Sarah Welle and Dulcie Wilcox are bringing local businesses together in curated gift boxes.
Colorado Crafted pulls Colorado-made products — from food and coffee to Colorado-branded apparel and glassware — into a gift box for every occasion. There are boxes for hikers, roadtripping, bath goods and self-care supplies. Welle also has tea towels with a watercolor map of Colorado that she designed herself.
“I feel like right now there’s so much shopping online through Amazon or at Target, and so much of the shopping experience is the same. It’s not highlighting the uniqueness of a place,” Welle said. “Everybody just goes online and searches ‘gift for graduate,’ and we just want to offer an alternative that allows people a chance to support small businesses and experience really unique products.”
Colorado Crafted has curated boxes, but shoppers can also build their own custom gift sets. Filters include businesses owned by women, or based in Longmont, so that they can handpick the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones.
Longmont is home for Welle and Wilcox and their distribution warehouse is close to Main Street. Longmont brands feature heavily in the boxes, from Farmers Market staple FairIsle Coffee and snack makers Bubba’s Fine Foods and New Beat Foods, to local soaps from Muddy Mint.
“We love Longmont, we really love being here and we think it’s awesome,” Welle said. “I moved here from Seattle and haven’t looked back.”
One of the more unique collaborations that came from the pandemic was a partnership with Dry Land Distillers.
“We’re huge fans of Dry Land and it’s so wonderful to be able to offer their spirits,” Welle said. “We have a hot toddy box with tea, local honey and their whiskey that was very popular over the holidays.”
Dry Land Distillers co-founder Nels Wroe met with Welle and Wilcox around when Colorado Crafted started, long before the distillery opened. Wroe was hosting a whiskey tasting in his garage and they became fast friends.
“We kept an eye on their growth and then around a year-and-a-half ago Sarah Welle reached out to include our spirits in their gift boxes,” Wroe said. “They had a lot of requests for alcohol in the gift boxes and it really took off from there.”
Wroe said the partnership launched around the time that Colorado changed the liquor laws to allow direct delivery from liquor producers due to COVID. Due to laws around alcohol distribution across state lines, the Dry Land boxes are only available for local delivery or pickup from Dry Land Distiller’s tasting room at 519 Main Street. Plans are in the works with Dry Land Distillers for nationwide distribution of their spirits in 2022, bringing the Colorado Crafted gift boxes with them.
“For this holiday season, we’re working with Colorado Crafted to curate some interesting new boxes,” Wroe said. “Once we figure out our new direct-to-consumer distribution, we’re looking forward to designing boxes that are an experience around Colorado and our spirits.”
Welle and Wilcox founded Colorado Crafted in 2013. The pair had been friends for a while and had a food blog together. Paying attention to the local food scene, the pair saw an opportunity for something different.
“There were so many cool products we wanted to try like Colorado peach jam or bean-to-bar chocolate that required a road trip to Denver,” Welle said. “We had this idea to pull all those things together into a store online so that people could buy all these unique products that were special to Colorado.”
Welle and Wilcox pulled all those items into one site as collections of gifts, and Colorado Crafted began. What started with family and friends at the holidays and packaging out of Wilcox’s basement launched into something larger after a mention in 5280 magazine for Valentine’s Day early on.
“That was the beginning of getting orders from people we didn’t know and it’s grown from there,” Welle said. “We started so small and so organically and we’ve grown each year.”
Welle said the growth has been exponential in the last year, in part due to COVID.
“People couldn’t shop brick and mortar the way they used to and still wanted to support local businesses and we could give them away to do that online,” Wilcox said. “People were missing family and friends, so it was nice to give people a way to share things and support locals to send care packages for people they missed.”
The success of Colorado Crafted over the past eight years led Welle and Wilcox to launch a sister site, California Crafted, in October 2020. Welle said the spirit of the company is still at the heart of the new venture — supporting and highlighting products from local makers.
“We saw so much opportunity to source amazing products and allow people to share an authentic taste of California,” Welle said. “We want to keep growing and bring this idea to other states in the future.”
“I think what Dulcie and Sarah have done is phenomenal and they’ve developed a strong and effective business model and in a way that keeps true to their goal of celebrating local craft vendors in their boxes,” Wroe said. “People really respond to that, so I think they are primed for growth as they expand in Colorado and California with that ethos of local products. In a world of mass-market sales and Amazon, they are a breath of fresh air.”