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- COVID-19 has negatively impacted a significant amount of small businesses.
- We rounded up a list of small businesses offering gifts ranging from tasty food to cool clothing.
- Looking for more gift-giving inspiration? Check out all of Insider Reviews gift guides here.
COVID-19 has drastically reduced foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Now more than ever, people have the opportunity to make a difference for these small businesses, all while scoring great gifts for ourselves and loved ones.
To make it easier, we put together a list of some of our favorite places to shop small. Many businesses on the list below have been started by single families, marginalized communities, and people passionate about advancing social issues. In fact, 20% of all small businesses are owned by minority entrepreneurs, a number that is continuing to rise.
We understand that it’s not always financially feasible to buy gifts from independent businesses – and that is totally okay. You can also support small businesses free of charge by following their social media accounts, as well as liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts to help spread their content, so that you may encourage someone else to look to these businesses for gifts.
Here are our favorite gifts from independent businesses:
If the city you love is somewhere you want to show off to the world, a custom Talia Sari necklace, ring, broach or earring set might be up your alley. Shoppers can pick out a pre-made map or have one custom-made for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
An empowering sweatshirt
Asian-American Girl Club is an apparel company that aims to uplift the AAPI community and redefine what it means to be a modern Asian-American woman. You can buy cute hoodies, shirts, and hats with messages of empowerment on its site. AAGC’s other goal, though, is fostering important discussions about identity through its social media community. Founder Ally Maki says of her brand, “I wanted to change the narrative of what a club should feel like, what a club can be for you, your self-worth, identity, and confidence.”
Unique scents to spice up your house
The Korea-inspired candles from OhJoha Candles can make even your stinkiest of rooms smell great. The brand truly has a candle for everyone with options ranging from a floral Hydrangea Leaf Tea candle to a bold Korean BBQ flavored option. Candles and packages ordered from Etsy show up quickly and don’t clash with other smells throughout your house.
A tasty tea box
Brooklyn Tea, a small tearoom in Bed-Stuy, is committed to selling high-quality and organic teas that taste good and benefit your health. You can find classics like chamomile and lemongrass tea in its online shop, along with eccentric blends that include Belgian chocolate rooibos and the bestselling Kyoto cherry rose sencha tea. Brooklyn Tea carries over 90 different tea blends, so if you’re having trouble picking out your own, we suggest trying the tea boxes that come with an assortment.
A subscription box for the fishing enthusiast
Mystery Tackle Box offers a solution for fishing lovers at any level who are jealous of Birchbox and other monthly subscription services. These monthly boxes come with fishing lures, tackle, and information about how to best put them to use.
A pair of custom, handmade shoes
My Chelsea boots from Adelante Shoes are without a doubt my favorite pair of shoes. The company’s focus on sustainability, customization, and economic development in Guatemala (where craftsmen working on these shoes are located) shows through in the final product. I came across the brand at a street fair and was able to customize the front, back, pull tab, elastic, stitching, and sole on the spot because the company makes shoes to order, rather than exclusively selling what they have on hand. They are more expensive than the average Chelsea boot, but if you’re looking for a high-quality shoe, and okay with keeping up with the care, they are the perfect boot! — Lily Oberstein
Gifts that highlight Chinese designers
Chop Suey Club is a New York City Chinatown boutique that showcases contemporary Chinese designers of clothes, jewelry, art, home goods, and pretty much anything else you can think of. At a time so plagued by xenophobia and racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chop Suey Club is doing extremely important work by making independent Chinese design accessible to the general public. So whether you’re looking for Mahjong tile-shaped ice cube molds, bougie fish red envelopes, or White Rabbit candy socks, Chop Suey Club is sure to have your latest obsession.
Homemade vintage jewelry that helps the planet
If you’re looking for more gold to add to your everyday jewelry collection, Yam is the perfect place to start your search. These contemporary pieces with a modern twist are made with both vintage and upcycled materials, incorporating gold and brass with colorful beads and pearls. All items are handmade to order in Astoria, New York.
A floating shelf to show off jewelry
This wall-mounted jewelry organizer lets me show off all of my favorite pieces in an elegant and organized fashion. I had a really hard time finding something that matches the aesthetic of my earrings, has space for studs and rings, plus is durable, and FigureGrain organizers have all three. Handmade in California, this organizer comes in 12 colors so you can be sure you are getting a color that complements your space, plus installation is easy with screws and drywall anchors included. — Lily Oberstein
Chili oil for the spice-loving foodie
If you’re looking for a gift for the spice connoisseur in your life, consider leveling up by ordering them some Boon sauce. This small-batch chili oil was created by Thai-Chinese chef Max Boonthanakit after he sought to add more flavor to the chili oils currently available on the market. Boon sauce was recently featured on the YouTube food show Worth It and is experiencing a well-deserved boon (!) of good publicity. Boon sauce is only available in batches, so be sure to grab some while it’s still available.
A moisturizing bar of soap
Besides gracing you with pleasant and soft aromas, Sallye Anders’ Essential Soaps have an aesthetic that presents well on any soap dish. With the generous sizing, you can get plenty of use out of one bar. The brand also offers shampoo bars, shaving soap, skincare products, and baby products.
Boldly flavored tea for the chai connoisseur
In college, my best friend and I discovered the Spice Professor while visiting the shops at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. We loved using my electric kettle to brew cups of the Spice Professor’s loose-leaf tea, which comes in a unique variety of deliciously bold flavors. The Earl Grey Green was our favorite, and the Chocolate Lover’s Chai was a close second.
The spices are just as rich and tasty as the brand’s teas and an easy way to level up your cooking. Sprinkling the Smoked Paprika over deviled eggs has been a real game-changer for me. — Sarah Toscano
Island-inspired beauty products
Balmyard Beauty carries an assortment of luxe skin oils, cheek tints, and bath treatments with ingredients sourced directly from the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Because of their ease of use and buildable but pigmented color, the brand’s popular lip and cheek tint rivals that of Glossier’s Cloud Paints.
To give back to those who influenced the brand, Balmyard donates a portion of its proceeds to Jamaican community organizations.
Bright and intricate paper goods
This woman-led Michigan-based company creates beautiful screen prints and paper goods from eco-friendly materials. All of the prints are hand-drawn, and you can buy everything from posters to paper cards to stickers on the online store. I was gifted this 8×10 screen print over a year ago, and the colors remain as cheerful and vibrant as ever. — Allison Jiang
A pair of earrings made with hand-cut stones
Octave Jewelry is the perfect place to find high-quality jewelry, with all pieces made from sterling silver and hand-cut stones. Plus, the Black-owned business offers 10% off your first purchase.
Long-lasting and cruelty-free nail polish
Specializing in shades for darker skin tones, Triple O Polish’s nail lacquers are high achievers in both color and quality. I own four of their polishes (Fon, Aja, Wassu, and Askia Musa), and they are by far some of the best I’ve tried, in both shade and longevity, making them a steal for only $10 each. All lacquers are handmade, and the company is Leaping Bunny certified (no animal testing here). — Shannon Stubbs
An all-natural, Instagram-famous face mask
Golde’s motto is “powered by superfoods,” using food and other all-natural ingredients to create clean skincare and powder supplements. You’ve probably seen one of your favorite beauty influencers wearing the Clean Greens Mask that detoxifies the skin with chlorophyll and spirulina. Alongside its Instagram-famous masks, the brand carries latte blends and powders that can be mixed into hot drinks or used for baking.