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Shop Small Saturday: Gifting Guide Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… gifting season! As we approach the holidays, I couldn’t think of a better time for me to share some of my favorite small businesses. I love gifting (giving and receiving), and nothing beats a gift that is unique and thoughtful. So, if you’re looking for irreplaceable gifts to fulfil your shopping list keep reading to find out the best small owned shops for this holiday season that are RUE APPROVED!


*This is a non-sponsored post

Brown Sugar Collab, Charlotte, NC


As many of my loyal readers know, I am a natural entrepreneur at heart. This is one of the reasons I am a HUGE supporter of small businesses. I absolutely love seeing someone take something that they are passionate about and turn it into a functioning business that is thriving as they pursue that which we call the “American Dream.”


This year I had the pleasure of finding several new small businesses and as always when I discover greatness, it is important to me that I share it with my readers.


I was inspired to write this post back in July when I stumbled upon a cute boutique called Brown Sugar Collab, while shopping for a unique gift for my friend. However, I have been so busy traveling (St. Lucia, NYC, Philly), working, and living my best life at events like Diner en Blanc and whatnot, that I hadn't had the time to actually write this post.


But as I always say, everything happens in perfect and divine timing.


It was meant for me to write this post now because it is perfect for the holiday season, and I want to be sure that everyone knows where to #shopsmall with some of the best local #charlottesmallbusiness and online shops filled with unique items that will dazzle any stocking, tree or table!

These items would look amazing under my designer Christmas tree


So, in this second edition of Shop Small Saturday I’ll be featuring small businesses in Charlotte and online, where you can get beautiful unique and even handmade items for the special people on your list.


With that in mind, don’t forget to check out my original Shop Small Saturday post here and remember, you can shop with them for this holiday season as well.


As I stated before, this is a non-sponsored post which means, no one has paid me or given me free product for being included on this list. I wrote this blog because I love the featured businesses, what they stand for, and how their owners wake up daily to share their passion in whichever form they are sharing it in.


Here is a snapshot of the featured businesses:


Brown Sugar Collab

Derby City Skates

Blaze Bags

Chadwick Candles

Oaklore Distilling Co.

Harlem Wine Gallery

Desirae’s Desserts


But, before jumping into the details of my treasure trove of small shops, I wanted to share the top 10 reasons you should patronize small businesses as told by thevinochronicles.com.

  1. You can get unique items for the people on your list and make them feel special (and let’s face it, everyone likes to feel special).

  2. Small businesses give back to the community.

  3. They also add character to local towns and cities.

  4. When you shop small you are supporting someone’s dream and passion while also getting quality products in return.

  5. Now is the perfect time to shop small with it being gifting season.

  6. They employee people in your area.

  7. You strengthen the local economy.

  8. You get service with a more personal touch added.

  9. Priceless memories are created during your interactions at small businesses.

  10. It makes you feel good on the inside when you know that you’re doing good on the outside!

So now that you know why you should shop small, allow me to share where.


 

Brown Sugar Collab


For me it was love at first entry at Brown Sugar Collab. Again, this boutique is the inspiration for this post.


As a “veteran” in the beauty and self-care industry, when I come across a beautiful space filled with hand-made items that inspire self-care, I’m sold!


Enter Brown Sugar Collab, a black owned boutique that carries items that are handmade by women of color.


I had dropped into this boutique several times after leaving my sessions at Kika Stretch, and I just absolutely LOVED all of the beautiful handmade items. So back in July when I was looking for a gift for one of my favorite people, stopping at this place was a no brainer.


When I dropped in, I was lucky enough to meet the owner... and she was amazing!


She told me the story behind her boutique; that she opened it in the middle of the pandemic which coincided with the civil unrest in America including the George Floyd killing. She wanted to do something for women of color who were small business owners so she opened Brown Sugar Collab and created a place for small business owners to sell their products.


While in Brown Sugar Collab I had an absolute BALL while shopping. And my friend… she absolutely LOVED her gift.


Highlights:

  • Beautiful candles, body butters, and linen and room sprays among other unique items

  • Carries handmade products from small business owners

  • Get rare gifts that are infused with the heart and souls of local artists and entrepreneurs

  • Support black-owned businesses that were created from the heart, for the heart

In addition to this being a fabulous place to shop, while there, you can visit neighboring boutiques like Five13 Studio and grab a tea at Boba Baba Cafe to keep the shop small theme going.



 

Derby City Skates


As you exit Brown Sugar Collab, you will stumble upon Derby City Skates, a family owned skate shop that specializes in high-end skates, skateboards and gear.


This year I stepped back into a few of my childhood past-time hobbies. Among those revisited hobbies was something that I am without a doubt incredibly good at… skating!


Since I was rebooting this sport I wanted only the finest of gear, so I decided to get new wheels for my skates.


I needed new wheels and Derby City Skates delivered. My buddy there took the time to help me find the perfect wheels for my skates.


At Derby City they truly specialize all things wheels. They offer everything from high-end skate brands, on-site mounting and even wheel re-grooving.


While I was there he told me more about how Derby City Skates is family-owned business with two locations (one in South End and the other in Winston-Salem) and I absolutely loved their story.


I was familiar with Derby City Skate because they are located in the same shopping strip of Brown Sugar Collab and Five13 Studio which is what makes the entire area epic.


Listen, skating is making a comeback, and soon we'll have a skating rink in the heart of Charlotte, don't be the last person to get a pair from the best in NC

  • Skate experts that sell high quality skates, skateboards and wheels

  • Family-owned business that has been in operating for years

  • Multiple locations throughout North Carolina

  • Excellent, customized service to each customer


 

BlazeBags


Of all of the small businesses on my #shopsmall list, this one is my personal fave. Why, you ask? Oh, because it’s my big brother’s business, and he has stepped out to pursue his passion on… smoking weed. (Which is legal in his residing state btw)


BlazeBags allows its owners to carry weed (or anything else) that no one can smell or see, by being "your superior smell-proof company", as it's catchy jingle states.


Our smell-proof bags have at its core, an activated carbon filter that attracts and neutralizes smells and keeps them locked in. The filter helps keep the contents fresh and regulated and helps preserve your stash longer. - Big AK, Owner of BlazeBags

So, if you want to keep your stash a secret, extra fresh, or both, then BlazeBags is prefect for you!


BlazeBags hosts a plethora of smell-proof bags, containers, grinders and storage to keep your mean green (or anything else with a potent smell) fresh and more importantly private.


Yep, you read that right. BlazeBags is a perfect example of what makes entrepreneurship so incredible. A real entrepreneur will make a business around anything their passionate about, no matter how risky or forbidden the industry.



So, if you’re unlike me, and by chance love to indulge in the “devil's lettuce” then BlazeBags is definitely for you (or “for the people on your shopping list" wink, wink).


BlazeBags Highlights:

  • Your “superior smell-proof company” for all of your potent fragranced goodies

  • Carries smell proof, waterproof and indestructible containers

  • Can be used for things besides marijuana (use your imagination for the love of Pete)

  • Has AMAZING Black Friday deals going on right now; just sayin’

  • Fast and reliable shipping.

  • Has one hell of a jingle; I just love the ingenuity.

 

ChadWick Home Candles


I absolutely love candles, but I must be honest, my favorite handmade candle brand is a ChadWick Home Candles, which are locally made by one of my friends and favorite bartenders, Chad.


I have been buying these candles for two years now and to be honest, they rival some of the high-end department store candles in fragrance and quality. Coolest thing about them is that they retail for only $10 per candle.


At that price, this is my go-to for candle for all rooms my house as well as for gifting.


When you buy Chadwick Candles you’re going to get and amazing, high-quality candle for and incredible price. - Rue Hite


I know Chad, and one thing I know about him is that he is very passionate about making premium candles that carry a scent like nobody's business. He started his candle business years ago and has since rebooted his brand.


As a result, we’ve been blessed with some of the best handmade soy candles made in the US right here in the state of North Carolina (and he also ships).


 

Oaklore Distilling Co.


If you’re into gifting great spirits, then look no further than Matthews, North Carolina’s own Oaklore Distilling Co. Just outside of the city of Charlotte, this spot is Matthew’s newest tasting room, bar and distillery.



I dropped by one day after getting my hair done and it just so happened to be their grand opening! Not only is this place conveniently located with great parking, but the owners and staff were welcoming and very knowledgeable about all of their liquid offerings.


I had the pleasure to meet and chat with the owner and he told me all about their history and the different drinks they make. It was so nice to hear his story and how the origins of this distillery was “built on the idea of community.”



We want to bring the community to the community – Matt, Oaklore Distilling, Owner

This place is a must try and is absolutely Rue Approved! It’s the perfect place to go gift shopping for the sippers in your life and while there, you can shop the right way like I do… “One for them, one for me!”



Highlights:

  • Complementary tastings of their excellent spirit collection (my favorite was the gin, so I just had to get a bottle)

  • Specialty handcrafted cocktails and spike slushies made to order

  • Sells local beer, wine and other merch (great for stocking stuffer or gift fillers)

  • Every item sold here is made in the state of NC

  • Beautifully landscaped and cozy outdoor seating with firepit

  • Two story distillery with upstairs seating


 

Harlem Wine Gallery


Speaking of beverages, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the incomparable Harlem Wine Gallery in Harlem, New York.


We were lucky enough to be introduced to this absolutely gorgeous small artisanal wine shop by our new Harlem friend, Debra Duchin during my recent trip to New York (post coming very soon, btw).



Debra escorted us to, and introduced us to the owners of Harlem Wine Gallery, a lovely couple who are incredibly passionate about wine; so passionate that they opened their very own wine shop!


They gave us a personal tour of the shop and an in-depth overview of their gallery. It was truly a pleasure to experience.


Among their vast selection of wines, Harlem Wine Gallery boasts the largest selection of wines produced by black-owned winemakers, in the state of New York. The couple pride themselves on their knowledge of wines and the brands they offer so you’re in good hands if you need help choosing a bottle.


Best news is, they ship! So don’t hesitate to visit their website and shop to your hearts content. I'll be sharing more about them in my upcoming post on my trip to NYC, but I wanted to be sure to include this spot in my shop small series, it is a very special place.



Desirae’s Desserts


What’s better than a perfectly baked cake? A perfectly baked cake that you DON’T have to bake yourself.


That’s where Desirae’s Desserts enters the chat.


This mother/daughter owned baking duo put the “home” in home baked.


The company was started a few years ago when a young high school student wanted to find a part-time job. Instead of working for another company, she teamed with her mother to create this delectable dessert business. Now a sophomore in college, Saniya Desirae’s baked treats business is still going strong.



Lucky for you, they offer fresh baked treats, made to order using only the finest quality ingredients. This is great news especially for the holiday’s because it takes a lot of work off of your plate during this busy season which allows you to focus on other things.


Check out their catalog to review their truly mouthwatering selections. Whether you choose the Eggnog Pound Cake or the decadent S’mores cookies, you will absolutely be the (s)hero of dessert without the labor.


And to add to their goodness, they ship! So there’s no need for you to pick up although that is an option as well.


So, my friends, there you have it. The entire download on where to shop small during the holiday season and beyond. Again, don't forget to visit my original shop small article here for even more great gifiting ideas. And remember, when gifting, it's always great to think outside the box. Use these small businesses to do that while also being a part of what keeps these them alive and thriving!


Have you shopped with any of the small businesses mentioned in this post? If so, comment below and let my other readers know how awesome your finds were!


Until next time!


xoxo - Rue

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