THE 2018 SHE CAN. SHE DID. GIFT GUIDE
With The Midweek Jingle! around the corner next week, I’m all too aware that December is on our doorstep and with that comes, without doubt, my favourite time of year… CHRISTMAS!
Pre-launching She can. She did. last summer, Christmas was a time to catch up with family and friends and stuff my face with a whole lotta food (and don’t get me wrong, it still is to a large extent!) but after spending the past seventeen months travelling around the UK interviewing so many female founders, I’m more aware than ever of just how crucial this time of year is for independent businesses.
Be it that the next few weeks will be spent freezing their bums off selling at Christmas markets, staying up late into the night keeping on top of the extra demand in orders, or bribing family and friends with boxes of Quality Streets to help them pack; the Christmas season can be make or break for many businesses and in many respects, covers the bills for the first few months of the New Year.
Which is why supporting independents at this time of year is so ridiculously important and is so much more than just a slogan to share online…
With that in mind, I’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of female-founded businesses to support this season should you so wish to, who have got you covered when it comes to Christmas shopping for just about anyone this year. No paid partnerships, no affiliate links, just a bunch of amazing women who make amazing things!
Happy shopping boys and girls, let me know what you think and if you’re not coming to The Midweek Jingle! next week, Merry Christmas in advance from me to you!
I won’t lie, opening my stocking on Christmas morning is always my favourite part of the day. Unlike my older sister who is very much a Rachel from Friends (aka. “stick to the list or else Fi..!”), ever since I was little, I’ve never really known what to ask for, so love how random stocking pressies can be. Given that I knew I’d be making this list though (!) here’s a few of this year’s favourites…
Bloody love getting a good bar of chocolate in my stocking (along with the boring clementine hiding at the very bottom each year!) and the wrapping alone makes Creighton’s stand out from the crowd. Founded by mother/daughter duo Andrea and Lucy, you’ll find everything from ‘I love sprouts’ truffles to ‘Festive Cheer’ hot chocolate in this year’s range! Prices start from £2.25
There’s something so comforting about curling up on the sofa with something juicy to read in winter and Bristol-based independent lifestyle magazine, Lionheart, never disappoints. Launched by Hels in 2011, it is full of beautiful design ideas from local makers, fashion that is sustainably sourced that you can cherish forever and unique stories that will leave readers ‘roaring from the inside out into the world’. Price £8
STUDIO B FASHION
Not only does Bethany Rowntree’s site sell the most INCREDIBLE DRESSES for everyone’s favourite party season (I’m looking at you Rixo Gigi Tiger Sequin wrap dress), she also sells a number of affordable accessories that make the perfect stocking filler. My personal favourite are these STUDIO B X NIGHT TIME HOLIDAY earrings made sustainably from polymer clay. Hint hint Andy…! Price £25
Genevieve is without doubt one of the most inspiring women I’ve met since launching She can. She did. and her British knitwear brand that celebrates luxury artisan skills, continues to lead the way in contemporary design. You can never go wrong with socks in a stocking in my opinion but the option to have your initials sewn on to these make them extra special. Men’s socks available too. Prices start from £14.99
DUCK & CRUTCH
Co-Founders and girlfriend-boyfriend duo, Hollie and George served these garnish teabags in the G&Ts at The Midweek Mingle back in May and as a hardcore G&T girl, you can’t top ‘em. Despite being stocked in the likes of Harvey Nichols, the two founded Duck and Crutch in their 6ft x 4ft garden shed and to this day, still ‘hand-graft’ the entire production process in there (they don’t even have a plumbed water supply!) Price for a box of 27 £20
COLE & CO
I first came across Cole & Co after discovering a bar of their soap in The Wonders Of launch event goody bag back in April and have been obsessed with their range of candles/diffusers/body bits ever since. Founded by Cardiff-based Hannah Cole and her parents in 2010, on a day to day basis, I’d highly recommend their Tea Rose and Peony range but after smelling these festive goodies recently, there’s no going back! Prices start from £4
WILLOWBERRY NATURAL SKINCARE
Having tried the Willowberry Nutrient Boost Day Cream after interviewing Founder Jenni Retourne back in March (and what a woman she is!) I can safely say it’s one of the best moisturisers I’ve ever used. Not only does the Willowberry skincare range use unrefined natural oils and butters (ie. unlike so many beauty products on the shelves, it’s loaded with preserved nutrients to nurture skin’s wellbeing!), the list of ingredients are completely transparent so that women can feel confident about what they’re putting on their skin. Prices start from £10
Libby Ballard Ceramics
LIBBY BALLARD CERAMICS
I first met Libby at my Bristol Midweek Mingle last month and fell in love with her designs after stalking her on Instagram a few days later (!) and this handmade ceramic travel mug, complete with a special crochet band made by fellow Bristol Maker Stitching me Softly (who I also had the pleasure of meeting in Bristol) is the perfect stocking filler/main gift for coffee addicts like me! Check out her website for the full range of colours plus other ceramic goodies including planters, tableware and mugs too! Price £26.50
Andy’s not happy with me this year because I’ve delayed decorating the flat until the second weekend in December (I’m normally a 1st of December, go crazy on the festivities kind of girl but I need some of my decorations for The Midweek Jingle in London on the 6th!) but rest assured, when I do eventually get round to decorating, unwrapping all of the baubles we’ve amassed since moving into the flat never gets old. Here are some of this year’s favourites…
OH WONDER CALLIGRAPHY
I remember when Lauren first released these designs last Christmas and within minutes, unsurprisingly, her site went absolutely wild with orders, so I was delighted to see them back up for grabs this year! Hand made in her garden studio (with sausage dog, Link, for company!), each bauble can be personalised with names, dates or festive phrases to suit! If you’re planning a wedding in 2019/20, check out her gorgeous wedding stationery while you’re at it too or her new book, ‘Modern Calligraphy’ for any creative friends wanting to get into calligraphy! Prices start from £10 (for the baubles that is… not the stationery/book!)
WHITE LIGHT CERAMICS
Hand made in her Cheshire-based studio, on a day-to-day basis, Rebecca specialises in bespoke work, from large scale wall pieces and sculptures, to dinner sets and vases (and she’s more than happy to take commissions this Christmas!) but if it’s unique decorations you’re after, I’ve fallen in love with this set of six. Prices start from £8
I’ve been a fan of Emily’s playful prints for a good few months now, so much so that her ‘Ti Amo’ print now hangs above my bed, so when I saw that she’d released these AMAZING decorations in time for Christmas a few weeks back, it was a no brainer that they’d have to feature on this list. Price £9
Do Christmas crowns count as decorations!? I have no idea (!) but screw it, I love them so they’re going in! Founder Esther Thorpe makes so many incredible origami tree decorations (click through to her website to have a peek) but if you want something a little bit extra this Christmas, these festive crowns, designed in collaboration with Cheryl Rawlings, beat any flimsy paper hats you’ll find in your crackers! Price £8.50
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but when it comes to Christmas cards and Christmas wrapping, that saying needs to jog on if you ask me. There’s an ongoing joke in the Grayson household that I’m known for writing essays in my cards (in stark contrast to the ‘Merry Christmas, love you x’ you get from my big sister..!) and for that reason, I always appreciate a well thought out card. Here’s a selection for varying ages and personalities…
I couldn’t make a list of card designers and not include this wonder woman. I’ve LOVED everything Veronica makes since long before launching She can. She did. and had to stop myself from fan-girling when she spoke at The Midweek Mingle in August (!) so all of her designs come highly recommended by me. Check out her website for the full Christmas range. Price £2.95
I first met London-based illustrator, Georgina, at The Midweek Mingle in May when she came up to me and asked to take a photo of my shoes…! Of course I obliged, albeit hesitantly (!) and the next morning I woke up to a beautiful illustration of my heels! #worthit Georgina takes commissions for prints and cards and can make the designs as personal as you’d like (she can work from photos of your friends/family for a quick turnaround too) DM her on Instagram or email her for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org
What can I say about this woman?! Not only does she have a heart of gold and run a very successful wedding and event styling business throughout the year, she also happens to create quirky cards and stationery, that are perfect if you’re in need of a giggle this Christmas. Working in a very special shed at the end of her garden, given to her by her late-Mama who inspires so much of her work, June is the creator of ‘utter loveliness’ along with a whole host of naughty designs that say it how it is too! She also creates bespoke prints and cards so if you want to add a name or phrase, just let her know! Prices start from £2.50
FOR HER (or yourself… potato, potarto!)
Be it for your sister/ girlfriend/ Mum/ daughter/ or an early Christmas pressie to yourself – which is always a good idea – witling down a wish list for ‘women’ in general was so, so tricky (given that so many of the brands that feature on this list straddle a number of the categories) but these brands are sure to make whoever it is you’re buying for smile!
DELICIOUS MONSTER TEA
Here’s a woman who I know full-well will be up late into the night for the next few weeks stitching away… but she appreciates every order so keep them coming! Loved by the likes of Fearne Cotton, The Anna Edit and an ever-growing list of fans around the world, Cardiff- based Claire’s hand-embroidered t-shirts, jumpers and baby grows can be personalised with whatever phrase you please and should be a staple on everyone’s list this Christmas if you ask me! Prices start from £21.99
After leaving school owing to poor health aged sixteen, Charlotte came up with the design for the classic Bloomsbury – as seen on the now Duchess of Sussex earlier this year – when she was bed bound for the remainder of her teenage years. Driven by a desire to create the perfect everyday bag that her sisters, mother and grandmother would use time and time again, no matter what occasion, in 2016, Charlotte Elizabeth was born. Supported by The Princes Trust, she really is an incredible young lady and I couldn’t recommend her brand and reading up on her story more! Prices start from £260
TWINKLE BOX CO
There’s always that one person who has everything and for that very reason, let’s face it, they’re a nightmare to buy for (!) but that’s where gift boxes like Twinkle Box Co come in handy! With a variety of Christmas boxes to choose from, Founder Tina has really thought about the detail to suit different personalities in each one! My personal favourite is this ‘Hygge Christmas’ box, closely followed by ‘Monochrome Christmas’. There’re boxes on there for men too! Prices start from £25
Yorkshire based mother-daughter duo Helen and Annie Rennison (pictured) launched Renné four years ago after turning a shared hobby into a business (and thank goodness they did because the semi-precious jewellery that they handmake together is beautiful!). If I could, I’d put every piece they make on this gift guide but for the sake of the word count (!) I’ll let you ogle this pair of T Bar Hoops! Price £80
CLAUDIA MAY LINGERIE
Who doesn’t love receiving a new set of undies for Christmas eh?! Especially when said set is sourced from the best designers around the world… Launched in 2016 by twenty-two-year-old Claudia May, Claudia May Lingerie is on a quest to seek out the very best lingerie around the world and bring it directly to women in the UK (because you can’t always find the best brands on the high street). This festive red set is perfect for this time of year in my opinion but check out her website for the full range (Sizes range from A-H cup). Price £75
If, like me, your friends are dotted around the country, these ‘love letters’ made by Parcel London Founder, Natalie Raven, are guaranteed to fit through any letter box and are a little bit more special than a card on its own! Including Sass & Belle wooden star tree decorations, a box of mini polaroids (you can upload up to 5 SQUARE jpeg images), a bar of Ocelot 88% dark chocolate bar, along with a handwritten note that can of course be personalised, this ‘Christmas Kisses’ love letter is perfect for any friend/family member that you won’t get the chance to catch up with this Christmas (and can of course be personalised for guys too!). Price £27
FOR HOMEWARE AND PLANT LOVERS
Once upon a time when I used to have a regular pay cheque coming through each month (!) buying goodies for my flat was always my favourite past-time. Unlike buying clothes or shoes, I always felt like I got more use out of home bits because I saw them and still get joy out of seeing them each and every day. Rumour has it therefore that homeware for Christmas pressies is always a good idea. Here’s a few bits and bobs for you to consider with that in mind!
PLUM & ASHBY
Made in England with 100% natural wax, this orange and clove scented advent candle is guaranteed to make any home smell festive. Made in Buckinghamshire by Plum & Ashby Founder Vicky White and her team (with a helping hand from four-legged friend, Bertie), you can’t go wrong with any of her range. Price £14
From being one of the first female founders to take a chance on She can. She did. back in August 2017 to recently agreeing to speak at the Brighton Midweek Mingle, this list wouldn’t be complete without featuring Lucy Coleman’s online shop that sells an array of homeware and gifts inspired by travel and international design. Working directly and ethically with independent designers from around the world, her shop is a treasure chest full of gift ideas for any friends/family who appreciate quirky designs. Price £45
MARTIN & COX LIVING GIFTS
I won’t lie, I’ve always been envious of anyone that can keep a pot plant alive because mine tend to go a tad brown and droop rather quickly (I’m an overfeeder I think) but I know that there’s a whole lot of you that do a much better job than me! For that reason, I couldn’t not include Martin & Cox Living Gifts on this list. Launched a few months back by the wonderful Jemma Cox (pictured), these beautifully packaged pot plants make the perfect gift for the person who has everything. Each living gift comes with a complimentary tag with a list of phrases that you can select from at checkout (My personal favourite being, ‘All the jingle ladies!’). What’s more, £2 from every order placed in November and December goes to Centrepoint – a wonderful charity supporting the young homeless. Prices start from £36
If you’re a hardcore caffeine addict like me or swear by a good brew to get you through the day, the importance of drinking from a decent mug won’t pass you by! In fact, I’m convinced that my coffees taste better when I drink from my favourite mugs and have no doubt that they’d taste extra special in this Barton Croft design! Made by hand with the finest clay by Laurena Lawson in her Hampshire based studio, the entire Barton Croft range is dishwasher, oven and microwave proof, utterly dreamy and if treated with care, will last a lifetime. Prices start from £24
SUCCULENCE LONDON X MEAL MAIL
If the person you’re buying for appreciates a bit of tough love or you’re just not the sentimental type (!) you can’t go wrong with the Succulence London x Mean Mail recent collaboration. Given that the two companies share an office in London, it was only a matter of time before they combined Sarah’s love of plants with Vicky’s penchant for brutal words and the result, let’s face it, speaks for itself! You’ll have to be quick though because the ‘Don’t f*ck it up’ pot has already sold out! Price £15
After years of designing for other people, Yorkshire-based Ruth launched her contemporary homeware and stationery range that combines natural elements, urban influences and contemporary trends. Inspired by nature’s raw beauty, each piece can adapt to both traditional and modern homes and will make the perfect gift for those who want to bring elements of the outdoors into their home. Homeware prices start from £12
FOR THOSE EXTRA SPECIAL PERSONALISED GIFTS
There’s nothing I love more than knowing that someone’s put a lot of thought into a pressie idea, so for me, receiving something personalised is only ever a good thing. These gifts are guaranteed to show someone special that you care!
STANLEY AND MAUD
Charlotte’s business was one of the very first I started following when I launched She can. She did. and there isn’t a design that she uploads that I don’t instantly love. Named after her daughter and son’s favourite cuddly toys, mother of two Charlotte makes all of her jewellery from home and the majority of designs can be personalised with a name/date/phrase of your choice. Prices start from £15
MARIA ALLEN BOUTIQUE
Hove-based designer Maria Fox was one of the first women I interviewed for She can. She did. and her story to this day, inspires me on a daily basis. Having given birth this year to little Lukas, this will be Maria’s first Christmas juggling the business with motherhood but I have no doubt that her and her team will make it all work! This personalised photo envelope necklace is my favourite of her designs, comes in gold or rose gold and your choice of photograph can be printed to fit inside the envelope! Price £54
I never tire of seeing Polly’s illustrations and stationery pop up on my Instagram feed and love the idea of these bespoke correspondence cards that she’s released in time for Christmas. The perfect gift for anyone who loves sending hand written notes, Polly can create a set of 30, 50, 75 or 100 cards and will personalise them with your recipient in mind. Simply email her with your brief at email@example.com by Friday 7th December and the personalised cards are guaranteed to arrive in time for Santa! Prices start from £55
Becky is one of the ladies I had in mind when I mentioned just how handy boxes of Quality Streets are for luring extra hands in to help pack this Christmas (!) as her and her team will be working silly hours over the next few weeks in her Liverpool based warehouse/grotto! These personalised gin glasses are the perfect gift for any gin addict (wine/champagne/prosecco/every other drink under the sun glasses are also available!) and I highly recommend having a look at her personalised reusable water bottles too! Price £23
CREATE GIFT LOVE
I was introduced to Create Gift Love’s Founder Emily a few weeks before my last London event and fell in love with her products straight away (Emily went on to make the ‘She can. She did. I can. I will. keyrings that guests loved in the August goody bags!) so I couldn’t not include her lovely business on this list. This personalised leopard print purse made from natural leather is her best-seller this year and can be personalised on both the front and inside pocket. For those of you that prefer plain designs though, definitely take a look at the blush pink, black or mint green options too! Prices start from £20
As the girl that kept a diary from the ages of 12 to 18 (and wrote pages in detail every day without fail…!), I’ve always loved getting a new notebook to write in each Christmas. Now I’m a tad older though (and no longer feel the need to update my diary on the state of my love life!) I appreciate a more business focused design. With a variety of covers, colours and additional extras to add should you so wish (additional note pages/bookmark/ embossing anyone?), twenty-seven-year-old Gabi Cox has got all your diary/notebook needs covered this Christmas and can even emboss covers with your company logo too! Prices start from £14
FOR THE FELLAS
I don’t know about you but when it comes to buying for guys, no matter how many hints, I always get stuck (it doesn’t help that when I ask Andy for hints, he has a look for me, hints and then a few days later, goes and buys it for himself..!) but you won’t go wrong with these few staples…
I always get nervous buying sentimental bits for Andy but I was getting so fed up of him nipping into H&M and spending £10 here and there on random man-bracelets, then proceeding to lose them all a few days later (!) that I got this personalised cuff for his birthday last month… and I’m happy to report that this one hasn’t gone missing! Hand made by the wonderful Rosie Florence Parkes in her studio/spare bedroom in London, I couldn’t recommend the quality of these more! Price £98
I first heard of 33 year old Marie’s business when she wrote to me in summer introducing herself and had to include her on this list because her introductory email spoke to me: ‘I don’t know of a single woman who has not struggled to find a gift for a husband/father/man-friend/uncle… and I think a man who is well-dressed is very sexy indeed!’ …I hear ya sister! With that in mind, Jeya Narrative focuses on men’s accessories and lifestyle gifts and works with British and European emerging designers. From socks, to cuff links, ties to notepads, this website will have you covered if you’re lost for ideas. USE CODE: XMAS10 FOR 10% OFF Prices start from £5.50
With over 4 billion plastic disposable razors thrown into landfill every year, this is the perfect gift for any man on a mission to become eco-friendlier in 2019. Created by Mutiny Shaving who aim to encourage more people to stop using plastic, disposable razors and opt for the traditional recyclable methods instead; everything in the box is reusable, recyclable, vegan, animal and eco-friendly. For similar ideas for women, take a peek at the full Eco Beau range! Price £24.95
FOR THE LITTLE ONES
There’s something about buying for little ones that makes me feel extra festive each year (even if my god daughter does start reciting her wish list in September..!) and the excitement on their faces opening presents gets me every time (the Christmas I got it completely wrong for my little cousin, who promptly proceeded to drop my present in a heap straight away and jump on my sister who clearly nailed it, being the exception…!) When it came to putting this list together though, I’ve focused a bit more on pressies to buy new parents instead (because if I’m being honest, I don’t have kids, so have no idea what a 4/5/6/7/8/9 etc… year old boy/girl will want from indies this year!)
EMILY HOSKEN PHOTOGRAPHY
Specialising in new born, baby and bump photography, every photo that Buckinghamshire-based Founder, Emily Hosken uploads, makes my ovaries do a little happy dance! No frills, no fancy costumes, just the most beautiful shots that parents can treasure forever. The perfect Christmas gift for any expecting Mama or new parents, I’m sure. New born sessions start from £95
Founded by Mum of two, Jen Fuller, Etta Loves creates products for babies that are not only made from the highest quality fabrics but they have also been designed to support babies’ visual and cognitive development! Inspired by a cuddle on the sofa with her then four-week-old daughter Etta, who couldn’t stop staring and focusing on Jen’s monochrome top at the time, the idea for the Etta Loves range was born. This reversible sensory playmat is dalmatian print on one side (for 0-4 months) and leopard print on the other side (for 5+ months) and would no doubt please both babies and parents in equal measure! Price £75
THE BEE’S KNEES
There’s nothing I loved more as a child growing up, than a new shiny notebook and pens to scribble away at, but this junior journal takes it to a whole new level. Designed by primary school teacher, dancer and Founder of The Bee’s Knees, Kelly Tellanova, to help children realise how wonderful they are, just as they are; each page is filled with mindful doodles designed to calm and space to fill in their daily best bits throughout the year! The perfect activity for little ones to fill in on their own or with a helping hand from Mum and Dad. £1 from every journal sold is donated to Huntington’s Disease Research at UCL. Price £18.99
ABEL AND THE LABEL
After having her first-born son Abel aged nineteen and documenting the highs and lows of motherhood in a blog thereafter, Founder and Illustrator Isabelle Ellen created Abel and the Label two years later, with the support of The Prince’s Trust in 2017. Creating beautiful prints for nursery and bedroom walls, I have no doubt that this range would make the little person in question smile! Prices start from £7
Getting a new pair of pjs at Christmas never gets old right? Especially if you can match your siblings, Mama or in my case, Goddaughter! I’ve fallen in love with the Little Woodlands unisex ‘Sleepy Fox’ range (available for both little ones and adults) created by ex-Fashion buyer and new Mum, Amy. After creating her business whilst on maternity leave to keep the ‘baby brain’ at bay, Little Woodlands is not yet a year old but already has a gorgeous range of rompers, bodysuits, bibs and pyjamas to choose from! Prices start from £8
AND TWO FOR THE ANIMAL LOVERS OUT THERE…
Call me crazy but in the Grayson household, Hebe, Horatio and Hector are NEVER forgotten. Granted, the cats tend to ignore the treats and head straight to the empty boxes but Hector, our Golden Retriever, is always down for pressies! These are number one on his wish list this year and will no doubt be loved by your fur babies too!
WREN & RYE
I met Wren & Rye’s Founder Ash at my Manchester event earlier this month (November) and no surprises, we spoke about our mutual love of dogs all night. I can’t get enough of these adorable bow ties and if you’re extra hardcore, you can get a matching scrunchy for yourself too! Prices start from £4.50
TWO DOGS CO
Two Dogs Co Founder Rebecca and I met at the Bristol Midweek Mingle in October and quelle surprise, had a lot to talk about too! Mentored by The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Program, all of her products are ethically and custom made so if there’s something extra special you had in mind for your dog this Christmas, she’s your girl! Prices start from £12
So there you have it, the She can. She did. 2018 guide to supporting small businesses this year in all its glory!
Happy shopping ladies and gents and have an amazing Christmas!
PS. If you haven’t got your ticket to The Midweek Jingle yet (aka. the usual Midweek Mingle with the added Christmas party you don’t get when you’re self-employed!) and want to join us in London on the evening of 6th December, the last few tickets are available here! Hope to see you there girls! xx