The Independent Gift Guide 2016
So, Twitter seems to be saturated with gift guides at the moment (can't think why...!) so I thought it was time to throw my hat into the ring. I tweeted recently that I was frustrated at the amount of gift ideas coming from the 'big businesses' - ie fast fashion, high street, big name brands, rather than independent retailers or small businesses. Working in a small business myself, I've always been passionate about promoting the little guy - I'll save the many many reasons why for a different post but I think the below picture help explain it in a nutshell. In short, when you buy from a small business you are directly helping to support a real person, and not just giving money to a large faceless company, who frankly don't really care about the service they provide or whether their products make you happy or are of any real quality.
With this in mind, rather than just complaining about the content I was reading I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and produce my own gift guide, with a few ideas showing what you can buy from independent retailers, smaller businesses and hand crafters and artisan makers. Let's get to it!
I love the range of products that Luna & Curious have, from luxury knitwear to mini notebooks this is a wonderful site to shop for both big presents and smaller stocking fillers. They choose eye catching, quirky pieces that are different to anything you would find on the high streets, and would prove to be presents that would be cherished and appreciated. Perfect for your more unique friends and family. I am loving their knitwear selection at the moment- particularly this cheerful Pink & Red Colour Block Jumper. I don't think you could fail to smile wearing that!
Pictures from Hus & Hem
I have done so much Christmas shopping at Hus & Hem this year. I am a real sucker for Scandinavian design, and this is a wonderful site to browse through. I recently purchased the Ojbro Swedish Mittens and Socks, and they have been invaluable through this cold snap. Our work building does not have heating or water so it's important to wrap up warm, and this mixed with my under active thyroid means my feet often feel like they are ice cold. Thanks to the socks I've been able to feel my toes this season, and I've been kept pretty warm and cosy at my desk! I also love their bright Japanese flannels, and I can attest to just how soft they are. Cleansing with them feels like a real luxury, I think these would make brilliant stocking fillers. The decorations are also fabulous, perfect if you want to have a Scandi/Hygge themed Christmas!
Both myself and James have been huge fans of Juniper Ridge for a number of years. In fact this is the first time since we've been together that I've not given him something from their range. We love everything that the brand stands for, and the quality of their product. They have a very natural and sustainable approach, and I love going through their ranges and reading the evocative labels they put together, describing the scent that each product will conjure up. My favourites so far have been Big Sur and Cascade Glacier - I was gutted to have missed out on their limited edition Redwood Mist cologne this year! Whilst available at stores like Toast in the UK, sadly you can't order direct from them just yet. If we could I think I would be purchasing their Desert Gift Pack to try, and the Timberline Trail Cologne sounds pretty cool too. I think you would win serious brownie points introducing this brand to the right person - who wants to smell like Selfridge's Beauty Hall when you can smell like California meadows or a coastal path?
PS. Whilst you're on their site you should totally check out their blog!
Sadly I don't own anything from Luna On The Moon myself yet, however long have I had my eye on her Poison bag! She always has the most amazing designs on her site - her accessories would make perfect, unique presents that would certainly prove to be a real talking point on a night out! I think 2017 may be the year that I finally get my hands on that glittery bottle of poison...
I first found out about this brand through a tv show whilst channel flicking one night and instantly had to look them up. I may have been a bit slow on the uptake as I'm suddenly seeing them everywhere - but this is only a good thing as it shows there is a huge demand for their high quality products. Their candles have been tempting me recently - particularly their Cliftonville Rain Candle, but I'd also love to try their lavender lip balm and their seaweed bath is apparently very good for soothing eczema. Their packaging and branding is just beautiful, any bathroom could transform into a luxury spa with these products on your shelf.
This brand has been an obsession of mine for a few months now, and so will be having a whole post dedicated entirely to them soon. However I couldn't not also mention them first chance that I got. I first discovered the brand in my beloved Marehalm and love at first sight (and smell) has blossomed into a truly loving, dedicated relationship. Honestly, no other fragrance could hold a candle (!!) to Skandinavisk for me. I've amassed quite the collection so far, however my top three scents (in no particular order) would be Skog, Nordlys and Jul, which so far I have managed to resist lighting until Christmas time truly kicks in. I've also managed to hook a fair few other people onto this brand too, and what most have to say is that not only do they smell gorgeous but they're also not overpowering. They will make your room smell amazing but you will never feel like they are too strong, which is a bugbear of mine. You can now find them at retailers like John Lewis, but I prefer to buy mine from places like Hus and Hem or Cloudberry Living. Best of all is when I can pick them up in person at Marehalm though! Plus - if you adore all things hygge, then they even do their own hygge candle, and yes it does smell amazing.
I frequently shop at Quill, however it all started when I attended a modern calligraphy lesson earlier this year. A brand new hobby was discovered but also a love affair with the shop began too. A thoughtful present would be one of their carefully put together calligraphy packs, however their shop and website is a treasure trove for any stationary fan. I always find myself stockpiling cards and notebooks whenever I am in, it's impossible to leave empty handed...
In my first blogmas post I mentioned that I had enjoyed trying my hand at origami a few months ago, just above I mentioned how I discovered calligraphy, however it was Sarah K Benning and her inspiring Instagram that made me give embroidery a go! Not only does Sarah sell her amazing works but she also runs a monthly pattern programme through her Etsy page. I've really enjoyed receiving a different pattern to try every month and have had great fun experimenting with different fabric colours etc. A subscription would be a lovely present for a creative, crafty friend. She also sometimes throws in a freebie pattern in her monthly newsletter - I loved the recent lunar phases design!
A more luxury offering here, but Violet and Wren produce the most sumptuous prints. Their Orient Bloom is a real eye catcher, this would be a real winner for lots of girlfriends and as they have a whole range of products, from negligees to comfy jimjams there would be something for everyone. I would quite like an eye mask and a turban, so I go to bed every night pretending to be Elizabeth Taylor. The diamond accessories can be added later on! Another great nightwear brand to check out is Yawn London - their lavender bags would make perfect stocking fillers!
It's impossible to look at a Big Stuffed's creatures huge googly eyes and not want to just crawl into a corner and fall asleep in their flippers. These are beautiful, charming creations that would become incredible soothers, friends, protectors and cuddle buddies for any children, friends or pets that would be lucky enough to receive them. I'm hoping a whale and a penguin might make their way to my home in time for my birthday next year. I'm definitely not too old for soft toys, in fact these are works of art so should be considered an investment really?
Amazingly, I only discovered this website very recently. It is a wonderful resource for ethical, sustainable shopping and stocks a fantastic range of different products, perfect for all different budgets. I'm rather upset that I've already completed my Christmas shopping as I saw loads of things perfect for my close friends and family, however if I maybe felt like I wanted to treat myself then I would definitely go for the arrowhead necklace to remind me of my archaeology days. In rose gold too? Swoons.
Honestly, I could go on and on with lists of my favourite designers and shops, but I have gift guides planned for all budgets coming up so I really do need to save some suggestions. I truly hope that this guide inspires people to seek out independent sellers to shop from this year. Sites such as Etsy are invaluable for introducing you to traders and craft makers that you otherwise would never find. Hopefully there are one or two ideas amongst the above that you think would make a perfect gift for a special someone too!
Let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions for other brands then please send them my way! I love to discover new small businesses, so drop me a comment below or reach out on social media, and don't forget to send some love out on #smallbusinesssaturday this weekend!
See you tomorrow,