‘Tis the shopping season. However, it wouldn’t be a pandemic holiday without supply chain woes and worries about whether gifts will arrive on time. One way to alleviate these stresses, while supporting the local workforce, is to shop small. Studies show $68 of every $100 spent at local small businesses stays in your community.
Plus, knowing where – and whom – your gifts come from feels good. Meet nine local Mom and Dad makers who can help you enjoy a homegrown, handmade holiday from the heart. With gift ideas for teens/tweens, spouses, teachers, in-laws and everyone in-between, you’ll even want to treat yourself.
1. Green Girl Goods
Sara Marino, M.Ed., Natural Health Specialist, Founder and Owner, Mom of three in Avon Lake
Launched this year, Green Girl Goods is a subscription box service sharing clean beauty, self-care and eco-friendly products with teen and tween girls.
Sara Marino’s own health and family journey compelled her to become a certified natural health specialist after a career in education. A self-proclaimed “lifelong learner” always researching natural, lower-toxin living, Marino now channels her passion for wellness to educate the next generation of female consumers and guide individuals and organizations to live cleaner, greener lives.
“Clean beauty is the largest growing sector of the beauty industry by far,” Marino says. “I have daughter who is 12½ (she and her friends are my focus group), so we’re in this 8- to 16-year-old demographic. What a fun time to start exploring products, but navigating clean beauty can be tricky with vague ingredient information and green-washing tactics. It’s difficult to read and decode product labels; so many are full of ingredients I don’t feel good about.”
Getting constant questions from uneasy moms, she decided to fill the void in the market with subscription boxes offering all fun and functional – but none of the unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients.
Boxes can be purchased individually or as a yearly subscription of four boxes shipped seasonally. Each box includes five to seven items curated by Sara based on a variety of criteria, including clean ingredients, eco-friendly products, transparency of ingredients, sustainable manufacturing practices and other standards.
For example, the summer box featured biodegradable bubblegum-pink sunglasses. Each box comes with an insert detailing why each product was selected, what makes it “Green Girl Good” and how to learn more. A special edition holiday box is available for a limited time and features eight items that sparkle and shine, including a pair of locally-made custom iridescent stud earrings, gold nail polish, lip gloss, shimmer body lotion and temporary tattoos.
Subscriptions and individual boxes can be ordered online at beagreengirl.com or purchased individually at The Print Shop in Bay Village while holiday box supplies last. While products are geared towards young ladies, moms will want to share! Custom boxes may be ordered, and you can also book Sara for a speaking engagement at your next mother-daughter gathering, Girl Scout meeting, fitness class and more by emailing [email protected]
2. Mae Bee Honey Company
Holly Krieger, Owner and Maker, Mom of three in Medina
Founded in 2018 by local beekeepers Holly and Andy Krieger, Mae Bee Honey Company LLC offers hand-crafted honey, including raw and creamed honey, bee pollen, candles, soaps, potpourri and a line of exclusive skin care products in partnership with HH Science, including body butters and scrubs, lip balms and scrubs, headache relief and soothing butter balms, a hydrating honey cleanser, honey hair mask and more.
A holiday collection features cozy cranberry vanilla, perfect pear & vanilla, vanilla candy cane and frosted sugar cookie scents, while gift sets combine multiple items, like body scrub and butter duos, lip quads, bar and loofah soap with a soap saver, and shave soap with a brush.
Andy Krieger, an aerospace engineer, fell in love with beekeeping when the couple lived in Utah. They got their first hive after moving to Ohio seven years ago. Now, the Kriegers and their three daughters maintain 11 hives at their home, with their apiary expanding each year.
“Mae is my oldest daughter’s and grandmother’s middle name,” Holly Krieger says. “We started the business to make sure we had honey and to help the bees, then it exploded after I took my beeswax lip balm to Heather at Trillium Creek.”
“Our main focus was the environment,” she adds. “I’ve always had a love for conservation biology since I was a little girl and have a degree in zoology.”
She applies this training to maintain their property as a Certified Wildlife Habitat and monarch waystation. And, as a pollinator advocate, she teaches pollinator classes and also soap-making.
“I enjoy showing my girls that with the love and support of your community, and a bit of creativity and hard work, you can reduce waste to help the earth, support your family, and help save the bees,” Holly Krieger says.
“It’s important to me as a mom to know where my products are coming from,” Holly Krieger says. “I focus on the use of natural colorants like rose clay, use 100% beeswax for my candles and therapeutic-grade essential oil blends for scenting my products. The glass muth honey jars are hand-dipped in wax and stamped by me in an effort to reduce the amount of single-use plastics.
“Every ingredient is thought out and has a purpose. With the HH Science beauty partnership, I wanted to create products to treat chronic dryness, eczema and psoriasis and only include ingredients you need, like the three-ingredient Baby Bee and four-ingredient Simply Bee fragrance-free bar soaps made by hand in small batches.”
The HH Science Healthy & Happy Naturals plant-powered personal care products, which use naturally-derived ingredients and nourishing botanical extracts, are sold online at hhscience.com and at four boutiques inside Trillium Creek Dermatology offices in Medina, Brunswick, Wadsworth and Wooster. Other Mae Bee products can be found at Boyert’s Greenhouse & Farm and Centerra Co-Op Country Store in Medina or directly through Holly Krieger or ceramic artist Alyssa Osborne, who makes and paints the beeswax candle planters in Homerville, Ohio.
3. Yellowcake Shop
Valerie Mayèn, Founder and Chief of Awesome, Mom of two in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
Yellowcake is the signature line of women’s outerwear and accessories designed and crafted by artist and Project Runway S8 + Allstars 5 alumna Valerie Mayén. Her modern chic garments are ethically handmade by a small team of sewers in Cleveland and Chicago with keen attention to detail, superior construction and timeless design. Many pieces are distinctly utilitarian and versatile, offering polished comfort anywhere.
“Yellow cake, the dessert, is the forgotten favorite of desserts,” Mayèn says. “In our industry, women and children are often marginalized, and sustainability is forgotten for the sake of fashion. By making a conscious effort to make fashion slowly and responsibly, we are championing the underdogs in our industry. Thus the name Yellowcake – the underdog of the bakery. It’s a subtle, sweet way to express our stance on our very serious mission.”
Born in Texas, Valerie came to Cleveland in her early teens when her family moved here. She attended the Cleveland Institute of Art. She received her Project Runway invitation while nannying and accepted, thanks to support and encouragement from the family to follow her dream.
This idea of women supporting women has come full circle – now Valerie provides business coaching to individuals looking for guidance in their career path. As a Latinx, female business owner, Valerie is also an ally of the local community. The new YC Artisan Market is an online marketplace for local handmade brands and businesses that Yellowcake supports, starting with three minority- or female-owned brands within the beauty, accessory, and baked goods spaces.
The brand aims to produce high-quality, luxury pieces that provide value for the consumer and a better life for all those who inhabit our world through everyday practices that reduces their carbon footprint, lowers contribution to textile waste, and educates others about these causes.
Staple pieces include Tri-Pocket Cardigans in three styles (including vegan faux leather sleeves), popular Classic and Luxe Moto Jackets, Sleeveless Turtleneck and Hooded Sweatshirt Tunics, and the YC Bold Trench, a unique and fashion-forward take on a classic, made of sturdy cotton-poly twill, trimmed in genuine Minelli leather and featuring a removable hood, a self-tie belt and snaps to customize the fit of this standout, lifetime piece. Exciting new styles include the Midi Pannier Dress with faux wrap skirt, Classic Sheer Swing Skirt and Boho Blouse in fun, festive prints.
Smaller giftable items include: cozy Eco Beanie Pom Hats, Arm and Leg Warmers made from repurposed vintage cable knit sweaters fully laundered and quality checked, available in assorted colors; Rope Belts with rubber-dipped sealed ends; and Triangle Scarves with interchangeable genuine leather tassels and cords, which can be worn alone as a lariat necklace, purse charm or faux belt.
“Valerie has a supportive husband and team around her,” says Tara Teschke, Operations. “She built the business from the ground up and really does it all. What she puts in shows in all her pieces.”
At the 78th St. Studios, Valerie can be seen sketching, patterning, and prototyping new designs, planning out the Yellowcake calendar, meeting clients one-on-one, sewing custom garment orders, and much more. Events are hosted at the studio, which doubles as a showroom for the full Yellowcake collection, and where Valerie’s young daughter can be found showcasing her own creative genius, singing while creating outfits and twirling.
Shop online at yellowcakeshop.com or in person by appointment Tuesday through Friday 11am-5pm at the 78th St. Studios home base in Cleveland or new satellite shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Yellowcake guarantees its products, and each customer receives complimentary repairs for the lifetime that they own the garment.
4. Ellie Jane Bags
Sarah Larson, Owner and Maker, Mom of three in Bay Village
Sarah Larson left her job as an intervention specialist to pursue this creative passion, which began after a sewing lesson from her mom during Christmas break her freshman year of college. From that first handmade satchel came requests from family and friends for other bags, and a business was born.
“I come from a long line of sewers,” she says. It’s a skill she is proud to pass down to her own children, and while her daughter, Ellie – the business’ namesake – has her own sewing machine, her oldest son is most often at her side in the studio these days.
“My 13-year-old designed a wallet pattern in a Browns theme and now gives them as gifts,” she says. “Each buddy gets a wallet with a gift card inside.”
Ellie Jane Bags are distinctly functional and fashionable – sturdy with a striking simplicity.
Larson works in her Bay Village studio daily, designing and building bags that are made to last, yet pretty enough to wear every day.
“I’m excited for fun new projects and customization options, like our new full-leather Cora shoulder bag with domed top, brass feet and accent zipper,” she says.
Sarah’s goal is to create something that gets better with age, tells a story, and is proudly passed down to generations.
Made of earth-toned, water-resistant waxed canvas or rich leather, each bag is handmade from start-to-finish using high-quality materials proudly sourced in the United States. Styles range from totes, crossbodies and shoulder bags to versatile waist bags, wallets, pouches, wristlets and even a dopp kit. Built to withstand year-round, everyday adventure, bags feature solid brass hardware, a waterproof cordura lining and plenty of zipper and slip pockets. Ellie Jane Bags and gift cards are sold online at www.elliejanehandmade.com, and products can be found at local events.
5. Furbish & Fire Candle Co.
@furbishandfire Michelle Liller, owner, Mom of two in Avon.
After leaving the corporate world to raise her young daughters, Michelle Liller started Furbish & Fire Candle Co. in 2015 as a casual idea while enjoying a glass of wine with friends.
An expression of her creative spirit, she applies her graphic design and business background to design and produce candles while collaborating with local establishments to re-purpose their empty wine bottles into something wine drinkers can appreciate again. This re-“furbishing” helped inspire the name and fuel the passion that goes into every finished product.
Furbish & Fire Candle Co. sells upcycled wine bottle candles with fun, witty and personalized designs. Hand-poured in small batches inside Liller’s Avon Lake Studio, the candles are all hand-cut and polished, made from 100% soy wax with lead-free, cotton wicks and include premium, phthalate-free fragrances.
While Michelle’s friends, Jen and Valerie, put the “fire” behind Furbish & Fire, supporting candle production and retailer relationships, family is at the heart of the business, guiding its use of safe, natural ingredients and sustainable materials that will leave the world a better place.
The business was born as a way for Michelle to be there for her young girls while still engaging her creativity and demonstrating the benefits of small, women-owned business.
“I have two daughters, ages 13 and 11, who are huge helpers,” she says. “They like to hot-glue wicks and put stickers on. They influence everything about Furbish & Fire.”
Customizable for clients and staff, family members, special events, hostess gifts, showers, bridal parties, special sayings, home décor and more, Furbish & Fire Candle Co. has 700+ labels to choose from, with design themes ranging from seasonal, sports and cities to friendship and family, baby, wedding, pets and more. Over 30 sophisticated scents run the gamut of fruity, feminine, manly and seasonal, with options like oak barrel vanilla, apple bourbon, pumpkin chai, spiced currant + balsam, woodland citrus, Santorini, coastal linen and island retreat. Candles are sold online at furbishandfire.com and in local boutiques. Local pickup and shipping are available.
6. Gold Arrow Studios
Melissa Jackson, Owner and Designer, Mom of four in Avon
“From work in sales to stay-at-home motherhood, I dabbled with jewelry making to help with daily stresses, then turned it into a business in 2017 after my youngest daughter was born,” Melissa Jackson says.
“As a mom on the go, I wanted versatile pieces, so when starting this venture, I knew I wanted to create jewelry for the busy working mom or stay-at-home mom that was simple, clean and transitional from daytime to an evening out.”
Gold Arrow Studios creates modern Boho jewelry for the soul with a minimalist style. Timeless and statement pieces include layering necklaces and bracelets made of gold-filled, sterling silver, or stainless-steel metals combined with natural stones and celestial design elements. Earrings range from simple studs to striking drop, pendant and hoop styles, and luxe hair clips feature tortoise and leopard prints.
The Bodhi Collection of jewelry offers soft and bold colors with textures inspired by Mother Nature, such as geode stones, while the Galaxy Collection includes moon and sun pendants and a bracelet for each Zodiac sign. A line of essential oil bracelets and necklaces make diffusing oils on the go possible with unfinished wood and porous lava rock. Many bracelets feature strong elastic stretch cords with multiple sizing options available.
“My 10-year-old will help me, but my 4-year-old especially wants to be involved and loves the colors of the stones,” she says. “Natural stones have metaphysical properties and benefits.”
Magnesite, for example, is known for calming, while polished hematite, with its masculine metallic look, aids in rest, spontaneity, zest for life, energy and protection, according to her website.
Melissa Jackson, the sole designer and owner, also curates Boho Babe Boxes with monthly seasonal collections of jewelry, beauty products and handmade surprises. Place orders at goldarrowstudios.com, with shipping and local pickup available, and products can be found at local boutiques. She also loves to bring customers’ visions to life and can take custom orders at [email protected]
7. Pint-Sized Pegs
Amie Kanengeiser, Owner and Artist, Mom of three in Sagamore Hills
From her home studio, Amie Kanengeiser creates beautifully hand-crafted and impeccably hand-painted custom wooden peg dolls modeled after anything you can imagine, from beloved cartoon characters to family members, and pets for toys and collectables, including cake toppers and commemorative gifts for all occasions. From individual peg dolls to interactive sets complete with carrying/storage cases and accessories, the possibilities are endless.
“I have loved art and creating for as long as I can remember,” she says. “In fact, it was my childhood dream to become an artist when I grew up. I studied art history at Ohio University after being afraid that I could never actually have a career painting for a living… and here we are.”
A lover of arts and crafts of all kinds (including photography and cooking), creating is where her heart is. Known for the level of detail and precision in her whimsical work, she says her “pint-sized peg dolls are for over-sized imaginations,” and draws inspiration from nature, fine art and her family, including her supportive husband and three boys.
Kanengeiser enjoys making customers’ visions a reality, often recreating entire families from a single photo, as well as supporting other makers. Skilled in a variety of media, she likes to experiment with different techniques and even sculpts characters using oven-dried polymer clay on the wood, having perfected her craft since painting her first doll in 2017.
Her peg treasures can be found on her Etsy site etsy.com/shop/PintSizedPegs and at River Light Gallery in Peninsula.
8. 2 ODD BIRDS
Sara Rockburn, Owner and Jewelry Designer, Mom of one in Olmsted Falls
With a degree from the Columbus College of Art & Design, Sara Rockburn was skittish about returning to her career in retail fashion merchandising after an injury and secured a desk job.
“I missed the creative outlet and began making jewelry for myself,” she says. “After getting stopped at grocery stores and work by people asking where to get it or even purchase it from me on the spot, I started making it for friends and family, and it grew from there. My husband – an avid backpacker who shares my appreciation for nature – saw a light in me shine, and, to support that, surprised me with tools, giving me the extra push that I needed.”
Sourced from Mother Nature, 2 ODD BIRDS is a culmination of artist Sara Rockburn’s passion to create unique, nature-inspired jewelry. She handpicks each natural stone, researching and sourcing them from gem dealers to start her process, and creates collections based on each one’s unique color and properties, which she details on her blog. Complementing each piece with brass that has been through an oxidization process gives an aged and weathered appeal, as if the stones were dug from the ground.
She started her jewelry business in 2014 while working full time and continued with shows, but the birth of her daughter in 2016 changed everything. This year, she took the leap to make jewelry full time and couldn’t be happier.
Bohemian style with an edge, her collections include Night Sky featuring labradorite crystal, Into the Forest featuring moss agate, Into the Light featuring clear quartz crystal, Urban Decay, May Flowered Jasper, Textured Texture, Ocean Jasper, Midnight Moods, Sprout and a Serpentine Collection.
Pieces include various stud, drop and hoop earrings; short, mid-length and long necklaces, including a statement collar with teardrop labradorite stone on one side and crescent/goddess moon or star on the other, and an oxidized brass branch necklace with red creek Jasper or vintage green stone; as well as some bracelets.
“My daughter, Indigo, loves art and hangs out with me in the studio where we make jewelry together,” Rockburn says. “She is always stealing my stones and loves to draw and sign pictures for my orders. Customers enjoy receiving them in the packaging and share feedback on how they brighten their day.” She notes how these personal touches differentiate small businesses like hers.
“For my Night Sky collection, my daughter drew stars and moons. A lady who never had any children, and whose family just moved away, followed up to express appreciation for the heartwarming memories it brought back for her. I enjoy these little moments and the connections I make with people as a small business owner.”
“My grandmother calls me an ‘Odd Bird’,” she adds. “I’m not sure she means it as a compliment, but that’s how I take it, and the number two in my business name is a nod to all the people I work with who make my pieces possible. I could never do this all on my own.”
Her jewelry can be purchased online at www.2oddbirds.com, at Tart Boutique in Rocky River and at Pretty Things Salon in Cleveland. Shipping and local pickup are available.
9. Awake your Soul Watercolor & Wood
Jill and Ryan Glad, Owners, parents of three in Brunswick
The high school sweethearts complement each other as a team. Jill Glad is the artist and creator of all the paintings and designs. She hand-paints watercolor designs onto cold press watercolor paper, edits them and turns them into art prints on smooth card stock. Ryan Glad handles wood supplies, staining, mounting and framing as “The Wood Shop Guy” and business planner.
Awake Your Soul Watercolor & Wood is a high-quality, curated brand based off Jill and Ryan Glad’s love for craftsmanship and all things coastal, bohemian and modern. Products feature light and airy color schemes that seamlessly meld with modern design aesthetics to deliver farmhouse vibes or boho eclectic looks for home décor. All of their hand-built sign and art creations are one-of-a-kind pieces made of watercolor and wood in their home garage studio.
What began as a side project while Jill Glad worked as an art teacher grew into a successful business after she started adding lyrics to her paintings.
“We are truly a family-run small business,” she says. “We have so many people in our lives who pitch in and help make our little shop a success: from grandparents watching the kids to cousins and siblings helping us prep wood and build frames. People load up their cars and help us set up at local shows, and they come and tear it all down when we are done.”
The Standards Collection of traditional picture frame-sized art prints mounted onto plywood and framed in gray-stained pine includes 300 different design and quote options. Popular as gifts, these feature wedding quotes, love songs, positive affirmations and darling sentiments. Other collections include skinny, square and round shapes, and new sketch designs with more subtle colors, as well as Holiday Ones featuring seasonal hues with festive messages.
“We fit in time between naps and bedtime and after school activities to package orders and touch up designs,” Jill Glad says. “I’m often multitasking as a mom and someone is playing with packaging tape while I’m filling orders or painting their own watercolor while I work on a new design.”
“Having this shop in such a supportive community like Northeast Ohio has made it possible for me to chase a dream and also be a really present mom to our three boys, and I think that’s the biggest success I could hope for,” she says.
Sizes range from small desktop gifts to large waterscape paintings that can be purchased online at www.awakeyoursoulwatercolor.com or in-person this holiday season at The Tangled Vine in Brunswick, Made Cleveland’s Holiday Pop up Shop in Coventry through Dec. 23, and monthly open house weekends at Ivory Barn in Pataskala, Ohio. “Waterscapes on Wood” paintings inspired by the shores of Lake Erie are exclusively available at www.thesummermarket.com and feature hand-painted reclaimed strips of cedar on a painted pine base with a pinewood stained frame. Stickers on the back of each sign show recipients how to care for the product.