From puppy-saving chocolate to rainforest-friendly necklaces, we’ve curated a list of “gifts with a mission” made by female entrepreneurs.
Shopping for a meaningful gift? This holiday season, we asked women social entrepreneurs in our global TSE community to tell us about a gift they make that supports a cause, helps save the earth or raises awareness of an important issue.
We pored over dozens of entries, and narrowed our list down to these 12 unique items, all of which (according to our judges) would make you feel good when buying. Plus, these are exceptional products, which we tasted, felt, tried on or just generally admired during our final judging round. Despite our best efforts to curate a diverse gift guide, we couldn’t make up our minds between two pieces of jewelry — the Amazonian seed necklace and the silk wrap bracelets — so there’s actually 13 items on the list….but who’s counting. (Except Santa, maybe.)
In coming days, we’ll be spotlighting each item, so you can read more about the inspiring stories behind them.
If you’re looking for a way to gorge on chocolate bars without guilt, Rescue Chocolate may be your best bet. This Brooklyn-based company founded by Sarah Gross donates 100% of its profits to animal rescue organizations. This particular bar works to change negative attitudes towards pet pit bulls.
This Texas-based coffee company was inspired by founder Victoria Lynden’s trip to Hawaii, where she sampled a truly life-changing cup of joe. Proceeds from the company support clean and safe water solutions and re-usable bottles.
Roni Sivan conceived of the idea for this business while on a trip to Cambodia (“krama” means scarf in Khmer). Each time you purchase a gingham scarf, which is hand-woven by a Cambodian seamstress, you provide a child with a uniform so he or she can attend school.
Made of an ancient cotton fabric called thorthu, the towels are lightweight, quick-drying and compact. Chitra Gopalakrishnan launched this business with her mother in order to promote the production of thorthu textiles in India, a traditional process that is slowly dying out.
This lively piece of kitchen attire comes from Patrice Wynne, a Californian entrepreneur who has made the Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende her home. Local seamstresses sew the apron together from leftover fabric scraps and the purchase of one supports their livelihood as well as the reduction of waste.
This Activyst bag comes in coral or turquoise and is created out of water-resistant material that founder Katie Rock came across while working on girls’ rights with the World Health Organization in Nicaragua. The purchase of the bag helps fund running gear for female runners in Ethiopia.
The self-proclaimed “Elves’ Favorite Drink” comes out of Frisco, Texas, where CEO (Chief Elf Officer) Heidi Fausel manufactures the creamy holiday beverage — a favorite of her adopted foster son. Fausel donates a portion of all sales to agencies who match children in foster care with permanent homes.
Sheila Duncan created huggable plush dog “Trouble” in order to uplift children whenever they feel sad or blue. In addition to their regular sales, the company now donates Trouble dogs all over the world to children’s hospitals, the Children’s Miracle Network, and to families after crises and natural disasters.
Price: $12 and up
Lisa Baumgartner came up with the idea after attending dozens of children’s events where trash cans were filled at the end of the day with paper napkins. She designed the festive reusable fabrics to function as napkins or placemats and all are phthalate and lead-free and made with low-impact dyes.
Boxai consist of a series of boxes nestled inside one another, with a sweet surprise (a personalized message, or a small gift of your choosing) waiting in the middle. Boxai co-creator Mary Aspinwall chose to adorn all the boxes with images of bees in order to raise awareness of their rapid disappearance in the wild.
Co-founder Nadya Saib says her Indonesia-based company, Wangsa Jelita, empowers local farmers by purchasing crops (such as roses) and incorporating them into natural products, like these soaps. The company is setting aside 10% of profits to develop a processing facility to further support farmers’ livelihoods.
While honeymooning in the Amazon rainforest, Genevieve Morganstern and her husband, Deven, came up with the idea for an online marketplace, Nayariva, that would sell goods made by woman artisans in the tiny village of El Chino. Each purchase of a wish necklace sponsors a nutritious meal for a child in village.
Mother-and-daughter duo Tammy Asher and Chelsea Farmer donate $1 from every sale of their silk wrap bracelets to the Arbor Day Foundation, the ASPCA or The Hands and Feet Project. Bracelets come engraved with inspiring messages such as “Refuse to Sink” or “Just Breathe.”
Last updated: December 13, 2013
If you're a woman business owner, share your startup story through our 1,000 Stories project and be featured on our site.