The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Connecticut, with new businesses starting here every year. A few of these have met with growing success, with their products selling well not just within the state, but beyond its borders as well. Here are some first-rate food, drink and clothing brands made right here in the Nutmeg State worth checking out.
Wave Hill Breads
30 High St.
Norwalk, CT 06851
The tasty artisan breads and pastries prepared by Wave Hill, the bakery that began in Wilton in 2005 and moved to Norwalk in 2011, keep picking up admirers. Not only have several Stop & Shop supermarkets in Fairfield County begun stocking Wave Hill products, but many stores in New York’s Westchester County as well. Its breads, which have won recent accolades from Connecticut magazine and veteran food critic Michael Stern, come in over a dozen varieties and they also offer chips made from just crust. Wave Hill has become a fixture at farmer’s markets throughout the state, where it sells its cookies and croissants. Over 40 Connecticut and New York restaurants are now serving its bread.
1903 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
“Where summer lives all year long” goes the slogan of this Fairfield-based company, which specializes in sporty, stylish men and women’s clothing for the warm weather months. It sells an array of colorful ties, dresses and shorts along with an assortment of seasonal accessories from sunhats to beach bags. In recent years its preppy clothing has been noticed by national magazines like Elle and Southern Living. Their retail presence continues to grow. Just Madras is now available in select boutiques in all fifty states, as well as Canada, Japan, Korea, and the Bahamas.
26 Kendall St.
New Haven, CT 06512
Originating in Meriden in 2008, RIPE bar juice is a cocktail mixer made with greater care than the average brand. Co-creators Michel Boissy and Ryan Guimond can boast of having the nation’s first and only line of fresh, cold-pressed bar juices. Their seven varieties, including mixers for Bloody Marys, mojitos and Cosmopolitans, are made only with pure fruit and vegetable juices and agave nectar in place of high-fructose corn syrup. The juices are processed in small batches. The quality is catching on, with RIPE appearing in supermarkets and liquor stores throughout Connecticut and Whole Foods Markets in eleven other states.
Michaud’s Pasta Sauce
P.O. Box 411
Simsbury, CT 06070
Robertson Michaud recieved so many compliments on the homemade pasta sauce he made for relatives and acquaintances that he was persuaded to open a business selling it in 2009. Five years later it is stocked in over a hundred Connecticut markets, including several Shop Rite and Big Y locations, and two dozen stores in New York and New England. Michaud’s sauces come in 25-ounce jars in four flavors, Tomato Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, Portobello Mushroom, and Roasted Garlic. He uses only fresh ingredients, without any water or paste. His products contain less sugar than most jarred pasta sauces.
Hoardable Hot Sauce
P.O. Box 4132
A group of Stamford friends began marketing their homemade hot sauce in 2009, and it is really paying off. The “Connecticutly-grown” sauces use only fresh, organic ingredients to create its five main flavors of Red Pepper Mix, Green Pepper Mix, Lemon-Thyme, Hot Apple, and, for the only the most daring souls, its ultra-hot Cruel & Unusual Punishment. Hoardable Hot Sauce is gluten-free and is so far available in over two dozen Connecticut shops. It is also sold in two New York City locations.
Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com.