Holigay Gift Guide: Support These Indie POC Designers

What’s that I hear? That sounds like the early rings of black Santa’s sleigh bells. This can only mean a few things: I’m about to drink entirely too much egg nog over the next 40 days; I’m going to play these little known TLC Christmas songs on repeat; and it’s time for the annual Autostraddle Holigays Gift Guide!

I am so excited to be sharing this guide! According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend a little over $500 on average in gifts during the winter holidays. I’m here to show you awesome ways that you can spend some of that money supporting independent designers, artists, and makers of color.

Even when you want to support indie artists, finding the right folks who match your gift list wants or needs can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. I save links all year in a folder on my desktop. To help us, I used that as my base, and then asked the Autostraddle team members of color to chime in. Then I curated our combined lists and am confident that you will find more than a few items on it to love as much as we do.

Did I mention that with only a few exceptions, everything on this list is under $45? Normally I am a firm believer that Holiday shopping starts after Thanksgiving, but a lot of indie shops need longer shipping times. This is a situation when earlier is better. No more delays. Let’s do this!

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

Exciting Make Up & and Brilliant Skin Care!

[1] The Lip Bar Lipstick in Merlot made by The Lip Bar ($12.00). [2] The Masquerade Eyeshadow Palette at Juvia’s Place ($28.99). [3] Moonflower Nail Polish in Del Mar ($12.00, proceeds benefit Hurricane Maria Puerto Rican relief efforts). [4] Total Control Nail Polish at Ginger+Liz ($12.00). [5] In Grind We Trust Clay Mask at Foxie Bombs ($25.00). [6] Basil & Grapefruit Sugar Body Polish at Pooka ($22.00)

Sure, you could buy MAC or Urban Decay. But women of color owned businesses have been killing the game lately making high quality, on trend make up. This list of beauties are loaded with pigment guaranteed to pop against all skin tones. As a bonus, products like Detroit’s The Lip Bar and Brooklyn’s Ginger+Liz are vegan friendly! Ginger+Liz make their formulas free of the harsh chemicals common in mainstream nail polish without sacrificing quality. The Lip Bar’s lipsticks are enriched with shea butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, and vitamin E for maximum moisture. On top of all that, Puerto Rican owned Moonflower’s limited edition “Del Mar” will support Hurricane Maria relief.

Maybe make up isn’t your gal pal’s thing. That’s ok, I still have you covered! Everyone deserves some good skin pampering. Try this rich, nourishing clay mask enriched with cocoa and coffee beans or a classic body scrub in gender neutral scents.

T-Shirts & Tanks with Messages That Get into Your Heart

I love a good Statement Tee. They let people know who I am and what I’m about. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but we all know that lasting impressions are a real thing. These shirts want to help you stick the landing.

One of my favorites is the small cursive print “F*** Columbus” shirt from Salsa For President, an indie web-shop hailing from our very own Senior Editor Yvonne’s hometown. I adore the graphic on this Trans is Beautiful tee that has been burning up my Instagram feed for months. Sales from the brand go to the Work Those Pecs Transgender Fund, which financially supports trans men, trans women, and gender non-conforming folx as they wade through the financial costs of hormone treatments, surgeries, and fees associated with ID changes. There’s also this cute t-shirt (not pictured) promoting a motto that I personally live by: Black Girls Are the Purest Form of Art.

Cozy Sweatshirts That Are About That Life

[1] ÑY is Nueva York Sweatshirt at Peralta Project ($45.00, they also make this Celia Cruz shirt that I have been craving forever). [2] *Fist of Solidarity Sweatshirt at Malaika ($25). [3] Paris is Burning Sweatshirt at Philadelphia Print Works ($35, they also make a “Ningún Ser Humano es Ilegal” sweatshirt with proceeds benefitting Immigration Reform). [4] Audre Lorde “School of Thought” Collegiate sweatshirt also at Philadelphia Print Works ($40, and may I recommend these Harriet Tubman and Octavia Butler sweatshirts as well?)

I quite literally love all of these! I’d be pleased as punch to see any of them under my metaphorical Christmas tree and you have someone in your life who will feel the same.

Full disclosure, I already own the Audre Lorde sweatshirt. The central graphic is designed to look like a classic college alma mater logo, and graduating from the School of Lorde is definitely something that I think all feminists can aspire to. I want to buy each of my friends that Paris is Burning sweatshirt. Splayed across the front are the Drag Houses featured in the iconic documentary, highlighting New York City’s drag and trans communities of color in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.

Clutches and Totes To Put Your Most Important Shit In

I own so many tote bags that a moratorium has been placed on them in my house. I can’t help it! They carry anything from groceries to books — yay, BOOKS! — to my laptop. They are also lightweight and infinitely customizable. Who wouldn’t look badass with GRL TRBL’s “Dangerous Women Read Books” tote hanging off their shoulder while they run Saturday errands? My dangerous mujeres out there will probably feel equally smitten with that “Peligrosa” tote while we are at it.

If large bags really aren’t your thing, clutches to the rescue! A casual clutch has the same lightweight benefits of a tote, and having one in my hand always makes me feel so elegant.

Powerful Jewelry and Dapper Accessories!

Filipina owned Native Sol focuses on handmade earrings and accessories that use consciously sourced and sustainable materials. When possible she upcycles and re-purposes vintage or discarded items. And her work is gorgeous!

I’d personally never turn down flashy earrings featuring an icon like Grace Jones. I’m also of the mindset that butch babes across the gender spectrum look striking in bowties and I’d bet many of my masculine-of-center Latinx fam would know exactly how to highlight a dope accessory detail like a “Bad Hombre” money clip.

ETC, ETC, ETC!

Buttons, posters, housewares, and accessories! This list was once DOUBLE what you see here. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to highlight a few items that aren’t pictured, but I just know in my heart would make great presents. Such as this tribute poster to our trans elder Sylvia Rivera-  one of many stunning posters designed by out artist Angélica Becerra– or this sticker that reminds you to Protect the Black Women & Black Femmes in your life.

There’s also this Rainbow Pride Poster that will happily decorate your best friend’s living room and is handmade by an artist in El Salvador. This Basquiat Poster feels you when you’re a person of color and the days get tough. And these Selena and Beyoncé themed votive prayer candles are going to make someone you know very happy, just saying.

OK. Going back to the gorgeous collage above, I cannot wait to lean over a kitchen counter with my Chisme mug and hear all the latest gossip. Grace Lee Boggs was an Asian-American activist and labor organizer whose life’s work should never be forgotten. And I love that Tarah, the artist behind that beautiful yellow & orange wall hanging, is a friend of Staff Writer Kayla Kumari. I’m excited to support her and keep it in the family!

Things for Kiddos

[1] Native Baby Onesie at The NTVS ($16). [2] Black Lives Matter Onesie at LoveLttrs4Liberation ($20, proceeds from sale of these onesies benefit community charities at discretion of the artist). [3] Support the Dreams of Young Girls of Color Poster at NalgonaPositiveShop ($12). [4] Fly Nerd Youth Tee at Fly Nerd Apparel ($15). [5] Todo es Posible Shirt at La Chica ($10)

I’ll be real with you: I’m not always the best with kids. I love them with my whole heart, but sometimes I worry that I won’t know how to cope with their specific needs and concerns. That said, I have made it my goal to be the Cool Aunt in my kiddos’ life, and that starts with outfitting them in fly gear. I loved buying my nephew Wu-Tang Clan and Notorious B.I.G. Onesies, and while I couldn’t find those specific items for this gift guides, I feel confident that these kid friendly clothes make for excellent alternatives.

… And a Lil’ Bit of Luxury to Round Us Out

Sometimes you have a little extra coin to spend. May I recommend spending some of it on these designers? I have been a follower of designer and plus size fashion influencer Gabi Gregg since she was a blogger going by the moniker “Gabi Fresh” in the late ‘00s. Premme, her new line with out queer fashionista Nicolette Mason, is at the top of my Christmas List.

The RISE Collective is a jewelry company founded by Mei Elizabeth Tan, a Cambodian-American woman whose family was enslaved in Cambodian labor camps. She envisions her Signature Survivor Cuff as a symbol in the fight for freedom against modern day slavery. Proceeds from the purchase of the cuff help provide food, education, and medical supplies to children of survivors.

Carmen is a black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but has left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, MI, 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 at night. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 92 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. This is an awesome guide — thank you for putting it together, Carmen!

    I would also like to mention a couple other companies that folks here might find relevant:
    – Bésame Cosmetics: Latina-owned. A retro makeup brand that reproduces shades from specific years. They just released their limited edition 1937 Snow White collection and have an Agent Carter-themed collection coming up. https://besamecosmetics.com/
    – Adorned By Chi: Black woman-owned. Quirky-nerdy shirts, accessories, and home goods. They also do themed gift boxes each month. https://adornedbychi.com/

  2. this gift guide is so good, thank you for creating it, carmen!! last year i was like “ugh all i want is a gift guide that highlights indie POC designers” and then this year IT EXISTS! happy holigays indeed. <3 <3 <3

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