Friday, November 28, 2014

Unique Companies

Now that your bellies are as stuffed as the turkey you devoured its time to start thinking about Christmas. Having been on restricted activity for the last month of my pregnancy, I had a lot of time to read, paint my nails, stay caught up on texts, phone calls, emails, blogs and social media, and of course shop online. In my online searches, I came across some really cool companies that do some really good things for people and/or sell some pretty sweet products.  

You know those people who are just a pain in the bootay to buy gifts for? The ones that don't need anything, don't want anything or have such unique taste that you second guess anything you might consider buying them. Or those people (*ahem* my husband) who, everything they want is waaaay out of your budget?

We all have at least one person that leaves us scrambling come Christmas, birthdays, etc. as to what to get them. If you're stumped for ideas this Christmas season, then hopefully some things on this list will help you break out of the "here's another gift card because I don't know what to buy you" rut.   

Ship & Dip

I first heard about this small online start up through a blog I love called Espresso & Cream. It was started by two sisters in Kansas just about a year ago. They are a monthly subscription service for...condiments?? Yep, condiments. Sounds a little funny but they're not just any ol' condiments. 

Their niche is finding "hidden-gem condiments that originate from all across the country. We’re here to help level the playing field between those big brands that can afford the shelf space today and the little guys who are making much more impressive sauces but can’t compete in the very dated grocery store model." 

All products are tasted and approved by their team before being included in their monthly box. Once a product has been sent out in the monthly box, it is then available for individual purchase on their website. 

You can do an ongoing monthly or quarterly subscription or pay up front for a 1-month, 3-month, 6-month or full year subscription. I did a 1-month as a gift for two different people back in May and the company sent me an email with the following:

"You are the first customer to purchase two of the monthly boxes for two different people, and we wanted to say thank you with a gift for you! We'd love to send you 2 products from our store, on us, as a small thank you for supporting our start-up."

Now that's smart business if you ask me. I chose two of the staff favorites, both from a company called Saucy Mama--Cracked Pepper marinade and a hot wing sauce. 

Let me just tell you, Franks has nothing on Saucy Mama. This Hot Wing sauce is so fresh and flavorful, it tastes like you made it yourself that day. It packs a punch too so if you like it hot, this one's for you! 

The marinade is out of this world. We have used it on multiple occasions to marinade pork tenderloin which we threw on the grill. The flavor is incredible and the leftovers of the meat are even better the next day! The bottle looks small but goes a long way. We have used it to marinade 6 different tenderloins (I told you this stuff was good) and still have enough left for another meal. 

I will definitely be purchasing these two again and look forward to trying more things from Ship & Dip in the future. 

Darby Smart

Now I will be honest and say I haven't actually tried this one, but the concept intrigues me. I first learned about it on Facebook I think. Darby Smart is another small online start up that launched last year. They work with top designers on Pinterest to put together pre-packaged DIY kits.

"Darby Smart makes DIY simple and fun. We send you the exact craft supplies you need to make a modern craft you will love."

Kits range anywhere from $15-$45 and include all materials and instructions to successfully complete the project so that it looks Pinterest worthy. 

This sort of thing is totally my jam. You see, I rally like to be crafty. I pin things to my "I Wanna Make It" board like the best of DIY-ers. Only problem is, I'm not the best of DIY-ers. I'm more of a paint by numbers artist than a throw paint on a canvas and create something fabulous kind of artist. So a kit with step-by-step instructions and materials would be just the thing for me. 

And maybe it is for you as well, or for someone you know. It might also be fun for you and your friends to order a few, either of the same thing or different things, and get together one afternoon for coffee, goodies and crafts that you know when you're finished there won't be that awkward moment when your friend's looks like it would be repinned 1000 times and yours looks like your child made it and yet she tells you it looks nice but you know inside she's thinking "Mine totally looks better than hers". 

Level the playing field ladies (or guys too if you're into crafts) and order these kits if you're doing a crafting afternoon with your friends. Or just spoil a friend who know likes these sort of things for her birthday or just because. 


Sevenly is...well I'll just copy and paste their mission rather for you:

"Sevenly was founded in 2011 by four people who shared the mission of leading a generation toward generosity. Based on a core belief that “People Matter,” they began a journey to do their part in helping to change the world for the better. Activating the “cause art” movement worldwide, Sevenly began by creating 7-day cause campaigns, inviting customers to purchase products that gave $7 to a weekly charity."

I have ordered from here a couple of times and have had great success with them. They're tricky, because shirts are only available for a week and then they're gone forever (although sometimes they do bring a few popular designs back for a week). It's cool though because it gives a variety of charities a great opportunity to raise some money for their organization in a unique way. 

Every Monday they announce that week's cause and reveal the shirt designs that you can purchase for men, women or children in support of the chosen organization. Shirts are reasonably priced and they offer a variety of on-trend styles that go beyond just your average t-shirt. They also sell accessories and bags as well as cool items and prints for the home. 

Sign up for their updates to stay in-the-know on the featured charity each week and when there's a cause that you know is near and dear to your or a friend's heart, snatch up a shirt and support good work being done to promote social change. 

Krochet Kids

Krochet Kids is a non-profit organization that is "driven to engage and help empower others, produce quality products, and change the way people think about their social impact." 

Started by 3 guys, Krochet Kids works in Uganda and Peru to provide jobs, education and mentoring for women. They work to help them establish a sustainable career and lift their families out poverty.

Their main product line is knit hats but they also sell apparel, bags and accessories. Each hat has a tag inside with the name of the woman who made it. You can go on the Krochet Kids website and find the name of the woman who made your product and learn more about her which is pretty neat.  

I ordered a hat for Olivia and I before she was born. Olivia has been rockin' hers since she was born and I busted mine out today. 

Given the cold winters here and the ridiculous amounts of pics I take, you will most likely be seeing lots of our Krochet Kids hats. 

Warby Parker

Last company for the day, Warby Parker was started by a group of 4 students who studied at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. They started the company in response to the outrageous prices for glasses. Seriously though, why are they so expensive??

Not only is Warby providing affordable and stylish glasses, but they also foliow the 1-for-1 model (think Tom's), meaning that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is donated to someone in need. 

Luis and I were long overdue for a new pair of glasses and went to one of their NY stores a while back with a prescription from our eye doctor. You can also get an eye exam for just $75 if you don't have a prescription. Glasses are just $95 unless you have crazy eye problems and need special lenses, then their a little pricier. Still not as pricey as an eye doctor though. 

Warby has storefronts in LA, NYC, Dallas and Boston which would obviously be difficult for a majority of you to get to but don't you worry, the company's Home Try-On program is just  for you. And also for mom's with little kids who would not be good company in a glasses store. And also for those of you who are crazy busy. And also for those of you who hate shopping. Or hate getting out of the house. Or just prefer the convenience of trying on glasses at home. 

Whatever your deal, if you go with the Home Try-On option, you can select 5 frames that you want to try. They will then send them to you, for free, and let you test them out in the comfort of your own home for 5 days giving you the freedom to try them with whatever outfit or hairstyle you want and take a million selfies from every angle just to make sure they are the perfect pair for you. 

Once you have your winner, you order them online and send the trials back for free and that's it. 10-12 business days later (or 5 for non-prescription glasses) you'll be lookin' fancy and wise beyond your years in your new frames. 

No promises that you'll look as cute as this little guy, but really, who can compete with that face?

Is it terrible that I secretly wouldn't be upset if he needed glasses because he looked so stinkin'  cute in every pair he tried on in Warby (he chose which ones he wanted and wore them around until he saw another pair he liked better)?

And there you have it, a long-winded list of new companies to try. Happy shopping!


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