2022 Winners


Craft Category

Genres Collection by Bright Black.

Founded in Durham in 2019, Bright Black. is a Black- and family-owned company that uses scent as a platform to share positive stories about Blackness. The juxtaposition of the words Black — which often has a negative connotation — and Bright, meaning beauty, brilliance, and intelligence, was purposefully chosen as the company’s name to reflect its vision for a world where the complexity, beauty, and brilliance of Blackness is widely known, recognized, embraced, and celebrated. Bright Black. candles are lovingly and carefully handcrafted with all-natural, vegan, and phthalate-free coconut and soy waxes. Burning the lead-free wooden wicks helps intensify the fragrances captured in a stunningly modern design. The Genres Collection honors five Black musical traditions: Bachata, Hip Hop, Gospel, Rock, and Yemanja. In 2021, Bright Black. donated nearly six percent of sales to community organizations and initiatives serving the Black Diaspora. Learn more about Bright Black.

Honorable Mentions

  • Wood-Fired Pottery Lidded Jar by Mark Hewitt Pottery
  • Basketweaving by Pat Holbrook — Simply Entwined

Drink Category

Blueberry Basil Jun by Shanti Elixirs, LLC

Located in Asheville, Shanti Elixirs is a woman-owned business that brews handcrafted, small-batch Jun, a fermented and sparkling probiotic beverage that is made with raw honey and organic green tea. Jun is often referred to as the “champagne of kombucha” and has a light, smooth, and unique flavor profile. A nonalcoholic and gluten-free beverage, Jun is perfect to drink on its own or can be used as a mixer in a drink of choice. It is immune-boosting, mood-lifting, and full of flavor. The balanced taste of Blueberry Basil Jun is derived from locally grown basil that is infused with the dynamic sweetness of North Carolina-grown blueberries. Learn more about Shanti Elixirs.

Honorable Mentions

Food Category

Lamb Salami by Sun Raised Foods

Based in Cornelius, Sun Raised Foods was started in 2018 based on the belief that smart people care where their meat comes from and what’s in it. They produce delicious dry-cured salami that is made from lamb raised on the green pastures of North Carolina solar farms. The farmers Sun Raised Foods works with are required to be Animal Welfare Approved and cannot use antibiotics or artificial growth hormones on their lambs. The lambs are domestic breeds, which have more of a mild, less gamey flavor. Family-owned North Carolina companies process the lamb before the cuts are sent to one of the highest quality dry-curing facilities in the country. Sun Raised Foods has two flavors of lamb salami: The Finocchiona salami has a robust flavor with a hint of fennel to balance the pepper, and the Sweet Soppressata salami has a slight cherry note that is complemented by cracked red pepper, which creates a mildly sweet and spicy flavor. Learn more about Sun Raised Foods.

Honorable Mentions

Home & Garden Category

Large Grilling Set by Robinson Ex-Files Knives

Robinson Ex-Files Knives consists of a married team from Arden that creates quality kitchen cutlery and utensils from upcycled, locally sourced materials. The couple continues the rich tradition of rural Appalachian craft to create practical, durable, and beautiful pieces that will bring joy to your culinary adventures. The tools and blades are hand-ground from vintage files and rasps, and a wide variety of fabrics are transformed into vibrant and long-lasting handles for most of the culinary tools. Every Robinson Ex-Files Knife has been properly annealed to improve performance and durability. This Large Grilling Set incorporates a flat and half-round vintage file, and the handles feature a burlap coffee sack from Dynamite Roasting Co. burlap coffee sack layered over Wrangler denim and red canvas. Learn more about Robinson Ex-Files Knives.

Honorable Mentions

Style Category

Asheville — Outdoor Community Series by Farm to Feet, A Nester Hosiery Brand

Farm to Feet, a Mount-Airy based company founded in 2013, has grown to be one of the leading sock makers in the country through a blend of novel design and technical innovation. Farm to Feet uses U.S.-sourced merino wool and works with many North Carolina-based vendors, including yarns from Burlington and Rutherford College, yarn spinning in Raeford, dyeing in Belmont and Valdese, and elastic from Madison to make its socks. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Farm to Feet partnered with another leading North Carolina outdoor brand, ENO Hammocks, to create a commemorative design. Named for ENO’s hometown, the three-quarter crew Asheville sock has light cushioning and a comfort compression fit. The Asheville features an ENO hammock hanging between two pines with a bright sun or full moon shining above, depending on the colorway. Proceeds from the Asheville sock benefit Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Learn more about Farm to Feet.

Honorable Mentions