Following another successful Staffordshire Christmas gift guide, I wanted to share my top picks from Stoke-on-Trent’s small business owners this Valentine’s day as the season of love fast approaches.
After a busy festive period, independent makers and shakers have mere weeks to launch new products before the calendars next annual celebration on February 14.
I’ve put together this guide of gorgeous gifts for the special people in your life, whether you’re celebrating with a partner, family or hosting a galentine’s event. From cupcakes and candles, to jewellery and gin, each of these gifts have been thoughtfully handpicked for there theme, colours and creativity, and I think anyone would be delighted with any of these presents as a way to say ‘I love you’.
When it comes to shopping small, whether you’re buying something worth £1, £10, or £100 – supporting an indie business helps small creators continue to live their dream. Not only that, but the products you’re purchasing are completely original, making both the gift, and the shopping experience much more personalised.
Starting at £5, with all gifts under £40, these are my top picks from small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire this February.
Food – or more specifically, dessert – is absolutely the way to my heart, and lord knows I can’t resist a trip to Scrumble’s for their dessert nights, dishing up cake and custard or brownies and ice cream. And now, they’ve launched two limited edition Valentine’s boxes that are the perfect sweet treat to end an at-home date night on February 14.
Originally opening in Leek in April 2019, Scrumbles – run by Beth and Sarah – now has two Moorlands locations, with a second bakery in Brown Edge. This month, foodie fans can get their hands on the Valentine’s Treat Box for £15, or the Valentine’s Cupcake Box for £7. The treat box is great for a galentine’s night in, featuring two Triple Chocolate Brownie Pops, two Homemade Jammie Dodgers, a Vanilla and Jam Cupcake and a Chocolate Cupcake. Meanwhile the cupcake box includes one of each of the latter two – ideal for couples.
Scrumbles bakes are truly elite – so good, in fact, that Stacey Solomon even namechecked them in her book, Tap to Tidy. You really can’t go wrong with these as a Valentine’s dessert nights.
The brand are offering collection from their two stores, and have teamed up with a number of other local businesses to offer more pick up locations across Stoke-on-Trent.
Collection locations include:
- Brown Edge Shop – Sunday 12th February 10am-4pm, Monday 13th 12-5pm, Tuesday 14th 12-5pm
- Leek Shop – Monday 13th February 5.30-7.30pm
- Festival Trade Park (Decor 8 – Opposite Bet365 offices) – Monday 13th February 12-2pm
- Trentham Lakes (Powerleague) – Monday 13th February 4-6pm
- Meir Park (Autobrite Direct – Opposite Tesco) – Sunday 12th February 11am-1pm
Although, personally I recommend collection from a Scrumbles branch – because then you can order a cheeky extra brownie that no-one else needs to know about. My pick is the Milkybar Blondie, they’re *chef’s kiss*. Order your boxes online here.
The Gem Shed
For centuries, jewellery has been the embodiment of romance, making it the ideal way to say ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s Day. This Rani Jade Oval Ring from The Gem Shed is such a beautiful piece of handmade jewellery, and is sure to set your love’s heart alight this February.
Pippa Cotton has been making jewellery in some form or another since she was 12 years old, and started to work with silver in August 2020. From her Longton studio, Pippa creates beautiful sterling silver and gemstone jewellery, including necklaces, earrings and rings starting at just £18. This ring, for example, is £45 – but there are plenty of pieces to choose from.
Each product is made to order, making it completely one of a kind. I picked out the Rani Jade Oval Ring for its striking colour, and the fact it’s set in a stunning 2mm sterling silver band. There are lots of different gemstones to choose from, from peach moonstone to snowflake obsidian, so you can pick out a piece of jewellery that suits your loved one’s style and tastes. It’s well worth reading up on the meanings and properties of each stone, too, and perhaps pick one for its significance.
There’s a whopping 58 sizes to choose from, from A to Z+6, including half sizes, so you’ll be hard pressed not to find your perfect fit. You can buy ring sizers for £1.50 if you don’t already know your size, which means you’ll be able to accurately order the best fit.
After ordering, it can take up to two weeks for Pippa to craft your personal piece of jewellery, so you’ll want to order quite quickly for it to be ready in time. The piece will come packaged in an eco-friendly jewellery box with a free silver polishing cloth to keep it looking shiny. Though, did you know that the best way to stop your jewellery from tarnishing is to actually wear it!
My rani jade ring is a breathtaking piece, and the stone appears to change colour in different light, from a bright magenta to a deep plummy red. The gemstone rings look beautiful on their own, or can be stacked with some of Pippa’s stacking rings, which cost between £22 and £26. I think the wishbone ring and bark textured stacking rings would make a beautiful trio. And when you order on The Gem Shed website, you can get a huge £18 discount when you order two stacking rings with rani jade ring – so £75 for all three!
Designs by Scarlett
Staffordshire University graduate Scarlett Hunt is a real whizz when it comes to digital illustrations, and they made a gorgeous personalised gift to give this February. Scarlett is able to turn your favourite photo into a modern, digitally-illustrated portrait, which is completely bespoke and on-trend. She recently illustrated this amazing photo of my dogs and I that was taken by Adventure Pawtraits – and it’s absolutely remarkable.
All you have to do is head to Etsy and select the number of people in the photo, with prices starting from £30. You can even personalise these further with text, which makes them great presents for so many people, but particularly partners. You could opt for your favourite photo together as a couple or family, or even get your pet digitalised for the ultimate finishing touch to your home decor.
You can send Scarlett over the photo you’d like illustrating, and she’ll turn it around in around 7 to 10 days. Her designs are all printed onto premium 300gsm card and framed in white wooden frames, and come gift wrapped – all the work done for you! Shop Scarlett’s designs on her Etsy site.
Abi Through The Ears
Abi Through The Ears is a brand that has fast become a fixture in the local market scene, and trust me when I say you’ll find it impossible not to come home with a new scrunchie to add to the collection after each visit. Abi Proctor launched her business during lockdown after turning to her mum’s sewing machine and she’s been stitching scrunchies, reusable face cloths and everything in between ever since.
Her best-seller is her high quality scrunchies – suitable for the thickest of hair – and there are some beautiful options for a Valentine’s stocking filler. Made from luxury ruby satin, this beautiful scrunchie is a gorgwous addition to any outfit, and will finish off a date night outfit perfectly. This ruby colour really is SO on trend for the season.
Every item is hand cut and sewn by Abi and her mum before being sewn on her trusty vintage Brother sewing machine. The scrunchies are made from high quality, stretchy elastic for strength and durability, twisting around thick ponytails up to three times, holding hair in place all day and night.
Priced at £5, they’re extremely affordable, but they’re also included in a three for £10 deal, so how can you not opt for a trio of hair treats? Pick out her favourite colours, or the colours she wears most – just at three standard scrunchies to your basket and the offer will automatically be added.
Bros Distillery has managed to combine my love of gin with pride for my Staffordshire heritage and an adoration of ceramics with their beautiful Sixtowns Gin.
Aready a fan of their London Dry, at Christmas, I treated myself to a bottle of Sixtowns Pink Gin, and it’s a great Valentine’s gift for the gin lover in your life. Made by Bros Distillery, the fruity recipe spirit is distilled in Fenton, with notes of English rhubarb, juniper, coriander, angelica, fresh Navel orange and Sicilian lemon.
The citrus and rhubarb notes in this tipple make for a fruity, refreshing and subtly sweet pink gin. Incredibly smooth, the 37.5 per cent ABV gin is made in small batches of 100 or less, bottled and sealed by hand with an embossed bottle kiln copper stopper.
What’s more is that their potbank bottles are even made locally at Wade Ceramics, home to the iconic Gluggle Jug, costing £39.95 each. When they’re empty, the pink potbank bottles make a beautiful vase for dried blooms, too.
Sixtowns also have their own vodka and rum, with each spirit coming in a different coloured bottle. They look amazing displayed on the home bar together, or nestled on a bookshelf when they’re empty. You can shop the range here.
Bits and Boobs
Acting as a love letter to the self, Bits and Boobs aims to highlight and celebrate the female form in all of its glory, so what better Valentine’s present for that body posi person in your life than this tits sweatshirt?
Each one is freehand embroidered by business owner Louise Amos, and as such, every single one will be slightly different. Designed to challenge modern beauty standards, these Bits and Boobs designs ‘show love to the soft shapes and areas which fail to receive praise, peace and acceptance in society’.
Louise said: “My products are like a love letter to the self – helping you to show a little love and compassion to you, just as you are. By normalising our bodies through perfectly imperfect free hand stitched designs onto clothing and accessories that can be worn and used daily, I’m hoping that it can become a mental reminder for us to learn to appreciate, be gentle with and show the most love to ourselves just as we are.”
Priced at £35, this is the kind of sweater that goes with everything, as well as being a real conversation starter, as I’ve quickly learned. For me, I love the representation of shapes and sizes and the idea of wearing your ‘imperfections’. It serves as a gentle reminder to be kind to yourself, and that we are all individual.
This empowering design comes in black, white or light pink, available in sizes small to 2XL. It offers a full length, regular fit for total comfort, made with 100 per cent organic cotton sourced from UK suppliers which are climate neutral, making it not only super snuggly and warm, but planet friendly, too.
Louise added: “It’s super important to me that my work doesn’t impact the planet in a negative way, and that’s why everything is consciously handmade by myself, as well as guaranteeing that all of my products are either organic, recycled or biodegradable!”
Mini Mo and Mog
Mum-of-two Libby launched the business in lockdown after her children had enjoyed sending letterbox mail to friends and family in a bid to stay connected. Her ethical and sustainable products are aimed towards mums, mums-to-be and newborns, but you don’t necessarily need to be those to enjoy their products.
This organic, vegan facial steamer from Mini Mo & Mog is ideal for reminding your partner to unwind and take five minutes to themselves. Made using a natural blend of meadowsweet, mugwort, comfrey, yarrow, lemon balm, rose, lavender, cornflowers, jasmine and marigold, this brightly coloured pot of dried blooms is lightly scented with petitgrain and geranium, and is visually stunning.
Costing £8, the blooms can be added to a bowl of hot water for a relaxing treatment that infuses the skin with a warm floral and herbaceous steam that opens the pores, stimulates circulation and softens the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types, and I always feel super refreshed and rejuvenated after using this. It really is like a mini home spa without the expensive price tag.
If you know a new mum or expecting parent, these pamper products are such a lovely, unique gift – but you don’t have to be a mama to make the most of them!
Teppi, which is the Icelandic word for ‘blanket’, is a Scandi-inspired lifestyle store founded by friends Lydia and Ella following a trip to the stunning country. The duo recently moved into a studio space at Woodings Yard, Stafford, where they’ll have even more space to create ceramic wares, hand bound journals, and slow-styling homeware pieces.
Teppi’s mindfully made products are super cosy, and their candles are a fantastic gift to show someone how much you care about them. This one is their Hygge candle, smelling of sweet orange, cinnamon and clove. Hygge is the Danish concept of creating cosiness and happiness, through the simple things in life, which feels like a really lovely sentiment for Valentine’s.
Made with 100 per cent vegan soy wax and natural pure essential oils this rich scent perfectly embodies cosy moments with its warm and spicy aroma. Each candle is beautifully wrapped in recycled paper, and finished with a Teppi wax seal – these girls are really out here doing all of the hard work for you.
This candle is priced at £22 and offers a 30 hour burn time, but you can get 10 per cent off your first order when you sign up to the Teppi newsletter in the footer of the website.This is one of those products that remind you to live slower and enjoy those cosy moments. Paired with a good book and a blanket, you’ve got yourself a super scandi, snug hamper worth hunkering down with. Shop the full Valentine’s collection at Teppi here.
Forged in Fables
At Forged in Fables, Stef hand makes colourful decor, and cute plush decorations inspired by positive affirmations, and the felt love heart banner is a solid pick for Valentine’s Day.
Created in her home studio using vegan friendly felt, the adorable hanging decoration comes in at £9 and can be customised to make it extra special. This little heart banner is perfect for popping on a peg rail, hanging from a shelf or a picture hook on the wall, a fantastic way of adding a pop of colour to any nursery, playroom or studio space.
It comes in nine colour options and can be made with a sweet little smiley face, or without, layered on an ivory flag background. The 10cm by 12cm banner comes with plain white cord, but you can select pink, red or blue stripy bakers twine instead if you prefer – just request this in the personalisation box or the notes box at checkout.
Ivy and Ginger
For the fan of a statement earring, you’ll want to take a peek at Ivy & Ginger – a fabulous small business run by Staffordshire designer Nicky Forrester. Nicky’s Staffordshire University degree is in 3D Crafts, where she combined wood and silverwork to create fine jewellery pieces inspired by everyday trends, using it to generate dozens of bright, planet friendly jewellery desisgns.
Colour and pattern plays a massive part in Ivy & Ginger designs, with creative and vibrant art carefully handpainted onto mini studs, dangling earrings, and every size in between.
I’m obsessed with these red, pink and gold large leopard print heart studs, which measure 20mm in size with silver surgical stainless steel posts and butterfly fastenings. Each pair are hand painted by Nicky, finished off with a sealant process has been updated to eradicate the need for varnish so the products are even more eco-friendly. This also gives the jewellery a ‘naked’ feel while maintaining sealed, protected and UV resistant.
This particular pair cost £6 on their own, while hoops are £10, but you can also get some fab little trio sets for £8, which I received as a Christmas stocking filler this year as my parents know what a big fan of the brand I am.
The heart designs are perfect for Valentine’s – and for me, the leopard print is an added bonus. But if you fancy something a little different, you can shop all of the Ivy & Ginger designs here.