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5 Small Businesses to Support This Holiday Season

If you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking about the holiday season. As you peruse gift ideas for your friends and family (or, hey, maybe even yourself), don’t forget to check out small businesses!

All of the small businesses featured in this article were created by current UF students and alumni. These five small businesses sell a variety of creative products that are sure to bring some joy into you and your loved ones’ lives. When you support these businesses, you are helping fund the passions of these imaginative businesswomen and purchasing a one-of-a-kind product.

The products that these ambitious and creative women make should be on your list of gift ideas, so be sure to check them out when shopping this holiday season!

Lion’s Den Creative (@lionsdencreative on Instagram) – Sustainable fashion and art

Lion’s Den Creative was started by UF alumni Vanessa Villarreal and is a business that sells one-of-a-kind, hand-painted jeans, original canvas prints, reconstructed tops, hand-painted canvas bags and handmade earrings. Vanessa said that the goal of LDC is to contribute to the expression of God’s creation through the visual arts, while promoting Earth-conscious shopping.

Before creating LDC, Vanessa was always tapping into her artistic side and using art as a stress reliever. Always a bit weary to try painting, it wasn’t until 2018 that Vanessa started painting jeans for fun. After some encouragement from her family and friends, Vanessa officially started LDC.

I suggest checking out LDC if you are into unique and eco-friendly pieces that will stand out in a crowd! Because Vanessa’s jeans are completely handmade and original, they take a lot of time to create, and she isn’t offering any holiday deals at the moment, she said.

To see more of Vanessa’s pieces, check out her next virtual pop-up on November 28 or visit her website.

The Box (@theboxgainesville on Instagram) – Customizable charcuterie, dessert boxes and more

The Box was started by a 21-year-old UF student named Liz Diaz who recently transferred from Auburn University. The Box offers a variety of different food boxes with themes ranging from charcuterie to dessert. It even has a cinnamon bun box!

Liz said she has always had a passion for baking, which is a hobby she’s had since she was five years old. Liz even attended “baby chef school” as a child. Liz said that starting The Box was an opportunity to use her passion to start a business and meet people in the community.

Initially, Liz created the charcuterie boxes because she thought that they would be cute to use during date nights, parties and bachelorette parties. But any of Liz’s dessert or charcuterie boxes would also make a great (and delicious!) surprise for a friend or loved one this holiday season. All of The Box’s products look delicious and like the perfect gift to brighten up someone’s day. Liz said that The Box “would love to offer holiday deals this year,” so keep this sweet small business in mind when you’re stumped on what to gift your friends this year.

AnilliosbyKaley (@anillosbykaley on Instagram) – Handmade jewelry

AnilliosbyKaley, a small jewelry business, was started by Kaley Arboleda, whose goal is to “make pieces that make people feel beautiful and elegant at obviously affordable prices.”

More recently, she has been trying to buy better quality materials to create a sleek, elegant look. Kaley makes her jewelry representative of her own style, which she described as a mix of colorful and eccentric.

This business was actually started out of something we are all familiar with: sheer boredom. Kaley explained that last Thanksgiving break, out of boredom, she made her first wire-wrapped ring. Besides just needing something to occupy her time, Kaley started her business to raise funds for her upcoming study abroad trip. She also donates some of her profits to organizations and issues that are important to her.

If you want the opportunity to support Kaley and some important organizations this holiday season, take advantage of the holiday bundles AnilliosbyKaley will have. Starting in December, AnilliosbyKaley is offering holiday bundles so that people like you can get multiple pairs of rings or earrings–rather than one–for cheaper!

Happy Day Design Co. (@happydaydesign.co on Instagram) – Design Studio and Shop

Jennifer is the owner of Happy Day Design Co., a design studio and shop that “uses creativity to inspire joy and empowerment.”

This small business offers a variety of different products and services like design, branding and custom portraits. Jennifer also sells products like stickers, wall art, sun catchers and apparel with her artwork on it.

Over a year ago, Jennifer started freelancing her art, but then she entered a competition where she had to create a business model. It was because of this model that she was able to start selling her products. Jennifer said she hopes that, within the next five years, running Happy Day will be her full-time job.

You can help support Jennifer and Happy Day, while also getting some cute stickers and prints, by checking it out this holiday season. Happy Day always has free shipping, and you can use the coupon code ‘HCXO’ for 15% off anything in the shop! Happy shopping!

Earrings by Tomi (@earringsbytomi on Instagram) – Handmade earrings

Tomi, creator of Earrings by Tomi, is a third-year student at the University of Florida. Tomi has always loved earrings, especially handmade ones, so it only made sense that her friends got her earring making kits for her birthday this past year.

Tomi explained that these craft kits turned into a business because she loved making earrings, but she knew that if she kept making them, she would have nowhere to keep them. “That’s when I decided I wanted to start a business and share my love of earrings with my community,” she said.

Besides wanting to share her love of earrings with others, Tomi said her goal is to make earrings that are cute, funky and affordable for college students. If you want to get a pair of Tomi’s earrings, make sure to follow her Instagram page, where she’ll be posting holiday deals throughout the season. While not all of Tomi’s holiday deals are solidified yet, she does know that she will have a day where all of the earrings she sells will be $10. That money will be used to buy holiday gifts for the two children she sponsors through the Wish Upon a Star Foundation.

Supporting Earrings by Tomi supports not just a small business, but also other worthy organizations such as the Wish Upon a Star Foundation. Be sure to check out this amazing business!

Caroline is a fourth-year sociology major at the University of Florida. She is from south Florida and loves to travel, cook, read, and listen to true crime podcasts.
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