Akt's Shop Small(er) Gift Guides

This week's edition of our 2020 Gift Guides features a few ways to support smaller businesses and our local communities. Team Akt has committed to shopping small(er) this season, and we're hoping you can join us!

In putting together these guides, we've included some great shops and small brands like ours — but we don't want to stop there. We've given some thought to ways we can support "our people" - the ones that make our lives easier, healthier and just generally better. We're talking personal trainers, people who teach a specific (in-person) skill, salons, spas, artists, community theater spaces, and charitable organisations.

Here's what this week's edition includes: 

1. SHOP SMALL: UNITED KINGDOM (+ ONLINE) 

Most of these small businesses have brick and mortar shop locations and online shops, but please check their websites for the most up to date information and how you can best support them. 

2. SHOP SMALL: NYC + BERLIN 

We wish we had time to create guides for tons more cities - but since we’re a tiny team of four, we had to stick with what we knew! Here are a few options for those who happen to be in New York or Berlin. 

3. SHOP SMALL(ER) FROM ANYWHERE! 

Not to worry — if you’re staying at home responsibly and can’t make it to the shops, you can still find ways to support smaller businesses. Here are a few of our favourites! 

Shop Small UK
  1. Coastal RemedyAn independently owned Wellness and Lifestyle shop in Southsea, Hampshire offering an array of natural and organic beauty brands, jewelry, books, artwork and more. “Coastal Remedy is not just a destination for green beauty fans, but also those seeking to shop for a variety of goods that respect the planet, people and your own wellbeing." They’re offering local Click & Collect, as well as online delivery for a charge.
  2. Topping & Company BooksAn independent bookshop with locations in Edinburgh, St Andrews, Bath and Ely offering Click & Collect or online ordering. There’s also the option to purchase Topping vouchers online, which have no expiry date.
  3. Earl of EastA boutique home fragrance brand started in 2015, they’re a personal favourite of our entire team - and offer an incredible selection of gifts for the holiday season. They have new Gift Sets that come beautifully packaged and ready to give, as well as dozens of other great gifting options. They're London based, but offer free UK shipping on online orders over £30.
  4. PlantEra: - Launched in the midst of Lockdown 1.0, PlantEra started after its founders read that millions of plants across the country were going to be binned after garden centres closed leaving customers were unable to purchase them. During this time, they rescued and delivered 30,000 plants, and then donated their profits to charity.
  5. East of EdenA Suffolk-based independent Brick & Mortar store selling homeware, ceramics, textiles and gifts.
  6. FROM: A local Thame lifestyle shop, full of beautiful pieces, most of which are designed or produced in Oxford and Buckinghamshire. Offering call & collect.

  1. Victoria Met Albertconcept stores in Prenzlauer Berg & Friedrichshain stocks a charming selection of fashion, accessories and homeware - “for the woman who has everything and the man who needs nothing“.
  2. Lager, LagerFor those missing the bars and pubs a bit extra this season, Lager Lager offers three options to bring the beer to them. In-store pickup, shipping to them, and in-person local delivery (Berlin only).
  3. ArchipelA new online market, pick-up, and delivery service that brings numerous Berlin specialty stores together. Allowing you to support a variety of local suppliers at once, and you’ll find the loveliest of bread, cheese, wine, coffee and other goods.
  4. Greenwich Letter Press: A sister-owned shop and personal favourite of our formerly New York based teammate. This little spot is her go-to for unique cards, stationary and fun surprises. Be prepared to buy something you probably don’t need. 
  5. Russ & DaughtersAn authentic New York experience delivered right to their door. Bagels, baked goods and more. They offer delivery across the five boroughs, pick-up and Gift Cards. Though we haven't tried it ourselves, they do also offer shipping across the US. 
  6. Butter & Scotch (online) Bakery: Cakes can really bring a celebratory mood to any situation - even in 2020. These gorgeous cakes are customizable (any text you want, really), and they ship. Enough said! Order online. 
  7. Books Are Magic Brooklyn: A neighborhood favourite, this magical book-haven has tons of gifts for the reader in your life - including monthly themed subscription boxes, and other great merchandise - we’re fans of the hoodie. 

Shop Small Anywhere

  1. Unlimited Design Shop: an online design shop and gallery that champions independent designers, artists and makers – selling an amazing array of unique concept-led artwork, homewares and accessories. We love their bold prints, bright colors and incredibly unique gift options. They’ve got everything from mugs (think 10x better than your average mug), and masks - to sea shoes, striped socks, and squiggle vases. They’re currently offering free shipping in the UK if you spend £75 - so think about stocking up for a few people on your list!
  2. Akt Gift Subscription Starter Kit: Our gorgeously packaged (and totally plastic-free) Starter Kit makes a perfect gift for those you can’t see in person. Simply select a digital gift card, and then let them decide how to Akt! They’ll get their gift how and when they want it.
  3. Ponderlilly: Have a planner in your life? Look no further than Ponderlilly - a family run business that designs elegant, eco-friendly and luxurious planners, notebooks & journals for more mindful living.
  4. Bookshop.org: If you can’t make it to your community book store in the coming weeks, we’ve got another option for you! Bookshop.org is new online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops across the UK. If you want to find a specific local bookshop to support, you can search them on the site's map and they’ll receive the full profit from your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookshops.
  5. Trouva: A large digital collection of products from hundreds of bricks-and-mortar boutiques from around the world, all in one place. They’re currently having a “Shop Small” Cyber Sale with some great finds from independent shops if you’re not able to shop in person (which is many of us).
  6. Porterhouse Cake Co.: A Leeds based bakery offering gorgeous baked goods, with a twist. They’re also offering options to to your brownie or biscuit box into a gift hamper, with great add-ons like hand-designed cards, teas, candles and more. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing one of these little boxes show up at our door.

4. BONUS LIST: OUTSIDE OF THE BOX IDEAS 

VOUCHERS/SOMETHING FOR LATER: While a lot of the fun of gifting comes on the day itself, we’re big fans of giving gifts that can be used later in the year - when the festivities have been long forgotten.

Consider supporting a local business with a voucher or gift card that can be used later on - think restaurant vouchers, course certificates, fitness class packs, or treatments at a spa or salon (to name a few). Here are a handful of options we love:

    1. Events & Classes, The Craft HouseThe Craft House offers a great range of arts and crafts classes for everyone - from total beginners to advanced artists. They’ve got everything from a “Sew Your Own Dungarees” class, to wreath making workshops, creative writing sessions, and candle making classes and more.
    2. Restaurant Vouchers, to local spots like Trullo: from £30 - give a voucher to their favourite local restaurant. We bet it’ll taste even better after lockdown. 
    3. Gift Hampers from places like Rectory Farm: A family owned farm since 1954, Rectory Farm offers Pick-Your-Own from April - October, but during the holiday season, it’s also a hidden gem for unique Christmas hampers. They've got a hamper for everyone from the "Dark Chocolate Enthusiast" to the "Bee Lover" or the “Pink Gin & Fizz" fan. They also offer gorgeous handmade wreaths crafted by Sarah Harper Floral Design incorporating British flowers and foliage grown with sustainable techniques. 
    4. Lend a Hand to a small business you love, such as Green Dragon Eco-Farm: they have a list of ways you can support them this season like buying fruit and vegetables for their animals, purchasing annual passes at a discount, or even sponsoring an animal.
    5. Fitness Coaching & Personal Training: Know a personal trainer who may offer private sessions - virtually? We can personally recommend Michael Byrne, a fitness performance coach who offers drop-in classes, subscriptions and package options - both online and in person. 
    6. Beauty Appointments & Treatments: Salons, spas and other local small businesses need our help this season! They've had a difficult time with the uncertainties (and last minute notice) of lockdown updates, so booking appointments or services for the coming year is a great idea. We love Deia Beauty London, a beauty studio and shop offering handmade, vegan and cruelty-free products, as well as a wide range of services. 

Lastly, if there’s a cause close to your recipients heart, you could also consider making a donation to a charity or supporting an organization that’s important to them. 

Thank you for considering shopping small(er) with us this season!🧡

If you have a suggestion for a great small business or know someone who should be added to our list, please email Kelly@aktlondon.com.