If you’re still on the lookout for a great gift (or something special for yourself), we’ve made it easy for you to shop with purpose while supporting local businesses! To help small business owners recover after a challenging year, we’ve included as many of their fabulous products as possible in our 2021 Gift Guide. For example, handmade chocolates from Mary’s Brigadeiro, handsfree baby towels by Oneberrie and artisan-made handbags by Bouswari. Of the businesses featured, close to 60% are Canadian, nearly half of which are owned by women and/or BIPOC founders.
Founded by self-taught fashion designer Catherine Addai, the Kaela Kay fashion brand enables all women to find their own beautiful and personal style. African-inspired women’s fashion with a modern, eclectic, classy and sometimes sexy flare – all made in Canada. Life’s too short to wear boring clothes, so add some colour and vibrancy to your wardrobe. Shop online or in store (Toronto: 857 Wilson Ave, North York, and Ottawa: 1282 B Wellington St. W.).
If “perseverance” had a personification, it would probably be the extraordinary Uwi Twins (pronounced ‘oo-wie’). Fighting for life at the young age of seven, twin brothers Reuben and Lévi were able to escape the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 with a determination to not just survive, but thrive. Today, they expertly teach the “art of looking good” with a style of survival. Uwi Twins tell their real-life story of birth and survival through the lens of street style. They created Uwi Twins with a message to inspire others to live creatively. Living in Africa, Canada, and traveling through Hong Kong has brought a unique insight to their designs.
Naomie Caron always thought there was a better way of doing fashion. Torn between over-consumption in the fashion industry and the desire to make an impact, she decided to keep that passion close to her heart by making things differently. Sustainability is one of the primary drivers behind the brand; every piece needs to last a minimum of 5 years. By producing high-quality swimwear using recycled nylon imported from Italy and guaranteeing the stitches for a year, the locally made suits help women feel their best, inside and out. Further, Naomie offers a repair service which extends beyond the first-year warranty, so you can continue to wear your favourite bathing suit for years to come.
Bouswari was founded by Senegalese – Canadian Diarra Bousso Niang, whose goal is to share the beauty, culture and heritage of her birthplace, Senegal. Bouswari partners with local artisans in Senegal to offer leather products that celebrate fine traditional craftsmanship, blended with unique contemporary and practical designs. Inspired by diverse African traditions and cultures, each collection introduces a new African style.
New parents are inundated with must-have lists when they learn they are expecting. But rarely do they learn how to give their newborns a safe, enjoyable bath. As a mom of three, professional engineer, and a first-generation Canadian with South African roots, Oneberrie founder Sue-Rose Read says she built her BATH METHOD on the process passed down by her mother and grandmother, combined with the process that makes maternity nurses “pro-baby bathers.” Her products are designed with sustainability and comfort top of mind.
Coffee brings us joy. Montaneros Coffee is a small business based in Brampton, Ontario. Dedicated to sharing the rich flavour of Colombian specialty coffee, every step from farm to table is carried out with passion and sustainability. Montaneros coffee is grown in micro-lots by coffee-growing families, and is hand-picked to ensure the quality of each bean. Founders Wilmer Hernandez’s family have been producing coffee for generations. They are proud to offer special varieties like Castillo Natural coffee, which presents exotic flavours such as dark chocolate, wine, clove, and cinnamon. “At the end of the day, we all end up speaking the same language: the language of love and friendship….the coffee language.”
Toronto native and New York City transplant, Creative Director and Founder Aurora James amassed an impressive resume of fashion industry experience prior to starting Brother Vellies. Her background in fashion, journalism, art, music, photography, and horticulture joins a forever-passion for artisanship, design and humanitarianism to create truly one-of-a-kind pieces that will remain in your wardrobe forever. Brother Vellies was founded in 2013 with the goal of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. Now handmade artisanally across the globe, Brother Vellies creates luxury accessories that celebrate cultural histories and timeless design.
Mars = Possibility
Quest = To reach your greatest potential
Launched in 2016 in Toronto, the MARSQUEST brand was inspired by the diversity found in our city. The founders wanted to create eyewear that could be worn by anybody, anywhere. MARSQUEST offers eyewear that defines the adventure-centric lifestyle. Whether you’re running the track or walking the dog, rocking the slopes or killing it at the office, MARSQUEST Eyewear is there every step of the way.