2020 was tough for, well, pretty much all of us. But small businesses, in particular, were devastated by the pandemic and ongoing business closures. And as gifting season rolled around, many people saw it as an opportunity to support small businesses while also finding unique, thoughtful and one of a kind gifts for their loved ones. While the time to buy Christmas gifts has come and gone, there are plenty of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays on the horizon in 2021. And that means there are still plenty of opportunities to buy special gifts from small businesses. By supporting small businesses, you can find thoughtful, unique gift ideas and help an indie brand stay afloat.
Of course, there are plenty of great things on this list to buy for yourself, too. And when we’re finally able to put the pandemic behind us, hopefully, you’ll keep returning to these companies again and again.
So no matter the occasion, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite gifts to buy from small businesses, ranging from home goods and art prints to clothing and books.
1. East Fork Mug
BEST FOR COFFEE AND TEA LOVERS
These unique mugs from East Fork are made by hand in Asheville, North Carolina using locally-sourced clay. They have a pleasing, natural look and come in a range of earthy colors like “amaro” and “eggshell.” The mugs are dishwasher and microwave safe as well.
2. White Teeth by Zadie Smith from Bookshop.org
BEST FOR BOOK LOVERS
While itself not a small business, Bookshop.org helps support small bookstores while still allowing you the convenience of shopping online. Part of the proceeds support independent bookstores, and you can choose local stores that you want to support. If you’re looking for a book recommendation, consider White Teeth, Zadie Smith’s meditation on friendship, family and race in postwar Britain. Published nearly 20 years ago, it’s as vital as ever.
3. Myles Apparel Momentum Tee
BEST FOR WORKOUT OBSESSIVES
The sportswear world is dominated by a handful of major companies, but there are small brands doing things differently, such as Myles Apparel. Their goal was to create performance gear that didn’t necessarily look like performance gear — the kind of stuff you could wear on a long bike ride and at a backyard BBQ. This shirt is made from a unique fabric that’s designed to perform like polyester but feel like cotton. The raglan sleeves are made to move, and the shirts are sewn in San Francisco.
4. Poketo Stationery Starter Set in Blue
BEST WFH GIFT
Months into WFH, your desk setup might be looking a little boring. Poketo makes stationery and desk accessories that are guaranteed to enliven your space. They also have great gifts for the kitchen, as well as apparel and accessories, all filtered through the cheery vision of the husband and wife duo behind the brand, Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung. This set includes a stylish notebook, planner, pens and pen pouch.
5. Genusee Roeper Sunglasses
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY GIFT
They make take their inspiration from classic styles, but Genusee is carving a new path forward in eyewear design. The glasses are made from recycled plastic bottles, and the glasses are designed and assembled in Flint, Michigan. The company also strives to hire formerly incarcerated individuals. Of course, all of that would just be nice PR without a good product — the glasses look great and are available in tons of different lens and frame colors. They also make opticals.
6. Andy Blank Hoops Photographic Print
BEST FOR ART LOVERS
Affordable, original art that’s unique to you — that’s the simple yet radical mission of Andy Blank, a small art studio in New York. Everything about the process — including the screen printing, the sourcing of the frames themselves, and the paint used — is handled in the US. This “Hoops” print features an eye-catching photo of a neon basketball court. It’s the perfect gift for any basketball fan who also has an eye for design. Not into sports? Blank also has tons of unique art and photograph prints to choose from on his website, all priced under $100 (follow his artist page on Instagram).
7. Blackstock and Weber Loafer
BEST STYLE GIFT
Even as sneakers have dominated fashion for years, streetwear has gradually embraced styles once seen as stuffy and old-fashioned. Case in point: the loafer. Blackstock and Weber is a tiny black-owned business out of New York that makes classic loafers that have as much tough attitude as Timberlands. They only have five styles on their website right now (and one is a limited edition) but all of them are hits.
8. Void Watches V03D-GO/OL/WH
BEST FOR MINIMALISTS
Void’s watches are sleek and minimal, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting. The V03D is a simple, classic round watch, but you can also choose the square VO2 watch, which has a half-face design that frankly requires a little skill to figure out how to read. The company was founded by in Hong Kong by Swedish designer David Ericsson, and the company is pretty much an extension of his vision.
9. HMM W GLASS from Mogutable
BEST FOR INTERIOR OBSESSIVES
You know how you sometimes walk into a small shop and see a perfectly curated mix of stuff from different brands you’ve never even heard of? Mogutable is a bit like that, but online. It’s not a brand itself, but an online shop for great home goods from different artisans, with a focus on kitchenware. Mogutable was founded by Taiwan-born, Brooklyn-based sister duo. These beautiful glasses are from a Taiwanese brand called HMM, and they’re made from recycled glass. Buy two of them, because they’re also stackable.
10. TOKYOBIKE Classic Sport 26
BEST SPLURGE GIFT
For a long time, cycling culture in America was dominated by dudes in lycra looking to send land speed records. But over the past few years, a slower (and more diverse) trend has taken hold, that has seen people get into cycling as a fun, eco-friendly way of getting around. TOKYOBIKE preceded and accelerated that trend. These bikes aren’t cheap, but they are beautifully designed and use lightweight and durable materials.