MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This is a story about a mom, her three sons who are all chefs, and an apron that's made in Minnesota.
"About a year and a half ago one of my kids said 'let's come up with something more functional,'" said Kate Meier, who like all good moms doesn't want to start a family war by giving just one kid the credit.
"It's a collaborative effort," she laughed.
At the time, Kate didn't know she was going to launch her own business. She said she just wanted to help her kids.
"They wanted something not that expensive, durable, pockets that were awesome, and it looked cool. And I can do all those things," she said.
She decided to put a logo on it, so everyone would know it wasn't the same as the $20 plain white apron that comes from the big uniform companies. She landed on an outline of the state of Minnesota, with the letters BA, which stood for Boerboon Aprons.
"I was going to name the company Boerboon (pronounced like 'Bourbon') Aprons, but I didn't want everyone saying the name wrong," she said. Boerboon is Meier's maiden name, she decided to call the company Craftmade Aprons.
"I still haven't accepted it. I'm still in my mind just creating aprons for my kids and their friends. That's how I can keep up with the demand and requests I've had," she said.
The demand is intense. What started with executive chef Corey Meier at Create Catering, Josh Meier at FIKA, and Blake Meier at The Kenwood Restaurant, has spread around town.
Chefs like Mike Rakun at Mercy, Ann Ahmed at Lemongrass Thai; and Thomas Boemer at Revival wear the aprons.
"Mom knows all the chefs and more chefs than I've even heard of in 2 years as chef," laughed Lucas Meier.
Beyond individual chefs and cooks, now entire restaurants are being outfitted in Kate's aprons. Servers and chefs at 10 restaurants, including ninetwentyfive in Wayzata, either have them or have ordered.
"I'm the youngest child of 8 and my mom sewed," Meier explained, saying she sews the aprons in her Minnetonka home, sometimes working 12 or 14 hour days, and because of the demand she's on the cusp of expanding beyond being a one-woman-company.
"She's making these things that are helping support our days which is amazing, it's incredible," said Corey Meier.
The kids act as a focus group, deciding what actual working chefs would want. For example, the pockets are on the sides, and angled so fewer crumbs fall in them. There's a pocket for cell phones, and many of the pockets have leather linings which looks cool, and helps keep the tools in place when chefs lean over to plate food.
She mostly makes straps that cross in the back-- so it reduces the strain on a chef's neck.
"Some chefs have told me, 'I thought I was having headaches, but it's been the apron pulling on my neck,'" she said.
Despite changing the name to Craftmade Aprons, Kate decided to keep the letters "BA" in the Minnesota logo, just like she did in her first designs for her sons.
"The 'BA" is there as a mystery and the chefs think there's their own meaning," she laughed.
The aprons are available by special order, but there is a limited quantity of a "MN Pride" apron available at Craftmade Aprons.
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