WINTHROP – Mother Mabel’s Aromatherapy started as a hobby of Karen Barton and her husband, Rick.

But the bath-products manufacturer based in Readfield outgrew the “hobby” label within a few years of its 2005 founding.

Sales jumped to $85,000 in 2009, up from $1,700 in 2005, Karen Barton said.

“We quickly grew,” she said.

The company’s handcrafted bath products now sell in about 300 stores — including national chains such as Yankee Candle and Whole Foods — in nearly 20 states, Barton said.

It was Mother Mabel’s experience of growth that motivated Barton to take on another venture: Maine Barn Raisers, a collaborative of Maine manufacturers focused on helping each other grow.

Last fall, Barton started reaching out to Maine manufacturers and small-business owners. Since then, she said, more than 100 Maine craftspeople have joined, the collaborative has opened a store in downtown Winthrop, and the group recently set up shop at the Windsor Fair.

As Mother Mabel’s grew, “we hit our stumbling blocks,” Barton said. “If you don’t have those connections, you can spend a lot of time researching (services), have not the best experiences, and end up exactly where you were.”

Maine Barn Raisers, Barton says, is the place where manufacturers can find those connections and get the recommendations they need for business services, including everything from marketing to insurance to the development of bar codes.

The people who offer those services, Barton said, are “right within our own group.”

The collaborative also offers capital-starved business owners access to retail space. In July, Maine Barn Raisers opened Potato Maine Gifts in a downtown Winthrop space formerly occupied by Pond Town Antiques.

“I’ve been saying you could fill a store with Maine products, so we did,” Barton said. “It’s all strictly made in Maine.”

The store, which Barton said is incorporating as a low-profit limited liability corporation, features the products of craftspeople who place their goods there on consignment. They include North Country Wind Bells, of Round Pond; Dana Elle candles, of Winthrop; Haven’s Candies, of Westbrook; and Nana Mary’s Stitches, of Farmingdale.

The artistic wood burnings of Scott Antworth are among the items for sale at Potato Maine. Antworth, of Augusta, uses a wood burner to create scenes of people and landscapes.

He joined the Barn Raisers collaborative, he said, because he was excited to be part of an effort to promote locally made products.

Consumers are “tired of going to stores and seeing ‘made in China’ on the bottom, when this state has one of the richest crafting traditions in history,” Antworth said.

Antworth’s Maine Barn Raisers membership is starting to pay off in the form of additional exposure, he said.

“Probably more people have seen my work in the last year and a half than they have in the last five,” he said.

While a downtown Winthrop storefront and display space at the Windsor Fair gave Maine Barn Raisers a public profile, the collaborative has in some ways gotten off to a slow start.

Potato Maine Gifts opened in July and operated a few weeks without a sign out front.

Hours have been sporadic, Barton said, depending on her availability and the availability of volunteers.

“Potato hasn’t been open as much as I would like,” she said, but she expects more regular hours and an official grand opening in the near future — now that she’s put in her own money to hire a store employee.

Harold Brown, who harvests sweet fern and sells it in more than 170 stores as Nature’s Poison Ivy Cure, joined Maine Barn Raisers in hopes of collaborating with his fellow small-business owners in central Maine.

He’s still waiting to hear what’s next.

“It takes a while to get these up and going for sure,” said Brown, of Richmond.

“It does seem like something that we need,” said Carla Lesko, who owns Dana Elle candles. “It would benefit a lot of small business. We need to get it moving again.”

Barton said there’s more to the Barn Raisers collaborative than Potato Maine.

“The store is one tiny little component of what this group wants to do,” she said. “I really like to think of Barn Raisers as a networking group.”

While the store has been closed most of the summer, Barton said she’s been working with individual members to line up new vendors, new gallery opportunities for artists and new business connections.

“Some pieces are working really well,” Barton said. “We’re getting there. With some better communication, I think we’ll be a more effective group.”