More than 99 percent of the businesses that make up Colorado’s economy have less than 50 employees, and small businesses are to thank for 49 percent of Colorado jobs. That’s why we combed the state for Colorado-made products from the small businesses keeping our economy alive. This year, consider skipping big-box retailers and checking out our list of locally made goods that won’t stretch your budget.

Black Lantern Ski Lift Whiskey Glasses

Photo courtesy of Black Lantern

Estes Park’s Black Lantern is the place to go when you 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). Even better: The Davis’ donate a portion of each sale to the National Park Foundation, so the inspiration behind their art will be preserved for years to come. Available online

Queen of the Meadow Hair Care Gift Set

Photo courtesy of Queen of the Meadow

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 Floral Occasions & Décor Boutique, which carry Honegger’s products. And there’s more than one reason to feel good about the company’s 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 ($46) comes with a bottle of herbal shampoo, a shampoo bar, and a moisturizing hair cream. (Shoppers can choose to have their goodies scented with essential oils or fragrance-free.) Plus, all of the packaging is eco-friendly, meaning you can have luscious locks without compromising your conscience. Available online and at various retailers

Green Guru Hipster Hip Pack

Photo courtesy of Green Guru

Boulder-based Green Guru was born after founder Davidson Lewis realized that most outdoor gear companies create items that actually lead to environmental degradation. In 2005, he decided to open Green Guru, which creates outdoor and cycling products that reuse discarded materials, such as bike tubes and wetsuits. This colorful hip pack ($50) not only fits around your waist but can also be attached to your bike’s handlebars for longer rides. It features a zippered pocket with enough room inside for your glasses, keys, and a protein bar. The pack is made from tent fabrics and climbing rope, so the exact colors might vary, but rest assured that your pack will still have that fun, ’80s vibe. Available online

BlackTravelBox Carry-On Starter Box

Photo courtesy of BlackTravelBox

When Denverite Orion Brown realized that Black travelers struggled to find hair products that fit their needs (no, those cheap minis in hotel bathrooms aren’t cutting it), she set out to create BlackTravelBox, a trusted source for hair- and skincare 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 high-quality balms are also spill-proof. 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, so long as the DIA security line isn’t too long, that is. Available online

Release the Mind T-Shirt

Photo courtesy of Release the Mind

Coloradans and twin brothers 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 refers to letting go of difficult or anxious thoughts. The brand features funky, youthful designs, like a hoodie with a drawing of a television featuring the words “Life is a Shit Show.” The “I Miss the Trees” short-sleeve tee ($22) is made with upcycled materials and is certified carbon neutral. The Weis brothers also make sure that the factories where they source their fabrics are staffed with workers making more than a living wage. Available online

Fettle & Fire Handcrafted Ceramic Chimes

Photo courtesy of Fettle and Fire

Lindsey Bricker turned her pottery hobby into a business when she opened Longmont’s Fettle & Fire in 2016. There, she crafts soap and ring dishes and even takes custom orders. 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

Suzie’s CBD Bones for Dogs

Photo courtesy fo Suzie’s CBD Treats

Is it even the holidays if you don’t have a gift for Fido to tear open? This family business out of Fort Collins makes tasty T-R-E-A-T-S, from peanut butter hearts ($20) to pumpkin-flavored bones ($40), all infused with 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 the company’s Colorado farm, allowed Suzie to live out the rest of her days pain-free. While both Squire and his beloved pal have since passed, his business partners have grown Suzie’s to manufacture products for dogs, cats, and even horses of all sizes. Available online

Smeeny Made Wild Twisted Headband

Photo courtesy of Smeeny Made Wild

Chereen Leong Schwarz found some knitting needles at a thrift store and, before long, developed a passion for knitting, eventually opening a Steamboat Springs–based shop called Smeeny Made Wild. Although Smeeny’s bread-and-butter is its vast selection of knitted beanies, we’re drawn to the alpaca twisted headband ($49), which is made with ethically sourced alpaca and sheep wool. The headband covers your ears on frigid winter mornings but leaves space for those with long hair who like to tie it up in a messy bun. Plus, Smeeny Made Wild donates a portion of its sales to organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community, women’s rights, and racial equality. Available online

Festive Gal Cookie Stamps

Photo courtesy of Festive Gal

Kevlyn Walsh started creating fun, custom party crowns as a side hustle while working as an art teacher. The public loved them, which led her to make her Denver-based shop a full-time endeavor. Although we think her tiaras are great, Walsh’s customizable cookie stamps ($26) cater to a broader audience and are the ideal gift for those who love baking holiday treats. Choose from eight designs, then customize yours further by including your friend’s name. Your beloved baker can press the stamps into the dough before baking to let everyone know who brought the best cookies to the party. Available online

Two Tumbleweeds Writing Dice

Photo courtesy of Two Tumbleweeds

Sisters Liz and Sarah Downey went viral for their original foodie dice—a collection of nine dice festooned with words like “green beans,” “chicken,” and “pan fry”—that make the process of picking a weeknight dinner fun by creating more than 180,000 combinations of meal ideas. But for the writers in your life who struggle with the dreaded writer’s block, we recommend the writing dice ($20), which feature ideas that cover the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why). Roll the dice and receive creative writing prompts like “greedy,” “minor character,” “insecure,” and “in the future.” The dice come with instructions and can even be used by teachers in the classroom. Available online

Barbara O'Neil
Barbara O'Neil
Barbara is one of 5280's assistant editors and writes stories for 5280 and