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Holigay Gift Guide: Support These Indie POC Designers 2k18!

Say what!?!? It’s that time of the year again! You just filled your belly full of your favorite foods, slept it off for 48 hours, and now it’s time to set our sights on one of the biggest beasts of the year: holiday shopping.

I get it! Shopping can be a hassle. But hey, you’re going to have to spend anyway, so might as well spread some of that coin towards communities of color! Independent designers, artists, and makers of color are creating some of the best merchandise out there and I’m excited to highlight even a small sliver of that ingenuity with this Holigay Shopping List! When I started this gift guide last year, I had no idea it would take off so well; we had a great time oohing and ahhhing, but also putting our money where our mouth is. That’s what it’s all about.

So here I am, back again, gathering up even more beautiful items for you to enjoy! To set the mood, here’s 2000s-era Destiny’s Child in claymation, singing an R&B rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from their Christmas album that only 50 of us even remember happened!

Never forget, black Santa doesn’t mind if you were naughty or nice, just that you did your part to help dismantle systemic racism this year ?

An * before an item or shop name indicates the the shop is queer-owned, in addition to being POC-owned

These Bags are Cute, All Your Stuff is Going to Look Cute in Them

1 / *Nina Simone “Strange Fruit” Ankara Backpack ($55)
2 / Crown Clutch ($45)
3 / Feminist Authors Tote Bag ($20)
4 / Blue Tote Bag ($24)

I’m particularly excited about this year’s roundup of bags and totes and (gasp!) a backpack made of West African Ankara print and NINA SIMONE’S FACE!! I want that bag so badly that I went to bed the night I picked it out for this gift and quite literally dreamed of it! Someone out there is going to rock the hell out of that Crown Clutch, I just know it. And what about this tote bag filled to the brim with black and and Latina feminist authors? Don’t you just want to stuff it full of books and take it with you on Saturday errands? I bet you do.

Sabrina Khadija, the designer of the Blue Tote Bag, has an entire store dedicated to graphic art featuring black women on bags, tapestries, cell phone covers and tech accessories, you name it – everything is so beautiful and honestly I’d buy it all if I could.

T-Shirts and Sweatshirts That Lead with Their Message First!

1 / *Radical Indigenous Queer Feminist T-Shirt ($30)
2 / *Fem Boi Crop Top ($30)
3 / Black Girls Are The Purest Form Of Art ($25)
4 / Bruja Sweatshirt ($21.25)

A t-shirt reppin’ Radical Indigenous Queer Feminists? F*CK YES. How about one celebrating the beauty of black girls as the “purest form of art”? Or a sweatshirt holding it down for all the brujas in your life? I bet you know at least one babe who’s going to look hot in a FemBoi crop top. Just saying.

I didn’t get to fit it into the collage, but I bought one of Be Studio’s “I Am My Ancestors Wildest Dreams” shirts this year and I love it to pieces (it’s also a favorite of director Ava DuVernay and comes in yellow, if you’re interested). I’ve never worn it without getting tons of compliments. In last year’s gift guide, I featured this sweatshirt from Philadelphia Printworks that has all the drag houses from the iconic documentary Paris is Burning emblazoned across the front, but in the year that Pose made it to our television screens, it’s definitely worth re-upping again.

Makeup That’s Bold and Skincare That’s Bright

1 / Thickums Nail Polish ($12)
2 / *Dianthus Lipstick ($27)
3 / Overkill Lip Gloss ($16)
4 / UNICONCHA Body Butter ($24)

Did I pick out the Thickums nail polish because its name made me laugh? Probably. But listen, I am a thickum and I’m proud of it! I deserve to have that pride down to the very tips of my fingers if I want to! (Also that pastel orange shade is such a hard color to find for nails! Selenia Beauty really knows what they’re doing! Want to see more of their gorgeous offerings? Check here.) I always want to be brave enough to wear a brilliant, dark purple like Melt Cosmetics’ Overkill lip gloss, but I can never work up the gumption. Still, you probably know someone in your life who’s never afraid to go there and if so, that gloss is perfect for them! It’s so rich and deep and gorgeous.

Equally rich, and more within my makeup range, is the Dianthus lipstick from Hi Wildflower! Tanaïs, the owner of the shop, is self-described as a “queer, femme, Muslim, Hindu, Bengali, American diasporic being.” In addition to creating makeup, they also design candle scents and is a kickass writer. There’s so much to love going on here. Also here to love? Loquita Bath’s Uniconcha body butter which smells like a unicorn went into a panadería and that’s literally all I ever want to smell like! Their line of body care items are mostly organic and all cruelty free. They also come in a variety of gender-neutral scents (like cafecito! YUM!).

Jewelry & Accessories Ready to Shine With All Their Might

1 / Single Baby Skull Earring in Gold Plate ($19.20)
2 / Ankara Earrings ($25.60)
3 / Power Fist Enamel Pin ($10)
4 / *Decolonize Earrings ($16.50)

Michelle Chang has been making a real name for herself with her emphasis on small, impactful jewelry. This miniature skull earring (sold one at a time) is no different, and I can imagine a butch cutie looking positively dapper with one of Chang’s designs in their ears. If you couldn’t tell from my mouth watering over that Nina Simone backpack earlier in the gift guide, I have a real thing for Ankara fabric this year. Those double drop earrings would look gorgeous dressed up or dressed down, and they want to come home with me.

I featured the Filipina owned Native Sol last year, and this year the shop had so much beautiful jewelry that I couldn’t decide! Check it out for some major gift inspiration. By the way, wouldn’t your lapel or backpack look great with Grl Trbl’s triple power fist enamel pin? I think so. In addition to their Etsy store, you can find their full website here. Want a piece of jewelry that’s going to keep it real? I say go with the Decolonize earrings, and let everyone know where you stand.

And Don’t Forget to Set Up The House!

1 / Brown Sugar Mug ($15)
2 / *La Bandera Lotería-style Poster ($60)
3 / Freedom Throw Pillow ($30)
4 / What Would Beyoncé Do? Magnet ($12)

I don’t know what exactly it is about the Brown Sugar mug that I find so charming. Maybe it’s the font? Maybe it’s the delicate detail work of the twists and turns and flowers forming a circle around the central graphic? I can’t put my finger on it, but my eyes keep coming back for more. If someone you know grew up playing lotería as a kid, then trust me they are going to love this poster! It reimagines the classic “bingo” style game from a queer point of view. I didn’t grow up playing the iconic game, and I still want one for my bedroom wall! There is nothing more true than “Nobody’s Free Until Everybody’s Free” – it’s a phrase I repeat to myself often. Let’s get it etched on a pillow, so that we can always remember!

Speaking of little reminders that will never go out of style, I present you with: “What Would Beyoncé Do?” Because really, using Bey as a guiding light has yet to steer me wrong.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 715 articles for us.


  1. Trying to figure out a way to accidentally on purpose destroy my backpack so I have a legit reason for needing that mauve Strange Fruit one.

  2. I actually have the La Bandera Loteria poster at my desk at work!!! It also comes in greeting card format and i’ve sent many. The artist, Felix Deon, is a super cool gay Mexican artist. I’ve bought so so many of his cards and prints and his social media presence is on point (if a little nsfw)

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