You probably don’t know this, it has been small businesses that have put food on the tables of my family for four generations. My great grandfather, grandfather, and father all owned auto body shops. My great grandfather emigrated from Belgium by way of England and the story goes that one of the things he used to do was install the hidden liquor compartments in cars for bootleggers during prohibition in New Jersey. So badass.
The likelihood was slim that I would carry on the tradition of owning an auto body shop, however, I did spend the summer of my junior year of high school working with my dad and also restoring my first car, a 1978 Fiat Spider, from a rusted out orange heap to a stunning fire engine red convertible, with him. Yes, I actually welded things.
Needless to say, I have great respect for anyone who goes into business for themselves. I took a business class once and the teacher, a business owner himself, told the class that anyone who starts a business is crazy. He meant it in a way to instill pride, because, as he said, anyone who would be risky enough to do something like this has a brain that operates in a totally different way than the norm.
Perhaps it was because I grew up around someone who was self-employed that I didn’t find it so extraordinary when I started my business at 28 but it’s more likely that it’s just my nature to need the large sprawl of creativity and ingenuity that entrepreneurship offers.
Whatever the reason, I have mad respect for small business owners who have the chutzpah to strike out on their own and it just kills me that small businesses have been one of the biggest victims of this COVID-19 pandemic. On the flip side, watching communities come together to support small businesses in their communities has been such an encouraging and uplifting part of this very sad story.
And I have seen it for myself. Many readers and clients have done so much to help me not go under this year. It’s something I will never forget or take for granted. You have my unending gratitude.
15 Small Businesses to Support the Holiday Season
To give back the generosity that has been bestowed upon me, I am sharing 15 different small businesses with great products that you can support this holiday season. These are businesses I am familiar with or that have been nominated by Facebook Group Members. Remember, as the saying goes:
Location: Middletown Deleware
I love First & Little. I got to know the store when I was invited to train their sales staff in personal styling. I own a cardigan they sell that I wear constantly (sadly currently out of stock.) The store is chock full of amazing merchandise in a cozy atmosphere and staffed by friendly (and well trained) associates.
First & Little was established in 2010 in the first State of Delaware. They believe all women should put themselves first so the “First” in First & Little truly has a dual meaning. They are an award-winning online and brick & mortar lifestyle boutique curated selection of goodies include clothing (S-3x ladies and 0-8 littles), shoes, jewelry, accessories, gifts, and more.
I discovered Pam Neri Jewelry in a funny way. A client shared a photo of herself wearing a new necklace on Instagram and it was so cool I had to look into the designer. Pam Neri is a former art teacher turned jewelry designer and it shows. Her creative and colorful jewelry can offer a bold, unique touch to any outfit. Perfect for these days when we all spending so much time on video calls.
Pam found that the process of designing necklaces is very similar to composing a painting. Both involve an understanding of the Elements of Art such as shape, color, texture and the Principles of Design such as movement, balance rhythm, contrast and unity.
Location: Prather, California
Basilwood Farm was nominated by a Facebook Group member. They had me at goats. First of all, goats are adorable and, second, goat anything is amazing. Have you ever tried goat’s milk ice cream? To die for.
Basilwood Farm is a family-owned and operated goat farm where they create skin-nourishing goat’s-milk soap (and other goodies) from their micro herd of dairy goats. Each doe is hand-milked daily to produce their farmstead soap. Each bar contains approximately 20% of their very own fresh milk.
Basilwood farm also has a farm stay with AirBnB! Visit to do some goat gazing and chicken watching. Or maybe even coordinate a trip with one of their awesome Cheese, Please Workshops.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange was founded in 1854, during a particularly volatile time in American economic history. Many women in Brooklyn found themselves in need of income but with no means of support. A group of concerned local women began the Brooklyn Female Employment Society providing a discreet enterprise, or “exchange,” through which women could sell their needlework and handcrafts. As the organization evolved into the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, a small sewing school and storefront enabled women to care for their families and earn income without having to work in a factory or other dangerous environments.
In addition to selling their wares, the women of the Exchange made “warm garments” for soldiers in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I.
Today, the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange stands at the forefront of the American crafts movement, representing hundreds of craftspeople from Brooklyn and across the country.
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Nominated by a fan of the store, I’m thrilled to have found this gem. The New Blak’s mission is to empower women through conscious fashion by relying heavily on sustainable bamboo and organic cotton fabric. They source all fabric for its clothing line from a trusted Canada or an ethical and sustainable wholesale company based in the United States. The New Blak strives for transparency so the customer knows how their products were made. Shipping is done with an eco-friendly shipping solution and to avoid using plastic shipping or shopping supplies to help keep plastic out of landfills and oceans. They even switched to biodegradable, bio-based packing tape.
The New Blak ensures that products made by featured artisans match their ideals for ethical and/or sustainable production.
Location: Brooklyn, NY
When I moved to my Brooklyn neighborhood in 1998, you had to head into Manhattan most things, including quality beauty products. SHEN founder, Jessica Richards, noticed the same problem and did something about it by opening her store in 2010.
What started as a neighborhood haven for undiscovered natural and organic brands soon became a “must visit” destination for beauty enthusiasts from all over the globe. The store carries a curation of clean, innovative, and modern beauty brands from around the world.
For a decade, SHEN has been recognized as the go-to place to find the newest, most innovative brands in beauty. They recently moved locations to a beautiful and it’s worth the trip to Cobble Hill Brooklyn the next time you are in town.
Location: New York, NY
I have known Joan Goodman, designer of PONO for over 25 years. Her family owns a well-known button and trim company in the fashion industry and I can still recall the day she told me she was starting this jewelry line.
Joan lived among the breathtaking exoticism of Hawaii for several years and has traveled extensively. She chose the name PONO for her jewelry collection with a purpose. PONO is the Hawaiian word for righteousness; quality; goodness; virtuousness; in perfect order. This informs all of Joan’s creations.
Using fine Italian resins as the main medium, the collection is inspired by Mother Nature, the breathtaking exoticism of Hawaii, the eclectic creativity and diversity of New York City, and the amazing tradition of Italian artistry and craftsmanship. All of PONO is made in Italy.
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Hip & Humble was a store I was encouraged to look at by a Facebook Group member and I was glad I found it. Based out of Salt Lake City Utah, the store originally sold tables and evolved to their little house-turned-boutique in the burgeoning 9th and 9th neighborhood into four locations around the valley.
Hip & Humble cares about where their products are sourced and what goes into them. Sustainable ingredients and fibers win out over synthetics and chemicals and are fairly or locally sourced.
Hip & Humble donates their time and a portion of or annual profits to WoW, which helps forcibly displaced women assimilate into Salt Lake City and become neighbors, community members, and allies in female empowerment.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
If Soula ceased to exist in my Brooklyn neighborhood I’d be lost. Every pair of Birkenstocks I have purchased have been from this store. It makes me happy to know that instead of giving money to a large corporation when buying my favorite shoes, I can help a local store instead.
Soula is a small shop located in the heart of Brooklyn and has been a part of the community for 14 years. Owner, Rick Lee, got tired of the corporate high-end retail world and set out to create a neighborhood store with a great vibe and service and curated selection of fashion shoes for women, men and kids (in-store only) with a focus on comfort, something Brooklynites who do a lot of walking know a lot about.
Soula carries many popular well-known brands as well as styles from companies I have only seen at their store.
Location: London, England
I came to know Number35 through my friend Dan Lawson, Emmy Nominated costume designer of shows including The Good Wife and The Good Fight who used many of Number35’s pieces for customing. He knew that the look of the clothes would be perfect for my clients, and he was right, many clients have Number35 pieces in their wardrobes.
Number35 was founded by Andrea Cecile Cohen in October 2005. Andrea needed an Intelligent Wardrobe that was fit for purpose with simple, elegant designs that fit perfectly, and traveled well. Andrea’s vision for Number35 is to design an Intelligent Wardrobe, which serves to recognize the importance of building a collection of strong, investment pieces that work seamlessly together.
Fashion with a focus on workwear has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID pandemic, so if you are looking to invest in a few key work pieces, Number35 is definitely a line to check out.
Location: Portland, Oregon
During a trip to Portland Oregon, I made it a point to visit a dispensary. At the time, Oregon was one of the few places that had legalized the use of recreational marijuana and I was on the hunt for this new emerging product called CBD oil. I loved the oil so much, I tracked down the family owned company and even though you can find CBD oil anywhere these days, I still prefer to order mine from them across the country.
Modern Medicinals CBD oil has some marked differences that set them apart from the competition, like starting with the highest quality Oregon CBD flower in combination with their all-natural extraction process to produce the highest caliber bioavailable CBD oil on the market.
Location: Wales, UK
Jewelry designer Claire Hill has been curating pendants, gemstones, and beads from all over the world since 2014. She offers a range of laidback, timeless jewelry with a modern edge. It’s all about effortless style, the kind that never goes out of fashion. Pieced together carefully by hand, there are charm necklaces to give you a gentle lift and statement earrings to make you feel good. I love that these pieces are unique and interesting yet can be worn daily like basics.
Claire Hill Designs has a neat service called the Lost Earring Club and sells earrings singularly when one needs to be replaced. All jewelry is made in Wales and worn around the world.
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
When Legacy Lane Fiber Mill was first nominated as a small business to feature, I was confused thinking they simply sold yarn. As an avid knitter, of course, I am all over getting to know this Canadian fiber mill, but I wasn’t sure it was right for this feature. Then it was pointed out they also made some great products using their fiber.
Legacy Lane is run by two sisters backed by four generations of farming in rural Canada. One sister studied weaving and textiles and the other studied business. Together they have found a way to keep their family farm viable by diversifying into yarn production and fiber processing; a natural fit for their training, passion, and expertise.
What I love most about their products is they have created natural solutions to common issues we manage daily, like alpaca inserts and dryer balls. Plus, they have lovely yarn and knitting kits for new knitters.
- Broken China Jewelry Old Country Roses Pink and Yellow Double Rose Sterling Earrings
- Broken China Jewelry Fire King Jadeite Sterling Ring
- Broken China Jewelry Portmeirion Botanic Garden Blue Hydrangea Flowers & Butterfly Sterling Silver Bracelet
- Broken China Jewelry Portmeirion Botanic Garden Green Dragonfly Large Free Form Sterling Pendant
Location: Austin Texas
My first reaction when someone suggested Vintage Bell Broken China Jewelry? What the heck is this? I looked them up and visited their somewhat unimpressive website (though I did find them on Etsy afterward) and still didn’t get it until I read what they do. Vintage Bell turns discarded china into unique, modern heirloom jewelry. They select the prettiest portions of each pattern to showcase in high-quality handcrafted, sterling silver settings. How creative and sort of brilliant. Sadly, they don’t do custom orders, so don’t send them your great grandmother’s china, but they do keep a lot of old china from winding up in landfills. If you are looking for a unique gift idea that also promotes sustainability, you have to check them out.
Location: Blackfalds, Canada
I love Etsy for the representation and exposure that small artisans can get. Am I the only one who can get a bit weepy watching their holiday commercials when I’m feeling a bit hormonal? Often, if I can’t find something I’m looking for, Etsy comes through. But Etsy can also get overwhelming. You search for one thing and you get endless pages to sift through. So I was thrilled when someone nominated McCoy Street Studio to be featured.
McCoy Street Studio does one thing and one thing well, they make stunning handmade leather crafted jewelry. My first thought when viewing their earrings was how great they would be for someone who wants to wear statement earrings but can’t handle weighty styles.
Let’s Keep the Support Going
This is just a drop in the ocean of all the amazing independently-owned businesses around the world, so many that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, I am launching a new feature for this blog in 2021 called Small Business Spotlight where I will be spotlighting small businesses in the fashion and beauty spaces here on the blog. If you are a small business owner, click below to let me know to be considered. Know of a small business you would like to see spotlighted, be sure to share this with them.
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