This holiday season, as you make your wish list and plan gifts for family and friends, put some up-and-coming brands on your radar. Each company below is women-owned, and they’re making beautiful products while building successful businesses. Ranging from bags to jewelry to ceramics to quilts, you’re sure to find something to ask Santa for from this impressive line-up:
Minneapolis-based Lauren Neal is behind this beautifully simple line of NEAL Jewelry, which she says is made for women who are stylish but more focused on bringing thoughtful items into their lives than following all the latest trends. “My ideal customer is a woman who prefers design over fad, quality over quantity,” she explains. Her love of jewelry making began when she took a class for fun back in 2008, and began diving into the craft, experimenting with as many different types of jewelry as she could. By 2010, she had her own studio and knew she wanted to make it her full-time career. NEAL Jewelry’s collection includes pieces in gold, bronze, and silver, and each piece is classic enough – not to mention quality enough – to last a lifetime. Lauren draws inspiration for her jewelry largely from travel, and when she’s not able to leave the Twin Cities she turns to art, sculpture, and old books and fashion magazines to help spark her creativity.
Top pick: Plateau Cuff Bracelet | photo: nealjewelry.com
Louise Gray co-founders Alexandra Gray Bennett and Jocelin Johnson strive to use their medium to reinterpret the age-old craft of quilting in a way that makes it more relevant for a modern audience. Their stunning and contemporary quilts are crafted in Minneapolis, and are carefully designed to stand up to the test of time. “Our hope is to not only give consumers a practical and beautiful piece to further curate their home, but one that is thoughtfully made and tells a story,” said Alexandra. Jocelin acts as creative director of Louise Gray, and says her inspiration for the quilts’ designs comes from mediums ranging from architecture to photography to typography to naturally occurring elements. Alexandra and Jocelin love being a part of the small business community, especially in their tight-knit Minneapolis home. “One of the most rewarding aspects has been meeting with other makers and artisans, and we’re incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such a large community of them here in Minneapolis,” Alexandra said.
Top pick: Throw Quilt No. 7 | photo: louisegray.com
Brielle Macbeth, the artist behind ceramics company Dust and Form, describes both herself and her taste as “clean, minimal, but just a little quirky,” and those attributes come to life through the homewares pieces she crafts. Her ceramics pieces — which would be a beautifully minimalistic addition to any kitchen — are inspired by the idea of “temporary brilliance,” and she says she loves working in an industry where she’s making things for people to use and truly appreciate. “I’m a one-woman show, so anything that comes from my studio has come directly from my hands,” Brielle said. “That feels pretty special to me, and I hope it feels special to those who have my pieces.”
Top pick: Medium Mug | photo: dustandform.com
JLEW Bags, a New York-based company with Jamie Lewis at the helm, is redefining what it means to travel to the gym from work – and whatever happens in between – by adding a high-fashion, high-quality option into the marketplace. “They’re designed to carry you from one activity to another seamlessly. You can look put together when you might not feel like that inside, and you don’t have to swap out things from one bag to another and add incremental stress to your day, whether you’re a professional, a mom, a fitness instructor, avid traveler, or all four!” Jamie says of her bags. These multi-function bags are designed for real women who live busy lives, and are as durable and utilitarian as they are gorgeous. For Jamie, inspiration for her company comes from people watching on the streets of New York. She says she’s always looking at bags and taking in colors, textures, and ideas to fuel her line. Though she says running her own business can be obsessive and all consuming, for her it’s all worth it – especially when she sees how much joy her products bring to women. “When I see people’s faces light up with excitement about the bags and when our customers send notes and pictures of how they’re using them in their daily lives and how happy they are, I get a real rush,” she says.
Top pick: Platinum Heavyweight Triangle Top Tote | photo: jlewshop.com