Hyperlocal for the Holidays
From shoes to dollhouses to leather goods, these Austin designers are doing it their way
Don't have the stomach for Black Friday's lines? We advocate devoting the day after Thanksgiving to lounging around with leftovers and loved ones and saving those holiday gift-buying dollars for Small Business Saturday. We talked to six Austin designers and small-business owners about their inspirations, favorite holiday traditions, and which local charities they'll be supporting this season. And while you're circling days on the calendar, don't forget #GivingTuesday, a global day of donating time, money, and your voice for worthy causes.
Jewelry: Hawkins Bucklew Handcrafted Jewelrywww.hawkinsbucklew.com
Through dangling tassel earrings and rope chain necklaces, Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew, local jeweler and advocate for women in entrepreneurship, hopes to connect her customers to "their authentic self." Last month, Hawkins Bucklew jewelry participated in its second Full Tilt fashion show during F1 weekend, which the owner said is just one of the opportunities for international exposure in Austin. "Our jewelry speaks for our customers and represents who they are as individuals," Hawkins says. "It's not so much about what's trending but more about making an authentic connection with the wearer in their current state of human expression." – Nina Hernandez
Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew on some of her favorite local clothing designers: We have so many great designers in Austin! I love Sally Daneshjou Collection; her wedding gowns are breathtaking. Michelle Nokéo Twite's Nokéo handbags are one-of-a-kind works of magic. Chris Clark's ChristineSonia dresses are sexy and practical. The Downtown boutique Found reminds me of shopping in New York – I love their sophisticated-chic women's clothing lines.
Austin holiday tradition: Junior League Christmas Affair
Favorite holiday dish: Sweet potato casserole
Essential holiday movie watch: Binge-watching the Hallmark Channel's original holiday movies
Go-to holiday song: Donny Hathaway's song "This Christmas"
Most memorable gift: Family holiday gift spending Christmas in Rome and New Year's in Munich
Favorite charity: Hawkins Bucklew Foundation – or anything that positively uplifts the lives of underserved women and children
Pets: Dog + Bonewww.dogplusbone.com
When Anne Christian and Ivan Cook adopted their dogs, Flora and Leland, they decided to fuse their knowledge of animals, gear, sewing, and design to create collars and leashes that could stand the test of their active lifestyle. That resulted in Dog + Bone, a line of durable snap collars and adjustable leashes made in Austin with an emphasis on using materials from the U.S. "Where else can you sign your dog up for the annual Dog Beard and Moustache Competition?!" says Christian. "Austin is such a fun-loving dog-friendly city, it keeps us inspired and motivated to create amazing dog gear." – Nina Hernandez
Anne Christian on Austin's pet-commerce community: Austin is such an amazing city full of ambitious and creative dog-lovers. From natural pet food, boutique pet stores and spas, even makers of dog beer, the list just goes on and on. It's so hard to pick just a few of our favorites.
Austin holiday tradition: Pictures with Santa at Austin Pets Alive!, Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, 37th Street lights
Favorite holiday dish: Homemade chocolate pecan fudge
Essential holiday movie watch: A Christmas Story
Go-to holiday song: Any song by Bing Crosby
Favorite charity: Austin Pets Alive!
Clothing: SUAVS Shoeswww.suavshoes.com
Originally inspired by needing a stylish shoe for any occasion while living in Madrid, Monxi Garza was able to blend comfort and style in SUAVS, the slip-on shoe brand she launched in Austin last year. "What inspires my designs are my surroundings, so it depends on the city I am currently living in," Garza says about her design aesthetic, noting her Austin-inspired shoe, dubbed "The Zilker," that will debut next year. People may be surprised that SUAVS is comprised of only a three-person team that carries out every task – from marketing to product design to web design and more. If that's not enough to inspire you, SUAVS will be donating a pair of shoes to Soles4Souls for every pair sold in December. Garza chose the charity because it is "an organization that builds that bridge between footwear brands and people in need" by helping shoe companies give back. How very suave of them. – Spencer Beghtol
Monxi Garza on some of her favorite Austin designers and shops: For me, my Austin-based designer role model would be Kendra Scott. She started out small, but had a big dream and a solid vision. I love the fact she gives importance to family, which I believe is very important as well.
Another footwear company to look out for is Tredagain. They make flip-flops out of recycled tires.
Kettle & Brine is a kitchen supply store that I think is beautiful. [It was] created by Tarica Navarro, a food lover as well as designer (she designed the whole space). Not only do they sell kitchenware, they also organize cooking and meal prep events and workshops.
Another designer I love is Luisa Gil, textile designer at Fandindo, who creates beautiful textures inspired by organic shapes found in nature. She is truly a genius.
Austin holiday tradition: Trail of Lights is wonderful, and holiday markets and pop-up shops are so much fun.
Favorite holiday dish: Sausage, apple, and raisin stuffing
Overrated holiday dish: Turkey, but only when it's too dry
Essential holiday movie watch: Home Alone 2
Go-to holiday song: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Frank Sinatra and "All I Want for Christmas" by Mariah Carey are on repeat during the holidays.
Most memorable gift: I'd have to say the most excited I've ever been about a Christmas present was when I got my long-lusted-after Baby G watch when I was a kid.
Favorite charity: Round Rock-based Hope Alliance assists people affected by family and sexual violence.
Kids: Lille Hüsetwww.lille-huset.com
Alyson Beaton started off studying architecture and visual communications, working for a time as an architect and later as a photo editor. However, her career took a turn a few years ago after a tour of the cities of Europe and the birth of her children inspired the release of her Lille Hüset line of products. Translating to "little house" in Norwegian, Lille Hüset consists of intricate, DIY paper dollhouses to be constructed by kids themselves, as well as games and beautiful illustrated books teaching the importance of community, the environment, and the interconnectedness of the two. – Tucker Whatley
Alyson Beaton recommends a couple of Austin designers: I really like the tangram puzzles by Bright Beam Goods and the whale mobiles of JCR Workshop. I love Bright Beam Goods because they are so architectural and colorful. Their use of mixed materials is so great, and not to mention 100 percent made in Austin! And the mobiles that are made by JCR Workshop are all hand-screenprinted here in Austin, laser cut and then assembled to create an entire "under the sea" or "in the air" collection to hang from your ceiling.
Austin holiday tradition: Since most of my family lives here, we always have a big dinner at my sister's place.
Favorite holiday dish: I kind of like eating all of the traditional sides, yum.
Overrated holiday dish: Turkey
Essential holiday movie watch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Go-to holiday song: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Most memorable gift: I got a bike a few years ago that I love.
Favorite charity: Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Home Goods + Custom Furniture: Canoe Goodswww.canoegoods.com
Canoe Home Goods is in the business of reviving the utility of a material that, in the eyes of owner Natalie Davis, only gets better with age. Davis launched Canoe in 2009 with the goal of "resurrect[ing] the timeless material of leather," according to her website, and she's been making beautiful custom creations ever since. She started Canoe with the belief that leather's durability would allow families to develop meaningful connections with their belongings over the years. "Our work is meant to be well loved and passed on to the next generation," said Davis via email. "It's about investing in quality materials that are hand crafted with care." – Will McCarthy
Natalie Davis on some of her favorite Austin businesses: My favorite butcher shop is Salt & Time. Their butchers can help you be the star of your next dinner party. Everything is house-made, from the salami to pickles, and their meat is delicious, local, and ethically raised. It's also a great spot for happy hour on the Eastside.
For jewelry, my go-to designer is Fail Jewelry. Christine [Fail]'s work is both timeless and modern. I wear her jewelry every day and get compliments on the regular.
For hardware and garden supply, I love Callahan's General Store – it's truly Texan and has a super-helpful staff.
For women's clothing and accessories, Olive has you covered. Laura [Uhlir] carries my favorite clothing designers, plus a great line of cards. It's a perfect spot to find a memorable gift for girlfriends.
Austin holiday tradition: Seeing The Nutcracker with my family
Favorite holiday dish: Porchetta from Salt & Time
Go-to holiday song: "Just Like Christmas" by Low
Favorite charity: Fresh Chefs Society
Outdoor + Gardening: Delta Dawn Gardenswww.deltadawngardens.com
Leah Churner reviewed movies, including here at the Chronicle, for years, but decided to trade in the cool darkness of the cinema for the sunshine and fresh air of the great outdoors by starting her own gardening business in 2015. Named Delta Dawn after the hit 1972 Tanya Tucker song, her company provides environmentally sustainable gardening and landscaping services for homes and small businesses. Whether you want them to just help you plan your garden, or you want to go whole hog and have all the plants sourced and delivered, installed, and your garden maintained over time, Delta Dawn is up to the task. Plus, they'll even decorate and undecorate your home for the holidays. – Tucker Whatley
Leah Churner's can't-miss plant suppliers: Barton Springs Nursery always has the best selection of Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii). I generally advise against giving plants as gifts, but I make an exception for Christmas cactus because I'm nostalgic about them. They are winter-bloomers, but the foliage looks great year-round as long as you leave them alone. Don't repot and don't overwater.
For the gardening aficionado, the ultimate gift is a pair of Felco pruners. It's the only tool I use every day. The Natural Gardener has the widest selection of Felco models for small hands, big hands, lefties, and different uses. I'm currently using the Felco 8.
Frond Plant Shop sells lovely macramé plant hangers. Of course macramé has that fabulous Seventies look. But the hangers are also functional because they allow you to turn any solid pot into a hanging basket, and it's easy to remove the pot for watering or swap out plants without making a mess. Also, if you have a cat who is hellbent on eating your houseplants, hanging plants from the ceiling is your best option, and the macramé itself can be a great design element.
Austin holiday tradition: Listening to Dale Watson's album Christmas Time in Texas
Favorite holiday dish: Tamales
Overrated holiday dish: Turkey and dressing
Essential holiday movie watch: John Waters' Female Trouble
Go-to holiday song: "Hard Candy Christmas" by Dolly Parton
Favorite charity: SafePlace Austin
It’s Wish List time! Every year, the Chronicle invites local nonprofits to let us know what their needs are to best serve their communities, and we’ll start printing those lists in the paper in December. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to submit.