Consider locally-made, sustainable items for your next gift-giving experience.
Do you ever walk into one of the large “box-stores” and think, “Wow! So. Much. Stuff”?
It’s true. We live in a consumer-driven economy where excessive, even wasteful, spending is accepted, or dare I say encouraged, in some aspects.
From fast fashion in your favorite chain clothing store to the plethora of items sold in plastic bottles or containers, the idea of sustainable and conscious consumerism seems to be a low priority these days.
But is that really the case?
If you look around, there is an incredible selection of small, independent businesses that provide hand-made, reusable, and sustainable products right here in our own backyard of Williamson (and surrounding) County.
But what exactly does sustainability mean? And why is it important to consider?
Sustainable manufacturing is essentially the production of an item in a way that minimizes waste and reduces any negative impact on the environment. In general, sustainable products must be produced or manufactured in a way that
- Does not deplete natural, renewable resources.
- Does not directly harm the environment.
- Is not socially irresponsible (i.e., forced labor or health and safety concerns).
Sounds pretty great for Mother Earth, right?
Now…couple sustainability with locally and hand-made, artisanal creations and you’ve got the perfect solution for your next home decorating purchase or gift idea. And bonus, you’re supporting local businesses and contributing to local job creation.
Shopping locally not only supports small, independent businesses rather than larger, global conglomerates, it provides a sense of belonging that makes us feel like we’re part of a community. Supporting local businesses builds camaraderie with our fellow citizens and contributes to the development of a distinctive and dynamic regional culture.
Seeking out locally-made, artisanal items also encourages us to be thoughtful and intentional about our purchases, whether they are for ourselves or for a friend.
So the next time you’re invited to a house-warming party and need a gift, why not skip the usual bottle of wine and bring
a beautiful, potted plant from FloraMesaStudio or a custom glass creation from Tom’s Glassworks?
Tom uses glass made in America and enjoys “the fun of opening the kiln to see what has been created,” he says. Find him on Facebook where you can see beautiful examples of his glasswork.
Purple Handcrafted Dish By Tom
If you’re looking for a more functional but equally creative and distinctive gift, check out Annabelle Bigley’s hand-made bags and wallets at Butterfly Bags.
Her bags are incredibly unique in that “you can choose the fabric and style of bag to match your personality,” Annabelle explains. She uses various types of materials including sustainable cork, which is a “fabulous renewable material and wonderful fiber to work with,” she says. One of my most unique and outstanding creations is a Bi-fold wallet made out of sustainable cork material
“I love seeing peoples’ expressions when they first see a bag I made for them. I enjoy seeing the bags come together as they are created,” says Annabelle.
Hand-made pouch from Butterfly Bags
Whether it’s a custom design you’re looking for or one of the many fabulous already-made bags that Annabelle offers, you’re sure to be pleased with the quality of work and the peace of mind knowing you’re supporting small businesses in your community.
Danica Smith, owner of FloraMesaStudio in Georgetown, creates unique and colorful cement pots and sells them with or without plants.
Monstera deliciosa from FloraMesaStudio
Danica’s inspiration is being outside in nature. “Therefore, why not bring the outside in?” she says. She takes great pride in providing quality plants. “I make my own soil mix that I know plants can thrive in. When they purchase a potted plant from me they get a healthy plant that either I sourced from a local grower or that was grown and propagated by me,” Danica explains. Follow her on Instagram for beautiful, colorful images of her work. You can purchase her cement pots on Etsy or contact her on Facebook with questions or custom requests.
Fiona Lorne from Fairy Fire Creations in Liberty Hill is so passionate about the candles she hand-makes
Another great gift alternative is a candle, especially when they are in a reusable container. Who doesn’t love burning a beautifully scented candle in their home? But not all candles are created equally, and many contain irritating or harmful chemicals.
Heart bowl candle made of soy wax from Fairy Fire Creations.
“I don’t sacrifice quality”, Fiona says. “The candles I sell are the same ones I light in my home. I make sure to use items that are safe for us, our pets, our children, and the environment because sustainability is important to me.” She goes on to say that whether it’s “bright, clean smells or warm buttery foods”, it’s the memories that inspire her: “Anything that can be tied to a fond memory for myself or for a client”. What’s not to love about that?
When it comes to local and sustainable businesses with a serious Earth-friendly mission, Screw Plastic, founded by Linda van der Rijd in Temple,
sets an incredible precedent.
Out of frustration to find low- or zero-waste items in everyday activities, like going out to dinner or grocery shopping, “we started bringing our own silverware to restaurants that only offered single-use cutlery or aiming to find plastic-free products when buying groceries,” Linda explains.
With her husband Rick, she decided to start making zero-waste items she was unable to find elsewhere that didn’t break the bank. “Conversations with friends and family showed us that we were not the only ones struggling with access and affordability to earth-conscious items, which sparked the idea for our business,” she says.
Wax Warps and Organic Body Oils by Linda @ Screw Plastic
From reusable utensils and straws to handmade soaps and body oils, “Screw Plastic products are handmade with organic and local ingredients in our Temple-based workshop,” Linda explains. “Whenever we source products we do not create ourselves we focus on fellow US-based small businesses and prioritize Texas-based suppliers, because shorter delivery routes equal fewer carbon emissions.”
Follow Screw Plastic on Instagram and Facebook where they share easy, waste-free living tips and also where they list upcoming markets in Georgetown or Waco.
For a really cool plant-buying experience, consider contacting Michelle Zamora, the owner of Prickly Pear Plant Boutique.
This isn’t your normal plant store! Michelle operates a licensed plant boutique on wheels! Yes, you read that right. Prickly Pear Plant Boutique is a rolling plant truck that you can bring to your next work or private event.
Michelle believes that “with enough coaching, anybody can find and care for that special plant. I take pride in helping demystify plant ownership and removing some of the fear around it.”
Michelle carries tropical indoor plants that need easy care, are low-light tolerant (for those pesky corners that don’t get much sun), and is pet-friendly. You might see her truck out and about and if so, she encourages you to stop and ask your “planty questions”. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook, where her pop-up locations are also posted.
Prickly Pear Plant Boutique truck
The idea behind the creation of EsScential Jewelry, founded by
Francine Tucker & Tricia Kernan.
Upcycling items is an incredibly sustainable way to give new life to old pieces, and when you can offer them as special gifts to your friends and family, it’s even better! This was precisely the idea behind the creation of EsScential Jewelry, founded by Francine Tucker & Tricia Kernan.
“Inspired by our love of jewelry, thrift shopping, and essential oils, we combined all three, and EJ was born!”, they explained.
They go on to say that “when we create each piece we start with the ‘centerpiece’, or the old bead, to dictate what comes next. In each piece of EJ, you can find anywhere between 1 to
15 vintage or upcycled beads, allowing us to make incredibly unique and truly one-of-a-kind pieces. All of our jewelry also comes with beads to diffuse your essential oils, serving a dual purpose and allowing the wearer to set an intention for the day when they apply their oils to their jewelry. “
This makes wearing EJ jewelry more of an “experience” rather than just putting on an “accessory”, say Francine and Tricia.
Each EJ purchase comes with a free aromatherapy oil blend
Beautiful jewelry and aromatherapy- now that’s a great combination!
You can shop these inspirational pieces on their website. Or perhaps consider hosting a private truck show this Fall. Feel free to contact Francine and Tricia at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
With all the large-scale stores and chain options at our disposal, buying a gift for a friend or loved one can be an overwhelming task sometimes. So the next time you’re on the hunt for that perfect gift for that special someone, give a local, small business owner some love. You’ll feel good knowing you are giving a hand-made, artisanal gift and that you’re supporting local talent in your community. Oh, and don’t forget to share your experience on your favorite vendors’ Facebook or Instagram page! Happy local shopping!
For more information on the small business owners listed here, see below:
Markets in Waco, Georgetown, and Austin are listed on our Facebook or Instagram page.
Prickly Pear Plant Boutique
Occasional appearances at Savory Farmer’s market and Farmer George markets.
Fairy Fire Candles
Farmers Markets: Savory Farmer’s Market
Downtown Georgetown Association (2nd Saturday of the month)
Wimberley Market Days (1st Saturday of the month)
The mobile shop called the Wicked Bus, a former Navajo Nation school bus
Flora Mesa Studio
7/31/21 at Madewell in Austin (Domain location)
8/8/21 at Fitzhugh Brewery in Dripping Springs, TX ( Partial proceeds will be going to local non-profit Foster Village)
9/11/21 at District Six in Georgetown
More coming this Fall!
You can shop for EJ jewelry at the following locations:
- Visual Lyrics, 109 S. Hwy 183 Leander, TX 78641
- Shop 1431, Gift shop located in Cedar Park Regional Hospital, 401 Medical Pkwy Cedar Park, TX 78613
- Xenia Claudeth Salon, 700 E. Whitestone Blvd. Ste. 202 Cedar Park, TX 78613 (largest selection)
- Unity Church of the Hills Gift Shop, 9905 Anderson Mill Rd. Austin, TX 78750
EsScential Jewelry will be at the Boutique Bazaar in the Sun City Social Center Ballroom on Friday, August 20th 9a-2p. Come by and see us!