I know I’m probably preaching to the converted but if we are to stand any chance against being completely homogenised then it’s really really really worth trying to buy your Christmas gifts from small independent retailers.
A reason I’ve gone off real shopping as opposed to virtual (although there’s nothing virtual about my credit card bill!) is because it seems as though every shopping centre in the UK, whether in a mall, or on the high street is exactly the same. The shop selling beautiful, individually produced goodies is far and few between (although if you happen to be in Nottingham, the Tokenhouse is a wonderful place to wander through).
So I did all my shopping online via Etsy this year. Now there has been some controversy about Etsy recently as they changed their policies and allow shops to sell mass produced goods, often imported from places that don’t pay a living wage so you need to be careful and check out the individual shops to ensure they are selling handmade unique items made by the owner, and that you’re not buying tat. Usually the price is a good giveaway, of course (‘buy cheap, but twice’ is something you’ll often hear in our household).
I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of handwoven things for sale for pennies; obviously this is direct competition for me but it also raises questions about the provenance of the materials for said items, the conditions for the weavers and the most likely huge profit someone is making, without much work themselves.
I use very good quality yarns, coloured with dyes that haven’t impacted upon the environment and that are ethically produced (no mulesling merino in my shop) as well as paying myself a reasonable wage (well it keeps me in chocolate so I’m happy).
Enough of me, there are some gorgeous shops on Etsy and I’ve decided to show you just a few. Now, one is run by a friend but I’m objective about this and firmly believe it is worth a look; but the others are shops I’ve bought from recently and have been really impressed by the excellent service and wonderful goodies they are selling.
Now, hoping that none of my giftees are reading this (Anne, look away NOW!) the first shop I came across was Little Green Soap, I sent a message with my order asking for a long list of requirements regarding packaging and delivery addresses etc and she was wonderful and sent me some photos of the soaps gift wrapped (no extra charge!!) before they were posted.
Just stunning service, as good as Amazon can be, they don’t come anywhere near this.
If you have a knitter or spinner in your life, you can’t go far wrong with SnowberryLime, she sells gorgeous fibre and I ‘aquired’ (ahem), a very pretty hand carded batt from her recently, that is destined to become part of a Saori style shawl once spun.
For super cute stocking fillers, try Felt in Devon, look at this little chap, sooo squidgey!
Finally, my friend makes and sells jewellery to a very high quality and I’ve bought from her both for myself (a bracelet that never comes off) and as gifts (my Step mother was very happy with her birthday present). Lookee here:
So pretty and the colours she uses are classic, muted tones that can be worn with anything.
So that’s all for now folks, even if you just buy one of your Christmas presents from an independent online UK maker, you’ll not only be buying something that supports the British economy (as opposed to some of the policies that make the rich richer and poor even poorer but I’ll not say more about that), have something that no-one else will (how precious is that?) but as someone who speaks from experience, you’ll also be making that retailer’s day.
Finally finally, and I promise that’s all, how about a handwoven teatowel? I know just the shop…