It’s that time of year when we need to start thinking about what to gift our friends and family for Christmas (or if your family is anything like mine, your mom and mother-in-law have already started asking you for gift ideas weeks ago, and you have no idea what to tell them because you haven’t thought about it yet).
As a small business myself, I am all about supporting my peers, so I’ve compiled a list of gift ideas that come from small businesses and start-ups. If you don’t find something you like from this list, or that you think would be perfect for a friend or relative, I’ll be shocked.
Gifts for the Home Decor Enthusiast
(Note: The photo comes after the product, shop, or artist being described.)
Michele Ludwigsen created this Etsy shop in 2017 and is one of the sweetest people you will ever interact with online. Her craftsmanship and attention to detail are tough to match, and while she’s always coming out with new patterns, Michele’s best-selling product is her caramel pillow cover, as seen here (yes, I have two of them!).
Fire Road was founded in 2015 in San Francisco, and its focus is on bringing functional, minimalist design into homes to procure a timeless aesthetic. Founder and Creative Director Andrew Perkins designed this ceramic pot, which was made in Utah from locally sourced clay. The team at Fire Road then hand crafts the wood and leather sling in their studio. For this design, Perkins wanted to update the iconic mid-century style planter with a more organic form while still keeping the clean lines and classic material combinations. The hanging planters come with a brass D ring to hang from, and in my opinion, are even more stunning in person than they appear in pictures. You’ll need to see for yourself!
Owner and Artist Jessica Salazar and her team of four female artisans create celestially inspired wall decor, baby mobiles, and plant hangers, many of which are borne from driftwood found while walking around in nature and hammered brass. “Vida and Luz” translates to “Life and Light,” and strives to empower women. In fact, five percent of Vida + Luz net proceeds directly supports Wipe Every Tear and their fight to end sex trafficking in the Philippines.
Luisana Rodriguez Williams and her husband Derrick are the fabulous couple behind a series of handcrafted mudcloth throw blankets, baskets, and unique shelving options for the home. Their small business’ success in its early days (since 2012) can be attributed to home decorators’ appreciation for the Williams’ avant-garde approach to shelving and storage in particular. The couple recently had their first child, and they are still working hard to get orders out to customers (I know because my clients have told me, and they’ve also told me how sweet Luisana has been throughout the entire ordering process!).
Maria Marbach, otherwise known as “Ms. 90 West,” designs and sews all of her gorgeous linen napkins herself. She works for Denver Public Schools by day, and follows her creative passion doing this whenever she can find time on the side. According to Maria’s Etsy storefront, all of her products are made in small, seasonally inspired batches, and many items are only available in limited quantities, so if you see a pattern you love, make sure you snag it before someone else does!
Gifts for the Hygge-Minded
Chris and Cyndi Hileman from Toledo, OH, founded The Growing Candle in an effort to reduce waste, increase the use of natural materials in home decor products, and bring people a sense of comfort while using the candle and even after the wax runs out. How is that so? Each candle is wrapped in a recycled seed paper label that, once the wax (which uses phthalate free fragrances and essential oils) runs out, can be inserted into the reusable ceramic plant pot. Because the wicks are lead-free and made of cotton, the seeds are able to grow, unhindered, into air-purifying decor for your home. Incredible.
Shyla is a wife, mama, and inventor of these superb 100% cotton bed and bath products. She created Muslin Comfort because while co-sleeping with her littlest baby in hot southern California, she grew envious of his lightweight, breathable muslin cotton blankets, but couldn’t find any muslin materials made for adult purposes. She took matters into her own hands and created full-sized adult comforters, towels, and washcloths, and they all feel SO soft against your skin. You will want a muslin blanket on each bed and a muslin towel for every shower, I promise.
Founded by Charlie Ritchie and Jewel Staite, a kick-butt husband-and-wife team, Tea Runners launched in the fall of 2016 and shipped their first boxes in February 2017. If you know of any tea connoisseurs who already have all the tea pots, cups, and saucers they need, consider gifting them a subscription to Tea Runners, and it’ll be the gift that doesn’t stop giving for as many months as you decide! What I loved about my Tea Runners delivery was that I got to select what kind of tea I wanted (black, white, herbal, etc.), and they surprised me with four award-winning teas from around the world. The best part: I loved drinking each and every one of them until the very last tea-saturated drop.
From soothing soaps and lotions to scent-sational handmade candles, knit hats, woven blankets, planters, ceramic coffee mugs, and more, the team at River North Workshop knows how to concoct a scene full of all things cozy (and they offer workshops to teach shop guests how to do it, too!). Local artisans hand-craft all the products you can find in the store, and they are made from natural ingredients and materials. Browse their online store, and you’ll be sure to find something made with love for someone you care about.
Gifts for the Fashion Lover
Founded in the summer of 2018 by hard-working mama Nichole Eber who lives in Chicago, One Hundred Sixth Place makes cozy tees and noodies with a sense of humor. This brand understands that #momlife is tough (ask the owner—she works from home as a full-time finance professional with a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter while running this business as her creative outlet!), so all of her tees and pullovers are made from soft, premium cotton rather than basic T-shirt cotton. Encourage your friends to shop One Hundred Sixth Place, and tell the owner I sent you (she’s my younger sister!). Also, day drinking is encouraged.
SusieKays started in 2011 as a keepsake brooch bridal bouquet business, and has since grown to offer jewelry, wall art, wedding accessories, and more! Susie earned a graduate jeweler gemologist certificate from the Gemologist Institute of America in California after completing a bachelor’s degree in design, and today, she uses that abundance of gem and design knowledge to repurposes vintage jewelry into modern works of art. Brides across the country (including me!) have been ordering special wedding bouquets from SusieKays that incorporate their loved ones’ special jewelry, and you could certainly gift something special like this to a bride you’re close with, but my favorite release this year from SusieKays is her collection of Druzy necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. These pieces are GORGE. Also, Susie is my aunt. She’s hilarious and awesome, and you’ll want to be her best friend once you meet her.
Owner Kristin Lewis first opened her store in 2016 and sold goods from her garage until she was able to open up her own storefront in Laguna Beach, California, in 2017. Her shop has home goods such as pillows, throws, candles, mugs, rugs, etc., as well as stylish fashion accessories such as jewelry, handbags, hats, catch-alls, and more! Kristin works with and empowers a bunch of small makers in a collective that houses its products in her shop, and she’s passionate about supporting other women in business. Also, Kristin recommends everything she sells in her shop—she even couldn’t resist buying many of the items herself to have in her home! Follow this hard-working momma on Instagram at @the.garage.collective to stay up-to-date on new collections in her shop!
Gifts for People with Babies
Meredith Wright started Babiease back in 2010, after she had her first little one and wanted him to have the most fashionable and functional nursery accessories. Wright was a baby nurse and newborn consultant for nine years, so she knows what textures keep babies calm and happy, not to mention what materials soak up all that baby slobber! Now, Meredith sews while her littles are napping, and she’s coming out with fun, new, bohemian designs all the time!
Shop Owners Quyen and Rachel founded Mina and Margot in loving memory of two baby girls who were gone too soon. Quyen’s niece Mina and Rachel’s daughter Margot were both born prematurely, and sadly didn’t survive. These two super strong women have since created this business as a way to honor their little girls’ memories while giving a portion of all their proceeds to charities that support NICUs, as well as pregnancy and infant-loss charities. Check out their selection of personalized outfits for babies, and you’re sure to find one (or five, or 20) that make you smile. My husband’s favorite is the bear hug bodysuit, pictured above.
Owners Jennifer and Derek Woodgate both have backgrounds in health, and together in 2015, they launched Cuddle and Kind to help make an impact on the starving child population around the world. Cuddle and Kind is an adorable doll company that feeds 10 meals to children in need with the purchase of each individual doll. A team of female artisans in Peru hand-knits each doll from high-quality, natural cotton, and these women are provided a sustainable, fair-trade income. The dolls each have their own name, are out-of-this-world adorable, and are even favored by celebs (Jessica Alba is apparently a big fan)! I’ve put a couple Cuddle and Kind dolls on our baby registry—we just love them and the positive impact they make throughout the world!
Gifts for the Art Connoisseur
In this category, there’s a little something for everyone! Rather than writing something about each of these artists, I’m going to let the images speak for themselves! Give these fine creators a follow on Instagram while you’re here (the pics are all linked to their IG accounts, while their names are linked to their websites or Etsy Shops).