Celebrating Small Business Saturday in Alaska

Happy Small Business Saturday! We're taking time today to celebrate some of Alaska's young fishermen and local makers. These small business owners inspire us and remind us of how lucky we are to be a part of the Alaskan small business community.
This Week's Young Fishermen
This week we're featuring the young fishermen of Small Boat Salmon. The family behind this small business is wicked smart, creative, musical, and talented. They have been setnetting in the Nushagak River in Dillingham, Alaska for the past 25 years – dedicated to the sustainability of Alaska's seafoods and catching nutritious superfood protein for the world to eat.  

Small Boat Seafood was started by Peter Crimp and Paula Cullenberg, who, after fishing in Bristol Bay for 25 years, decided that they wanted to start bringing more than a couple of fillets back to their winter home in Anchorage for friends and family. With the purchase of a direct-marketing license as well as a damn good knife-sharpener, Small Boat Salmon was born.

Now sons Matt, James, and friends run the harvesting side of the operation, catching, handling, and icing your fish with care, while Peter and Paula use their trained hands to gill and gut the fish back at the cabin, before shipping them off to Anchorage where more friends deliver them fresh to your door, usually within 24 hours of being caught.

James and Matt encourage other young fishermen to "be resourceful and don't give up. Fishing is something that tests you mentally and physically, and puts you in situations where you have to improvise to solve problems. Be creative about your operation and your markets; the best fishermen keep trying new things."  

This Week's Local Alaskan Maker

Introducing beautiful handmade leather goods that withstand the backwoods of Alaska! We are proud owners of two Alaska Belts by Backwood Leather Stitching. The belts are made with leather from an American tannery and fastened with 2" wide belt buckles manufactured by North & Judd in Connecticut in the early 1960's. You'll notice an anchor embossed on the back side of these new-old-stock buckles, a detail from North & Judd's anchor brand. Check out the rest of KC Mack's beautiful wallets, belts and bracelets on his website or in person at The Mercantile in Anchorage, Alaska. 


Alaska's Young Fishermen

Every Friday, we feature young fishermen working in Alaska on our social media. This community is a small but mighty group of young people braving harsh conditions at sea to fulfill their role as ocean stewards and seafood harvesters, in the world's most sustainable fisheries system. #aksalmonsisters #youngfishermenofamerica

J & M Seafoods // Jacob Hand & Jesse Hulburt on the FV Morning Star, with a young crew, catching Southeast Alaska Spot Prawns to bring to Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle to sell this December.

Jacqui Shaffer and co. aboard the FV Home Shore, celebrating the end of the Southeast salmon seine season and last days of summer. 

Oshi Wills and Sydney Lee, happy Homer girls aboard FV K2 in Bristol Bay with their lady skipper Thorey Munro. Check out Oshi's webpage for beautiful artwork about fishing and living in Alaska. 

Candace Shaak is not only a salmon sisters raised by subsistence tradition but the mayor of Cold Bay Alaska, a small town on the Alaskan Peninsula. Growing up, we flew through Cold Bay (and got stuck there due to bad weather) every time we left our homestead and we love knowing that this place is in such capable hands. The next generation of Alaskan leaders is strong and lovely.

Her best advice for young fishermen is "to pay great attention to their mentors. Whether it's your dad, mom, grandpa, grandma, aunt or uncle. Or maybe it's someone that was looking for a deck hand and you signed up and fell madly in love with commercial fishing. Pay attention to every little detail possible. The best way to learn in the commercial fishing industry is by listening to your mentor and by experience."

Lindsay Layland, who runs her own setnet site in the Nushagak River, pitches sockeyes at sunrise with her crewman Matt. Lindsay's crew is all in their 20s, and have been running the salmon show since they were kids. 

Her best advice to other young fishermen is that it that fishing shouldn't be done for the money. Instead she challenges other fishermen to "do it for the experience, the lifestyle, the connection to the earth. If you don't love to fish, don't fish. Just because there's a chance you might have a good season doesn't mean you'll have a good season. If you do, find a way to prioritize what you value most and go from there... Everything else will be a bonus."  

Mario Reyes aboard the FV Beauty Bay braves the Bering Sea with his crew to catch Pacific Cod during the winter to feed the world wild Alaska seafood -http://upperleftfisherman.com/.

F/V Silver Spray pulling full pots of king crab on the Bering Sea after a great season. This family-run operation is our favorite tender to pull up to in the summers while we're fishing. Their big smiles just don't quit. 

Local Alaskan Makers

Homesteading Roasters  // Homer, Alaska

Mandy Bernard's devotion to good coffee, printmaking, textile design, and modern homesteading is an inspiration to our community. Check out her hand printed tote bags, zipper pouches and yards of beautifully patterned textiles. Mandy and he husband live in Homer, Alaska - a coastal town full of industrious, creative homesteaders who depend on exuberant coffee consumption to brighten cold, dark winters. 

Outside of Etsy, Mandy's work can be found at the Bunnell Street Art Gallery and Sustainable Wares in Homer, Alaska, and seasonally at the Homer Farmers' Market.

Mandy's advice for other makers is to "decide where making falls within your own priorities and happiness, and figure out a way to dedicate time for it to happen. Don't let yourself, or anyone else, diminish or sideline your creativity. Keep trying new things to grow your business and your spirit. And don't forget to put down the ink and the phone and go outside, often." 


Rachel Bultman Pottery // Homer, Alaska

We're enamored with Rachel Bultman's pottery. Her ceramic mugs and tumblers are made to make your home a little more special and a little sweeter. Rachel's designs capture much of Alaska's natural beauty, ranging from mountain-scapes to wild berries to bird feathers. We think they are so very sweet. 



Stray Goose Studios // Girdwood, Alaska

Libby Ferrara works as a Net Mender and Commercial Fisherman on a Prince William Sound seiner. In the off-season Libby is able to focus on her own business venture, as an artist, creating high-quality handmade leather goods and jewelry out of her 11’x15’ home/studio. Stray Goose Studio began with the idea of creating a line of products that could uphold meticulous design ethics despite the challenges of a seasonal, migratory, lifestyle and limited space. This resulted in Libby developing a love for hand stitching leather as well as exploring alternative jewelry materials. Inspired by the natural world as well as a desire to live a meaningful and simplistic life, Stray Goose Studio designs incorporate sustainably sourced leathers, fibers and metals, salvaged twines, and many processes to make original functional objects and adornments. As a maker Libby likes to think of the products she makes becoming so integrated with the life of the person who chooses them that they gain purpose beyond utilitarian function. She believes, that to be surrounded by beautifully useful things beautifully enriches daily life.

When push comes to shove Libby finds that "keeping an open mind and being flexible" while always remaining true to herself are the principals that guide her. "As a worker and maker (and human) I desire to be worthy of respect. I figure if I can accomplish all of these things in the worst case scenario I will have self respect, and in the best others will recognize my efforts too."

If you know of a young fisherman or local maker that you think we should feature for Young Fishermen Friday or Alaska Maker Mondaycontact us. We're always eager to meet new inspiring and creative people in our state. 

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  • My niece is an Alaskan artist who lives in Juneau. She paints canvas, shoes and Xtra-Tuffs. Checkout her salmon print on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MarAmorAK?ref=search_shop_redirect
    And her artwork In IG at: http://instagram.com/artbyrissa

    Erin on

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