The Joseph M. Stern Company (JMS), one of the largest international suppliers of Raffia, was founded in 1915 by Joseph Stern and Emil Elder.
After the untimely demise of Mr. Stern, Emil became the sole owner and passed the company onto his sons, Robert and Howard Elder. Today, JMS is owned and operated by the Elder Family’s 3rd generation, Randi Elder Owen, daughter of Robert Elder.
Originally, JMS’s main product was raffia mats utilized as cemetery grass to cover burial sites during gravesite memorial services. Raffia Mats are still produced by JMS. The mats are flame retardant, making it popular with theatres, film, malls and school displays.
The second generation of the Elder family expanded the product line to the craft industry. Packaging raffia bundles and selling raffia in bags to crafters and the craft industry became very popular. Large retail craft stores such as Pat Catan’s/Darice were among many who started and continue to sell raffia to crafters. Raffia also started to be used to make clothing and hats, introducing this unique fiber to yet another market.
Today, JMS not only sells raffia mats and bulk raffia to the craft industry, we have expanded our product line to hunters. Raffia is great to use for camouflage, whether it is covering a boat or as a ghillie suit. Hunters come from all over the United States to purchase JMS raffia. JMS also supplies hunting blind kits to large retail chains such as Cabela’s and Avery.