July 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM ET
"There's no place like home," Dorothy of Oz once quipped, and last week, our TODAY viewers proved just that.
TODAY's July 4th-inspired Made in America series highlighted homegrown brands, then asked viewers to share their American-made, small business products in the style categories (fashion, beauty and home décor). The response was inspiring — over 850 submissions — with TODAY fans sharing their best patriotic products, from unique jewelry to chic home bedding. But there can only be one winner, as chosen by TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas, who based her hard decision on creativity, originality and style:
Congrats to Kansas dad Rodney Price, whose innovative Quick Exchange Picture Frames let people easily switch out photos on mounted photo frames. The 2-year-old company manufactures frames designed to let folks swap photos in a matter of seconds without having the re-level the frame. You just remove the front portion of the picture frame — which is attached with magnets — change your photos (also attached using magnets) and replace. Better yet, making a unique collage out of these frames, available in several sizes, is simple: just place and fasten them on the wall next to each other ($30-$56, quickexchangepictureframes.com).
“It's smart, useful, customizable — something for people of all ages,” said our judge, who noted that the frames could be used everywhere from dorms and homes to offices.
Price, 45, a U.S. Navy combat veteran who lives with his wife and four children in Paola, Kansas, thought of his patented idea “out of necessity,” after realizing there were just too many pictures — of his children's school portraits, sporting events etc. – that required constant mounting. Not to mention, “with four small children running through the house, the typical picture frames were constantly unleveled,” Price explained to TODAY. “Like every family, we needed a simple solution to this problem.”
With help from a neighbor, Price makes the frames himself in his shop. For Price, it was important his products, composed of wood from Kansas, were made here in the U.S.A. — a personal cause he’s committed to.
“I hope that one day I can pass this company on to my children and they too will be proud of what I have built here in America,” Price said. Price also honors his fellow veterans and their families by donating 1 percent of his profits to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation.
Through Quick Exchange Picture Frame, Price hopes to make a difference — starting of course, at home, where 14 of his frames currently line the walls.
Looking for more great, American-made items? Check out our runner-ups:
Mari Robeson Home, by Mari Robeson, Arroya Grande, California
Brighten up your space with chic, eco-friendly home décor accents — pillows, framed art and paper accessories in modern yet playful prints ($24-$48, marirobeson.bigcartel.com).
Rock My World Inc, by Jackie Kaufman, Parkland, Florida
Wish you could carry your pet with you everywhere? Discover this adorable, custom-made jewelry line that incorporates a mold of your pet’s nose / paw print or even a portrait ($200, etsy.com/shop/rockmyworldinc).
Sofi and Liv, by Christina Thompson, Little Elm, Texas
This mom-made, multitasking miracle balm for babies' bottoms, diaper rash and boo-boos uses 100 percent natural ingredients, including grapeseed oil, beeswax and flower extract ($16, sofiandliv.com).
Deflina Balda,by Delfina Balda, New York City
New Yorker Delfina Balda's namesake collection features bright and boldly-patterned tunics, dresses and separates inspired by the "vibrant street culture of her native Argentina" ($82-$369, delfinabalda.bigcartel.com).
What are your favorite American-made products? Share them with us!