Gift Guide: 20 Makers to Know and Shop From This Season

It’s that time of year again, when you look at your gift list and start racking your brain, “what do they want?” “what don’t they have?” “what wouldn’t they buy for themselves?” There’s a magical solution to all three of those questions when you shop small.

For this year’s gift guide I narrowed the list and went more in-depth: these are some of the makers who I’ve interacted with this year. We may have been booth neighbors at a craft show, in the case of 14 of them - I’ve bought or been gifted by Mike/my family something from them, some are makers I’ve known for for years and some just hit my radar this year. I know their products and can speak to the quality.

So here is my 2018 Handmade Gift Guide: 20 Makers to Know and Shop From This Season (P.S. All images are clickable to the pages where you can purchase them):

Lucky Skye Graphics - Chhaya Shrader

I’ve known Chhaya for three years now - our paths have crossed at numerous Wilder Mansion shows in Elmhurst as well as at One of a Kind in Chicago (she’ll be there this year - if you’re going, you should check out her booth). With a range of artwork, available in a variety of sizes and finishes (paper print, framed print, mounted onto a wood block), all in her distinct style - she’s sure to have something to delight any number of folks on your shopping list.

Recently, I sent her Ohana means family print, mounted onto wood, to one of my best friends - it’s his growing family’s motto and from his partner’s favorite movie: can you get any more specifically personal than that!

I’m personally digging her Moonrise print. I think this would look stunning in my kitchen or sunroom.

As I mentioned before, in addition to online, you can find Lucky Skye Graphics at the One of a Kind show December 6-9 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Stay up-to-date on her latest works and where to find her via her Instagram @luckyskyegraphics

Desmond Brown Design - Kelly Desmond

At the Wilder Mansion Holiday Market for the past three years, several of us have had our booths in the same room in the mansion - I’ve been fortunate to spend the weekend hanging out with, and selling next to, Lucky Skye Graphics, Eclectic Redesigns, and Desmond Brown Design. Between customers, my eye is always drawn to Kelly’s booth. In addition to an awesome booth setup, her pillows are full of fun quotes and phrases. This year, after staring at her Columbia Inn, Pine Tree, Vermont pillow (shown above) for two days - I knew it had to be part of my Christmas living room decor. When my sister popped by the show, she agreed and purchased the same pillow for her living room (both Mike and my families are huge White Christmas fans).

I think her reading pillows would be an equally perfect gift for a book-loving teen and a refuses-to-switch-to-an-E-reader-mom (pop it on your lap while you’re reading and rest the book on top - makes reading hardcovers less of an endurance exercise...admittedly why I stopped reading the Harry Potter books after book 5 when I was a kid).

Check out this page to see what stores carry Desmond Brown Design as well as where you can find her online.

Instagram: @d_bdesign

Marigold Mary - Danielle (Dani) Stotts

Dani is one of the first makers that we met after launching East Grove - she was our booth neighbor at a Renegade Craft Show Holiday Market. We had a great time selling next to her, and spent the weekend picking her brain about business and craft shows whenever there was a rare lull between sales. Mike’s sister’s Christmas present that year came from Marigold Mary (fun fact, Dani’s business name is inspired by her grandmother), and we’ve since circled back for at least one or two more Christmas presents over the years (my mother-in-law is rocking the earrings pictured above). Dani’s designs are modern elegance, and beautifully well-made. At the Wilder Mansion Holiday Market this year, I saw an amazing round agite necklace in her booth - I promised myself that if I had a good show and the necklace was still there a half hour before the show closed, it would be fate, and I’d treat myself to the necklace. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for Dani) the necklace was sold during the show (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it was sold to one of my many family members who came to visit me at the show that weekend…)

Brave the crowds to see Marigold Mary at Renegade Craft Fair, December 1st and 2nd at the Bridgeport Art Center - but if you can’t make it to that show, fear not, she’s got 5 more shows before Christmas! You can also order from her online shop.

Instagram: @marigold_mary

Katherine Anne Confections - Katherine Anne

I’m a self-proclaimed (actually, Mike will proclaim it about me as well) hot chocolate snob, er, connoisseur and without a doubt, Katherine Anne’s hot drinking chocolate is at the top of my list. It. Is. Beyond. Words. I dare you to try a cup and not smile after taking a sip (unless you’re my mom and you don’t like chocolate anymore, then this is definitely not going to be your cup of hot cocoa).

I always make sure to have a jar, or three, at my house at any given time - and lucky for me, Katherine Anne and I do several shows each year that overlap, so I’m able to keep my hot chocolate stash fully stocked. My go-to is the Dark Chocolate/Salted Caramel. Your go-to is to go to the One of Kind Chicago show, these stores that carry her products, or her actual storefront (she’s cool like that) to try a cup and then buy a jar for yourself (I mean, you could gift it...but you’re not going to). In addition to drinking chocolate, she also makes killer marshmallows, caramels, and truffles.

Instagram: @katherineanneconfections

Edgewater Candles - Mark and Steven

Of Edgewater Candles’ 21+ scents, I have 8 in my house, and have bought their candles for both my mom and sister. It’s no secret that I love their candles, and I’m hardly alone - since setting up shop, they’ve become a staple in the Chicagoland area. Our paths have been crossing at shows for several years now - and somehow I end up with at least one new candle after each of those shows... it was two candles at this past show! Mark and Steven are absolutely killing it - they’ve recently left their Edgewater abode for a live/work space in Evanston, where they host open houses and offer candle making classes (definitely on my post-holiday to-do list). While you’re there, say ‘hi’ to East Grove’s Latte Art table runner - it’s gracing one of their tables (that’s the beautiful thing about the maker community, we’re all using and living surrounded by each other’s work!) If holiday scents are what you’re after, definitely give their rendition of Fraser Fir a sniff (but don’t just be a “sniffer”, actually buy it), and for the rest of the year - in my personal opinion - rosemary grapefruit is where it’s at. They’re going to be at too many markets to list between now and Christmas (seriously, these guys sell at more markets than any other maker I know), check out their website to see where they’ll be any given day, and if you’re more into ordering at home, they have their full product line (which includes - in addition to candles - travel tins, rollerball scents, and wax melts) available online.

They post the coolest time-lapse videos on their Instagram @edgewatercandles - so that’s definitely worth checking out as well!

Muggy Tuesday - Margaret and Tuesday

I’ve been giving major hearts to Muggy Tuesday on Instagram (@muggytuesday) for quite some time now and this November I had the pleasure of selling next to them at the Pleasant Home Mansion Petite Boutique in Oak Park. The sisters behind Muggy Tuesday (Margaret and Tuesday) are as fun in person as their jewelry is to wear! I couldn’t leave the show without picking up one of their pom pom necklaces for me and a couple other things for someone on my gift list. Both their pom pom and crocheted jewelry lines are super light, and come in all sorts of brilliant colors. I actually watched Margaret crochet pieces while we were at the show, her crochet hook is insanely small! The quality of work here is insanely good. For those wondering, the crocheted pieces are stiffened with a special fabric stiffener that also keeps the colors looking vibrant. Their last show of the season is One of a Kind Chicago (Are you sensing a theme here? You should definitely check out that show.) but they have an online presence as well.

Personally, I cannot get enough of the necklaces that I posted pictures of above, as well as the Atwood necklace, the Big Bucktown necklace, and the Paulina necklace.

Simply Curated - Sarah Cooley

After doing a few of the same craft shows as East Grove, Sarah hired us in a display manufacturing capacity for the retail stores that carry her candles (we’re jacks of many trades). It’s been fun to watch Simply Curated’s candle lines evolve and I can honestly say that Sarah has some of my favorite product packaging of all time (look at the botanic candle pictured above, swoon!). You can find Simply Curated in a host of stores as well as online, and while you’re poking around her website, give her Instagram (@simplycurated) a follow, the stuff that she posts is as beautiful as her packaging!

Flaca Jewelry - Amy Shepsman

I spent 3 days at One of a Kind Chicago selling across from Amy. To say that Flaca’s jewelry is eye-catching is an understatement. The tassels in her jewelry are handmade, which is part of what makes her jewelry line stand out. If I had my ears pierced (I don’t) I’d be rocking these earrings hands down. Wear your little black dress to the company party and treat yourself to a piece of jewelry that will turn heads. Follow along with all of the amazing press that Amy gets and see what her army of Flaca girls are up to via her Instagram @flacajewelry.

The Willary - Debbie and Chelsea

These clothes are legit! As a curvier female, sometimes trying on clothes can be a task. The weekend before I met Debbie at One of a Kind’s spring show, I’d had a particularly awful clothes buying excursion. I proceeded to spend the weekend staring at the Core Dress in The Willary’s booth (they were a row over from East Grove’s booth and within view), the fact that it was universally flattering taunted me. By the end of the weekend, I was ready to put that claim to the test - fully expecting the dress to universally unflattering on my figure. I came out of the dressing room and handed Debbie my credit card. This dress fits like a dream! Last weekend, at Show of Hands’ Holiday Show, I tried on the D-Fit Core Pants (they have C-Fit Core Pants as well, covering multiple body types), the 1003 Shirt, and the Midline Crop Top (which I again, seriously doubted would be flattering on me - a crop top, hitting the worst part of my figure, a recipe for clothing disaster…until Chelsea assured me that it was going to look infinitely better than I was expecting). The pants fit like no other pants I’ve ever worn - they don’t gap at the back, they stretch and move with the body, they have good size pockets galore, and THE WAIST STAYS PUT ALL DAY!!! The 1003 shirt (on my wish list for this year…hint hint) looked really nice on me in the larger size that I tried on, and when I tried on a size down, per Debbie and Chelsea’s suggestion, it. was. slimming. Three words I’ve never said about a dress shirt before. You’re wondering about the crop aren’t you? The material floats it away from the body, once again, flattering the midsection. Naturally, I walked away from their booth with the pants and crop top in tow, and with the 1003 shirt still on my mind. It’s a crazy thing, when women design/make clothes for other women, it’s like they know how things are supposed to fit - and actually make them that way! Sign up for their newsletter to receive first dibs on their rotating line of Workshop pieces and give them a follow on Instagram at @thewillary while you’re at it.

Long Dog Dandy - Julie Madison

Julie’s incredibly good drawing skills and cheeky sense of humor are what sets Long Dog Dandy’s ceramic dishes, coasters, and ornaments apart. Whether it’s an incredibly detailed ink drawing of her borzoi Stanley on a pint glass, a stack of unicorn pancakes on a dessert plate, or a cute animal drawing paired with a dirty word on a mug, it’s sure to spark conversation. Mike and I love gifting Julie’s wares to our siblings and have three custom made plates hanging in our dining room as wall art. Julie is always drawing and putting those drawings onto new and exciting pieces, so your best bet is to follow her Instagram account @longdogdandy to keep up with what’s new (bonus, her dog Stanley pops onto the account from time to time).

Muirwood Reclamations - Scott & Kristin Fischer

You can cross a lot of people off of your gift list by the time you leave Scott & Kristin’s website/craft show booth. They’ve got incredibly unique bar-ware for dads and brothers, lots of decorative household goods made of concrete and copper for moms and sisters, and even some concrete letters and games for the tots on your list. The majority of their product lineup would fit beautifully into a stocking…just sayin!

Our paths have been crossing Scott & Kristin’s at shows for several years now - and they are real a salt-of-the-earth couple. Whether we’re catching up on what our preschoolers are up to or swapping information about craft shows, it’s always a treat to run into them. Run into them yourself at One of a Kind Chicago (December 6-9 at the Merchandise Mart) or at Revolution Brewery (December 16), or you can find them on their own website, as well as in many stores across the country, The Grommet, and Orvis!

Instagram: @muirwoodreclamations

True North Berry Farm - The Hendrickson Family

I stumbled across, and subsequently sampled, True North’s jams at the Pleasant Home Mansion Petite Boutique in Oak Park earlier this month. I was back at their booth with money lickedy-split! The True Blue is my personal favorite - featuring a surprising combination of blueberries, gin, sage, juniper berries, and hickory smoked salt. They also have flavors called Blue Collar (featuring porter beer) and Blue Heat (watch out for the firey brown chipotle spice) that feature their blueberries, and for those strawberry jam lovers out there, they have Sure Red with a subtle zing of black pepper.

Instagram: @truenorthberryfarm

Red Door Press - Adam & Tammy Winn

When East Grove decided to venture out of the state of Illinois - we landed in Des Moines, Iowa at the Vintage & Made show. It was there we met Adam & Tammy and fell in love with their print shop Red Door Press. One night, Adam invited us back to their studio (at the time it was in their garage, but it has since moved to a much bigger space) to see their collection of vintage printing presses. It was like walking into a museum - the quality and quantity of presses that they have, old and older, as well as their collection of type is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Adam & Tammy have such a passion for type and printing, and it shows in the posters and cards that they create. Mike and I have several of their pieces peppered throughout our house - most recently I added All you need is love and ice cream to our basement family room, since that’s where Mike and I retire most nights to watch TV and eat ice cream. There is always something new emerging off of one of Red Door Press’s many presses, and their Instagram feed (@reddoorpress) is the place to keep up with it all. If you’re ever in the Des Moines area, and their studio is open, go and take a step back in time.

Mingled Goods - Darci Towns

We met Darci under less-than-favorable conditions - a few years ago we were both in this handmade section of a large, local, trade show. The section was a total bust, and as the saying goes, misery loves company, so we became fast friends with several of the makers in that section. Over the years I’ve kept in touch with Darci and eventually re-connected in person at the One of a Kind Spring Show (seriously people, the show is THAT big that almost everyone on this list has given it a go). It was my first time seeing her new work in-person (shortly after we met, she did a complete re-brand of her shop with new product lines to boot), and it is stunning. Darci really knows her way around a reclaimed wood pile! In fact, she throws herself wholeheartedly into everything she endeavors - if you pop onto her Instagram @mingledgoods you’ll see her raising chickens and goats, as well as the largest and most alive (operative word being alive) collection of houseplants that I’ve ever seen. You can find Darci’s wares in stores across the country as well as in the shop on her website. How pretty would the Cherry Ara Totem (first image) look on a Christmas tree - or the bud vases filled with sprigs of pine and eucalyptus?

Fern & Nettle - Jenny Aicher

Whenever I’m at Show of Hands, I make sure to stock-up on all-natural soaps, balms, and salves from Jenny’s booth. Her scents are earthy, not over the top, and because of the ingredients that Jenny uses, I feel good about sharing my finds with my son Luke. I adore the Calendula + Mint Lip Heal, and was excited to find that she has a Lip Balm as well this year! As a fun play-on-a-theme, I picked up a block of the Charcoal and Cedar soap for the person whose stocking I’m stuffing this year, it’s much cleaner (and better smelling) than sticking real bricks of coal in there. I also enjoy the Rosemary + Mint Goat Milk Soap and Luke and I get a lot of use out of the Little Lion Balm (poor kid got his mom’s dry skin). Find out about new scents/products as well as where Jenny will be selling next on her Instagram @fern_and_nettle.

{she crew} - Meredith Montgomery

Super comfortable t-shirts? Check. Witty sayings that are relevant today? Check. A company that supports the arts and youth empowerment? Check Plus! My mom and I have been sporting Meredith’s Pits Against the Patriarchy v-neck t-shirt for a year now and it’s clear that it’s a favorite of each of us (we wear it all of the time!) When my friend Jill saw it, she asked if I minded owning the same shirt because she too wanted to purchase it - I was like it would be rude not to buy it and immediately sent over the link to Meredith’s shop. I was thrilled when Luke got me the Bisons Against Bigotry shirt for my birthday this year. Treat yourself to one of these amazing t-shirts and know that the proceeds are going to a really great cause: “{she crew} is an arts empowerment program in Chicago for girls and gender nonconforming youth ages 12-14. All profits go towards funding {she crew}, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Learn more at:”

Isette - Jennifer

A few years ago (I feel like I’ve been using that phrase a lot in this gift guide - but that’s the thing with the maker community, we’ve all been around for quite some time and our paths keep intertwining) Mike and I were at our first Show of Hands, in a room with 4 other companies using laser technology. It was awesome to see how using similar machines (none of us used the same brand) we could all be making such different products. We were next to Jennifer from Isette and loved talking shop with her and her husband all weekend. They’d spent a year experimenting with lasering different substrates and as a result had vast experience making a range of products. Most of what Isette sells is jewelry, however Jennifer makes some pretty fantastic lamps and home decor as well. Hers is a go-to shop for when Mike and I are shopping for stocking stuffers, and every year (at Show of Hands) we look forward to seeing what new and fantastic thing Jennifer has added to her lineup.

Instagram: @isetteshop

Soap Distillery - Danielle

While Soap Distillery and East Grove have sold at a few of the same craft shows, our paths didn’t officially cross until Danielle reached out for us to make a few stamps for Soap Distillery. We traded products for a portion of her order (yes, makers do that with each other sometimes) so that I could get a little of my Christmas stocking stuffing done (if I remember, I’ll edit this entry after Thanksgiving weekend with what I got from Danielle, by then my side of the family will have exchanged stocking gifts - and since they’re my biggest fans, I don’t want to ruin the surprise). Danielle has a busy end of November/December, you can find her at a variety of markets around the city (Chicago). She’s also in stores all over the country, and sells on her own website as well. In the category of body products, what doesn’t Danielle make? She’s got bar soaps, hand and body wash, exfoliants, body oils, shaving/beard shampoos, mineral salt soaks, and perfume oils. She also makes candles, sells gift sets, and has a subscription service. All with delicious smelling takes on bar-related scents (Yes, Danielle even makes “Beer & Cigarettes” smell good!)

Instagram: @soapdistillery

Idle Hour Maple Farm - the Kussel family

Despite hailing from Vermont, I was was lucky enough to stumble upon Idle Hour Maple Farm’s ridiculously good maple syrups at the Art in Wilder Park show this past May. A few shots of syrup later and I was walking away from their booth with both the Golden Delicate and the Dark Robust syrups. My son Luke and I ADORE maple syrup on our pancakes, waffles, and French toast - and each time, we enjoy selecting which of Idle Hour’s syrups we’ll adorning our breakfast with that particular morning. Idle Hour has their syrups in stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Vermont, but you can also purchase online - so you can experience their amazing syrup wherever you are (how perfect would some organic maple syrup be as a hostess gift if you’re spending the night somewhere for the holidays?) I know I’d clean our guest room if it meant guests were coming with Idle Hour’s syrup in-hand!

Cocktail Hour 10pc Coaster Set
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Urban Toile Neckerchief
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Dog Address Stamp (51 Breeds Available)
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East Grove Stamp Co. - Sydney & Mike Musselman (That’s us!)

In case you’re discovering this gift guide via another source, I thought it would be helpful to introduce ourselves/East Grove. Most of our stamps (and stamped patterns) start out as drawings in my sketch book or on my computer. Mike takes the images and makes them into stamps, which I then stamps onto all of our textile/paper products. Since all stamps are made and stamped in-house (specifically, our house), you know that your order has received our undivided attention and quality control. Our address and book stamps make lovely bespoke gifts, our laser engraved ornaments are perfectly sized to be stocking stuffers (or, slip the ribbon around the neck of a bottle of wine/liquor for a fun hostess gift), our hand stamped coasters are also a thoughtful hostess gift (or stocking stuffer…), and our luxuriously soft, hand stamped scarves make for truly one of a kind gifts (since they’re hand stamped each one is a little different, and most designs are only made 2-3 times). Subscribe to our newsletter and/or follow us on Instagram (@eastgrovestampco) to stay up-to-date on new products and designs (we have an awesome new product line in the works at the moment that we can’t wait to share with everyone when the time is right).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this gift guide and for considering shopping small this holiday season. I poured a lot of time and thought into putting this guide together, if you want to read about even more makers, check out last year’s Gift Guide (it has much less writing, and many more makers mentioned). The handmade economy is vital and I can assure you 100% that every single maker/shop owner is incredibly grateful when you make a purchase from them. Have a wonderful holiday season 🎄