BY Nicole Miskovic
When it comes to uplifting local businesses, collaboration and innovation are often key, and Realize Bradenton, our local nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the vitality of Bradenton through arts, culture, and community, is bringing this philosophy to life. The organization’s newest initiative, an online shop called “Made in Manatee,” is opening a new avenue for local businesses and local customers by creating and overseeing the launch of this online platform.
Encouraging both commerce and community activation to help businesses thrive in-store as well as online, Made in Manatee is positioned to promote products and creations from local shops and artisans that make Manatee County unique while offering the community a convenient and community-oriented online shopping experience.
Empowering Local Vendors
Local businesses are already preparing to utilize the Made in Manatee platform to their advantage as the end of the year approaches. One of these vendors is
Segunda Vida, a business that specializes in recycling, repurposing, reimagining, and bringing new life to used items with recycled materials. The merchandise ranges from benches and coffee tables to lamps and other small furniture.
“We are really excited to connect with residents on this platform and be a part of a convenient, local holiday shopping experience,” said Ashley Ciferno, owner of
Segunda Vida. “With Realize Bradenton supporting us, I think we’ll be able to reach a wider audience. At the same time, folks will get the convenience of shopping
online while still getting to support the local economy.”
Made in Manatee is also valuable to customers and businesses because it offers shipped products like traditional online shops, but with additional local shopping and local pickup options, allowing the businesses’ physical stores to maintain steady traffic while accommodating different customers’ needs.
“Visibility is a big deal as a brick-and-mortar business, and being a part of Made in Manatee is a huge marketing opportunity for local shops,” said Ciferno. “It’s also an online community just like we are part of a local, physical community, which means more businesses being involved will create a better community and experience for everyone — including owners and customers.”
Another addition to the Made in Manatee platform is Canis Major Studio, a team of skilled woodworkers specializing in crafting custom products. Their primary
goal is to offer items that are not readily found in brick-and-mortar stores. In addition to their handmade boards, ornaments, and gifts, Canis Major Studio has
gained recognition for their hand-painted earrings, which took off in popularity when they first started selling at the downtown Bradenton market. These
products, including their earrings, will all be available on Made in Manatee.
“We have great support for our markets and events locally, and many people who visit come from out of town. This will allow us to have a hub for all things local so regardless of where you’re from, you can be sure you’re supporting small businesses in our area,” said Kim Taylor-Hawkins, owner of Canis Major Studio. “We’re excited to network with other Manatee entrepreneurs and hope to increase the reach of our custom items to benefit local businesses mutually – we want to see our whole community win, and hope that Made in Manatee will help us all do just that!”
Community, Connection, & Commerce
The launch of an online shop that’s designed for local businesses to connect with the community through commerce showcases Realize Bradenton’s commitment to bringing people together. Made in Manatee brings more than just convenience to our local businesses. It’s also cultivating the same sense of community we feel in our community in a digital space. And the initiative will not only help residents discover
the hidden gems that surround them, but it will also contribute to the financial support and successful growth of the local businesses in Manatee that we already love.
“Realize Bradenton strives to support and promote the incredible artists and entrepreneurs we have in Manatee County,” said Karen Corbin, Executive Director
of Realize Bradenton. “The Made in Manatee online shop allows us to showcase these small businesses by providing a platform to easily share their products and
Launching in November 2023, just in time for the holiday shopping season, Made in Manatee is accessible through Realize Bradenton’s website (www. RealizeBradenton.com), and will be a one-stop shop for a diverse selection of locally crafted products as well as a new and exciting way to explore, connect with, and
support the businesses that make our community so unique.