Gift Guide for Her: 9 unique gift ideas from small, sustainable businesses


The holidays are fast approaching, and so is the season of scrambling to shop for something special and meaningful (read: not generic, boring, and discarded by next Christmas) for loved ones. Don't fret: this gift guide features 9 truly unique, beautiful, and impactful gift ideas for any woman in your life. The best part: they all come from small businesses, either owned or co-owned by women, many which prioritize environmental and social sustainability and even give back to various charitable causes.

Choosing to "shop small" rather that going straight to Amazon can make a world of difference for small businesses, many of which are struggling during this pandemic. By shopping small, you: keep creative businesses in operation; won't funnel even more money into the pockets of Jeff Bezos; support social and environmental sustainability; and will be actually giving unique, meaningful gifts this holiday season.

1. Sendiri Label: Sustainable Shirts That Empower Women

This slow-fashion brand just launched this year, founded by two Arizona expatriates living in Indonesia: Alexandra Saper and Allison Kimsey. Sendiri makes small batches of super cozy, chic shirts flashing sassy sayings like “Calm Down,” “So Many Opinions,” and “Too Ambitious”. Basically, it’s a rewriting of the ways society has urged women to stay quiet, small, and hidden. Sendiri hopes to inspire women to take ownership of their boldness and strength, to dream big, and to use their voices to make a difference.

These shirts are perfect gifts for the strong, independent women in your life! Every item is ethically handmade in Bali, Indonesia, helping to ensure that 15 local tailors and workers have a sustainable income and healthcare. Every piece is made with 100% organic cotton, using non-toxic inks and minimal-waste dying techniques. A percentage of each purchase is given back to local projects that work to eliminate the cycle of poverty, child begging, and human trafficking in Bali by providing at-risk women and girls with healthcare, education, and job training.

Because these shirts are made with a loose oversized fit, you won’t need to worry about getting the size wrong for your recipient! Choose from a sassy tank (with a little skin showing), a cute black long-sleeved crop top, or an ultra-cozy crewneck tee. Or, even better, get one of each!

2. KoR Skin Care: Natural and Non-Toxic Skin Products

Whether a woman is skincare-obsessed or completely clueless, rest assured she will love receiving some KoR Skin Care products this year. This small company was founded by two London-based sisters, and aims to simplify women’s skin care routines by eliminating toxic chemicals and unnatural additives from the products we put on our faces each day.

KoR Skin Care launched with its two revolutionary products: the Rejuvenation Oil and the Pure and Bright Mask. Both the face oil and the charcoal face mask use natural ingredients like broccoli seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, and camellia seed oil, and Coenzyme Q10 (for the former) and activated charcoal, French green clay, Bentonite clay powder, and ginseng for anti-aging (for the latter) to moisturize, brighten, and tighten skin and reduce signs of aging.

Because these products are natural, non-toxic, and cruelty-free, they work well on all skin types and won’t cause any harm to our skin, animals, or the environment. Yay!

3. Asri: Luxury Leather Adventure Camera Straps

If you have any photographers in your life, you can stop here for the perfect gift. Asri makes hand-crafted leather camera straps that aren’t anything like you (or your photographer friends) have seen before.

The aesthetics are on point, with their inaugural strap featuring a hand-stamped sketch of Bali’s infamous volcano — Mount Agung — and the legendary dragon God that breathes fire from within the earth. The image and iron stamp were designed by local artists, and the leather strap is made from the highest quality 100% local cow hide.

In addition to how beautiful these straps are, they are also highly functional, with metal quick release clips, an ultra-smooth length-adjustment glide, and sturdy quality leather that will only look better with wear.

You’ll find other meaningful elements to these straps, including a unique product number and the geo-coordinates of Mount Agung engraved on the iron hardware pieces, and beautiful imagery and videos online to further tell the story of the Agung strap. Plus, 10% is given back to local communities in Bali.

4. LibbyLivingColorfully: Handmade Ultra-Chic Disco Balls

Let’s face it, after the year we’ve all had, every woman could use a bit of extra pizazz in her life. And what better way to deliver that pizazz than to watch her face light up (literally) as she opens a big, beautiful, handmade disco ball? Answer: there is no better way.

Libby Rasmussen is the vibrant home decor guru behind Washington DC-based lifestyle blog, LibbyLivingColorfully. She designs and constructs each of these disco balls with lots of love and feminine sass, applying tiny individual mirrors by hand, with a result that lights up an entire room. These disco balls look incredible on a bookshelf, seated on the floor by a window, tucked into a centerpiece, or hanging in the corner of a room where they pick up natural sunlight and reflect it like confetti.

There are three sizes to choose from on Libby’s Etsy store, and each comes with a little extra surprise inside. Check out her Instagram to see fun ways to style a room with these amazing disco balls!

5. Storybook Sculpture: Handmade Sculptures From Your Favorite Books

For the book-lovers in your life, these sculptures will probably be the most special, unique gifts you can give this Christmas. These intricate handmade sculptures use individual pages of carefully selected books, hand-cut into thousands of tiny pieces, to construct breathtaking 3-dimensional sculptures of dream-like scenes.

The artist behind Storybook Sculpture, Brittany Sawrey, is typically inspired by the whimsical scenes from the books she uses to construct the sculptures, like Cinderella’s castle and carriage, the Narnia forest and wardrobe from “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” and the entire village of Hogsmeade from Harry Potter.

The sculptures can also be commissioned and customized if you have something else in mind. Brittany’s creative and imaginative mind will dream up something incredible.

Most sculptures are illuminated with fairy lights, and if you’re on a budget, a smaller Christmas tree ornament or nightlight, or a make-your-own-storybook-castle sculpture kit would be the perfect alternative to a full-sized book sculpture.

6. Londre Bodywear: Luxe Sustainable Swimwear

Swimwear isn’t always the easiest gift to give, so the key is finding something that’s versatile in style and fit as possible. Meet Londre Bodywear, which makes beautiful bikinis and one-piece swimsuits made to fit and look great on absolutely any body type (if you don’t believe me, check out their incredibly diverse and size-inclusive models!).

If you’re having trouble deciding, I suggest the Multiway one-piece (my personaly favorite!). Its long loose straps can be tied a dozen different ways giving the suit completely different looks. It’s so versatile that it even looks super classy as a bodysuit, tucked into jeans or a skirt for a night out.

All Londre Bodywear suits are made in Vancouver from recycled plastic water bottles that have been collected from the beaches in Taiwan. They are produced sustainably and ethically, so women can look good, feel good, and know they’re doing good at the same time.

7. The League Collective: Graphic Wanderlust-Inspired Prints

If you have any travelers on your Christmas list this year, chances are they could use a little spark of wanderlust while they’re stuck at home during the pandemic. The League Collective prints are designed by two travel-lovers and creatives, Zach and Tara Brose, who wanted to bring their stunning photography and Zach’s graphic design and sketching skills to the homes of their loyal social media audience.

The artwork combines their beach and travel photography, with overlaid graphic paintings and typography, creating super unique images that give all the nostalgic Cali vibes. Each one of these prints are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, with positive messages, soothing colors, and dreamy images.

They come in a variety of sizes and with different framing options, and look great in any room in the house, as part of a gallery wall, on a bedside table, or even in a nursery.

8. We Dream In Colour: Hand-Crafted Wearable Art

I have to admit, I’ve been utterly uninspired by a lot of the women’s jewelry out there. It can become monotonous, unoriginal, and just — sigh — boring. Those are not adjectives to describe a meaningful or unique holiday gift.

*We Dream In Colour enters the room.*

This hand-made accessories brand was founded by Caribbean-born designer Jade Gedeon, and now is powered by an all-women team in Boston, Massachusetts. These jewelry designs are like small wearable pieces of art, some bright and colorful, some whimsical and playful, some with interestings shapes and textures, some that look like they were borrowed from the lady Cleopatra herself.

Ranging from antique and vintage inspired pieces, to earthy nature inspired pieces, to bold glamour pieces, to more simple everyday pieces, you’ll be able to find something unique and meaningful for any woman on your Christmas list.

We Dream In Colour is also committed to maintaining environmentally and socially conscious practices and policies within the company. So you can give the gift not only of stunning handmade wearable art, but also the support of an women-run small eco-friendly business. A happy holiday indeed!

9. CleanSea: Bracelets That Remove Plastic From The Oceans

At the current rate the world is progressing, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by the year 2050. Yes, that’s a horrifying, but real, statistic. Thankfully, there are amazing companies like CleanSea that have made it their mission to clean up the oceans bit by bit. You can participate in this mission by purchasing their colorful rope bracelets, which make a really special holiday gift!

The bracelets come in a bunch of different colors, have a stylish wooden fascening tog, and are sized to fit a wide variety of wrist sizes. The purchase of one bracelet directly funds CleanSea to clean up one kilo of plastic and other harmful waste from the ocean. They’ve already cleaned up over 9,000 kilos, and are on track to reach their goals of 10,000 kilos by the end of the years!

Grab a few to give to friends and maybe snag a few for yourself at the same time. I have five different colors and wear them altogether, and I get as many compliments from men who love them as I do from women! CleanSea also offers a subscription option, which sends subscribers a new seasonal bracelet every four months along with a clean-up progress report.

Shop Small!

This year more than ever, it’s important to be mindful of where our dollars are being spent. Your choice to support small, socially and environmentally conscious business makes a huge difference, and brings an actual little celebration of joy to business owners (yes, really, we get super excited about every single order) when they see that purchase come in.

And of course, it makes for a much more meaningful, unique gift for loved ones, and we can all sleep a little easier on Christmas Eve knowing we’ve made a positive impact in the world with whatever little surprises sit under that tree.


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American travel photographer and writer, based on the beautiful island of Bali. Two years ago, I left my job as a Washington DC lawyer, sold everything I owned, and booked a one-way ticket to Indonesia to turn my creative dreams into reality. I have traveled to 60 countries, have worked with major airlines, luxury hotels, tourism boards, and fashion/adventure goods companies. When I’m not working or traveling, I spend my free time writing, doing yoga, learning to surf, or swimming at my favorite beaches in Uluwatu in south Bali.


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