I seem to have a disproportionately high number of friends with creative businesses and side gigs. My Instagram feed is crammed with folks making cool stuff, which makes me endlessly happy. There is probably some law of the universe stating that creative, multi-plate spinning people will naturally gravitate toward each other, so that’s really no surprise. On today’s Small Business Saturday edition of Helpful Holidays, I’d like to highlight some of my favorite people and their creative enterprises. Check ’em out!

Chad Davis Design (Columbus, OH) – My friend Samantha’s hubby makes very cool earrings out of solid domestic hardwood that is glue and formaldehyde free. He has lots of designs for every style and occasion.


Adorned with Joy (Coumbus, OH) – I went to college with Rachel and actually knew her first as an accomplished seamstress…like, make her own ball gown level seamstress. She now makes custom-designed hand set Swarovski crystal jewelry. (Not affiliated with Touchstone Crystal.)


Kari Breitigam (Houston, TX) – Kari was one of my roommates freshman year and definitely in the top 3 coolest people living in our quad. (I was definitely #4.) I remember posing for a few of her projects, and I’m stoked that she is still making art 11 years (ouch) later! She sells handmade fiber art and accessories on Etsy and posts a lot of other really cool stuff on Instagram.


A La Mode Ears (Orlando, FL) – Alicia is another talented college pal who makes – wait for it – super stinking cute custom Mickey/Minnie ears! Need I say more?! (No, but if you want to see more, see her Instagram.)


Mama B’s Inspired Designs (Orlando, FL) – I met my friend Becca through Sseko Designs (there seem to be a large number of fabric junkies on our team, shockingly) and she sells handmade accessories made largely from upcycled fabrics. She just sent me a lovely key fob  (top) to replace my very tired one from 6 years ago (bottom) and I love it! Get free shipping on her Etsy store items from now until December 2.


Elisha’s Rice Bags (St. Paris, OH) – Elisha and I taught together at the career center and is another sewing genius. (I have yet to really progress past the sewing large rectangles with straightish lines stage.) She makes these cute rice bags for hot/cold compresses and aromatherapy. All proceeds go to Children’s Miracle Network until December 31st.


Corner Market Media (Columbus, OH) – I already wrote a lengthy ode to Shelby so I’ll try to be brief here. She builds websites. And brands. And strategies. Really, really well. And is very nice and accessible and thoughtful and understanding and she can take my scribbled rambly nonsense and turn it into something functional which is a skill I’m pretty sure only she and Science Guy have mastered or even attempted.


Wandering Woo Photography (Columbus, OH and destination weddings) – Paul Woo’s photography snaps, crackles, and pops in a way I’ve seen in only a few photographers’ work. It makes me think of what would happen if a National Geographic photographer did weddings, which I love, and a not-tiny part of me wishes I had thought to book him for our wedding. I met Paul a few times at the end of college during a few photography excursions with some church friends, and I’m glad to see he’s mastered his art in such a spectacular way! Columbus-based but will travel.


Designed by Excellence (Schuylkill Haven, PA) – My Sseko Mentor Fellow Genavieve runs a faith-based business coaching service with a sprinkle of sass. Genavieve has been a wonderful source of support and encouragement as I crash my way through Sseko Fellowhood and new mom-ness. (Probably even more so the latter than the former!)


The Culinary Agency (Columbus, OH)- Rah is a gift to Columbus from the culinary gods. After cooking for a Fortune 500 company, he has stepped out and is making his own way as a caterer and soon-to-be restaurateur and blockbuster food blogger and cookbook author. (I’ve, um, taken the liberty of managing his career, you see…) If you ever need to eat a meal in Columbus, CALL THIS MAN. AND ORDER THE CHICKEN SALAD. SEVEN POUNDS OF IT. AND THE ASPARAGUS. NONE OF WHICH I HAVE PHOTOS OF BUT HERE’S HIS SIGNATURE SALMON. #keepitcute #makeitpretty


Sara’s Sweets (Lima, OH) – Sara is my go-to case study when I declare to my husband that I’m quitting life and baking alcoholic cupcakes for a living. Sara and I taught together during my first year of teaching. After that first year, I then proceeded to temporarily ruin my life for about three years, while she started baking cupcakes out of her kitchen and eventually opened her own stand-alone bakery. (My life is doing significantly better but I haven’t opened a bakery yet.) If you’re anywhere near Limaland, stop by and enjoy a cupcake!


Jenna Long (Columbus, OH) – Jenna is magical. Okay, more specifically, she is a certified Reflexologist, Yoga Instructor, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Transcutaneous Acupuncturist, and Reiki practitioner and offers wellness services such as holistic health consulting, health coaching, reflexology, and guided meditation. She also leads a donation-based generous yoga class that is both accessible and challenging, even for me at 39 weeks pregnant. She is probably the most zen person I know while also being completely down to earth. Her blog is especially fun to read. And she is a really good photographer. Like I said…magical.


Sylvie Does Yoga (Ann Arbor, MI) – My most vivid impression of Sylvie is her smile. We met in graduate school for science teaching and that smile was always lighting up not just her face but her whole personality. (Even when we were forced to churn out legitimate-sounding responses to lesson plans about frogs in Taiwan.) She sadly abandoned the Buckeye State for that state up north, but she’s a Badger fan at heart anyway. But I still like her. She now teaches yoga in addition to pursuing further graduate studies and mothering a very darling little girl.


There you have it! In the spirit of giving better, not more, this holiday season, consider purchasing a gift or service from a small business this year and supporting these awesome people and their families! (I will happily accept 5 pounds of Rah’s chicken salad or a dozen of Sara’s cupcakes or a reflexology session with Jenna if anyone is just stumped for what to give me…)

This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the businesses listed. They’re just awesome people doing awesome things.