Small Business Holiday Shopping

In this day and age we have everything available to us with just a couple clicks. Any big league store is available online, but now small business have an online presence too. It’s important to buy local now more than ever. Local businesses help to boost local economy. With stores shutting down left and right, our money is being shipped to faraway locations via the inter-web. When we shop with local businesses, we are encouraging the salaries of neighboring artists/entrepreneurs who will shop locally and keep the wealth in our communities.

When you shop with small businesses you aren’t paying for a CEO’s mansion in the hills, but a little girl’s dance classes, a family’s groceries, a student’s schooling, and so much more. When a company only has one or two employees, the money is going toward building their business and supporting their families. By working with small business owners, you will get to know the people that are benefiting from your purchases. It’s a much more personal and meaningful interaction/investment.

With the holiday season in full-swing, there are countless opportunities to support local businesses. Handmade gifts are the best kind and even if you aren’t a super crafty person, you can get your hand on some awesome (and reasonable priced) homemade goodies. I know that I listed gift ideas on a previous post, but here are some specific to small businesses.

  • Craft fairs: It’s that time of the year where local churches and schools host their annual craft fairs. These are great events for finding amazing handmade gifts. Craft fairs are one of my guilty pleasures. Fleece blankets with crocheted edges, knitted scarves/hats, and jewelry are staples at any craft fair.
  • Facebook pages: This is a great place to find people with hidden talents from all over the world. It is especially easy to find local people who have side hustles that result in beautiful works of art. For example, I have been following a friend-of-a-friend’s page for a few years that’s called “Chalk it Up with Shianne”. She creates gorgeous chalkboard signs for any occasion. Birthdays, retirements, births, pregnancies, holidays, weddings, and so many more events have been decorated by her artwork. I eventually want to get a sign made for our home from her site. Check out her page to see what I mean! Chalk it Up with Shianne
  • Etsy: I’m sure you have heard of it before. So many gifts that my husband and I have bought for each other have been from Etsy shops and we have loved each and every one of them. Several of the people that I know even host their own shops on the site. A woman I went to high school with has an art page on Etsy filled with magnets, stickers, ornaments and other projects that she has created herself. It amazes me what creative minds can come up with. I even bought some handmade custom ornaments from her for Christmas presents. Not only are the items beautiful, but I know who my money is going to. Do you? Take a look at her site to see what I mean! Morgans Art & Photo
  • Desserts: Are you super busy with holiday festivities? Maybe this is the year that you contract your desserts out. Have a local baker create your family’s pies, cupcakes, and/or cookies. My mom’s friend bakes all of my brothers’ cakes and I know a woman who is an impeccable baker and has made a birthday cake for me. A lot of people offer their services around holiday time for pies, cookies, cupcakes, and pastries. Reach out to friends and see if they know of any talented bakers for hire this season.

 

Are you struggling with gift-giving this year? Reach out to small businesses for gifts that will not only be beautiful and personalized, but that will help grow talented artists’ skills.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Shop ’til you Drop

The shopping season is in full-swing. Not only are people out shopping for gifts, but also for holiday parties. It’s always a challenge to find perfect festive outfits that are comfortable, stylish, and affordable at the same time. Here are some guidelines and tips that I use when shopping for events and parties.

  • Buy versatile clothing. Instead of buying that super sparkly dress that you will only wear once, look for a trendy jumpsuit or skirt & shirt ensemble. Buy something(s) that you will be able to wear again. Whether that is a corduroy skirt and off-the shoulder blouse or an edgy “plunging neckline” jumpsuit, find items that you can mix and match with other pieces in your wardrobe to make new outfits throughout the coming year. Adding a denim jacket, a long necklace, and a pair of edgy black wedges can transform your jumpsuit into a more casual look. Dress down your off the shoulder blouse with a pair of jeans. Wear an oversized sweater with the front tucked into your skirt and thigh high boots for a completely different look. The more times you use an item, the more bang you get for your buck.
  • ┬áSpeaking of getting use from the products you buy, do the math before you pay the price! When shopping, look at the price tags. If a blouse costs $40 and you make $15 per hour at work, it will take you almost three hours to earn the money to pay for that shirt. If you don’t think that the blouse is worth working three hours for, then it isn’t the right buy for you. Find something that you love while matching the price to the piece’s value.
  • Let’s do some more math while your calculator is out. Let’s think about that $40 shirt again. How many times do you think you will be able to wear it? If you only think you will be able to wear it twice, that’s $20 per use. If you buy a top that you could wear more frequently, maybe it will only be $2 per use. I’m not saying that you can’t buy anything special for a particular event. Just keep in mind how much you are spending on an item that you will only get use of once or twice before it finds a home in the back of your closet. I know that I still have a dress (or two) that still have tags on them from years ago. I tell myself that I will wear them one day, but I think we all know that’s a lie. They were a good deal, but it was still a waste of money if I never ever wore them.
  • Give new life to used clothes. One of the many things that I miss about living super close to my mom is being able to stop by her house to go through her closet if I needed (okay, wanted) something different/new-to-me to wear. It’s okay to borrow friends’ and family’s clothing! Maybe you found the perfect shirt to match the cute skirt in your closet, but you are still searching for a cardigan to match with it. I always text my mom to see what she has. Sometimes we will even video chat so she can show me her closet. All I’m saying is that it’s okay to reach out and ask if your friends have anything that you can borrow for your event instead of rushing to the store.
  • Quality versus Quantity. But wait, didn’t I pretty much say buy everything as cheap as possible? Yes and no. It’s all about balance. You want to buy quality products for reasonable prices. Sure you can buy ten $5 shirts, but how long will they last? Chances are, they won’t last long. But if you buy two $25 shirts that last you several years, you feel beautiful in, and you wear regularly, then to me it’s worth it. Figure out what you are willing to pay for products and opt for higher quality products when possible. I have spent way too much money over the years buying clothes that are “a great deal” but only last a couple wears. If I added it all up, I could have bought a lot of quality made clothing that would have lasted years.

 

I hope that you feel beautiful this holiday season. Find your voice and figure out what you are willing to spend for the products that you are shopping for. Don’t forget to take a deep breath and enjoy time with family and friends.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Clothing Swap

Growing up, it was ingrained in me to always hunt for a sale. Whether it was while grocery shopping, car shopping, or clothes shopping, value and price were two high running variables involved in my purchase.

When I was in middle school, my mom picked my brother and I up from school randomly and took us to the local mall. She handed us each a $100 bill and told us that we could spend it on whatever we wanted. She was a working single mom at the time, so this was a big deal for all of us. I, of course, headed to the back of every store to the clearance sections. I wanted to get the most out of my newly found fortune.

This brings us to what I wanted to talk about today. In high school I had an idea to start a group on Facebook for a clothing swap. This was a place where people in my school could go to post photos in their album of clothing, accessories, and other items that they no longer wanted or needed in hopes of swapping them for other people’s items that were available. It was a way for us to get new-to-us clothing without creating more waste, begging our parents, waiting for holidays, or spending our own hard-earned cash. It went well for the entire school year. I never had to mediate any arguments between people about their arrangements and, because we weren’t selling anything, none of the administration at school seemed to care. When summer approached, the swapping stopped since we didn’t see each other outside of school, but overall it was a good experience.

This idea came from a clothing swap that I had participated in at a local church that I was previously associated with. They had a table for each person participating and for every item of clothing that they brought, they were able to take home a clothing item. I thought the idea was awesome because you could refresh your wardrobe without tapping into your bank account. I don’t particularly remember, but it would be a good idea to give everyone a raffle ticket for each item they donated and they could return the ticket for each item they select to take home. Any clothing items that are left, could be donated to a local Salvation Army or thrift store.

Events like this could greatly decrease the amount of clothing that is discarded annually. When I was younger and still living with my parents, I thought of my income as spending money. I was in high school and didn’t think much about the future. I would take my friends out for dinner and spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that would maybe be worn once. I didn’t say I was smart. I wasn’t thinking long term. Looking back at it, I could have saved thousands of dollars toward my college education before even graduating high school. You live and you learn.

Now think about if clothing swaps were a regular thing. Who knows, maybe they are a regular thing by you. In which case, that’s awesome! If not, maybe it could become a semi-regular thing in your area. You can always talk to your local schools, churches, VFW… about hosting an event. This could bring people to their locations to learn more about their causes, could offer traffic for them to have a spaghetti dinner/bake sale, or they could even accept a nominal donation for entry to the event (even $5 per person would save the person a ton of money while raising money for the location’s cause).

Not only would clothing swaps save you money, but it would save you space. When you buy new clothing, you still have your old clothing in your closet. If you are like me, it tends to build up over time and before you know it, your closet it packed full of clothes (and we all know you only wear a small portion of them anyway). This is your chance to purge those gently used garments that you no longer fit in or don’t match your style. The worst thing that could happen is you donate your clothing to the swap and can’t find anything that you like there. Oh well! Those were clothes you weren’t going to wear anyway.

Stop shopping and start swapping! It’s better for our planet and for your wallet.

Love Always,

Elizabeth