What better way to get into the spirit of giving than by supporting small businesses founded by Western students and alumni.
To help you find that perfect gift or stocking stuffer, Western News has compiled a list of inspirational ideas certain to add a little ‘purple pride’ to your holiday season.
Local artisan accessories and décor
Not quite sure what to get for your loved one? Browse through Spruce Moose’s selection of accessories and home décor, featuring original work by more than 30 Canadian artisans. Joel Donkervoort, BESc’12, founded Spruce Moose in London, Ont. in 2012 selling hand-made bow ties and scarves. Expanding into locally made accessories and home décor items, Spruce Moose has become a trusted brand in the London community. Part of the proceeds from every purchase is donated to several causes, including ReForest London and the Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Centre.
Remote worker fashionista
Who says working from home can’t be stylish? Lex and Ten is a sustainable, made-in-Canada line of home office apparel. Founded by Sylvia Cleaver, BSc’10, Lex and Ten products are made of sustainably sourced fabrics and materials and use eco-friendly manufacturing processes with the ultimate goal of zero inventory waste, according to the company’s website. (Use discount code PurpleAndProud for 15-per-cent discount)
From plantation to bottle, the story of Booch Organic Kombucha is as compelling as the drink itself. Founded by Shannon Kamins, BHsc’10, Booch is an organic kombucha and jun beverage made of organic, beneficial microbes that enhance health and well-being. Both owner and master fermenter, Kamins is passionate about getting beneficial microbes into people’s bodies and promoting well-being. Being able to integrate that passion into a business venture has been an accomplishment for Kamins, who was named among the Top 20 Under 40 in London, Ont. in 2018. She was also awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in 2017. (Use discount code: PurpleAndProud for a 10-per-cent discount)
Sustainable seed snacks
Arise N’Go popped water-lily seeds is a healthy snack alternative that is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and all-natural. Founded by Sucheta Khurana, BA’21, and Gurveer Bahia, BA’21, Arise N’ Go is available online and at 11 retail stores and two markets in the London area. Popped water-lily seeds, also called as fox nuts or phool makhana, are known for their medicinal benefits in the Asian region. Healthy and sustainable, they are commonly found at the bottom of shallow waters, hand harvested, naturally dried and puffed through a roasting process that uses no oil. (Use discount code: PurpleAndProud for a 15-per-cent discount)
Competitive-rower-turned-entrepreneur Nicole Baranowski’s innovative adjustable hair tie, Hairstrong, has gained popularity among sports-enthusiasts, especially for its ability to firmly keep the hair tightly tied back even in the most strenuous exercises. Baranowski, BHsc’19, launched Hairstrong in 2019, and has since generated over $100,000 in revenue. The product has also gained the support of an angel investor with a $13,000-infusion this year. (Use discount code WESTERNHOLIDAY2021 for a 15-per-cent discount)
For baby and you
Female-founded and family-owned, Roo & You is a parent-oriented, small business creating “fun, design-forward,” made-in-Canada products for both parents and kids. Its signature Joey series comprises of modular foam play couches and cover sets. Founded by Helen Smith, BA’12, Roo & You debuted on the market with its original product, Chew Choo Baby Roo, affordable silicone teething products for babies. The company has evolved and expanded its product offerings to modular, foam furniture and baby feeding and teething accessories, made of 100 per cent food-grade silicone.
The gift of hope
Consider making a donation on behalf of a loved one to HopeSisters and become a bonafide HopeSpreader. Every HopeBag, which includes donated items such as toys, blankets and essential items, aims to bring joy to children in foster care. Founded by second-year medical sciences student Kenisha Arora, and her younger sister Alisha, this social project initially began with writing cards for isolated seniors in long-term care during the pandemic. Today, it’s a registered not-for-profit with 50 chapters in Ontario – from London to Kingston – including the London HopeCollective based at Western.
Tree-trimming gift idea
Give your tree a Western-touch, with the new pewter University College ornament offered by the Rotary Club of London South, a charity that helps children and youth in London and beyond. A miniature replica of one of Western’s most iconic buildings, the ornament is among four in the Rotary Club’s heritage-building collection. Ornament sales are the group’s primary fundraiser; other ones in this year’s series are the interior of the Grand Theatre and the exteriors of Marienbad Restaurant and Chaucer’s Pub and Grosvenor Lodge. Proceeds support the Rotary Club’s community outreach programs, including children’s lunches, Keep London Warm kits that include scarf and mittens for Londoners struggling with homelessness, and clean-water projects in Kenya.