The Martha Stewart American Made initiative continues to spotlight and support creative entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses across the country. Since its inception in 2012, this program has been covered by more than 2,500 broadcast, print, and online media outlets. Forty-two businesses in all have been named Martha Stewart American Made honorees, and a little more than 10,000 companies have gained recognition and prestige as part of our annual Audience Choice competition.
I am extremely proud of this nationally recognized program and the long-overdue attention it brings to the highly creative, hardworking, entrepreneurial men and women who are rebuilding their hometowns and cities and bringing new vitality to their communities and industries. Whether it's a start-up business or a fourth-generation family-operated company, I encourage the same qualities on every level: craftsmanship, creativity, curiosity, and innovation.
For this year's crop of 11 honorees, we had a special focus on agriculture and farming. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 84 percent of American consumers are choosing organic food products when shopping. In fact, words such as "green," "sustainable," and "locally sourced" continue to be some of today's strongest buzzwords, describing the ever-growing trend toward more healthy and more natural living.
I have always grown my own fruits and vegetables. I learned how to garden at a very young age, while growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, and to this day it remains one of my favorite pastimes. It is very important to me that I know where my food comes from, and that I understand how it is processed. The same holds true for all the products I use personally.
With that in mind, four of our honorees are doing outstanding work in this arena. Brooklyn's Gotham Greens operates technologically sophisticated rooftop gardens to create a sustainable mass food source; Smith Family Farms is single-handedly keeping the dairy industry alive on Mount Desert Island, on a 68-acre property in Bar Harbor, Maine; and Pine Island Tropicals and FruitScapes are two companies that have built a thriving tropical-fruit eco-system in southwestern Florida, including more than 100 varieties of mangoes (among the most consumed fruits in the world).
The Martha Stewart American Made program has always been about highlighting the next generation of makers and doers who have turned their passions for well-designed, often handcrafted goods into successful businesses--that are manufacturing products right here in the United States. So that's why this year we are also honoring companies such as the Little River Sock Mill, a family-run business in Fort Payne, Alabama, that is bringing jobs back to the "sock capital of the world"; and Leontine Linens, a New Orleans-based company that has revived the market for personalized, hand-embellished, high-quality linens for everyday use. The 2015 Audience Choice winner was chosen by our website audience from among the 502 finalists selected by the Martha Stewart Living editors and me. This year's winner is Baiser Beauty, from Miami Beach, Florida.
The honorees and the Audience Choice winner will receive $10,000 each to grow their businesses and a trip for two to the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia headquarters in New York City to attend the American Made Summit. The honorees will also be featured in our flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and on marthastewart.com throughout 2016.
For the Martha Stewart American Made Summit on November 7, I've planned a full day of enlightening panel discussions and conversations, during which hundreds of attendees can learn from industry innovators, network with creative entrepreneurs, and discover inspiration and techniques for starting or growing their own businesses. This year, I'm thrilled to welcome icons such as Arianna Huffington; our own American chef, author, and television personality, Emeril Lagasse; and emerging "disrupters" like Josh Tetrick of Hampton Creek.
There is something very special--very American--about living out a passion and using it as a foundation for a thriving business. I know this firsthand, because I started my own business some 25 years ago, and now I strive to help others do the same. Please join me in honoring the individuals who have worked so hard to pursue their American dream.
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