We've proud of the creative folks who sew, saw and stir in our city, but COVID-19 has made us more grateful than ever for local makers. Evaluating this year’s entries has been a bright light between video calls and grocery-store trips for our judges, and we’re finally ready to shed our (metaphorical) masks and share the best of the best with our second annual Made in Vancouver Awards. These are the locally made goods that showcase the talent our fair city has to offer. Even in a pandemic, our 2020 winners (and amazing finalists!) prove that innovation in Vancouver is in no short supply.
★ Best Food Products (Savoury) ★
[WINNER] Brown Butter Cubes by Hunter Browns
There’s a special rung high on the ladder for creators who produce something that heretofore you never knew you needed. Case in point: brown butter cubes. Anyone who’s picked up a cookbook, clicked on Epicurious or tuned into the Food Network will instantly recognize the conundrum: a given recipe just casually mentions brown butter as an ingredient. You know, no biggie. So, fine. Add 10 minutes to the recipe and another pan (and possibly a strainer) to the wash pile. And that’s assuming you don’t take your eyes off said pan for 20 seconds to find the entire batch has turned to black butter. Or, you can open this bag from Hunter Browns, drown in a cube and be done with it in five seconds. Seriously. Add the nutty richness to a simple pasta, give complexity to shortbread or supercharge a risotto all in the time it takes to open your fridge. Vancouver’s Hunter Browns is the first company to shortcut the path from pedestrian to gourmet. Game. Changer.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] English Muffins by Marie's Guilt Free Bakery
Didn’t someone tell Marie that gluten-free is supposed to be flavour-free? Clearly not, because she went ahead and crafted these English muffins that blow their flaccid, full-of-gluten brethren out of the bread basket.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Savoury Sunflower by Eve’s Crackers
Let’s get this straight—these ohmygodican’tstopeatingthem crackers are good for you? And they’re gluten-free? Do you get a discount if you buy them by the pallet?
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese by Les Amis de Fromage
There’s sublime beauty in an old fave done with high-end ingredients and an eye to quality. Simply put, this may be the finest frozen entrée in town.
From $8.99, buycheese.com
★ Best Food Products (Sweet) ★
[WINNER] Akbar Mashti by Uno Gelato
In this time of peak ice cream, crafting something that still wows our dairy-savvy judges is no small feat. They’ve tasted the richest of the chocolates, the sweetest vanillas, the lightest granitas. Which is why we’re so stunned with this category-defying creation from Uno Gelato, the micro-batch specialist that’s been on a tear of late in Vancouver. But their next big thing is actually a throwback of sorts—the original recipe for Akbar Mashti is said to have been created by a Persian artisan of the same name who was the pioneer in selling ice cream in 1920s Iran. The original ingredients—fragrant saffron, rosewater, Iranian Devonshire cream and roasted pistachios—are joined by local Avalon Dairy milk and B.C. birch syrup from Quesnel to create a modern mash-up that blends the Middle East with Southern Europe and the Lower Mainland.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Whimsical White Tablet by ChocolaTas
A rectangular, supremely tasty rebuttal to every know-it-all who blurts, “White chocolate isn’t real chocolate.” Good: more for us.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Single Malt by Kasama Chocolate
For the jaded chocoholic who thinks they’ve tried everything, we present cocoa nibs aged in single malt whisky barrels from Odd Society to impart a smoky richness that’s fantastically unique.
★ Best Zero-Proof Drinks ★
[WINNER] Canoe Fizzy Lemonade
Lemonade: what could be simpler and more wholesome? A few lemons, a
squeezer, something to sweeten it and voila, you have maybe the most refreshing of summer drinks. But once Big Soda got into the game, it all went south. First, they increased the sweeteners, then they decreased the lemons, then they loaded up the preservatives so it could be shelf stable for a decade or so—and before you knew it “lemonade” became just another soft drink. But in the hands of Canoe Cola owners Cam Hoffmann and Elaine Van (who already re-created what a real cola should taste like), lemonade has been resurrected in all its tart, refreshing glory. The ingredients—carbonated water, lemon juice and cane sugar—are so wholesome that they look like they’re from the set of Leave It to Beaver. And it has less than half the sugar than the big boys, meaning this thirst quencher clocks in at just 60 calories (not including the gin you’ll be tempted to add to it). But the proof will come when the mercury rises and you crack your first bottle—and realize what you’ve been missing all these years.
$36 for a 12-pack, canoecola.ca
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Cashew Mango Lassi by Plant Veda
There are a lot of balls in the air here—but they’re all in sync in this delightful dairy-free take on the classic Indian hot-weather drink.
★ Best Spirits ★
“Liqueur.”Even the word sounds funny, a throwback to a time of shag carpets, rec rooms and key parties. But in this iteration from Coquitlam’s The Spirit of Tea, all that’s suspy about liqueur—the raft of preservatives, the sickly-sweet taste—has been replaced with local and organic ingredients that bring a lightness and focus that grabbed our judges right out of the gate. Chief among the improvements is the use of South African red rooibos, its woody richness lending a tannic backbone that keeps all the other flavours, like vanilla beans from Madagascar, in balance. And it’s all in a supremely local package—design from Nanaimo; bottles and printing from the Okanagan—that helps redefine the moribund category of spirits.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Nude Black Cherry
A not-so-sweet Dr. Pepper with less than 100 calories in each can? No wonder these
folks are taking North America by storm.
$12.79 for a six-pack, nudebeverages.com
★ Best Beer ★
[WINNER] Strange Fellows Talisman Pale Ale
You’ve heard it all before. Longstanding bastion of perfection stares down the newer, cooler kids and prevails once more, yada yada. It’s a cliché and, as we well know when it comes to Talisman Pale Ale, it also rings true. The beer that is almost synonymous with Clark Drive mainstay Strange Fellows really is as resilient and versatile as any B.C. beer out there. Is the four percent ABV a cop out? Maybe, sure. But it doesn’t feel like one in this dry-hopped pale ale that manages to be tropical and citrusy but never, ever cloying. And, you can pair it with absolutely anything. That the brewery makes definitively weird beers isn’t surprising—it’s in the company’s name, after all. That their restrained pale ale has become one of the more obvious mainstays of the B.C. craft beer industry? Yeah,
$12.49 for a four-pack, strangefellowsbrewing.com
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Granville Island Brewing Amethyst Purple Sour with Guava
And now for something completely different. Last year, Granville Island Brewing attempted a re-brand, partly to shake its reputation as a big, bad corporate giant in an industry with several smaller, independent voices. One thing the brewery has definitely upped: its small-batch game. This sour is bright purple on the pour and fruity, tart and absolutely delicious all the way through. You’re not downing a sixer of this, but hey, that’s why it’s small batched.
★ Best Fashion Products ★
[WINNER] Performance Jersey by Samsara Cycle
For a city so proud of its athleisure rep that it practically flies a Gore-Tex flag, Vancouver has a cycling scene that’s woefully underdressed. (Lululemon, the heir apparent of spandex, has one cycling jacket in its collection. One!) For Janet Hiebert, a fashion-conscious former equities trader with a passion for spin and cycling, the lack of options just meant opportunity: here was a market ripe for disruption. And disrupt she did. Tired of cuts and lengths based on adaptations of men’s cycling apparel, she shifted gears (bike pun alert!) to ride right through the glass ceiling of bike fashion with Samsara, a line of goods designed by women, for women—including the chic, curve-hugging Performance jersey.
Original artwork from local designers adorns each one—playful pink palm prints, cheeky grey leopard spots, edgy graffiti—and matching 7-inch and 9-inch padded shorts round out the collection. But these are more than just a fashion statement: the jerseys are designed to work, whether you’re huffing and puffing up Oak Street or tackling the Gran Fondo. Locally made from Italian fabric, each top is moisture-wicking and quick-drying, designed with mesh panels on the front and side for maximum breathability, and offers UPF 50+ UV protection. Pockets on the back hold your phone, snacks and windbreaker; grip-tape lining the bottom edge prevents the shirt from creeping up while you’re busy slaying that new PB.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Matriarch Robe by Birds of Paradise
It’s a pretty neat trick to wrap someone up in both luxurious silk and do-gooder feels, but the chi-chi full-length Birds of Paradise kimono does just that. Yes, the lush floral patterns are imagined by artist and BOP founder Jaime Burke then hand-sewn with French seams in small batches here in Vancouver—practically bespoke—but there are also karma points to be found in the process: they’re made with responsibly sourced silk charmeuse, printed with eco-friendly inks and crafted by fair-wage Canadian workers. Plus, proceeds from each robe go to wildlife conservation. Overall: it feels pretty good to slip one of these gorgeous robes on.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Upcycled Toddler Romper by Mabee Baby
When a humble button-up shirt has made it through its fair share of workdays, Mabee Baby is there with a whirring sewing machine to offer a pretty sweet retirement option: why not reincarnate as vintage-chic toddler wear? Founder (and savvy mom) Dawn Mabee cleverly upcycles salvaged button-ups into very cute long-john-inspired rompers—cap sleeves on the top, harem-style legs on the bottom—that are roomy and durable enough for little ones on the move. Work it.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Arch Earrings by LanaBetty
Though the curved shape harkens back to Art Deco architecture, these playfully bold earrings from local jewellery brand LanaBetty (created by goldsmith Lana Lepper) are actually a vision of the future, crafted using an innovative technique that pairs 3D resin printing with old-school silversmithing expertise. The intertwined segments of the arch and half circle are part fashion statement, part conversation starter, and a glimpse at technology’s endless possibilities.
★ Best Beauty Products ★
It’s a gorgeous shade of red with an iridescent glow that’ll make you wish it was lip gloss, but the magic of Okoko Cosmétiques’ Beauté Majestique is in its cleansing and moisturizing power, not its pretty tint. The four-in-one formula serves as a gel-to-milk cleanser and moisturizing face mask, along with both a chemical and physical exfoliant, and it’s made from moisture-rich ingredients like organic camellia oleifera (the same plant that green tea is derived from), pumpkin and bamboo powder, salicylic acid and papaya for exfoliation, and squalene to replenish skin lipids. Once you’ve massaged it in and rinsed it away, your skin feels as beautiful as the pretty product itself.
It’s hard not to fall for the entire Okoko line (and, in fact, several products made our finalist list). Formulated in founder Oyéta Kokoroko’s Gastown studio, each product features more unusual organic ingredients that are not only surprising (tomato seed oil, carrot resin, green lanolin extract) but also work like a hot damn. The Sublime balm melts into skin for a perfect overnight moisturizer; L’Élixir de Pureté, Sang du Dragon is a gel-formula serum that uses a tree resin known as dragon’s blood to protect skin against environmental stressors; and organic beech tree bud extract reduces the appearance of wrinkles. It’s a luxe skincare company that is hitting all the high notes, and we can’t wait to see what Kokoroko will come up with next.
From $43, okokocosmetiques.com
[HONOURABLE MENTION] C-Major by NeoNaturelle
Serums often claim magic powers, but if they don’t feel great on your skin, what’s the point? This one excels on all fronts: with 23-percent vitamin C that’s in a stable, oil-soluble formula, it noticeably brightens and evens out skin tone, and it’s lightly scented with fresh citrus. And our skin felt great. Win win.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Bare Soothing Mask by Flora’s Bare Skincare
Sensitive types, this one’s for you. With calming chrysanthemum and cucumber extracts, the Bare Soothing Mask calms irritations and redness, and hydrates with borage oil and shea butter. Plus, it’s got a fresh natural scent that calms in its own right.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Eucalyptus Mood Mist by Mifa and Co.
It’s a simple idea—a kind of to-go version of the chill-out you feel in a sauna—yet this Eucalyptus Mood Mist from Mifa and Co. is also very well done. Organic eucalyptus oil meets Bulgarian lavender water, witch hazel and tea tree essential oil for a complex scent that can be sprayed both on the body and in the room (or on your pillow before you hit the hay). It’s truly a lovely mood booster.
★ Best Home Decor ★
[WINNER] Cambie Side Table by Manner Studio
With our living spaces acting as our offices, gyms, schools and bars, we’re especially grateful for practical pieces that are as functional as they are beautiful. Manner Studio’s Cambie side table is just that: traditional joinery and contemporary design combine to make these tables (or stools, or benches, if you line up a few of them) long-lasting and elegant. They’re made from North American solid white oak, walnut or bleached ghost maple and naturally sourced oils and waxes—no harsh chemicals here. We’re happy to stay home and rest our books (and drinks, and feet) on them for as long as we need to.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Montana Sofa
by MTH Woodworks, Icon Upholstery and Aim Design
This trifecta collaboration is more than the sum of its parts: the extra-soft Turkish velvet sofa with reclaimed cedar drawers offers smart storage and plenty of space to chill.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] 3’s Companee Ottoman by Ffabb
We’re into the simple design and solid craftsmanship of these seats fashioned from hand-quilted Italian wool atop an interlocking wood frame.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Flower Haze Herbarium by WA MOGA 29
These super-giftable bottled flowers are handmade with preserved plants and are longerlasting than a fresh bouquet—plus, they won’t affect your allergies.
★ Best Wildcard Products ★
Kristine Sostar McLellan had all the classic pre-labour perks, most of which were gifts for her baby-to-be. But once her daughter was born, she realized there was an absence of support for mothers in the postpartum period. “It’s like being hit by a car and then being told, oh, but do you mind also keeping this baby alive?” she says. Her Postpartum Survival Kit doesn’t shy away from the needs of new moms: there’s perineal spray, nipple balm, postpartum pads and other must-haves that no one talks about. All of the products are vegan and handmade, and she uses recycled materials from local vendors whenever possible. Plus, One Tough Mother is supporting more than just the kit recipients—in May, they threw a virtual baby shower for expecting mothers and donated proceeds to Mamas for Mamas, a charity that supports single mothers and caregivers in crisis.
[HONOURABLE MENTION] Camp Firestarters by Threebees
It’s hard to get more West Coast than zero-waste firestarters made from cedar sawdust and leftover beeswax—and they smell amazing in the fireplace.
From $22, threebees.shop