HANmade in South Milwaukee: Celebrating a Local Artist and Her Unique Creations

The latest in a regular series on cool stuff from cool local people.

South Milwaukee, meet Colleen McCarrier.

Actually, a lot of you know her already. This lifelong resident has created a series of gift and other items available locally at Serendipitous Designs, 907 Milwaukee Ave., and in shops throughout the metro area and in Madison and Eau Claire.

Colleen and HanMADE Milwaukee were also recently voted “Milwaukee’s Best Souvenir Proprietresses” in June’s MKE Lifestyle Magazine, and Colleen’s Lakefront Jigsaw Puzzle was featured in Better Homes & Gardens in 2015.

In Colleen’s own words …

I’m a home grown South Milwaukeean (Class of ’73) who married her high school sweet heart (Class of ’72).  We were gone from the area for 12 years during my husband’s Air Force career, but like many others, returned home in 1989 to put down roots among family and familiar surroundings.

Some people might remember THRIFTIQUE, a little enterprise I started in 2009, thanks to the kick off of the South Milwaukee Downtown Market.  That market gave me a platform to try out my idea of creating clever gift arrangements using thrift shop dishes, linens and baskets.  I was fortunate it happened to coincide with the Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle emphasis at that time, but it was the enthusiastic South Milwaukee friends I made through the market who made the endeavor successful, giving me the confidence to switch gears and try out a different idea I’d been mulling over…a retro-inspired souvenir towel that would feature points of interest in Milwaukee.  In 2011 I had the chance to bring that idea to life when I had the good fortune to connect with Hannah Jablonski, a talented Milwaukee graphic artist who is the daughter of my first cousin, Mike Jablonski (Class of ’71).

HANmade Milwauke™ (named for Hannah) officially launched its signature Lakefront Souvenir Bandanna in 2012 just as the recycle emphasis was replaced with the “Shop Local” buzz that is still going strong.  To HANmade, that means searching out area businesses to provide our goods and services whenever possible.  Local, state or USA made….that’s our order of preference.  Even our puzzles, to our delight, are made right in New Berlin!

There’s nothing to compare to having a person-to-person relationship with the people who make and sell my products.  They become involved in the creative process; they are personally invested in a quality outcome.  After all, both our names will be associated with the final result! Local is about the human scale of working in community, which has a very special kind of dynamism.  Add the market scene to the mix where customers can meet the real people behind the local product, and that’s one satisfying formula.

HANmade Milwaukee™ is thrilled to have been voted Best Milwaukee Souvenir in the June, 2018 issue of MKE Lifestyle Magazine.  Their other favorite spotlight moment came in October, 2015 when their lakefront puzzle was featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine as something unique to find in Milwaukee.

Their playful, iconic artwork is found on a range of products in three designs:

  1. Milwaukee LAKEFRONT…highlighting all there is to do on Milwaukee’s lakefront;
  2. Wisconsin PARTY KNOW-HOW!…featuring the foods you’d fine at a party in your auntie’s rec room (along with other Wisconsin fun) and;
  3. Wisconsin UP NORTH…a newly introduced slice of summer vacation in the north woods of Wisconsin.

I don’t know if HANmade Milwaukee™ has more designs up its sleeve, but I’ll keep producing souvenirs.  Seems we all love to send a bit of  “home” to someone who has moved away or bring something home to remind us of a happy occasion. Me? I’m still waiting to get the genuine Native American Indian doll with a papoose on her back from a shop in Eagle River that I’ve been wanting ever since I was six! J Maybe I’ll have to make my own!

HANmade Milwaukee™ items can be found at Serendipitous Designs on Milwaukee Avenue, at shops and events around the metro Milwaukee area.  A full list can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/HANmade-Milwaukee-Souvenirs-210503919026057/notes/?ref=page_internal

  • Shop online at HANmadeMilwaukee.com
  • Contact HANmade Milwaukee at hanmademilwaukee@wi.rr.com

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