Our passions can take us on rare and unique journeys if we’re willing to follow them. That’s what some local makers learned as they’ve turned their hobbies into businesses. Monmouth County is full of creative people who make unique and useful products, and many of them will be on display at the annual Made in Monmouth event, Saturday, April 9, at Monmouth University.

Want a sneak peek of who and what will be there?

We bumped into some of those makers at a Made in Monmouth event at Cream Ridge Winery earlier this winter. Check out what some locals have been creating and get inspired to begin your own creative journey.

Local Flavor for Wine Lovers

Seasonal Plum wine pairs well with the warm or cold weather we’ve experienced this unusual winter, and you’ll find it at a 14-acre vineyard in Cream Ridge. Tim Schlitzer, the CEO/general manager of Cream Ridge Winery, warned that the robust plum wine is only around for a few months. Through 28 years of bottling wines, Cream Ridge has concocted many other seasonal favorites, such as mango, strawberry, and blueberry wines.

“We’re in a great location to make wine,” Tim said of his winery that allows many local farmers to easily contribute to the wine-making by supplying their local crops. Keeping it local is one of the ways Cream Ridge stays authentic and connected to NJ wine lovers. “The customers really appreciate that they know the person [making the wine],” Tim said.

Made in MonmouthUnmatched Tile Strikers

Spark a conversation as you light your match with Kate Brown’s tile strikers. Her beautiful and innovative design concepts are also seen in her jewelry making. This Allentown artist is inspired by raw materials.

“I love the stones and I love how each individual stone looks,” Kate said.

Each of her handmade pieces is one of a kind, creating a look that can’t be found at your average retail store. Kate started small with a few tile strikers in a local Allentown shop, now she fills orders and has displays at craft shows. “It’s not something you see everywhere,” she said.

Made in MonmouthMaking Soap Scrumptious

Smelling scrumptious is only one wash away with Marianne Resto’s scrubs and soaps. Her creativity has fueled her Allentown business for six years.

Marianne has an array of scents that are fun and sometimes seasonal, like a cinnamon-clove blend for the holidays. “I originally started making scrubs and progressed into all of this,” said Marianne.

Her line of soaps includes an Original Mosh Pit Soap with a charcoal base and a secret blend of essential oils. Marianne uses all natural shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and essential oils in her line of Scrumptious Scrubs and Soaps.

Made in MonmouthFor the Love of Chocolate

Becoming a chocolatier was natural for Sherri Hiller. She started with a chocolate-making class in NYC and never looked back.

She created a vegan collection for a local Ethiopian restaurant that showcases their signature spices within the chocolates. Sherri makes custom Chocolate Legends that can have a printed picture, specialties like goji berries, or shapes such as smartphones. The only limit is her wild imagination.

Made in MonmouthBusy as Bees

Trapper’s Honey is a homegrown business steeped in tradition.

Anna and Angelo Trapani are beekeepers who produce raw honey in Clarksburg, NJ. Anna’s family farm has been producing honey for generations. The bees in the Trapani’s hives help local farms and agriculture stay healthy through the bee’s pollination.

Anna and Angelo save the beeswax and create beeswax candles. “All churches and synagogues burn 100 percent beeswax because you don’t get the smoke or the soot,” Anna said.

Made in MonmouthQuick and Easy Meals

Jean and her daughter Madison share their family’s recipes to make entertaining easy. With just one bag of Miss Maddie Marie’s dip or soup mix, you will have a homemade snack or meal in less than 30 minutes.

“You can’t get any more homemade than this for people who don’t cook,” said Jean. The mixes have no preservatives and take little effort.

Sweet Family TreatsMade in Monmouth

Treats, sweets, and good eats are a delicious way to bring families together. Families like Seannee W. Harris’ have recipes that are remembered and passed down through generations.

While growing up, Seannee’s mother Dolores made creamy cheesecakes that everyone enjoyed eating. When Seannee had an opportunity to reinvent herself, this was the product that resonated most strongly with her. Seannee has turned Deescakes into a family business with five cheesecakes, rum cake, pound cake, brownies, and a sweetie pie all on the menu.

Made in MonmouthHave a Pretzel Hangover

“The Pretzel Lady,” Lois LeVicchi, started making pretzels with a friend’s recipe and brought them to social gatherings.

“When we moved to the Freehold area I would bring them to the soccer games and everyone would say, ‘Oh, there’s the pretzel lady,’ and it stuck,” Lois said. The Hangover Pretzel Company started with the Original Zesty Lemon Pepper flavor and Lois’ creativity has led to the company expanding to four unique flavors. Lois and her husband John recently celebrated 20-plus years of pretzel-making and were featured in Bon Appetit Magazine.

Get a dose of inspiration along with some conversation at Monmouth University on Saturday, April 9 at the Made in Monmouth event. And get the full makers experience and join the TEDxNavesink Makers conference as well. Don’t miss out on this dual event. Get your tickets here before they’re gone!