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More than 96 percent of the businesses in Colorado’s economy have less than 50 employees, and small businesses are to thank for 44 percent of Colorado jobs. That’s why we combed the state for Colorado-made products by those small businesses keeping our economy alive. This year, consider skipping big box retailers and checking out our list of locally-made goods that still won’t stretch your budget.
Estes Park’s Black Lantern is the place to go if you, well, don’t know what to get. Co-owners and husband-and-wife duo Kevin and Ginny Davis both hold college degrees in graphic design and have artfully screen printed everything from t-shirts to mugs to coasters with classically cool Colorado imagery. This set of two 11-ounce whiskey glasses ($31) features a beautifully detailed chairlift design and is dishwasher-safe (although the Davis’ recommend washing by hand, to be extra careful.) Even better: The Davis’ donate a portion of each sale to the National Park Foundation, so that their adventure-based artistic muses will be preserved for years to come. Available online
The pandemic changed a lot for all of us—and for Meredith Jaramus and her husband, Jon Link, it inspired them to quit their cubicle jobs and pursue more creative endeavors. The duo officially launched a jewelry and candle business out of Golden, Elk Field Jewelry, this past spring. There, you’ll find adorably designed candles each with a delicious and unique scent, like the pumpkin spice candle with a tiny wax gourd on top. We’re fans of the yellow beeswax candle ($50), which is made with wax sourced directly from a Golden honey farm. The 8-hour long burn time and delicious honey scent will make your colleagues secretly hope you draw their name ahead of next year’s Secret Santa party. Available online
Daniela Honegger and her family have run Fort Collins-based Queen of the Meadow for 15 years, but you don’t have to take I-25 north to try her body care products, thanks to Denver retailers like Sol Shine and Vavabloom who carry Honegger’s wares. And you’ll have more than one reason to feel good about their self care lineup: Queen of the Meadow’s main suppliers are certified organic, and 10 percent of its ingredients are gathered in the rural Rocky Mountains. The hair gift set ($42) comes with a bottle of herbal shampoo, a shampoo bar, and a moisturizing hair cream; and shoppers can choose to have their goodies essential oil-scented or scent-free. Even better, all of the packaging is eco-friendly, meaning you can have luscious locks without compromising your carbon footprint. Available online and at various retailers
Boulder-based Green Guru was born after founder Davidson Lewis realized that most outdoor gear companies create items that actually lead to environmental destruction. In 2005, he decided to open Green Guru, which creates outdoor and cycling products that reuse discarded materials. If you’ve ever gone biking and realized you don’t have a safe place to store your suds, you’re in luck: Lewis and his team have created an insulated caddy ($37.50) made out of recycled nylon and waterproof tarp, insulated to keep drinks cold or hot. Your cyclist recipient is sure to appreciate the gesture, whether they’re biking to a friend’s in Wash Park or to the top of a mountain. Available online
When Denverite Orion Brown realized that Black travelers struggle to find hair products that fit their needs (like those cheap samplers in hotel bathrooms) she set out to create BlackTravelBox, a trusted source for hair and skin needs for people of color. Not only are all of Brown’s products TSA friendly, meaning you won’t have to worry about your lotion getting tossed, but her balms are also spill-proof while still maintaining a rich quality. The cruelty-free and natural products in the carry-on starter box ($35)—which includes a shampoo and conditioner bar, a lip balm, and a hair and body balm—means you’ll be able to travel stress-free this holiday season, as long as the DIA security line isn’t too long. Available online
Forget the cheap big-box store puzzles made out of cardboard: Boulder’s Liberty Puzzles is a well-loved shop among locals for the excellent craftsmanship that goes into each of its puzzle set. Each set from Liberty Puzzles is made out of quarter-inch plywood, so you know they’re near-impossible to accidentally snap. Plus, around 20 percent of the puzzle pieces are known as “whimsy pieces,” meaning instead of that traditional piece shape, you’ll find designs shaped like butterflies, bees, or plants. “Baby Steps,” ($49) a 94-piece set featuring artwork by artist Linda Israel, features larger-than-usual pieces, the perfect gift for young children or anyone who just prefers an easy-going pastime. Available online or at 1468 Pearl St., Boulder; 720-524-6082
Twin brothers Coloradans Travis and Riley Weis started Release the Mind, an ethical and eco-friendly fashion brand, after they realized that their negative thoughts during stressful periods of their lives actually made them feel worse. That’s what inspired them to use the slogan “release the mind,” which to them, refers to letting go of difficult or anxious thoughts. The brand features funky, youthful designs, like a frog sitting amongst a bed of mushrooms or a pair of birds sitting near a tree. The “Love and Hate” long sleeve tee ($30) is made with upcycled material from six water bottles, and the Weis brothers make sure that the factories where they source their fabrics are staffed with workers making more than a living wage. Available online
Lindsey Bricker turned her pottery hobby into a business when she opened Longmont’s Fettle and Fire in 2016. There, she crafts soap and ring dishes and even takes custom orders. But we’re particularly drawn to her handcrafted wind chimes ($48), which are made of stoneware clay and fired to a toasty 2,000 degrees. Her minimalist, ceramic chimes come in a variety of colors, and when placed amongst greenery, are a pleasant reminder that warmer weather is (hopefully) right around the corner. Available online
Is it even the holidays if you don’t have a gift for Fido to tear open? Thankfully, Suzie’s CBD Treats offers bags of yummy treats, like the peanut butter or pumpkin-flavored bones ($40) for big dogs that each come with 8 milligrams of CBD. Richard Squire was inspired to launch the Front Range company after his senior dog, Suzie, was suffering from pain and impaired mobility. Squire’s treats, which are made with ingredients sourced from a partner farm in Fort Collins, allowed Suzie to live out the rest of her days pain-free. While Squire and his beloved pal have both since passed, his business partners have grown Suzie’s to manufacture products for dogs, cats, and even horses of all sizes. Available online
When Rachelle and Paul Baron’s son, Beauregard, was around six months old, they took him swimming for the first time. But the little one’s swim diaper, which was made by a huge national brand, was incredibly uncomfortable and didn’t fit properly. After going through endless disposable diapers, the Barons resigned themselves to designing their own. That’s how Beau and Belle was founded, and now the Barons manufacture everything from swim diapers with the cutest designs to sun-shielding hats. The swim shirt ($30), which protects children from pesky rashes and harsh rays, comes in the most adorable flamingo or shark design. Available online