win in their category.

Peterborough Basket Company and Hancock craftswoman Evon Cassier are both entered in the craft category.

Cassier, who recycles old clothing into handbags, described her philosophy on the contest’s website, www.marthastewart.com/americanmade: “It is intriguing to take textiles that have outlived their usefulness and transform them into bags that can provide service once again,” she wrote. “On the surface they are beautifully crafted bags, but dig a little deeper and you see a meaningful story. Maybe the coat was originally worn by a grandfather or maybe it traveled all over the world? I thrive on the stories and memories that each bag tells and that’s what inspired me to create a business. Many of the garments I work with were originally made in America at a time when Americans were known for their manufacturing quality and workmanship. I see it in the garments I deconstruct and I am inspired to honor those values that made us great. As my business evolves and grows, I stay committed to American made, sustainable growth, quality workmanship and respect for those who work for me.”

Cassier said if she wins the competition, she would like to use the money to open a working studio where she could teach sewing.

Peterborough Basket Company, which has been manufacturing baskets in Peterborough for more than 150 years, posted the following description of its products on the Martha Stewart website: “Peterboro Baskets are made from American grown ash, a hardwood that is strong enough to last for generations but supple enough to shape into decorative baskets that look good in any room in your house. Much stronger than wicker, our baskets become heirlooms, so we rely on variety to supply our loyal customers. We’ve made hundreds of styles of baskets in over two dozen categories for every room in your house, in your car, on your bike and at your picnic.”

Voting in the category contest ends Sept. 13, and the category winners can move on to another round of voting from Sept. 17 to Sept. 23.

Votes may be cast up to six times a day.

To see descriptions for the two local entries and cast votes, go to www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/80626 for Evon Cassier and www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/82695 for Peterboro Basket Company.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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