If there was any year to dedicate yourself to shopping small, it’s this one.
2020 has been especially hard on small businesses, artisans and creators. In-store shopping was severely reduced and in some cases, many owners have had to close their doors altogether. Markets, craft shows, street fairs and large events that typically showcase this work have been canceled. These humans HANDCRAFT beautiful gifts, jewelry, art, decor and more—and we aren’t seeing it near as much as we once did.
I get it, it’s the middle of a pandemic. I’ve 100% been guilty of it too. You’re inside. You’re bored. And the heavy hitters of the Christmas gift-buying madness are haunting you with their black Friday deals and big business price slashing.
Amazon is repeatedly stalking you via a tracking pixel on social media on every one of your apps, reminding you that you CAN get that one thing you thought about in silence and never told another human about but they still somehow know you want to buy it.
Walmart and Target are blowing up your TV screen with Ads. Coupons are showing up in the mail. Emails are harassing you. And you’re bored at home just clicking around looking for SOME way to show the people you love (that you’ve barely seen this entire year) that you do, in fact, still love them.
It’s cheap. It’s tempting. It’s easy. You hit a button and something shows up on your door before you even change out of your work from home sweatpants.
But where is that one-click, two-day shipping money really going?
Is it going to your best friend who hand-paints ornaments? Or your neighbor who spends every night knitting little baby hats? Or your college roommate who repurposes and recycles household items into decor?
No. It’s going to this dude.
That’s right, Jeff Bezos dressed up like the monopoly man, and to other large corporations like his. It’s fuel to the fire of big business, instead of money that could be used by your crafty Etsy neighbors to buy their kids a pair of new soccer cleats, fix the dryer or stuff this year’s stockings.
I know that’s a little soap-boxy given that every one of us obviously contributes to the growth of big corporations and billionaires. But even one season really can make a difference. What if this holiday, we all made a special effort to allocate our gift funds towards small businesses instead of Amazon and Walmart? What if we chose awesome Etsy products instead?
Because how special is a gift that is mass-produced? How generous is it to buy a product created in giant factories by people who often aren’t paid enough to even afford the products themselves?
2020 has been a tough year, yes. But there has been some good from it. Because it’s also been the year of challenging us. It’s the year that slapped us in the face and said, “Wake the heck up. Remember what and who is really important.”
That’s what it’s done for me anyway. Disputed my priorities. Confronted my privilege. Shined a harsh, and uncomfortable light on the fragmented and somewhat careless way I was speeding through life. It helped me refocus on what really matters to me–what should really matter to all of us, especially in these times, and especially at the holidays.
Love. Family. Friendship. Health.
Kindness. Humility. Generosity. Knowledge.
Creativity. Altruism. Art. Community.
That’s what it means to shop small this year. It’s taking the time to choose gifts for your loved ones that are thoughtful and unique, crafted by the hands of someone who brings beauty into the world and is counting on YOU now more than ever to be their ally.
Not to mention the fact that their products ROCK.
I’ve been an Etsy customer for years, and more this year than ever I want to share some of my favorite finds with you.
I also put the word out to our community and received some incredible recommendations for stores. I’ll be featuring many of those throughout this guide as well, and we are more than open to your own favorite shops as well if you drop them in the comments.
Happy holidays and happy small shopping, friends!
1. Tangled In Tradition
I have bought SEVERAL of these as gifts and for myself, so I am going to kick things off with a personal favorite — Tangled in Tradition.
Tangled in Tradition transforms your favorite vinyl records, classic books, movies and game boards into notebooks, journals and sketchbooks.
They have a wide range of artists, genres and classics too. Let me tell you, I LOVE giving these as gifts and hunting for the ones I know my loved ones would adore.
You also can choose your type of paper too to tailor the gift. I’ve ordered them lined for journaling and song-writing, and blank for a friend that loves to sketch cartoons. They ship in 1-3 days, arrive quickly and completely and this shop has awesome customer service.
Tangled in Tradition even created a promo code just for you Her Track readers. Use HERTRACK at check out, or follow the link below, for 10% off your order!
These are perfect for the nostalgic music, book and movie lover in your life this holiday!
2. Modern Little Mystics
This shop is SO unique, inspiring and beautiful. They create healing decor that brings good vibes and good intentions into your home in the coolest way possible.
The Modern Little Mystics duo is made up of our very own Cassie Meade, a lead graphic designer and a long-time contributor for Her Track, and her partner, Alexa, an experienced and enthusiastic Geologist.
Modern Little Mystics is a queer-owned small business based out of Washington DC. From rose quartz wall decor to candle and bath fizz kits, they really do have something for everyone. Each crystal, rock, mineral and work of art is hand-curated by a geologist and a designer too, which makes a heck of a team.
AND they’ve shot over their discount code of QUARTZ10 for 10% off your order.
You have to check these rockstars out.
Modern Little Mystics Etsy Page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ModernLittleMystics
Modern Little Mystics Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/modern.little.mystics/
3. Tesoro Jewelry
I am a big fan of custom and handmade jewelry, and this shop really has a lovely product assortment for gifts.
Tesoro Jewelry creates hand stamped bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, keychains, wine charms, magnets, and men’s accessories: money clips, tie bars, and collar stays.
Latitude and longitude coordinates are a really personal gift, a reminder of a special place and time, captured in something you can carry with you wherever you go. I’ve gotten coordinate rings, bracelets and necklaces, and have given them as gifts as well. The shop also has jewelry with sweet sayings and fun graphics as well.
It’s run by Jessica (the store owner), her BFF and her husband. They describe themselves as “24/7 movie & TV quoters, foodies, obsessed with Harry Potter (he’ll deny it), pretty fond of our 2 crazy mutts, and LOVE to travel.”
So…basically the cutest people ever.
Give their shop a look!
Tesoro Jewelry Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TesoroJewelry
4. Unstrung Studios
Megan, the creator, is a self-taught artist who uses incredible illustrations to spread a really beautiful message, as well as cope with her own journey with chronic health conditions.
The way she describes the mission of this shop is so eloquent and personal, so I’ll share her words from the site:
“Anatomically accurate illustration paired with the incorporation of botanical and geometric elements allows Megan to creatively explore the way bodies “should be,” and all the various ways that things can go “wrong.”
Megan’s art develops out of a strong belief that #anatomyisnotgross, and aims to normalize accurate discussion of health and body systems while educating people about the conditions she battles daily.“
Truly inspiring, authentic and creative; everything art should be. Check out this shop for gifts and for your own home at the link below!
Unstrung Studios: https://www.unstrungstudios.com/
I have a bit of a coffee mug addition. But Her2ndChance takes the whole game to a new level. Just listen to their description and mission:
“Second Chance Initiative is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women in recovery work toward self-sufficiency and build a brighter future. The women we work with are survivors looking for a hand up, not a hand out. We offer them an opportunity to earn an income, hone new skills, and plan their next move all while in a judgement-free, safe and nurturing environment.”
THIS is everything we stand for at Her Track and we are huge advocates for this cause.
I’ll also note that I’ve gotten a few of these custom mugs, picked out the descriptions that fit the people in my life and made them into the cutest gifts. Highly recommend!
6. Heartfelt Tokens
How precious is Heartfelt Tokens?!?
I adore their products and got my grandma a bracelet for Christmas. She adores it and just told me the other day that she is always showing it off to her friends.
You can get these personalized to include names and birthstones, or just the stones, on bracelets and necklaces. They really are the perfect, personalized gifts for loved ones, especially moms and grandmothers!
I am also OBSESSED with spoon jewerly, and Heartfelt Tokens has a gorgeous selection.
Melissa, the amazing owner of this shop, has been in the Etsy game since 2011 and is a seasoned VET. She has completed 23,495 sales with a well-deserved five-star rating for her shop.
Check out her store and you will not be dissapointed!
Heartfelt Tokens: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HeartfeltTokens
Sarandipityy is run by a teacher and was recommended by my teacher friend. Who if not teachers ( i.e. angel-super-human-beings-sent-to-earth-to-rescue-us-from-children) do we not need to show extra love to in this season?! Especially in 2020.
You ever try to maintain to the attention of 23 eight-year-olds on a frigging zoom call????? No???
Yeah, me either, I think I’d need millitary grade special ops training for that.
Sarah from Sarandipity is “Just an Elementary Art Teacher here crafting away! ?” and she creates the cutest little decor items.
I love her style, and the versatility and attention to detail of her adorable products. I mean, how cute are these coasters? OR these citronella candles for when the weather decides to warm back up again?
You can check out her shop and Instagram at the links below!
Sarandipityy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Sarandipityy
Sarandipityy Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarandipityyart
8. StainStudio UK
StainStudioUK, run by a super helpful and insanely talented artist named Eric, is one of my favorite print studios on Etsy. To start, Stain Studio creates really incredible portraits for personalized family and pet photos.
But for the book nerds out there (holla!), I ADORE the book page prints. I have several of these hung up in my home, and Eric worked with me to bring my favorite passages from my favorite books to life for prints in the home. GREAT gift, and super easy to pull together, just got a quick print at Staples and paired it with a nice frame.
Check out the full site at the link below!
9. The Vinyl Vault PA
Looking for adorable and cheeky graphic tee’s to compliment your quarantine wardrobe? Look no further than the Vinyl Vault PA.
Heather Lehman, the store owner and woman behind the magic, is actually a relative of mine. Her comment on our call for recommendations stood out to me because it encapsulates a lot of what I mentioned above for small businesses and local artisans.
“Here is my shop! Working on growing it since market has been very slow!”
Market stands and craft shows are hurting during this pandemic, and many of the creators have turned to Etsy. If a stand or shop comes to mind right now that you used to buy from on the spot by haven’t much in 2020, look for their shop online!!! Check Etsy. Make an order. Don’t forget about them.
As for Vinyl Vault PA, there are a lot of really cute options for all types of women, but especially all the mamas out there. Heather is a mama herself, and you can see her fun personality, sense of humor and natural creativity in all of her products.
She also carries faith-based products and cute shirts with scriptures for our spiritual readers.
Check out her shop at the link below!
Vinyl Vault PA Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/thevinylvaultpa
10. Aye Oh Clay
Aye Oh Clay is the coolest thing.
Sara, the artist behind these unique pieces, crafts handmade polymer clay jewelry of all shapes and sizes. I am especially struck by the earrings in her collection. They’re all so vibrant and fun, conveying an artistic and fashionable aesthetic for anyone lucky enough to wear them.
She also creates new batches for holidays like Christmas and Halloween, and for certain professions like teachers.
Give her shop a look to find unique jewelry for the women in your life!
Aye Oh Clay Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ayeohclay
11. Flowers In Hand
This Etsy creator is relatively new to the community, but I can already tell she’s going to be a big hit among shoppers.
Mikaela crafts and handpaints beautiful decor and wine glasses. Her holiday-themed work is live now for purchase and it’s so stinking cute.
Check out her shop at the link below!
Flowers in Hand Esty Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FlowersInHand
12. Teece + Junie Collective
More incredibly unique jewelry here with the fabulous Teece + Junie Collective.
Alicia and her daughter (a mother-daughter team of makers) create small-batch polymer clay jewelry out of Baltimore, Maryland. Lucky for you, they sell their wildly fashionable and modern pieces on Etsy.
Check out their Etsy shop and Instagram at the links below!
Teece + Junie Collective Shops: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TeeceJunieCollective
Teece + Junie Collective Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teeceandjunie_clay/
13. Haylee Rose Creative
Haylee Rose Creative has the positive, uplifting and affirming merch that you and the people in your need most right now.
From stickers and magnets to comfy sweatshirts, Haylee creates the cutest gifts for inspiring you even on the hardest days. Her positivity, healthy attitude and ambition are SHINE through her designs, and it’s a total treat to visit this shop.
So give the gift of positivity this year, and check out Haylee Rose Creative below!
Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HayleeRoseCreative
14. Bee Well Brittany
Another shop that’s mixing creativity and inclusivity to make really special gifts and products.
Bee Well Brittney makes handmade, customized braille or print key chains and animal collar tags. That way everyone, including the vision-impaired, can read and enjoy these gifts.
Also, getting one of these created for your favorite pet owner is really awesome. Just look at this pup!
You can check out her shop at the link below!
Bee Well Brittany – https://www.etsy.com/shop/BeeWellBrittany
15. Cat Crap
Speaking of gifts for animal lovers, Cat Crap toys are another destination to check out for the cat owners in your life.
Cat Crap is based out of New Jersey and makes safe and adorable cat toys for your favorite furry friends. I have a handful of these little toys scattered all around my living room at home, and the kitties have a blast with them.
OR if you’re a total crazy cat lady yourself (because obviously same) and you get your kitties Christmas gifts, these are the PERFECT stocking stuffers. Check out the Etsy link below for more!
Cat Crap: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CatCrap
16. Sweet Sally Soaps
Handmade bath and beauty products are such a treat. Self-care and stress relief are needed now more than ever, and these really are the gifts that keep on giving.
Sweet Sally Soaps makes amazing organic products, including goat milk soaps, organic gift boxes, detox bath bombs, lotions, bath salts and more. If you’re a fan of LUSH, you’ll LOVE this shop.
Check out the store below!
Sweet Sally Soaps Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetSallysSoaps