Shopping local and supporting small, independent brands has never been more important than it is today, in 2020.
With many independent businesses being forced to close their bricks and mortar shops not just once, but twice this year, it’s been a serious struggle for many.
This Christmas, if each of us all bought one gift from a small brand, it could really make a difference. The Just A Card campaign sums this up in a single sentence: every sale, even just a card, is vital to their prosperity and survival.
When you shop small at Christmas, not only are you getting a top quality, not-on-the-high-street product, but you are also helping a small biz owner to put dinner on the table on December 25.
Equally, when you spend your pennies at an independent retailer, more of the money circulates back into the local economy.
Totally Locally’s fiver festivals are held in Staffordshire towns like Leek and Rugeley. They said: “If every adult in Rugeley spent just £5 per week in their local independent shops and businesses, it would mean £4.7 million per year going directly into our local economy. Which can lead to more jobs, a better high street, a stronger economy and a nicer place to live. Makes you think doesn’t it?!”
YouGov research has shown that 59% of shoppers have used more local shops to support them during lockdown as a result of the pandemic – which is amazing, but we want that to stick for good.
So let’s dive straight in and meet 11 incredible Staffordshire small brands who you can shop with this Christmas, with recommendations and links to their websites – and the odd cheeky discount code!
Be sure to use the hashtag #ShopSmallStaffs when you buy from a small biz – I’d love to see what you pick up this year.
Tiger and Co
Tiger and Co is a vegan home fragrance brand launched in 2019, with a gorgeous festive candle duo that’s perfect for gifting.
The soy wax candles are sustainable and cruelty free, featuring all the cosy yuletide fragrances you love.
Yule – mulled wine, tart red berries and sweet stewed apples.
Christingle – cinnamon, cloves, star anise and ginger, with hints of clementine
Their branding is oh-so-hygge, and ideal for gifting to pet-owners, or people who enjoy mindfulness or are eco-conscious.
And if you’re looking for a stocking filler or a secret Santa style gift, the Tiger and Co wax melts are perfect at just £4 each. Plus, buy four or more and you’ll get 10% off at the checkout.
There are 12 scents to choose from, but I’ve been trying out Pumpkin, Wild Fig and Golden Pear and they’re incredible for the autumn and winter.
Use BEFF10 for 10% off everything in the collection up until last posting day this Christmas.
Yellowstone Art Boutique
Yellowstone Art Boutique, in Trentham, opened in March 2011 as a space for British artists and makers to sell their work.
Founder Hannah is a watercolour painter with a first class degree in Fine Art, selling a range of her own work among the makes of several other creatives. She believes that art and homeware should be accessible to everyone, and has a really homely vibe in her cosy cabin-style shop on Trentham Shopping Village.
The Yellowstone Art Boutique 2021 Gin Calendar is the perfect gift for someone who loves gin – without actually buying them gin! It features 12 months of Hannah’s handpainted gin bottles, from Tanqueray to Hendricks.
The calendar is £14.99 and available on the Yellowstone Art Boutique website, and has space to write down birthdays and events.
Bags of Blooms
Aimee is the owner of Bags of Blooms – a creative florist working with seasonal blooms to produce some stunning floral designs.
After being furloughed earlier this year, the creative has been spending more time on her side hustles, including making wreaths, bouquets and baubles.
On her Etsy shop, Aimee is currently selling four types of filled, personalised baubles that add a bit of winter magic to your home. Choose from traditional, mistletoe, botanical and citrus, which can be personalised with a name in white, gold or silver, and finished with glitter twine.
We have ‘Beth’, ‘Phoebe’, ‘Frank’ and ‘Joy’ baubles, which we’ve got placed in a glass bowl on the fireplace to add a touch of Christmas to the room until we get the tree up. These are perfect for people who have recently moved into their first home and will be having their first tree, or for parents of a newborn who will be experiencing their first Christmas. Equally – they’re great for dog-mums like me who love anything personalised for their pets.
The baubles are £6 each – and this is what’s inside each one:
Traditional – pine, red berries, pine cones and fake snow
Mistletoe – mistletoe, white berries, pine cones and fake snow
Botanical – eucalyptus, pine, pine cones and fake snow
Citrus – orange, cinnamon, pine, pine cones and fake snow
Cloud and Clay
Cloud and Clay is a jewellery brand I’ve both bought from for myself and gifted to others. Lucy’s stylish polymer clay earrings are absolutely gorgeous and wearable for everyday.
The brand – also stocked in Yellowstone Art Boutique – was started after founder Lucy started making earrings after dropping out of uni.
She said: “I was studying fashion management and communication, and when I dropped out I started to make polymer clay earrings. Following a lot of interest from friends and family, I started selling on Etsy!”
The brand now has it’s own site filled with earrings, rings and necklaces which have featured in Tatler and Elle UK!
I love their ORLA earrings, which I wear more than any pair of earrings I’ve ever owned. They’re a pearly floral design with a ‘crumpled’ look that looks super chic and luxe. They’re gold plated and lightweight, so are suitable for sensitive ears – they’re a gift your fashion-forward friend will love.
The Christmas collection features a star version of the ORLA, called ESTELLE, and I’m a big fan of the CRANBERRY design too! Actually – I’ll just take them all, please!
Pretty Penny’s Bakery
Is there anything better than festive-themed bakes? Pretty Penny’s Bakery – in Newcastle – creates gorgeous buttercream cakes, iced biscuits and deep filled mince pies that would make a special Christmas Eve treat.
Penny is a full-time veterinary nurse working for the PDSA, baking from her registered, insured and food hygiene certified home bakery.
She said: “I started baking at home as a hobby a few years ago, I have a really big family so got lots of practice with birthday cakes! I just really love the chance to be creative and find it a good stress reliever, it’s nice to do something totally different work.”
The gift boxed biscuits would make a wonderful gift for teachers as a ‘thank you’ this Christmas. As a tea drinker, I can also confirm they’re great for dunking, and anyone who loves a cuppa will appreciate these. I received an iced decorated door, and a Christmas wreath biscuit, both of which were a. beautiful, and b. delicious.
Pretty Penny’s also have an amazing selection of Christmas cupcakes, decorated as trees and reindeer, as well as their huge mince pies.
She added: “Christmas is a great time for baking as you can be really indulgent and over the top but it’s okay because it’s Christmas. This year our range has some delicious deep filled mince pies – which are a staple in my books – as well as fun festive cupcakes which I think would make a nice treat for the office seeing as we can’t really have Christmas parties this year.”
The buttercream icing is to die for, with some cakes topped with extra treats like Lindt Santas! My favourite design has to be the reindeer cupcake with a cherry red nose and pretzel antlers! A box of six will cost £12, and a box of 12 or £24, which can be delivered contact-free to your door.
These Indigo Storm prints are such a wonderful gift for your ‘typical Stokie’ mate. Know someone who’s mega #LocalAndProud – these Potteries-related prints are a must-have.
Illustrator Storm specialises in personalised prints and hand lettering after studying textile surfaces design at university. Each print is hand drawn and handwritten, with a lot of love going into them.
I already have the leopard print lightening bolt up in my office, and the She’s Electric print on our music wall. For Christmas, Storm has released some prints that give a nod to her Staffordshire heritage, ranging from £8 to £12.
The first is a Bottle Kiln, filled with all of the cities iconic pottery companies like Emma Bridgewater, and Middleport Pottery. The monochrome print will tie in with any room – and ideal if you know a plate turner!
‘Stick the kettle on duck’ – the most used phrase in the county, perhaps? This hand-lettered print, with the Pretty Penny’s Bakery biscuits, and a locally made mug, would be the perfect little hamper. I’ll be sticking this one in a frame and hanging it in the kitchen near our kettle.
The final print reads ‘How do you like your oatcakes in the morning? I like mine with loadsa cheese’ If it were in potteries dialect, it would say ‘Ow d’yer lark yer owtcaykes in the moanin? I lark moin with loadsa chayse’ – but that would be pretty difficult to read, so we love Storm’s version best! It looks great with the ‘Kettle On’ print, and would make a fab kitchen duo.
From the Ether
Inspired by music icons like David Bowie and Elton John, From The Ether are a resin jewellery brand that will satisfy your need for glitter.
Created by 21-year-old crafter, Liv, the brand has seen a range of earrings created in a rainbow of colours and cool shapes.
Liv said: “I’ve always loved quirky statement earrings but sometimes struggled to find ones that were exactly my style, so making my own was the perfect solution.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to have a creative job so it’s been amazing to be able to sell my work. I’ve also always been interested in marketing so it was really fun to design and build my own brand, using aesthetics and colours that I love to express my style and personality through my branding.”
For Christmas, Liv launched these three-star earrings, featuring rose gold, silver and white stars joined with silver closures. These are the ideal finishing touch to your festive party outfit, and a welcome sprinkle of glitter this Christmas. They’re priced at £13, and as they’re made to order, could be customised with different colours if you’ve got a particular Christmas colour palette.
There’s no better year than 2020 to send Christmas cards, with many uncertain of what Christmas will look like for their families this year. I have always loved handwriting Christmas cards and dishing them out to friends, family and colleagues, so these are a great little postal pick-me-up.
Some of the designs include a fox terrier in the snow, a cat snoozing near a Christmas tree, and a festive spruce scene with the words Merry Christmas, priced at £3.30 each. You can order a pack of six for £12, making them just £2 each.
Emily, from Rode Heath, has also launched a series of prints under a personal project named ‘My Body Is My Temple’. She said: “In the series I focus on the deep rooted connection that exists between females and nature as a form of women’s empowerment. In some of the pieces I explore the way in which immersing ourselves in nature can benefit our mental well being.
“In others I focus on areas of the female form that are often perceived as imperfect. I hope that by attempting to reinvent these flaws through the use of natural forms, such as plants and flowers, people may look at themselves and others in a different way. A more positive way that reminds them of our true selves.”
These prints are currently on offer with 15% off, featuring illustrated women in yoga poses or with glittered stretch marks. These would look beautiful in a bedroom or bathroom hung in box frames.
Tiger and Luck
Just over the border in Derby is the jewellery brand Tiger and Luck. Launched in lockdown, the female-owned business was born of a desire to find affordable demi-fine jewellery that ‘wasn’t overly girly’.
The Alice T-bar Choker is gold plated sterling silver, and is a dainty chain choker with a t-bar fastening to be worn at the front.
Tiger and Luck suggest going for gold for a luxe look, or silver for punk. I’m currently building a gold jewellery collection and love layering different length gold necklaces, like my Daisy London necklace. Tiger and Luck describe the collection – which launched online on Friday, November 13 – as ‘a collection of beautiful pieces designed to be loved, layered, and rocked by badass women everywhere’.
The necklace is just £24, which is super affordable for the quality and finish. It would make a beautiful gift for a friend or a sister – but could easily be worn by anyone. It’s a versatile and easy-to-wear piece that goes with any outfit. An absolute must-have staple piece.
By the same creative gal behind Bags of Blooms, Print Empower is a second side hustle which Aimee began following the support of the Prince’s Trust.
At Print Empower, Aimee can transform photos of your pet into beautiful digital art, as well as producing a number of home prints.
She said: “Creating pet portraits is one of my favourite things because I find so much happiness from my own pets and really believe they bring so much happiness to our lives, so it’s lovely to create something that is going to mean so much to someone. I originally made one as a gift for a friend when I was rebuilding my skills!”
The A4 prints cost £40 for a digitally drawn print of your pets on high quality watercolour paper, with three A5 prints costing £30. The A4 print of Phoebe and Frank snuggled together is adorable, and has taken up permanent residence on my bedside table. With the set of three, the idea is that you can keep one for yourself, and gift the other two out.
If you know someone who adores their dog (or cat!) then a Print Empower personalised print is absolutely the way to go. You can read more about them in this blog post.
Realm is a colourful crochet jewellery brand based in Leek, and I actually picked up a couple of pairs at a Totally Locally market between lockdowns.
Crochet queen Beth said: “Crochet is my passion and I love to make fun, colourful clothing and accessories often inspired by vintage designs.
“At collage when I was 18, I learnt to crochet and since then my love for it had continued to grow. I aim to make clothing/accessories that are eco-friendly, sustainable and have as little effect to the environment as possible.”
I have a pair of the autumn crochet rainbow earrings in pinks and warm browns and yellows, which were £12, and some purple flowers which cost £8. They’re so lightweight you can barely feel them in, and add a pop of fun to any outfit!
Gift these to that friend that’s trying to kick fast fashion or someone who loves vibrant outfits!
Other brands you should absolutely check out this festive season are:
Castle in the Stars – an illustrator and graphic designer creating prints with positive vibes.
Brimstone, based in Stone, for handfinished rock-chic hats – perfect for your mate that’s always at a gig (you know, when there isn’t a pandemic).
Sparrowhawk Vintage for your thrifty, secondhand shopping friends. Sparrowhawk recently started selling their vintage online and there are some real gems to be found.