New York Makers
One of our favorite new products is Silda’s Jam, locally made in Germantown with the freshest New York State ingredients. We reached out to the crafters and found out this jam company has a bigger story than most–Silda’s Jam is part of New York Makers, a platform that seeks to elevate the stories of food and craft artisans around the state. We spoke with for NY First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer, New York Makers co-founder and lead jammer, and Amanda DiRobella, New York Maker’s COO and Editor-in-Chief, to learn more.
What is New York Makers?
Amanda: New York Makers is first-of-its-kind, and the only, digital New York statewide marketplace and magazine. It was founded in 2012 as an impact-driven, woman-owned business promoting local economic sustainability and statewide connectivity. We offer a curated online shop and original magazine articles, as well as create branded, in-person experiences, bringing readers and participants inside the stories of New York makers and their communities. New York Makers has established relationships with nearly 100+ strong, small and creative businesses located across the state and is constantly adding more makers and products.
Can you tell me a little bit about how New York Makers was started and what the goal for the platform is?
Silda: Just like every one of the products on our platform, New York Makers has a story. Traveling around the state as First Lady of New York, I discovered amazing artisans, craftsmen, and creatives everywhere, even as I realized how atomized were their markets, their locales, and regions. I also learned New York had never had a public or private state magazine, unlike many other states, which seemed emblematic of that disconnectedness. I really believe the whole worth more than the sum of the parts, and so I co-founded New York Makers to 1) provide an economic and resource platform for makers across New York State and give customers access to a curated selection of mindfully created goods; and 2) champion sustainable local and statewide community by featuring inspiring stories of New York makers.
With all the artisans in the state, how do you find your Makers?
Amanda: We seek out mindfully-designed, quality products created in New York – from handcrafted to high-tech – every way we can. We are typically (in a non-COVID-19 world) always traveling, visiting different stores, farmers markets and events, reading publications, looking online, talking to friends. Sometimes makers reach out to us. They can contact us through our website. Serendipity also plays a role. The founder of one of our most popular makers, Biggie’s Crack Toffee, shared a cab from the airport in New York City with a New York Makers friend, and that is how we met!
What then led to making the jam?
Silda: Silda’s Jam grew out of a homegrown passion project. I grew up in North Carolina before moving to New York State. My parents and grandparents were hard-working, resourceful, and close-knit, and they would spend time together harvesting, canning, and making preserves with produce from their family farm. Later in life, I continued this tradition with my own family, making delicious homemade jams with berries or peaches from my own or neighboring farms in the Hudson Valley to give to loved ones during the holidays. One major difference with my jam is that over time, I eliminated granulated sugar and replaced it with New York State-made Maple Syrup, and I also began using natural citrus pectin, which allows my jam to be vegan.
Amanda: After I received a holiday gift of the jam, I told Silda we needed to offer it on the New York Makers Marketplace. I became a qualified food processing supervisor, and we became jammers together. We currently make Silda’s Jam in small batches in a scenic Germantown kitchen overlooking the Hudson Valley. Here at New York Makers, we are all about fostering talents and big ideas; we believe in the rewarding, magical process of making something from the heart that others can enjoy. Jam has been a part of the journey, our story, and our operation, as profits from jam sales go directly to supporting the New York Makers platform.
With all the jams out there, what makes yours stand out?
Amanda: Several things! First, we use maple syrup as our sweetener, which yields a subtle, rich and not overly sweet flavor. We are hyperlocal in terms of sourcing our fruit and berries (often we have picked them ourselves) and the maple syrup we use. We use citrus pectin so our jams are vegan. And our flavors tend to be distinctive: Gingerbread Peach, Blaspberry, Blueberry Elderflower, Blackberry Lemon Lavender, Lavender Peach, Black + Blue, Cherry Pie, Strawberry, Strawberry Lemon Lavender, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Red + Blue.
If someone could only try one of your jams, which one would you give them and why?
Silda: We truly love all the flavors, so that is a very tough question. It depends a little on the season. For the holidays, nothing beats Gingerbread Peach! We also have a new flavor, Cherry Pie, that we are crazy about, and our classic go-to would be Blaspberry (Blackberry + Raspberry)…or would it be Strawberry Lemon Lavender or Blueberry Elderflower?!
With all the global disruptions to food and supply chains, local economies are becoming more important than ever. How do you see New York Makers contributing to that shift in shopping habits?
Amanda: New York Makers raises the profile of local makers, telling their stories and offering their products to a broader market. We are additive to whatever they are doing through their own on-the-ground locations and other sales outlets.