I’m a big fan of supporting small business over the convenience of chain stores. In addition, I love to purchase products made with care and creativity, which is why Etsy and other handmade sites are my go-to when I shop on-line. I’ve listed a few places below that combine the best of those two worlds. While they are local to *my* area, anyone can order from these sites. And the best part is that they are all appropriate for kids of all genders.
For infants through 5T: MyJoShu sells 100% cotton t-shirts for children. What I love about this small business, run by the multi-talented Johari Fuentes, is that the designs are UNISEX. It’s exhausting trying to find boy tees that aren’t about dinosaurs or skateboarding (both of which are great in small doses) or girl tees that don’t include crowns and bows (again, fine – but not all the time.) Johari is a graphic designer by trade, and the simple and fun designs show her aesthetic sense as well as the Puerto Rican influence and environmental consciousness in her background. The current limited edition tees come in three designs and fit up to children’s size 5. For those in Montclair, you can request local delivery to avoid shipping and handling. Bonus! MyJoshu has been featured on MomTrends, BaristaKids, and Random Handprints. This local business is also on Facebook and Twitter.
For infants and young children: Quilts by Kara Mia is another great option for a fun and unique gift. Specializing in quilts, bibs, burp cloths, and doll blankets and bedding (!), Kara Mia manages to sew beautiful items for children that are at once cozy and folksy and one-of-a-kind. She uses funky vintage textiles as well as more traditional patterns to create gifts that will be both used and displayed for years to come. I love the combination of patterns she brings together. It’s not too late to put in an order for the holidays! “I sew fast!” Kara told me, and I believe her. Check out her Facebook page for photos and information. Quilts by Kara Mia was also featured on BaristaKids recently where Kara talks about her dedication to social causes as well.
For children who love magic and all things Muggle: Spellcaster Magic is for slightly older kids who LOVE all things magical and fantastical. Personally, I also think these would make a great gift for grown-ups who need a little encouragement to laugh off stresses and frustrations. Barista Kids featured some background about this local business in September, and I was entranced by the glitter and magic of the wands at Aunt Jean’s Toys and Treats just last month. The wands have colors (and spells) associated with Football teams, Hogwarts Houses, superheroes, and just plain fun. The Spellcaster Magic website has lots of wonderful photos and background to the origins of the wands as well. Check out the Etsy store.
For children ages 5+ and the grown-ups who love them: Books are always a wonderful option, so why not choose a book by a local author? There are lots to choose from, and one of our favorites is Giants Beware! by local writer Jorge Aguirre. This is a tale for both boys and girls – and their parents. It’s a graphic novel with a dash of humor, a pinch of scary events, and characters that leave you wanting more. (Good thing Jorge is working on a sequel!) Giants Beware! is on BoingBoing‘s list of must-haves, and it was just named to the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in Children’s Books. Pick it up at Watchung Booksellers today!
For elementary school ages: Want something more traditional, but still interesting? Marlene Lewis, another local mom, has brought together vintage, unique, and fun ideas for gifts in an on-line store called Sunshine Sam. Read more at this Barista Kids post about Sunshine Sam. Check out the cute candy pendants and superhero capes – I know some tweens who would love the gummy bears.
See the slideshow below for more photos of these local and small business gift ideas: