The past couple of years I have done a holiday gift guide focused on supporting Central Texas artists and artisans encouraging you to shop local and shop small. In the past, my focus is on female-owned, feminist-owned, queer-owned, or BIPoC-owned independent small businesses. This year, I’m getting a little more specific.
Why? Because Black lives and Black-owned businesses matter.
I spent many years studying and working in the UX design field, learning what design choices generate conversions. Unconscious bias tells us to look for something modern and minimalist. Clean design that doesn’t distract from the products. Familiar, easy-to-understand website with well-researched and witty copy. Integrated marketing campaigns reminding us on every application and phenomenal search engine optimization. Subtle cross-brand and influencer promotions.
Capitalism has us trained to not just seek out, but to expect a certain homogeneous experience from a vendor. An experience that is often only achievable with a large marketing and content budget. And often that standard leaves many small businesses, especially those owned by marginalized groups, unable to compete, even though they are offering an equally valuable if not higher quality product.
We need to be cognizant of our biases in order to combat them. We have to make a conscious decision to seek out and support businesses owned by marginalized people.
This year has been rough for a lot of people. Creators especially so. Marginalized creators even more so. Throughout this year, racial gaps have widened in terms of unemployment, business loss, and life expectancy, disproportionately affecting Black and brown populations. This year was no exception to the many before it where Black communities witnessed police act as judge, jury, and executioner to their own, while seeing no justice served following.
That’s why I am back this year and encouraging you to Support Black Creators™
To make it easy, I’ve selected 20 central Texas Black creators and change-makers you can support this holiday season. Most of them have online shopping available and I’ve included a selection of local organizations, if you are just in the mood to donate for warm fuzzies or tax write-offs.
Reminder: Each and every single one of these creators is an incredibly kind, genuine, and hard-working human being and they deserve your holiday dollars. Please, be patient with any local vendor you are dealing with because shipping is wacky right now.
Sam’s 2020 Black Creators & Change-makers Gift Guide
Treats & Eats
3 Small Plates
You may remember Chef JRodi from my gift guide last year. She’s such a wonderfully, joyful person and a fantastic chef. Well, this year she reached out to me about commissioning limited-edition custom ornaments for her holiday sweet boxes. Of course, I agreed. I did two extra special designs for her and you can ONLY get them by ordering one of her delicious sweet bags or boxes, featuring her limon teacakes, limon sunbursts, and nana bread with maple bourbon glaze.
Make sure to follow her account to get updates and learn more by visiting her website at 3smallplatescatering.com. You can also order these sweet bags through the 3 small plates Vinder page, an online Austin farmer’s market.
Down South Cajjun Eats
I met co-owner Jermaine Dumes while vending at Tillery Live! last year. He runs Cajjun Eats with his twin brother Jahmaal, both Beaumont natives. Their food is absolute fire and as their tagline says “Tastes so Good ~ Don’t Make No Sense.” They have some family size offerings going on for the holidays, including seafood mac and cheese and Cajjun fried turkey. Give yourself or a loved one the gift of not worrying about dinner by bringing one of these amazing dishes.
Follow them on social and checkout their website at cajjuneats.com.
Apparel & Accessories
Rare Soulz Apparel
Brutha Liberty was featured in my gift guide last year and he’s still out there creating really delightful designs and spreading his art. Earlier this year he launched his clothing brand, Rare Soulz Apparel, selling urban street wear and vintage. Most recently, he just released this super cute Shootin’ Stars design through RawPaw’s drop ship program. I live for the Oregon Trail vibes and it looks great on a white or yellow shirt. Perfect for all the cowpokes in your life.
Keep Moving Forward
C-Will Too Ill is a phenomenal lyricist, hip-hop artist, and multi-prenuer based out of the San Antonio area, whom I met at TrapXArt last year. January of this year he launched his clothing brand Keep Moving Forward complete with this little running turtle mascot. As soon as I saw the lil guy, I was obsessed. As someone whose been the slow and steady turtle so many times throughout my life, I found it super relatable and love the positivity of the KMF concept. I bought a fanny pack and can tell you first-hand it is quite spacious and has an inner pocket for your phone! It comes in super handy on walks, working markets, or spray painting.
If you have someone who likes comfortable athletic gear in your life, checkout the offerings at keepmovingforwardusa.com. He’s got backpacks, sweatpants, onsies, t-shirts, and more!
Akaimi the Artist
I featured Akaimi on my list last year after I met her at TrapXArt. This year, she was the recipient of the 2020 Buy from a Black Woman Creative Artist of the Year award, so you know, buy from her. Through continuous battles with cancer, she remains resilient and still continues to produce more and more prolific work.
She’s also expanded her product line to include many one-of-a-kind hand-crafted earrings, as well as drop-shipping colorful face masks, t-shirts, bags and more. Shop the entire selection on her website at akaimidavis.com.
Paint by DeLoné
Though we’d been following each other on Instagram for a bit, I finally met DeLoné earlier this year through Polis Creative. She’s super talented and has a fierce, amazing energy that permeates the room. I felt like we connected instantly when we first met in person. She continues to “Keep the Energy” by pushing boundaries, breaking generational curses through her artwork, and healing her soul.
Starting on December 1st, out of respect for and observation of Native American Heritage Day, she’ll be listing tons of new products, including the brand new tote bag design teased below, that I am really excited about. Set your alarms for the drop and bookmark her website at paintbydelone.com.
PS She’s been incredibly fast with getting orders shipped out every time I have ordered from her!
Giovanna was one of the several amazing R&B performers the night I vended at Tillery Live! During the pandemic, she began making clay earrings and launched her new business Gempressed. Each of these earrings is a hand-made, abstract work of art. I am consistently amazed by her colorful pattern work and geometric designs, and she keeps coming out with new lines!
Shop all of her amazing styles on her website at gempressed.com for all the statement earring lovers in your life.
Jeff Morris is the CCO for local organization SomewhereSociety, who I met while working with Polis Creative earlier this year. He is a graphic designer and artist with a highly detailed psychedelic illustration style.
You can shop all of his apparel and other work from his website at domorr.com.
Magick & Shamanism
FireStar Henna & Apothecary
I gave a shout out to Black Star Henna & Apothecary on my gift guide a couple of years ago, but as the phoenix rises from the ashes, they’ve experienced an evolution into FireStar Apothecary. Ashtyn has always infused a little magic and positive energy into everything he does. All the favorite witches in your life will adore these wonderfully aromatic self-care rituals.
Fully stocked with bath bombs, essential oils, reiki-infused candles, henna kits, and stone jewelry, shop the entire collection on the FireStar Apothecary Big Cartel site.
Qi Dada Life
Qi Dada is half of the iconic Austin hip-hop duo Riders Against the Storm, as well as being a life coach and maker of magical goods. She exudes positivity and creates beautifully colorful calabash bowls. If you have any friends looking to add some vibrant goods to their altar, Qi Dada has you covered.
She’s offering 15% off at her magic shop all weekend with code READY2EAT on the Qi Dada Life site.
I met Hai Tarot through the Austin Witches Circle at some of their markets earlier this year. She’s a talented shamanic muse offering tarot and pendulum readings and spiritual guidance.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, her positive insights can offer you motivation in the right direction. Contact her via the Hai Tarot Wix site or DM her on her Instagram too book a reading for you or a gift for a friend!
Art & Home Decor
Sam of Mixed Hues has worked on some major arts improvement projects around the city, including the recent Be Well mural project on the Lamar Underpass. I had the privilege of meeting her earlier this year through the ATX Block Party, which we were both live painting at.
For any comic book fans in your life, she’s got laser cut wooden ornaments, spooky coasters, and illustrated art prints. Shop her inventory locally at Blue Genie Art Bazaar or directly on her shop at mixedhues.com.
I mentioned Akki on my gift guide last year because of the cute llama prints that would go great in a kid’s room, which she still offers on her site. This year she’s been creating a lot of beautiful, mini abstract artwork that would look wonderful in an office or on a plant shelf.
She’s also started hand-sewing masks and has hand-painted cork coasters all available on her website at madebyakki.com.
Though I’d been following her art and mural work for a while, I finally had the privilege of meeting Sadé earlier this year while she was coordinating Black Party ATX as part of her involvement with SprATX Collective. She’s a phenomenal muralist with large scale projects all over Austin, including the Mexican-Arte Museum and near the Lamar underpass.
For all the mystical fantasy-lovers in your life, she’s got a huge collection of vibrant stickers, colorful prints, and original works all available on her website sadelawsonstudio.com. Also she started her journey learning to do nails this year and is already killing it so you should follow her on her nail Instagram, as well!
Succs for You ATX
I’ve been internet friends with Daephine for a couple of years. She has a fun pop-art style that teleports you straight back to that early 2000s chat room experience. She started applying her pastel vapor wave stylings to plant pots and launched her brand Succs for You ATX.
If you’ve got some plant-loving 90s babies on your list this year, check out the cute offerings on the SuccsForYouATX Instagram, grab a plant in her Love is Love planter from PlantPartyCo, or browse her illustrations on the ShopDaephine Big Cartel site. For custom orders you can DM her or email her at email@example.com.
Tha Barbaby is a “content chemi$t” creating cute and fun pop art, who I met doing TrapXArt last year. Her portraits commemorate hip-hop album covers, horror movies, cartoons, and various pop culture references.
Check out this cute minimalist WAP portrait that she did, perfect for all the heaux in this house. You can order from her by DMing her on ThaBarbyDoll Instagram.
‘Tis the Season to Give
This year I’ve also decided to highlight four local organizations that could use your donations and support. Each of them bring a little something different to the table, but each is equally amazing work here in our community.
This one is a big no brainer, because they hired me and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity. This Black-owned organization does phenomenal work finding and creating housing for survivors of domestic violence at an incredibly necessary time.
Raasin in the Sun
Raasin in the Sun is an organization focused on urban beautification projects building resilient communities through art and environmental initiatives. They’ve coordinated such projects as the Rise of Masontown installation, Corazon of the Community augmented reality mural, and the Be Well murals under the Lamar Underpass.
They do important work preserving the culture of east Austin which is under constant threat from gentrification. You can donate to their efforts on their website at raasininthesun.org.
ATX Black Pride
ATX Black Pride is an organization dedicated to educating, celebrating, and inspiring Austin’s Black LGBTQ community. They made tireless efforts in mobilizing voters within their community with their Pride at the Polls campaign this year and have their 5th Annual Austin Black Pride Celebration planned for next June.
Austin Justice Coalition
Austin Justice Coalition is a Racial Justice Group that educates and builds community power for people of color who live in Austin that need support, community, and liberation during a time of systemic injustice in America. You may remember them from the Growth fundraiser I did earlier this year where we were able to raise $130 for them! They are still doing amazing work and still need funding.
They have a new apparel line they just released, with this beautiful The Work Continues design created by Sadé Channell, that you can order from Bonfire. Or you can always just donate to them directly on their site at austinjusticecoalition.org.
Onward to a more connected, human holiday shopping experience!
Thank you so much for reading my suggestions. Supporting other local artists makes me feel really good about the things I am buying and I hope to pass those warm-fuzzies along.
So go ahead…
Fight the power through making actively anti-racist shopping choices by giving your money directly to Black folks.
Bask yourself in the post-shopping glow of knowing you helped one individual person make ends meet and get gifts for their own during the holidays.
Rest assured, you’ll find super unique gifts that your loved ones will love and see the personal touches throughout your order buying from any of these wonderful people.
Be happy knowing you’re supporting Black-owned, and often woman-owned or LGBTQ-owned, independent small businesses.
Feel the interconnections of the human experience providing happiness to not just your gift recipient, but the vendor, as well, which is something you cannot get shopping on Amazon or at a big box store.
Try it out. You might really like it. Shower yourself with gratitude from both ends of the gift giving cycle by supporting Black creators and change-makers this holiday season.
I’d love to hear about your favorite Black artists and artisans. Leave a comment below with the friends you turn to to get the coolest, creative gifts!