• Sarah Miles

A Jamaican-Made Christmas Gift Guide

Whether you're a planner or a last minute shopper, finding the perfect Christmas gift can be stressful- especially in Jamaica.


Some years, there can be way too many options- while others, it feels like there's none at all. Some people wait till Christmas Eve to indulge at Grand Market- while some fly to Miami to raid a Macy's.


When I was younger, I used to value the amount of gifts that I received. As I've entered my 20's, gift giving and receiving has become more of a meaningful thing. It's now an opportunity to show the people I love how much they mean to me. While this can seem like a material means of doing so, there is power behind the thought and effort put into a gift.


Beyond this, I began to understand the power behind my consumer decisions. Simply purchasing a Jamaican-made gift or incorporating sustainability practices into my gift-giving can positively impact our economy and environment. When you think about it, there truly is no reason to not support local businesses, no matter where in the world you are- especially when they're contributing towards the greater good.


Jamaica is an island with so much talent; from our artisans to designers to manufacturers to writers. How can we expect to grow as a nation if we don't support them?

One store that stands by this belief is My Jamaica located in Liguanea Plaza, St. Andrew. Since their opening in 2010, they have become one of my go-to shopping destinations for the Christmas season. They have such a unique variety of Jamaican-made products, and always leave me wanting more! Their selection is unbeatable- and, personally, they truly are a one-stop shop for my Christmas shopping. Most of the products featured in this article are available at their store- but don't let that stop you. Make sure to check them out and look at their wide selection of locally-made products!

Otherwise, some great places to shop for Jamaican-made products, specifically during the season, include the Kingston Night Market, A Jamaican Made Christmas, and Grosvenor Galleries' Annual Christmas Fair.


For my shoppers that are unsure of where to start, I've curated a shopping list that hopefully gives you a push! This list showcases only a few of these many talented Jamaicans and is not only perfect for Christmas, but is applicable for all special occasions and all special people. It includes products perfect for anyone- including the trickiest of people...


FOR THE ONE WHO: Always Stay Good

We all know that friend who always stay good. They're often some of the hardest people to shop for as it can be difficult to figure out what's tun up enough for them or find something that they already don't have. Hopefully, I'm able to help you out.


LATTECHA WILLOCKS

Lattecha Willocks is an artist who coins her pieces as wearable art- and I think she couldn't have said it any better. They are handmade locally and hand painted on singular canvases. This means that none of her pieces are replicas, and each purse is one of a kind. I love being able to simply look at the purses' designs and see how intricately placed each brush stroke is. Products that are handmade feel so authentic and original and you can feel the effort and purpose put into every item. Lattecha will even customize pieces, for example with a monogram.

These purses are a colourful and alluring way for any goodie to express themselves. I love Lattecha's work as even if I'm dressing very plainly, a pair of jeans and tee per say, simply wearing her wearable art gives my outfit so much life and energy. They are a 'celebration of a woman's individuality' which is exactly what we need today in 2019.


Where to find them: Lattecha's hand-painted purses are available at My Jamaica. She will, also, be available at the 2019 instalment of Jamaican Made Christmas.


FORTYFOUR MILES JEWELLERY

Emerging on the market back in 2014, Fortyfour Miles is a jewellery brand like no other! Dreamt and designed by Courtney Morris, their brand is heavily inspired by her roots in Black River- the river itself being forty four miles long. She is highly respected for her beautiful artwork for a reason. Their unique line of bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces are heavily inspired by the environment and incorporate multiple materials, including copper, aluminium, rocks, sea glass, beads and hemps.

One of the things that has resonated with me the most is this brand's philosophy. Many of their pieces are made with raw finishes and their beauty lies within their imperfections. The very same could be said about us. Fortyfour Miles challenges the societal norms surrounding perfection and proves that we must embrace and celebrate our flaws.


Where to find them: You can find Fortyfour Miles at My Jamaica! They also have an online shop on their website. This holiday season, find them at the 2019 Association of Jamaican Potter's Arts & Craft Fair.

FOR THE ONE WHO: Does With Intent

Sustainable lifestyle choices should be the norm- especially going into the new decade. Nevertheless, making the switch can be hard. Luckily there are many Jamaican brands that make it easy!


BARTLEY'S ALL IN WOOD Bamboo Straws

Ever since the single-use plastic ban took Jamaica by storm, alternatives to plastic straws have grown in popularity. Bamboo straws are my preferred substitute to plastic straws, and are way more functional than paper straws (that get uncomfortably soggy) or metal straws (that bother my sensitive teeth).


Bartley's bamboo straws are made with love from genuine Jamaican wood. Making the switch from plastic has never been so easy. Not only does this brand encourage eco-friendly habits by providing an alternative to plastic straws, but many of the materials used for their products are taken from the off cuts of their furniture.

Their straws come in an adorable carrying pouch, alongside three straws and a cleaning brush! This is a perfect thought for any loved one who wants to make a difference, no matter how big or small. The key with this gift is getting into the daily habit of remembering to take the pouch with you on-the-go, whether it be in your bag or purse.


Where to find them: These locally-made bamboo straws are available at My Jamaica store, alongside many of their other wooden products. Their products are available across Kingston, Mandeville and Montego Bay at select locations, and online.


STORY & MYTH

Story & Myth's Blessing beads, created by Kristie Stephenson, are a staple and fan favourite for a reason. Not only are they very versatile, able to be worn alone or endlessly stacked, but this brand is the perfect example of beauty with a purpose. These bracelets are made by talented Jamaican artisans, many of which have physical disabilities- providing amazing opportunities to communities that are often marginalized. Even better, the 'beads', aka tear seeds, are sourced by local farmers.

Blessing beads' beauty lies within the stories behind each individual bead. These 'protection beads' are thoughtfully and intentionally made to 'bless, guide and protect wearers'. Their collection, also, includes stunning necklaces and bracelets which are adorned with symbolic gemstones and charms.


The one who does with intent will love this gift as not only do the beads themselves feel intentional, but so does the process behind the making of them. After all, these beads are loved by many for a reason!


Where to find them: My Jamaica is one of the many places that you can find these pieces. They are available online, as well!


DAE COLLECTION

This new shoe brand is taking Jamaica by storm. Founded by Debra Edwards, DAE is a sustainable way to support local artisans. It truly is a beautiful thing when fashion brands are able to recognize their position and role in society while looking damn good. They constantly are making steps to lower their carbon footprint, and deliberately use non-plastic packaging.


DAE upcycles using repurposed materials, including leather, to take what one may consider trash and create treasure! This makes every pair of sandals unique and one of a kind, and like all handmade pieces, no two items are ever the same. Not only does it make these shoes specially yours, but you can feel the intent, purpose and soul in their soles.

Their brand has a 'devotion to tradition' and many of their product names are odes to Jamaican culture. This holiday season, DAE is giving back to Jamaica with their gorgeous Lady M shoe, which is inspired by Kingston's 'bustling thoroughfare'! A portion of all Red Lady M sales, between November 30th and December 25th, will be donated to charity.


Where to find them: DAE's sandals are available online. Also, make sure to check them out at 2019's Jamaican Made Christmas.

FOR THE: Self-Care Queen


While 'self-care' may seem like a buzz word floating around the internet, everyone deserves to take some time to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with yourself and cater to your needs. For all my men, this is in no way gender specific. I said what I said. Treat yo self.


HMGRWN & CO

HmGrwn & Co. is a unisex skincare brand created and made locally in Port Antonio. Their products