Over the years, I’ve started to appreciate the art of gift giving.
It’s not something I’m naturally good at—I’m still inconsistent with it—but it’s something to which I’m paying more attention, and actively trying to get better at. My wife, somehow, keeps a database in her mind of everyone’s quirky interests and unique tastes, and always finds the perfect item for each person in her life. I’ve never been skilled at picking out that definitive, creative gift. But that’s slowly changing.
This year, I’ve decided to start the process much earlier, and am already noting ideas of what to get my homies. It’s not Christmas yet, but your boy is out here with a game plan. Rather than desperately last-minute guessing what to give folks, I’ve created a list of independent businesses and local suppliers who make cool shit. There’s something for everyone on this guide, and all your spending will go directly to diverse artisans and creators rather than a soulless entity of capitalism. Happy giving szn.
Prices do not include shipping costs.
A Tribe Called Pots flower pots, $35-55: Who doesn’t want a flower pot painted as A Tribe Called Quest? From the Low End Theory to Midnight Marauders, there’s no vibe-ier way to give your greenery some attention. Each pot is hand painted by Berkeley artist Nisha K. Sethi, who is coincidentally married to local rapper and educator, SETI X. You’ll definitely be supporting some real ones with this worthy item.
Pamana Plantas plants and greens, $15-45: This small, Filipina-owned shop in Berkeley has all of your planting needs—from every variety of miniature succulents to hella big jungle plants whose names I don’t know. Deeply rooted with a sense of growth, you’ll feel revived just by spending some time in this well-curated space.
Joe Wallace x Golden State Warriors gear, $15-100: An East Bay artist who also happens to co-own Uncle Tito restaurant in San Francisco, this dude has some of the best Warriors gear you’ll find. Any schmo can rock a generic Warriors jersey, but only the Bay’s elite rock the Joe Wallace Warriors collection—from socks to snapbacks to tees. Order soon, since his releases tend to sell out quickly.
Snakeskin by Rocky Rivera, $20: A former hip hop journalist, current emcee, and proud mother, Rivera’s book of essays take a look at her creative journey from San Francisco’s scene into the world of music-making. Definitely a must-have for the hip hop lover and revolutionary in your home.
Kevin Allen’s Nothing Lasts Forever limited edition vinyl, $70: The veteran rapper from Richmond, formerly known as Erk tha Jerk, recently released one of the best rap albums of the year. To my ears, it’s meant to be listened to on a nice record player while holding a glass of whiskey, wine, or whatever spirit you prefer to accompany these melodic flows. (Note: due to supply chain issues, this album is currently only available as a pre-order.)
DJ Agana jewelry and crafts, $20-100: This Oakland Latina has painted murals for La Doña, Steph Curry, and the San Francisco Giants. She also happens to make jewelry, art, and crafts that you can wear or put up inside your casapartment. As a member of the legendary TDK crew, she offers a gold necklace tribute honoring the late artist, DREAM, or you can pick up a screen printed design that references California’s indigeneity and agriculture.
Flowing Fluidly art canvas, $35: A new art venture run by Manu, my homie from San Francisco’s Mission District. He’s a good dude, a barista, and a generous soul who paints canvases in his free time. He recently started making these dope art pieces that experimentally mix different colors in abstract shapes. He’s a self-taught artist with deep San Francisco roots, and his most recent installment is a sports series that uses colors inspired by local teams. Show my guy some love. Custom orders available.
Avec Clyde clothing, $35-150: A woman-centered clothing company from the North Bay that focuses on ethical sustainability and fashionable simplicity. Each sale generates a three percent donation that will be sent to charities that align with the designer Avec Clyde and owner Jacelyn Oshiro-Rodoni’s vision for a better world. Receive 20 percent off your first order after subscribing to their page. Receive 20% off your first order after subscribing to their page.
Swyft cannabis delivery, ($9+): I didn’t forget about my smokers. Order that pre-rolled from one of the only Asian-owned cannabis delivery services in Northern California (attn: Nump’s Lumpia blunts). It’ll get swiftly delivered to a lucky recipient(s) anywhere in the Bay, so just imagine how happy your marijuanerx friend will be when they see you’ve gotten them a blunt wrap without all the gift wrap. Skip the lines and do it all without leaving your couch, too.
Hasta Muerte monthly coffee bag subscription, $13/month: This Fruitvale cafe became nationally famous when they received media coverage for refusing to serve police officers. They provide a free PDF, “No Abolition Without Autonomy,” which outlines their philosophy and stance. Just as importantly, they are a worker’s co-op with a mission to create a safe space for undocumented folks by hiring and providing opportunities for everyone in the community. They have some of the best pan dulce around, and you can also buy a monthly subscription of their delicious coffee blend as a gift for that caffeine addict in your life.
All photos used from artists’ websites or IG pages unless otherwise indicated.