Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Boswellian Kira on Shopping Small, Nestled Pines, and Ornamentation

Hello! My name is Kira, and I’ve been a bookseller just shy of five months.  Allow me to introduce myself — I ride my bike through sunshine and sleet alike. I kill most of the plants I bring home, regardless of how much love I smother them with. I go climbing as much as I can without shredding my hands to bits, and if I’m not climbing, there’s a good chance I’m reading about it. Not least of all, I’m a huge advocate for supporting and frequenting small businesses, as I think my fellow booksellers could attest to. I’ve been working for small businesses essentially my entire working life, sixteen on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way — trust me. I tried my hand at a few corporations over the years, and I think my record for longest employment was a measly four months before I respectfully quit, thank you very much. 

My excitement over Boswell’s 2019 holiday ornament (designed by Boswellian Aaron Boyd) should come as no surprise then — it’s not only created by any old small business, but the Wisconsin-based Nestled Pines Woodworking, who I happened to work for throughout high school. They were my first job! I vividly remember walking in my first day, overwhelmed by the smell of freshly engraved wood and nervous as all hell. I was beyond relieved when my new boss Amie was wearing Converse All Stars. I figured we’d get along just fine after that, because I was also wearing my super cool Converse sneakers. Sophomore logic, eh? I apparently hadn’t had enough of them after high school was over, because I went back to complete my college internship a couple of years later. How could I not? The owners of Nestled Pines, Matt & Amie, are truly some of the most genuine, hard working people I know. 

Not to be overly sentimental, but they treated me like family at a time when I certainly needed a little more parental guidance than I was receiving at home. Matt, Amie — thank you for all of your wisdom, home-cooked meals, and lessons on how to be unequivocally true to yourself. Truly, though, I don’t know how the two of them do it. Especially every December — it’s the most chaotic time of the year, with numerous all-nighters, frantic bow-tying, and Epilog lasers engraving quite literally 24/7 to complete every order on time. Even though December was so insanely busy, they somehow found time to make it to some pretty important trade shows. The first time I went along to one, we found ourselves stuck in Chicago during a brutal snowstorm. I’m sure they were somewhat distraught not to head home and keep working after the show was complete, but 17-year-old me was definitely over the moon to be stuck overnight in a beautiful hotel with my role models in a city I’d never been to.

Matt & Amie aren’t only wonderful role models, they’re also ethical, eco-conscious brand owners. Thought and care clearly goes into every step of their process, from sustainably grown woods, USA-made ribbons, and packaging/shipping materials from a fellow Wisconsin company (plus, the community of Monticello, where Nestled Pines is based, is encouraged to bring in pre-loved shipping materials, rather than tossing them out). The ornaments themselves, of course, biodegradable, rather than plastic or other icky materials. Nestled Pines Woodworking has partnerships all over the country, from national parks to museums and the like, so if you’re travelling this season, there’s a good chance you’ll happen upon more of their creations!

But if all this isn’t quite enough to convince you that shopping locally is great — here’s why you should personally consider it whenever you can. It keeps your dollars within your community; you’re supporting businesses owners who care about your city because they live alongside you, rather than thousands of miles away; and one that I personally care about deeply —  if the businesses you frequent (like Boswell!) carry locally made goods, it has the potential to lower your environmental impact. Let me explain, in case you’re not sure what I’m talking about — if you purchase something made all the way across the globe, it must be created, potentially with questionable labor practices; packaged, often in lots of plastic that can’t be recycled; loaded onto a boat or a plane or a train or a truck, and brought all the way to you from who knows how far away. All those miles the item has to travel to get to you add up to a fair amount of burned fossil fuels. Alternatively, if your item only comes from a few towns away, that means less non-renewable resources are consumed in transport, and you know who made your goods,as well as how! When you visit Boswell this season, keep your eye out for a few of the brands we carry that are local, Wisconsin companies — Tabal chocolates, Mayana chocolates, HANmade Milwaukee puzzles & gifts, and, as you know, Nestled Pines Woodworking. There’s no better way to do Christmas than with locally crafted, eco-friendly, gorgeous ornaments on your tree, in my humble opinion. Especially when it’s made by a couple who are so truly wonderful to work for and with. Happy holidays, y’all.
- Kira McGrigg

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