I decided to forgo my annual gift guide this year—mainly because of time, but also because I’ve been spending my own personal funds on camera and audio equipment for work and art for my home and not really tuned into what major retailers are selling this holiday season. And the more and more artists and entrepreneurs of all walks that we meet, the more I realize how important it is to shop local, especially on Small Business Saturday.
Christmas 1989 when jumpsuits and white Keds were all the rage.
With that said, here are a few of my favorite small businesses you should consider supporting. And if none of them speak to you, consider finding your own small business locally that is your go-to for all gift items.
My girl Christie Kanani Sultemeier is a fashion icon, so no one was happier than me when she launched her own line of jewelry. I’ve struggled finding gold-filled necklaces that are both classic in nature (i.e. not a statement piece that’s going to go out of style) and can be layered, not to mention go with everything I own. Enter Christie and her line of travel-inspired jewels. She’s got some beauties and also expanded into chokers and gold-filled bead bracelets; everything is under $50 and makes great stocking stuffers or ideas for friend gift swaps. Browse her store and make the lady in your life very happy indeed.
Tennessee Whiskey Trail (barware, apparel)
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is a membership-based organization comprising nearly 30 distilleries across my home state, many of them small businesses with just a couple employees. And they recently rolled out a line of brand-new merch—with a 20% discount going through next week—which you know means I nabbed both a sweatshirt and a hat. The whole line is affordable to begin with—T-shirts under $20? Inconceivable!—so why not buy some whiskey-themed swag for your favorite friend or family member. Shop the Tennessee Whiskey Trail store here.
photos by Tennessee-based photographer Tassi Williams
Wander Women Tours (travel experiences)
For those of you who, like me, prefer to give (and receive) experiences, a Wander Women Retreat is the ultimate trip for the lady in your life, be it your mom, sister, girlfriend, wife (sorry, dudes; at this time, Wander Women Retreats only accept females). Not only do you get to travel the world with one of my own best gals, Alex Baackes of Alex in Wanderland fame, but she plans and organizes intoxicating mash-ups of exploring, yoga and diving in exotic locales around the world. On the docket for next year is Thailand, Lebanon, Israel, the Dominican Republic and Egypt. Honestly, I’m dying to go on one of her retreats as soon as the timing works out, so don’t be surprised to see me book one in the near future! Browse her upcoming retreat destinations and take your pick of dreamy trips to make a woman you know the happiest come Christmas day!
Oklahoma City-based artist Kris Kanaly, also known as Pyramid Guy and founder of Plaza Walls, is one of our favorite muralists of anywhere, and it’s on my goal list to own an original by him in the future (we do have a limited-edition poster that he designed for Scissortail Park in our office!). In the meantime, browse his shop of prints and nab something for yourself.
I have a whole lot of readers based in my hometown of Tullahoma, so many are probably familiar with the magic that is Diana Murray’s Nature’s Elite, a holistic approach to health through CBD and hemp products, as you might even have been healed by her extensive knowledge of oils, tinctures and supplements. Not only does she have a lot of great products on her shelves at any time of year, but she’s also having a Small Business Saturday pop-up marketplace tomorrow where other local vendors will be selling their crafts and wares. Celebrating one year this weekend, Nature’s Elite does not sell online yet, but does have additional locations in Manchester, Chattanooga and Shelbyville with a Murfreesboro store opening soon.
Those who follow our Tennessee mural program may remember Cuban-American artist Ivan Roque from Miami. He paints wildlife native to the cities he’s in all over the South and was the creative mastermind behind our own American Eel. He also has some gorgeous pieces, from flamingoes to catfish, impalas to tropical fish, Ivan offers prints of some of his more popular designs via his online shop.
forBecks (paintings, prints)
We’ve been friends with Chris Tidwell, the artist known as forBecks, for awhile and are enamored with his Play Well mural series—so much so that we had him paint us a LEGO Man for our house when he came down to do a small mural for us as part of ARTober. He sells all of his mural designs via prints and custom paintings that you can hang in your house.
MonsteRawr Makes (jewelry)
One of my longest-running blog friends, Stephanie of MonsteRawr fame, launched her 3D printing store, MonsteRawr Makes, nearly two years ago. I’ve purchased several pairs of earrings, and SVV even commissioned her to make our blog logo with her printer—it’s way cool! Shop her Etsy store for geometric flower pendants, fascinators, dangly earrings and more.
The One with Wanderlust (travel photography)
Erica Connolly is one of my longest-running social media friends I’ve yet to meet IRL. This blogger-turned-photographer-turned-Southwest-flight-attendant has the dreamiest imagery on her Instagram feed from her global travels and sells prints of all sizes in her Etsy shop. She is also a dog mom to the cutest pup everrrrr, Olive the English sheepdog! From cacti to beaches, buildings to cityscapes, Erica’s shots are wanderlust-inducing and just the thing you need hanging in your home. Browse her online shop for framed prints and canvases from her far-flung travels.
Fow Wow Designs (apparel)
We discovered this print shop while down in Huntsville over the summer and immediately scooped up every one of the space-themed Tees they make. You know SVV is very particular about the T-shirts he wears, and these Fow Wow designs pass the smell test. Most of their shirts are Huntsville or Alabama-focused, but there are plenty of NASA ones for the space geek in your life, as well as Christmas T-shirts and sweatshirts and a few general designs.
Apple & Oak (home decor)
If you don’t live in Nashville, you might not know that Allison Holley’s Apple & Oak is the go-to resource for bloggers and home design geeks who want to create a colorful space full of snark and whimsy. Lucky for you, it doesn’t matter if you live in Nashville or not because Allison also has an e-commerce store and sells almost everything—including her vintage rugs—via the website.
Sullystring (apparel, tapestries, rugs)
Sullystring is one of our favorite muralists in Oklahoma City, and she’s growing in popularity. I saw via her Instagram that she has stores with T-shirts, tapestries and rug designs of her own, and I immediately bought a Tee. Use code THANKSALOT to shop her store for a discount this weekend only.
Leslee Mitchell (prints)
We’ve known Leslee Mitchell since moving back to the Nashville area several years ago, and her artistry in photography blows me away. While traditionally, Leslee shot weddings and interiors, in recent years, she’s expanded her photo offerings to a line of toy cars perfect for a kids’ room (although we bought some for our house!), as well as wrapping paper, gift tags and more.
Our biggest art investment to date, we purchased a five-foot-wide print of Juuri’s famed Oklahoma City mural below and hung it proudly in our living room. In the future, I’d love to get an original by this talented Japanese artist. Check out her work via her website and consider adding it to your home (or purchasing for a loved one).
Local artists in your own town
Our home is alive with color from art we’ve purchased or been gifted from so many local artists, like Mobe Oner, Tess Erlenborn Davies and Folek. If you love a muralist, follow him/her online as they frequently put up their canvases for sale as they’re cleaning out their home studios. In fact, Ashley Trabue is doing just that on her Instagram Stories this week—a pay-what-you-can approach—and she has some beauts. We also are fans of buying coffee table books from our favorite art organizations, which is why our tabletop now has both ArtWorks’s Transforming Cincinnati and a New Orleans collection of murals by Kady Yellow.
These are just a few of my favorite stores and artists from which I frequently shop or plan to in the future. Wherever you live, there are undoubtedly creative entrepreneurs who would love your shopping dollars this season—or just small businesses like hair stylists, salons and day spas that offer gift certificates—in addition to whatever you purchase from Amazon and other big-box stores.