Celebrating all things local with Mel McMahon of Indiana Owned
You might recognize Indiana Owned co-founder Mel McMahon by her voice – she has been an on-air radio personality on Indianapolis stations and is executive producer for WIBC’s annual Salvation Army Radiothon, set this year for Dec. 8-9. But she is also an ardent supporter of local businesses at IndianaOwned.com, which serves as a directory of Indiana-based businesses that have been certified local. Mel also has a podcast called “Local Matters” and owns a retail store on Main Street in Lebanon called Indiana Gifts that only sells products made by Indiana-owned companies.
What was the inspiration for Indiana Owned?
Indiana Owned came about from a very simple question. “Is it local?” In the spring of 2012, my now-husband and I were walking around Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis while deciding on where to go for dinner. After finally settling on a restaurant, I asked: “Is it local?” That simple question became a much bigger conversation.
How do you know if a business is local? What does local really mean, anyway? Why are communities with local businesses more attractive? Where does the money go when you spend a dollar locally? How much money stays in your community when you spend your money at an independent business?
In the search to answer these questions, we discovered more than just the economic impact of spending your money locally. We also found a lot of people just like us – happy to support local businesses but who didn’t always find it easy or convenient. We also discovered a lot of local business owners were proud of their Hoosier roots and wanted people to know they were local. Using our experience in promotions and business development (amongst other talents), we decided to simplify the search for local and launched the first website, IndianaOriginals.com, on May 15, 2014.
What’s the most surprising Indiana Owned or made product or business you’ve come across?
This might not be the most surprising thing, but something I really, really appreciate is the fact that limestone from Indiana is used all over the world. We see it all over Indiana. I grew up in a Bedford stone house in Irvington. My fireplace surround in my home now is Bedford stone. What a lot of people don’t know though, is that Bedford stone is used in court houses and libraries across the country, in the Empire State Building, in the Pentagon, in war memorials in Washington D.C., and so many other places. It’s really something to hang our hat on, and I love driving by the quarry sign declaring Bedford “The Limestone Capital of the World.”
You probably travel around the state a lot; any favorite destinations? Where would you go for a weekend getaway?
One of the things I love about Indiana is how different the landscape is depending on where you are in the state. That’s part of the reason I love visiting our State Parks. Each one gives you a completely different experience and showcases the beauty of our state in different ways. If I go missing though, and your only clue is “Mel wanted to get away,” you will find me at West Baden Resort in southern Indiana.
If you had to choose a favorite iconic Indiana dish, what would it be? Breaded pork tenderloin? Sugar cream pie? Persimmon pudding? Roast beef Manhattan?
Breaded pork tenderloin. Hands down.
Do you like to cook? Any specialties or favorite things you like to make?
I am no expert in the kitchen, but I do enjoy baking and preserving. I love baking all different kinds of cookies, especially around the holidays. My chocolate pie is a regular request. My mother-in-law called to tell me my pickled beets were the best she ever had, even better than her grandmother’s, so I might be onto something there. I receive a lot of requests for my jalapeno pepper jam, too.
What items are always in your fridge?
You will always find veggies from our garden, a wide variety of cheese, meats, spreads–anything that can be put on a charcuterie board, a minimum of four different kinds of pickles, and cold brew.