When Mundi Ross noticed a lack of uniquely flavored, seasonal, organic cookies in Colorado Springs, she started baking. The result was salt+butter co., which debuted at the Colorado Farm and Art Market last June, and continues to sell products through the Old North End coffee shop Stir.
It wasn’t the only lack Ross saw though, nor the only one she decided to address. On New Year’s Day, the 31-year-old kicked off Colorado Collective, a project culling local artisans from the metro area, the eastern plains, Teller County, the Tri-Lakes area and Pueblo.
“Colorado Collective was birthed out of my experience in the farmers’ markets this summer, and just building relationships with these different vendors,” Ross says. “I wanted to figure out a way that that could continue on, and look different. Not just a public space, but how I could promote their products, tell their stories.”
What Ross has affectionately nicknamed “CoCo” will go from its current social-media-only platform — find it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — to a website and community events later this month, and then to a quarterly, full-color print magazine in the future.
“I feel like the reason why I feel passionate about this project and why I want to see it through, is I just feel as though there is a lot of my generation jumping ship and moving out of Colorado Springs because it lacks ‘fill-in-the-blank.’ ‘It sucks.’ ‘No culture.’ Whatever. And I want to prove to my community that it’s worth their while to stay and invest.”
Ross plans to kick off an Indiegogo campaign in February to raise funds beyond what she’s already pulled from her pocket to pay her team of writers and photographers, and to launch the print product. She hopes to run ad-free — the magazine will be sold locally and online — and is currently seeking long-term investors.
She’s got big ideas for all of it, many related to interactivity. The website will not only feature interviews with craftspeople, but how-to videos, recipes and photo essays. The magazine, similar in aesthetic to Portland, Ore.’s Kinfolk, will take those photo essays and allow for an image to have perforated edges so readers can tear it out and frame it if they so desire.
Bi-monthly events will tie in to both — for example, one of the first featured artisans will be Geoffrey Keating, a local woodworker who grabbed the cover image and story for the August/September 2013 issue of American Craft magazine. Ross says she’d love to see an open-to-the-public event held at his studio, and perhaps also a step-by-step video with him on how to build a basic chair.
Fellow baker and writer Monet Moutrie’s been working with Ross on a creative writing component. Seasonal calls will be put out for submissions of short pieces “with a strong sense of place,” Moutrie says, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry submissions from members of the community.
“I think that creative writers, they make new worlds with their words, and they contribute and they speak to what is happening in a community and in the culture,” Moutrie explains. “We as creative individuals are influenced by music, by words, by works of poetry. Our work speaks to other genres, and so I think by featuring creative writing, we’ll be contributing to the larger creative picture of what’s happening in the Colorado region.”
Butcher, baker …
“I feel like Colorado Springs is a blank canvas,” Ross says. “And the opportunity is now. It’s rather ripe. And I think the success of Ivywild, for me, is reason enough to get the ball rolling on such a project, because I feel like if the community can get behind something that’s different like Ivywild, then they’ll get behind something like the Colorado Collective.”
Speaking of Ivywild, Eric “Harry” Nicol, who is responsible for the inventive drinks on the Principal’s Office’s menu, will be developing a winter cocktail as a part of one of the first videos. Others to be featured early on include Ryan Kulp, of Stitch and Saw, who Ross says, “makes these beautiful cross-stitch pendants, sold out of Austin and New York;” Heather Browne, of the local I Am Fuel, You Are Friends music blog, who will add a playlist of Colorado musicians; and Catherine Schneider and Amber Mustain, the masterminds behind the boutique floral design studio Twigs & Posies.
Ross says her list of possible artisans includes leather and jewelry makers, printmakers and metalsmiths, farmers, distillers and craft brewers — really anyone who puts quality craftsmanship into a hand-processed type of work.
And she’s just excited to get it all rolling.
“Honestly, I was one of those individuals who wanted to move because [Colorado Springs] lacked what I was looking for,” she says. “And due to circumstances I’m here.” (Ross is originally from Oklahoma, but her husband is a native and she’s been here for about 10 years now.)
“I’m invested and I’m gonna call this community home and I’m going to be a doer. And this is my way of hopefully creating some sort of stamp on my community.”