Celebrating Small Businesses

A holiday photo of Juan and his wife Cheyenne.

As the holiday season unfolds, I’m thrilled to share with you some of my favorite gift ideas that not only bring joy to our loved ones but also support incredible small businesses in Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Juan and I have always believed in the power of community, and what better way to show it than by choosing gifts that give back to our local small businesses. Most selections are minority-owned as well. So, here’s my curated list of gift ideas from businesses that hold a special place in our hearts:

Amaya Accessories, brilliant and colorful earrings, upcycled handbags and more. Handmade, woman-owned, and one-of-a-kind pieces. I especially love the “Mandala Collection” of statement earrings. Amaya Accessories items are a regular at pop-up markets throughout the DC area, including the iconic Eastern Market in Capitol Hill, and on commission in boutiques in Georgetown, the Wharf, Union Market, and College Park. The founder opened her first boutique when she was just 20 years old, selling clothes out of her parents’ home. Her designs are influenced by her colorful childhood in Cali, Colombia, where she played with the scraps of fabric that fell from her mother’s seamstress table. All statement earrings and handbags listed on the website are currently under $100. @Amaya_Accessories

Violet Red Studio — Cubicle decor, notepads, stickers, magnets, prints, Iconic Women office art, affirmations prints, and stationary. The instagram account alone will make you smile. Meet self-described “overly optimistic” and self-taught Nicaraguan mixed media artist Violeta Barcenas Chamorro who combines colors, patterns, and words to create pieces that “inspire and bring joy.” Items are available via her Etsy site. I especially love the “Sobremesa” (inspired by after dinner talk) collection of Iconic Women which has grown to over 100 portraits. Based in Kensington, Maryland, all orders ship from the artist’s home. @VioletRedStudio

Buldano’s Turkish towels, designed in Maryland and hand-woven in Anatolia, Turkey. Peshtemals, also known as Turkish towels, are 100% cotton, produced in hand-woven looms in Turkey (still made the same way as they have been for centuries). The towels are super absorbent, dry quickly, lightweight and easy to carry. Plus, they take up little space so it makes for a great gift for travelers. Perfect for home or the beach. Available in a variety of colors and styles. I like anything with a navy stripe, or black and white stripes, because they go with nearly any fashion or decor. @Buldano

Festive Maryland Recipes, Kara Mae Harris’ new cookbook is a collection of recipes and a journey through history. Dubbed, “The Blogger Quietly Preserving Maryland’s Culinary History,” Harris has compiled an ambitious and artistically beautiful presentation featuring recipes by Rachel Rappaport, which traces histories of migration and food from Korea, Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, Wales, Italy, as well as from Black, Jewish, and Lumbee communities in Maryland. “Indulge in a Kinkling on Fat Tuesday; celebrate Passover and Easter in East Baltimore; taste cookies from the oldest Maryland cookbook; be the first to visit neighbors on New Year’s Day in St. Mary’s County; engage in Christmas mayhem and blame the eggnog; find out why the Frostburg post office smells like saffron in December; stuff your Thanksgiving turkey with oysters from the Eastern Shore, and please, don’t forget the sauerkraut!” I’ve placed my pre-order and can’t wait to receive it, not only for these unique recipes, but for its bold, festive pink cover and beautiful illustrations. This cookbook combines food, history, and art into a conversation-worthy gift. @Old_Line_Plate

The perfect red lipstick by Embellish Beauty Cosmetics, founded by Marcia Williams, former QVC hair and makeup artist turned business owner/founder/creative director, based in Philadelphia, PA. Products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free. These are my #1 favorite lip products because while I love long-wear lipstick I find most drugstore brands to be very drying! Embellish Beauty is made with grape-seed oil and avocado oils for maximum hydration yet somehow provides 12+ hours of wearability. Plus, Marcia has created a red lipstick that looks beautiful on every skin tone. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer (with gorgeous packaging). Also try her magnetic lash collection in 7 styles. @embellishbeautymakeup

Watercolor Giclee prints by Joyful Clay: gift the beautiful historic streets of Annapolis, Maryland for under $25 each. Printed on Somerset Velvet watercolor paper, and hand signed by local Annapolis artist Sarah Sewell-Tippin. Most prints measure 5 x 7 inches and are unframed, making them easy to travel with and easy to ship. @thejoyfulclay

Charm City Run is a running and walking specialty company, with 8 retail locations throughout Maryland and Delaware. Their events division manages more than 100 sports endurance events each year. Many of the 5K races Juan For Maryland participates in are organized by Charm City Run. What I love best about their local stores is their extraordinary customer service which you can’t find with the big brands. Over the years, their sales people have always taken extra time to make sure our family has the proper fitting shoes. They’ve got great gifts for runners, walkers, hikers, and anyone looking to kickstart a new fitness routine in the new year. While you’re at it, you can also sign up for the Holiday Hustle 5K in mid-December and many other 2024 race events. @charmcityrun

Colada Shop: Juan and I have a soft spot for Colada Shop’s whole bean coffee. Their Havana Blend, available online, is a perfect gift for coffee aficionados, bringing the warmth of Cuban coffee mornings to any kitchen. The founder and CEO of the DMV-based restaurant and retailer, Daniela, is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who shares a love of cafecito! Next time you visit the D.C. area, you have to stop in for a snack at one of their five locations (order the Havana Oh La La Sampler). Each vibrant little shop is threaded with an aqua color palette which always transports me straight to the Caribbean. @coladashop

Lyon Rum, located in Saint Michaels, Maryland, steps from the Chesapeake Bay. Founded in 2012, the distillery launched a signature line of rums paying tribute to the rich, spirited traditions of the Eastern Shore. Lyon Rum starts with intentionally-sourced raw ingredients: 100% Louisiana cane sugar & molasses, and is truly hand-crafted. Jaime Windon, female founder/president, believes there is a rum for all occasions. We learned about Lyon Rum at a local farmer’s market where we met Jaime who serves on the American Craft Spirits Association Board of Directors and the National Small Business Association Leadership Council. She’s also completed two terms as a town commissioner in Saint Michaels, MD. @lyonrum

Snarfies Pet Treats. No holiday is complete without a little something for our dogs Tucker and Junior. Try these handmade, premium dog and cat treats with only one or two ingredients. Snarfies uses pure protein for their easy to chew treats. No additives, binders, fillers, grains, or powdered anything. Less than 2.5 calories per treat. Plus, ingredients are sourced from local and regional farmers. Tucker and Junior recommend the beef liver & egg omelet flavor. 100% made in Maryland. @snarfiespet

By choosing gifts from local small businesses, we’re not just spreading holiday cheer; we’re strengthening the community bonds that make Maryland and the DMV so special.

Happy holidays to all, and may your season be filled with joy, love, and the spirit of giving!

With warmth,

Cheyenne Dominguez