Local Brands I Love: The Not-a-Gift-Guide Guide

Monday, November 30, 2020

It's that time of year again, folks! With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season approaches, & damn, what a year it's been. 

Whatever winter holiday you do or don't celebrate, you deserve gifts. And so do the people you love. But precisely because it's been such a difficult year, it's more important than ever that we support local businesses, which have been hard-hit by the pandemic & continue to struggle. 

I know, I know: Every blogger puts together a gift guide. But I want to do my little part to lift up local brands share some places I truly love. I've only included here places that I've actually purchased from and/or know well. I can't make any guarantees, but all of these brands have done right by me. 

Now go forth & shop!

Worthwhile Causes 
Wait up, first things first: It is a blessing & a privilege to be able to buy & receive gifts this holiday season. If you have the capacity to give, please consider making a donation of money, goods, and/or time to help those in need this year & beyond.
  • Toys for Tots: Two Cleveland women are organizing a toy drive for 500 local children in need. Help them clear their Amazon wish list by December 10th.
  • Greater Cleveland Food Bank1 in 5 Clevelanders struggles to put food on their table. Every $1 donated can help provide enough food for four nutritious meals.
  • Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless: This org works to empower homeless & at-risk Ohioans to break the cycle of poverty through education, advocacy, & more. 
  • Ohio Restaurant Relief Fund: Help make a difference in the lives of restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality workers who  are struggling in the pandemic.

I haven't found a lot of reasons to wear jewelry in 2020. Hell, I've hardly found reasons to wear pants. Still, shiny, pretty things make me happy, & I don't think I'm alone in that. Make somebody happy with sparklers from these local ladies!

  • Bombay Taxi Boutique: I bought my wedding earrings from this shop, which features colorful, limited-edition wearable crystal jewelry made in Cleveland & India.
  • Noble FawnI recently ordered my first pair of earrings from this one-woman shop, which makes small-batch polymer clay jewelry in funky colors & designs.
  • Odyssey and Oddities: Looking for something offbeat? These statement pieces feature fringe, crystals, & other other quirky accoutrements... even eyeballs! 
  • Océanne: I own multiple pieces from this beloved, Gordon Square-based brand, whose items are dainty & feminine but somehow still statement-making.

We're all spending more time at home than ever this year, so we'd better make sure home smells nice, right? I'm allergic to a lot of candles, so here are my favorite local brands, all made with soy & each company with their own unique spin.

  • CLE Candle Co.: This down-to-earth brand concocts a myriad incredible scents. "Cleveland Snow," anyone? You can even go in & create your own blend.
  • HyggelightThese candles come in pretty little pots, and each one is packed with a label that you can plant and grow into flowers. How cool is that?
  • AromaSoy Candles: I really just need you to believe me when I tell you that their blood orange-scented candle might be the best thing I've ever smelled. 
  • Sweet Dish & Darling: These soy candles are all subtly scented, in unusual combos like Peach Tea & Mint, Tomato Leaf & Thyme, & Patchouli Grapefruit.

Beauty & Skincare
This year has been a shitshow, & we all deserve to be pampered, even if we've gotta do it ourselves (because, you know, spas don't feel super safe these days). Give someone you love the gift of surface-level self-care, y'all.

  • Haus of Sin: Burlesque dancer Bella Sin just released a new line of lipsticks, & I'm shocked by how well the formula sticks to my typically slippery lips. 
  • Venus in Aquarius ApothicaThis shop is run by a self-described "astro-herbalist" who creates roll-on scents based on astrology. Try her rose-yarrow-tulsi toner spray. 
  • Olive Me: Everything I've ever purchased from this natural skincare company is smooth, moisture-rich, & smells delightful. Big fan of their lip balm & facial oil.
  • Revival: This all-natural skincare & beauty brand started in its owner's home kitchen. I swear by her cay masks & sea salt spray, in particular. 
  • Soothing Sloth: These brightly colored bath bombs & other self-care goodies are so indulgent. Everything is handcrafted, vegan, & not tested on animals.

Is it just me, or are leggings the hottest item of clothing in the closet this year? I've fully re-embraced joggers & hoodies & all kinds of other cozy clothing, but that doesn't mean I don't still love (& even crave) cool new stuff. Someday we'll be able to debut it to the world again! 

  • The Social Dept.: Two guys from my hometown are part of the behind-the-scenes team at this Cuyahoga Falls apparel shop, which sells more than just Ohio T-shirts.

  • Anne CateIf you're looking for something (wristlets, pillows, etc.) emblazoned with your city's skyline, this is the spot for it.
  • Yellowcake Shop: Run by Project Runway contestant & delightful human Valerie Mayen, this slow-fashion brand carries everything from high-end to hella cozy. 

  • Shore Society: For lovers of all things related to lake life, Rachel's nautical-themed gear is just the ticket. Love my Lake Erie sweatshirt!

Paper Stuff
Whether you're buying stationery to send snail mail to long-distanced loved ones or want to buy those loved ones some cool local art to jazz up their walls while home-bound(ish), here are a few of my favorite local businesses & individuals artists to support. 
  • Free Period Press: Stock up on self-care goodies like guided journals, motivational stickers, calming coloring books, & more. 
  • Papercutz VintageI own leg lamp stationery & a Christmas ornament from this shop, which specializes in vintage collage work. 
  • Hand Lettered Old Shit: I'm enamored of this funny shop that handwrites swear words on, well, old shit, like globes & photographs.
  • Lauren Pearce Designs: I could not be more enamored of Lauren's gorgeous artwork, which is colorful & powerful & pensive & just... well, go look for yourself.
  • Erin Guido: Erin's colorful, whimsical artwork is sure to bring you a smile. I especially love her "Come over all the time!" guestbook & can't wait to be able to use it again.

Here's your holiday reminder that you do not need to buy books from Amazon. Here are my favorite Northeast Ohio-based bookstores, all of which offer online ordering. Looking for something you can't find on their site? Just ask! That's how bookstores work! 

  • Loganberry Books: In person, this shop is genuinely the absolute coolest bookstore I've ever visited, like a dream of what a bookstore should be. I love them.
  • Visible Voice Books: Located on my street, this small but robust shop sells new & used books, including lots of local authors (& some autographed copies!)
  • Mac's Backs: This cool three-floor shop in Coventry, beloved by writers, readers, & nerdy superfan hobbyists alike, sells both new & used books & magazines.

Baked Goods
What do you get for someone who doesn't need more stuff? Food. For all your cookie, cake, & assorted pastry needs, here are a few of the tastiest stops in town.

  • Fat T's CookiesOne of the best gifts I've ever received was a box of Fat T's chocolate chip cookies with a Oreo nestled inside. These cookies are magical... & they ship. 
  • Sweet Costo: Fun fact: It was Shelby's chocolate chip cookies (& specifically, my desire to eat more of them) that inspired me to start baking.
  • Annie's Signature Sweets: Annie is a talented baker who can make just about anything, & she also offers classes, if you're looking for an experiential gift.  
  • CLE Cookie Dough: This spot, originally a food truck, makes... you guessed it, edible cookie dough. I didn't even know I wanted this in my life until I tried it.

I always think I'm not much for vintage, until I... look around my home. Lol, guess I don't know myself that well after all! Check out these spots to give new life to pre-loved, upcycled treasures, from home decor to clothing & beyond.
  • The Helm CollectiveThis Instagram account & brick-and-mortar shop sells vintage furniture, rugs, décor, & plants, with a gorgeous aesthetic I'd love to copy.
  • Bella Regina VintageOK, OK, this one isn't loca, but it's in Pittsburgh, so it's not far. It's owned by my friend Julie, who sells "pre-loved, blue collar tchotchkes + more."
  • Cleveland CuriositiesWant to buy a gift no one else will have? Hit up this Lakewood store full of taxidermied items, old-timey medical items, & other cool, creepy stuff. 

  • Ode Vintage: Olivia curates vintage clothing, jewelry, & other apparel with truly impeccable taste & styling that makes me wish I could pull off vintage everything.
  • All Things for You: This Ohio City shop is one of my favorite places to explore in non-COVID times, packed with mid-century modern antiques & estate sale items.

Not sure exactly what you're looking for but still want to buy local? Here are a few of my favorite shops in Cleveland, & if you're not local but still want to check 'em out, good news: They all offer online shopping. 

  • CovenJust your local witchcraft shop! I love this spot, which is jam-packed with crystal, tarot cards, incense, candles, books, & other goodies.
  • Oh, Pink! Party Shop: This bright & colorful Ohio City store is full of festive items perfect for gifting, from greeting cards to stocking stuffers to jewelry & beyond. 
  • Salty Not Sweet: This cute little Ohio City spot is chock-full of items quirky, cool, & eccentric, many from local makers... & often a little bit impolite. 
  • Room Service: I've never seen a prettier or more perfectly curated shop than this one – err, these two, with locations in both Shaker Heights & Ohio City.
  • Banyan Tree: With locations in Tremont & Westlake, this is one of my favorite spots in Cleveland. They've got tons of mostly-local goods, including their own clothing label.

What local-to-you shops will you be patronizing this holiday season? Drop your recommendations in the comments!

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