November 24, 2020

Small Businesses and Organizations to Support this Holiday Season (in Maryland and Beyond)

I don't know how many times it can be said in various clichés, but 2020 has been a doozy. I'm trying hard to support small businesses and local businesses because I know this year has been extra tough for them. No shame in buying big box because sometimes that is just easier and/or cheaper, and I know it has been an extra tough year. However, I'd like to use my corner of the internet to promote some small businesses and organizations in Maryland (and beyond) that might not get as much notice during the holiday season. Just a reminder that there's other ways to support small businesses besides being a patron-spreading the word, sharing their sales and events, joining their email list, and sharing on social media are all helpful. 

Also be sure to check out my update Holiday Gift Guide for Runners (Under $30) post if you are specifically looking for gift ideas for you or a special runner in your life. 

To keep this list flowing, I'm going to share the link to the store, a brief description, and any important highlights. Most are Maryland, Baltimore based (all the local love from me always), but all are shops that I have personally purchased their products and/or plan to support this holiday seasons. Obviously there's lots of overlap between categories so please click around the entire list. I plan to add to it over the next few days (I have so many businesses I want to highlight!) Feel free to comment with another small business that I should check out! 

Maryland Makers

Also be sure to check out the Charm City Craft Mafia Holiday Heap 12/4-12/6 that is going virtual this year-it's a great opportunity to discover new local makers and purchase unique gifts for loved ones. 

WhitePaws Run Mitts: A favorite local business I'm always sharing that makes the WARMEST mittens for running and beyond as well as this year's new hot items-face masks and gaiters!

Rachel Mulherin: Stunning jewelry self-described as "bohemian glam vibe" that specializes in geode statement earrings. I own the butterfly necklace and evil eye pendant necklace which I adore wearing for special occasions and everyday. 

KSM Candle Co: Before the pandemic this year I attended an in-person candle making class which was a really fun experience. I have since purchased multiple soy candles in unique, natural scents. The shop sells their soy candles as well as other goods including DIY candle kits. 

Caddington Clay: Handmade polymer clay earrings from Megan in Silver Spring, MD. She started making polymer clay earrings in June this year and has grown in her business and skill so much. I love how fun her earrings are-making a great gift for someone else or yourself this holiday season. Last day to order for Christmas arrival is 12/16.  

Maryland Mercantile: A local maker offering Maryland-themed gifts and goods including cards, mugs, and kitchen towels. The MD Little Christmas Ornament is a personal favorite gift to send to friends out of state. 

Etsy Shops

AmyScripts: A custom calligraphy design shop that has lots of cute goods featuring calligraphy including kitchen wear, cards, masks and stickers. I have my eye on a few ornaments to gift this holiday season including her 2020 collection inspired by 2000s pop punk/rock music that speaks to my high school self. 

The Broken Plate: This shop by a Baltimore local offers handmade upcycled and repurposed jewelry made from broken china. You can send Juliet your china and she can turn it into custom jewelry. Check out her shop on Etsy and her website for more selection. 

Oak City Crochet: A shop based in Raleigh, NC offers accessories and home decor that are fun, unique, and all handmade by Megan including hand-dyed scrunchies and crocheted stocking ornaments. 

JamiCreatesThings: Jami sells whimsical doodles as t-shirts, stickers, prints, and more. I love her "Be Kind, It's Free" tees and totes as well as her beautiful stickers. 

SouvenirAndFar: Really cute shop with "retro-inspired apparel for down to earth babes". I love their affordable,comfortable cotton tie dye masks including the Philadelphia Eagles tie dye mask (retails for only $6)!

Baltimore Boutiques

Pandora's Box Boutique: My go-to boutique (located in the heart of Federal Hill in Baltimore) for one-of-a-kind statement earrings, home goods, and accessories. I recently bought a sequined mask there that is absolutely fabulous.  

The Codex Club: A boutique with clothiing, home goods, gifts and more from 50+ local artists. It's the perfect place to grab a Baltimore-centric gift or support local makers. 

Brightside Boutique: A go-to local women's boutique for when I need a small gift. You can shop in person at their various Baltimore-area locations or online for trendy clothing from nationwide brands sassy home wear, jewelry and more. 

Arrow Clothing: Trendy and affordable women's clothing and accessories from an online boutique. 

Poppy & Stella: Shop online or in-store at this boutique that is known for it's fantastic collection of footwear but also carries unique apparel, accessories, beauty products and more. 

Mint+Major: Local women's boutique (shop online or at their store at Shops at Kenilworth in Towson, MD) offering a unique mix of apparel, home decor, accessories, and more. 

Gifts for Her

Erica Sara Designs: Handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry for the strong woman in your life including beautiful runner/race-specific jewelry, unique sound-wave engraved pieces, and custom jewelry engraved with your loved one's handprints, footprints or PAW prints (just melt my heart right now!). Order online by 12/14 for domestic delivery by 12/25! 

Food & Drink

Reminder to support your local restaurants and breweries this holiday season. Gift cards always make a great gift. If you have some fellow beer lovers in your family, a 6-pack and some brewery merchandise (t-shirt, hat, etc.) from a local brewery makes a great gift. 

Mouth Party Caramel: Delicious, small-batch caramels (free of nuts, gluten, soy, high fructose, and trans-fat) with yummy varieties including additions like sea salt and Old Bay.

Gundalow Gourmet: Check out their location in Whitehall Mill in Baltimore or shop online for yummy treats (HIGHLY recommend the chocolate chip cookies), gourmet goods, cooks' tools, and more.  

Cane Collective, LLC: Their Cane Mixers are a way to bring craft cocktails right to your own home-just add your liquor of choice! The mixers include varieties such as Guava Tiki Punch, CA(n)E Southside, and the seasonal Cinnamon Cider Punch. These would make the perfect virtual party gift!   

Services to Gift (To Others or Yourself!)

Dietician Jess, LLC: Jess is a dietician based in Pittsburgh, PA who offers nutrition counseling and wellness programs. I met her through running (what else?!) She is launching her next nutrition group program for runners in January (schedule a free discovery call here.) Gift yourself a head start on crushing your goals for 2021. 

Bushelers of Baltimore: Bushelers of Baltimore is a local tailor that offers alterations and reapirs of garments as well as garment personalization/customization. They now offer e-gift cards which could be a great gift for someone to alter or repair a piece that is special to them for a perfect fit or to custom a jean jacket to make it all their own. 

Maryland Non-Profits to Support

I love supporting my local community so I encourage you to find similar organizations to suppor that may be in your area. There are plenty of amazing national organizations out there who deserve support including:  ACLU, Crisis Text Line, Environmental Defense Action Fund, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital,, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Hope for the Warriors.

Sharp Dressed Man: This Baltimore organization has been around since 2011 and partners with local organizations to provide men enrolled in training programs with recycled suits for job interviews. Clothing is an important resource for someone who has been struggling and is working to obtain employment, not only necessary for the task but also extremely important in building confidence in someone. Sharp Dressed Man has provided suits to over 7000 men in the last 5 years alone.

United Way of Central Maryland: During the holiday season, this non-profit which helps local families achieve self-sufficiency accepts donations to ensure local families involved in their housing programs are able to celebrate the holiday season including gifts of clothes, books, and other items.

Maryland Food Bank: Due to the effects of the pandemic, more Marylanders are in need of food this year. The Maryland Food Bank provides more than 40 million meals to Marylanders each year and 93% of their resources go directly to their programs. I know this is a larger organization, however I feel that especially this year it is important to ensure that no Marylander goes hungry. 

House of Ruth Maryland: House of Ruth provides services and resources including food, shelter, legal help, and counseling to survivors of domestic abuse and their families. You can donate in many ways including donation of necessary items on their wish list.

Maryland SPCA: Animal organization out of Baltimore offering pet adoption services, education/outreach, humane care, and veterinary services with 99% of their budget coming from donations and program fees. This is not the organization from which I rescued my furbaby cat this year however I know many people who have adopted wonderful pets from the SPCA so they definitely deserve extra support during a year when so many have added new furry members to their family. 

Debriefing the Front Lines, Inc: A non-profit in Baltimore offering a variety of emotional support services for registered nurses and healthcare professionals across the US including the Heal the Healers Project and the Heal the Healers Daily Communication Initiative (appointments available here). The Daily Communication Initiative is where my friend and registered nurse Tara sends an originally authored daily text message of love and support to healthcare workers before their shift, opening up a conversation for the participant. Donate and follow along on social media. Tara inspired me to highlight non-profits in this post so sending her some gratitude. 

What is a small business you are supporting this holiday season? 

Holiday Gift Guide for Runners (Under $30)

Disclosure: This gift guide is not sponsored. Any ambassadorships or complimentary products are mentioned. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Hello, it's me....It's been a while since I blogged, but I decided to return and start with a new holiday gift guide under $30 all for the runners on your holiday lists this year. I look forward to adding to my little corner of the internet again in the new year.

Tis the season for gift guides! I know there's a million gift guides floating around the interwebs right now, but I actually enjoy getting inspired by gift guides for presents for others and ideas for what others should gift me for the holidays. I have compiled again this year my favorite gift ideas for runners (which basically is a list of my favorite items). Whether it's a friend or family member just getting into running or a seasoned marathoner setting big goals for next year, there is an idea for everyone.

1. This Tastes Like Wine Glass, Sarah Marie Design Studio ($16)

This wine glass has actually been on my wish list for a while. The 'This Tastes Like' Wine Glass a quality, etched glass for the runner and the wine lover in your life. It's a gift that you know the recipient can use all year round to keep some balance in their life. I love the subtle yet sassy running theme of the glass. You could stuff this full of candy or some running fuel to make it a fun, simple gift. 

Shop all of the cute clothing, accessories and more at Sarah Marie Design Studio here AND save 10% off your order with code BREATHEDEEPLY :)  

2. Believe Training Journal, Electric Blue Edition ($21.95)

I have been using the Believe Training Journals as a way to record my workouts and training for the past 3-4 years. I usually put the journal on my holiday wish list for my family, but was super excited  to receive a complimentary Believe Training Journal in the new Boston Blue color! The journal comes in other colors too, but I love this special color edition so much. Pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas created this journal which is inspired by their own training and racing.

It has lots of space to record daily workout statistics and thoughts as well as worksheets, quizzes, and lists which offer opportunities for education, self-reflection, and goal setting. Basically it is the perfect gift for the start of a new year with new goals and training cycles. 


3. Koala Clip, original ($28.99)  

At the end of the summer I took a chance on purchasing a Koala Clip as yet another attempt on my journey to find the least annoying way to carry my phone and apartment key on the run with me. The original Koala Clip is a sweat-resistant zippered pouch with a a magnetic clip that clips onto the back of your sports bra (or your waistband). It's machine washable and also insulates your phone from the cold. It is perfect for securing your phone, credit card, and keys when you are on the go whether you are running, biking, or at the gym. I have found it works on the design of most sports bras, and with the original Koala Clip secured onto the middle of my back with the straps from my sports bra, I almost forget I have my phone and valuables with me on the run! It's a great gift for a fit lady on-the-go. 

Koala Clip won't be running any special sales this holiday season and instead will be donating 10% of all sales to Feeding America from now through the end of the year. This makes me love the company even more. 

Lucky for you I still have a discount code to share to save 10% off your order with code "AC2020". 


4. S'mitten Holiday Lily Trotters compression socks, ($27.99, limited edition) 

I know I had the holiday Lily Trotters compression socks on last year's gift guide, but I'm just a big fan (and ambassador) of Lily Trotters compression socks plus I LOVE anything festive this time of year. My shipment of these holiday socks is arriving this week, and I can't wait to wear them! Compression socks are a great gift for the runners and fit friends in your life as well as anyone who travels frequently or spends most of the day on their feet such as fellow health care professionals. Lily Trotters compression socks provide support as well as keep your legs and toes warm all season. Take a peek at this year's limited edition holiday socks- they're perfect for spreading some holiday cheer this season.

The holiday compression socks are regularly $41.99 , but you can save 20% anytime at Lily Trotters with my code "SESERKO20" 😄

5. Motivate Wraps, Momentum Jewelry ($18.99)

I always mention Momentum Jewelry as gift ideas because their items fit so many occasions. I love their unique and inspiring pieces, which is why I've been an ambassador for them for years. They are beautiful and unique wraps for the fit friend or the inspiring person in your life. I love the look of the  Motivate wraps which provide really motivating pieces that would be great to start the new year with including my personal favorite "rise up". You can choose from one of the options or always choose your own custom mantra or phrase. Motivate wraps make a great gift for so many of the people on your holiday list. 

6. Double Velour Fleece RunMitts, WhitePaw RunMitts ($27.99)

With lots of requests for recommendations on winter running gear, I always mention WhitePaw RunMitts because they are my favorite running gloves. As someone who has perpetually cold hands and feet, these new & improved double velour fleece RunMitts actually keep my hands super warm. I love that it's a convertible mitten with the ability to flip the top down if you need to cool off your hands a little bit or use your fingers. They also can be scrunched down to your wrist with no need to remove and potentially lose one of your mittens!

WhitePaw RunMitts is a small business in Baltimore which makes it more special to me. The mittens come in the double velour fleece or a water/wind resistant fabric. These are an item that can be used by runners, walkers, any outdoor sports enthusiast, or anyone spending time outside in colder weather this winter. WhitePaw RunMitts also is offering face masks and gaiters this year-perfect for being safe this year while on the run!

7. Gift card to your local run specialty store (your choice of amount)

I've shared some of my favorite gift ideas for runners, but maybe you still aren't sure what to get that special runner in your life. Maybe you are like my family who isn't sure what running gear I already own. When in doubt, a gift certificate to your local run specialty store is a great gift option so the recipient can choose what to spend it on or even put the gift certificate towards a new pair of running shoes. If you are Baltimore-based, you can purchase a gift certificate for Charm City Run in-store or online (how easy is that!). Small business can always use our support, especially this year.     

What are you getting the runner on your holiday lists? Do you have or have you gifted any of these items?