I kind of hate gift guides – it seems to me like retailers, magazines and bloggers have tried to turn gifting into something difficult to incite panic and encourage everyone to BUY. ALL. OF. THE. THINGS!
Really, it should be simple. Listen to the people you love throughout the year, and then you’ll get an idea of what they love, and can buy accordingly. For hostess gifts or gifts for people that you may not know that well, non-grocery store flowers or plants, a great bottle of wine, cold-pressed olive oil, or even fancy salts are always welcomed – and unimposing!
When I’m really stuck, I look for gifts that are not only American made, but that also give back and are generally useful. Some of my favorite charitable products…
Ursa Major x United by Blue Blue Ridge Kit For every product sold, United by Blue will remove a pound of trash from our oceans and waterways. Ursa Major will donate 1% of sales from this kit to protecting America’s wildest places.
What am I missing?! I know there are more… please share your favorites in the comments and I’ll work on adding these brands to The A-List!
P.S – None of the above links are affiliate links, as that didn’t quite sit right with me for this post. However, I do sometimes use affiliate links in other posts and give 5% of all TAE pre-tax revenue (from the blog and from my consulting projects) to charity each year. So hopefully, you can feel good about working with me or clicking and buying through these links. I wrote about the reasoning behind this donation last year on Giving Tuesday if you would like to know more. As always, feel free to email me with questions or comments!
I was pretend procrasti-shopping some of my favorite shops today and when I looked at all of the tabs I’d opened (I really hope I’m not the only one who does this!), I had to laugh. All black & white, with a pair of jeans thrown in. I am nothing if not consistent. In case your palette is anything like mine…
My friend (and frequent photography collaborator) Ashley and I were talking about these beautiful sweaters this weekend, so I thought I should share…
Tempest & Bentley sweaters are entirely American made using American yarn and sustainable production and are undeniably gorgeous with special (but still wearable) details. These sweaters are also, unquestionably, an investment… but the prices are not that far off from the best designer brands, and the sweaters are better made and more unique. Most of us are probably not the target for this brand and this price-point, but I’m happy to see a brand producing product in a way that warrants the price, as opposed to creating an exclusive brand that drives the price of a product regardless of it’s quality. I wish I could see one of these sweaters in person just to get a feel for it!
The designer, Marissa, was recently interviewed on the Well/Aware podcast and spoke about starting the brand, the processes that go into making the collections, and investing in your apparel, among other things – I recommend you listen!
ABOUT TEMPEST & BENTLEY:
Tempest + Bentley is a heritage-inspired, luxury sweater collection designed by Marissa Goodman Thieriot. Our knitwear combines traditional and modern design, features natural, American-sourced yarns, and follows sustainable production principles. Each piece is distinctively conceived and crafted in the U.S.A.
Always drawn to the timeless beauty of the iconic cable knit sweater, but unable to find any that were at once chic, luxurious, and eco-friendly, Marissa set out to create the perfect one herself. Tempest + Bentley—named after Marissa’s two grandmothers—reinterprets this wardrobe classic with style, transparency, and mindful attention to all aspects of the process. An Oregon native now based in San Francisco, Marissa spent ten years working as a sweater and knitwear designer for companies including Esprit, Gap, and Levi’s where she developed her craft in the architecture of stitches, pattern, and texture. In 2011, she met her husband Charlie whose family’s work in the sustainable food movement inspired Marissa’s own commitment to ethical production processes. Rich in tradition and fashion-forward in design, Tempest + Bentley takes a holistic approach to the sourcing of materials, with great respect for the natural resources involved.
PS – Here’s a not-entirely American made but more reasonably priced option. But these certainly don’t spark joy the way the T&B sweaters do!
Cocoon was born out of Elizabeth’s frustration for the lack of attention to detail, quality, and fit in the clothing that was readily available to the modern woman. While working with top designers in New York, Elizabeth saw firsthand that products designed for the runway frequently did not translate to what real women would want to wear, so she built a company focused on providing just that.
Elizabeth sources excess and dead stock fabric from independently-owned fabric stores in New York for the collection; the cashmere, wool, and merino fabrics used are of the highest quality (and typically come from some of our favorite designer labels!), would be far more expensive if purchased directly from a mill, and help mitigate some of the tremendous waste caused by the apparel industry. The collection is made in New York City, alongside designers including Lela Rose and Kaelen.
Read on to learn more about Elizabeth and the collection!
WHERE DO YOU LIVE & WORK?
I work and live in Minneapolis in a home office (and many coffee shops). I make my collection in a factory in New York City’s garment district.
WHERE ARE YOU MOST INSPIRED?
Another reason I make my collection in New York is because of how much inspiration I get when I am there! Besides all of the art and culture, you get to see so much life from spending just a few minutes on the street. It helps me think about what people might need from a coat, just by seeing all of the behaviors and habits of people from all walks of life.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MAKERS & ENTREPRENEURS?
My advice to other makers is to put your customers first, make your product so that it will benefit them. They are choosing to take their hard earned dollars and hand them over to you. Respect that relationship. I think especially for the made in America movement, that is so important. We as the maker need to convince consumers that it is worth the extra money, the extra effort in seeking us out! Make high quality things that will make their lives better.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS?
I like attention grabbers, which isn’t shocking I guess since I am a designer. A great, black ankle boot is key… but my current favorite pair has red laces, just a little extra kick. The same applies to any “basic” … my favorite black blazer has a gold under collar and gold elbow patches.
I also think texture makes an outfit, it is such a subtle, but striking, style move to have on something really tactile. So a great textured sweater is a go-to for me. I don’t find it weird or creepy when someone’s way of complimenting my outfit by wanting to touch it (but maybe I should).
WHERE DO YOU ESCAPE?
During the week: the gym, endorphins really do make you happy!
For vacation: Big Sky, MT I need fresh air, mountains and nature as far as the eye can see, no skyscrapers, and no cell service for a few weeks out of the year to put everything into perspective. Snowboarding and rock climbing are just about as far away from fashion as you can get, and I need that every so often.
WHAT MAKES YOUR DAY?
When I hear stories about one of my customers who was having a rough day, and she was wearing Cocoon and just got a nice compliment, and it turned her whole day around. Or when my customer tells me, “I just feel so great in this!” That kind of thing keeps me going.
Also I work from home, alone, so I am lucky to have a goofy little puppy, Harry Winston. He just kind of breaks up the day with his antics, I think it keeps me from getting too stressed out, because he cracks me up!
WHY DO YOU MANUFACTURE IN AMERICA?
For one thing, I need to be in complete control of the product that my customers get. This is my line with my name on it and I need to be proud of what gets made, so it’s very important for me to be heavily involved in every part of the design and manufacturing process from start to finish. I wanted my manufacturing to be in a place that I can get to on a pretty frequent basis. During the design process I need to be sitting next to the sewers, showing them exactly how I wanted that button sewn on, or how I want the collar to lay just so. Those are things that cannot be communicated on paper or in an email.
I chose to produce my collection in New York because it’s really where I learned my craft, and because of the people; I know that I can rely on them to make the highest possible quality garment. My team there is also delivering pieces to Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys for some really high caliber designers, so I know that I can trust them to make my pieces to the level that I want. They take as much pride in their work as I do, knowing that is key. Also, it’s a beautiful thing, every type of zipper, thread, fabric or notion I could ever want is in a 10-block radius, so I can run around and get everything picked out really quickly, running back and forth to my factory in between.
HOW DOES MANUFACTURING IN AMERICA BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS?
I am able to produce beautiful, high quality garments, and it keeps customers coming back for more. Repeat customers are my favorite, because they get it, quality matters!
DISCLOSURE: Cocoon is a current TAE client. Enlisting my consulting services in no way guarantees a post, but I try to work with like-minded brands and often find myself wanting to share them! As always, let me know if you have any questions!