It’s National Independent Retailers month this July and I want to share some of my favorites that cover a whole bunch of different things for both kids and adults.
Here’s a ‘waouh!’ fact about me: I don’t like coffee. Love the smell of coffee (there is just something about it that is so comforting), but actually drinking it? In the words of my beloved dad, no thank you! However, don’t be too disappointed in my seemingly magical superpower of not needing caffeine in the AM. I do have laser-focus for that first cup of hot or cold green in the morning and honestly, I am a little off my game if I haven’t had at least one cup. There is something special about trying different types and brands and Brooklyn Tea is one of my recent go-to’s. I first discovered this black-owned company last summer and have been consistently ordering from them ever since, not only for their amazing tea selection but also their customer service. Based out of Brooklyn (obviously!), they have a wide range of both caffeinated and non-caffeinated loose-leaf teas as well as tea wear to help you make that perfect pick-me-up. My favorite is Anti-angiogenesis, which the owners created after watching a 2010 Ted Talk by William Li. Best of all? They have an actual brick-and-mortar store in Brooklyn, not only for shopping but also for sipping. Take a break in their tea room which houses their wide selection of teas and snacks to round out your local experience. As the owners say: Sip Something Sensational!
Instagram: Brooklyn Tea
The past 18 months have seen family and friends separated across the globe and given rise to the challenge of connecting and celebrating from a distance. Thankfully we live in a time where online shopping means we can send things almost anywhere in the world to let someone know we are thinking of them. That wasn’t even on Grace Brennan’s mind when she created an Instagram Account in 2019 to promote different shops and artisans across Rural Australia, who were really struggling during the drought. Her simple act of sharing these brilliant creatives morphed into what is now a carefully curated website showcasing everything from homewares to jewelry to art – all at your fingertips. With every purchase, you are helping small businesses in parts of the country that have endured drought, floods, and horrendous bushfires in the past two years. Twenty years ago, I might not have thought to include something like this, but our world grows smaller in connectivity day by day, and chances are you know someone in Australia, whether it be a friend or family member, who you have been for yourself (you have my permission!!) Buy From The Bush should be your first stop.
Instagram: Buy From The Bush
Wandering (aka wearing my sleepy then four-year-old and managing my hangry husband . .. .ok, it was actually me) in Paris during 2019 we ended up eating at this random cafe. Of course there was this cool looking little shop across the street and of course I had to abandon my husband to his biere while I took the little one across for a browse. Browse ended up meaning they could have had all my money! This independent store houses everything eco-friendly (their downstairs kids’ section was a treasure trove of potential earth-friendly, unplugged gifts!) I was already designing an imaginary apartment and was ready to head to the nearest realtor by the time my husband joined us. The Fisher Family (Corrinne, George, and Marjolaine) founded Bio Bazar five years ago as a place for customers to find ecological, ethical, and slow products to create a healthy and responsible lifestyle without compromising the aesthetic and practical nature of modern expectations. What they have created is a beautiful space that will leave you feeling inspired no matter how small your purchase is (I am still working my way through a delicious lemon lip balm!). Of course, there is the question of whether or not it’s just being on-trend. Their website addresses the how, who, when, and where of sourcing their products with the focus being on longevity and quality as well as the best practices for the planet by the companies they promote. Located in the 11th Arrondissement don’t be shocked if you are also mentally designing and gifting while you explore their earth-friendly offerings. Or make it a reality online!
Instagram: Welcome Bio Bazar
I’ve bought several shirts for my daughter from this independent apparel company that purports itself to make the clothes that the big retailers won’t. Their basic message is we’re here to redesign and push back against the often less-than-appropriate slogans splashed across kids’ clothing. To not only upend traditional notions of gender but to spread positive messages of inspiration and acceptance. As their website says, “At Free To Be Kids we passionately believe that both boys and girls deserve to see, hear, and wear better messages”. Designed and hand-printed in Seattle, they also ensure that all their garments are sourced from factories that are recognized by the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production organization (WRAP). Free To Be Kids creates designs that are inclusive and wearable for both adults and kids. Pricey? Think again. Their shirts cost about the same as something you would find in a mainstream shop, with the big difference being they are able to pay their workers a living wage without compromising on the quality of their shirts (I can attest to this as we have got many wears out of one item with hardly any visible fading or pilling). With back to school (slowly) appearing on the horizon (and I mean really slowly!!!) if you’re looking to support an independent business and dress your kids in back-to-school clothes that send a better message out to the world, then this should be one of your internet clicks.
Instagram: Free To Be Kids
In the age of digital devices and instant messaging (and I’ll admit that my phone definitely sends more texts than it makes more calls) opening the mailbox to find a card or handwritten note is somewhat of a novelty these days. I mean who has time to actually find cards that are cute and funny (not to mention original!) without sweating profusely at the last minute in the card aisle of a department store? A friend introduced me to the stationery company Dear Hancock last year and I have had a great time sending out their unique cards to friends and family all over the world. Based out of New England, this husband and wife team build on their own illustrations to create correspondence and everyday notepads, as well as their own art prints and wrapping paper. But the cards are really the stars in this shop. If you want to say Happy Birthday or just Hello I can guarantee you won’t be able to click away empty-handed (even writing this article I ended up ordering a notepad and more cards – bah!). They have shown special love during the pandemic with everyday and essential workers cards reflecting how we all feel. Sending love, thoughts, and hugs don’t always have to be digital (yes, even I get a smile on my face from a good GIF sent my way!). The pandemic gave us reasons to slow down. Now we’re out there again, let’s keep some of those actions close as we move forward and reconnect with our friends and family all over the world.
Instagram: Dear Hancock
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