Artist Profiles

Meet Deb Kraemer of Abbey Brown Soap Artisan

Curls left behind after shaving soap blocks at Abbey Brown. Read our Chicago travel blog and shop the collection of locally made, sustainably made goods at

[CHICAGO] You’d expect a shop filled with soaps to smell nice. 

But Abbey Brown Soap Artisan, tucked into a historic storefront in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, engages all of the senses. 

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Meet Tim Gillengerten of Transit Tees

Meet Chicago Transit Tees founder Tim Gillengerten. Shop Transit Tees sustainably made greeting cards and posters at

[CHICAGO] There’s a synergistic swirl of entrepreneurial energy and creative vision behind Transit Tees founder Tim Gillengerten’s kind and quiet façade.

Over the years he’s demonstrated a gift for spying opportunity and the drive to act upon it. Tim can see design potential in the ordinary objects around him and craft something hip and interesting from that. But it doesn’t stop there—he pursues the steps needed to bring those hip and interesting projects successfully to market.

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It looks good on paper

New paper drying at Paperworks Studio during Local Universe's visit.

Those acid-washed jeans that you’ve finally decided to part with could become the next series of greeting cards from Paperworks Studio.

The social enterprise in Traverse City, Michigan, produces beautifully handmade paper with ethereal whirls and swirls, tints and textures. You’d never guess that it all began as a squishy soup of discarded pants and shirts, sheets and curtains, or even dried flowers and coffee grounds. 

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A heart bigger than a hill of coffee beans

Local Universe has the opportunity to meet with Theodore's Coffee founder Darwin Pavon in Michigan. He's a graduate of the Micah House in Honduras, where we also visited, and his coffees, which we sell at, benefit the Micah Project.

Some people just make your heart smile. That’s what it’s like to meet Darwin Pavon, founder of Theodore’s Coffee in Owosso, Michigan, and a native of Honduras. His welcome is warm, his enthusiasm is sincere and infectious, and his coffee is amazing! He sources much of it from Honduras, where he pays the farmers a fair wage. And he gives back a portion of every sale to the Micah House, which provides a home and an education for boys from the streets of Tegucigalpa. Darwin lived at Micah, and he is an extraordinary example of the potential that lies within each of these boys—potential not only to succeed but also to improve the world around them. Darwin is doing that with every bag of coffee he roasts and cup he brews. Read on to meet our dear friend:  

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