Last year we watched small businesses feed the needy, host socially distant dance parties and power-wash playgrounds, all while their doors were closed. And although for some 2021 may finally feel like business as usual, the truth is many (if not most) small businesses still need our help.
According to a September 2021 Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) by the U.S. Census, 67.5% of small businesses surveyed reported the pandemic had a large or moderately negative effect on their business. The current report is part of a series of surveys designed to measure how the pandemic is affecting the nation’s small businesses, and the results are sobering. Nearly 40% of small businesses believe it will be more than six months before their business will return to its normal level of operations; however, 10% said they do not believe their business will ever return to what it once was.
Although some of these businesses may be small or unfamiliar, it doesn’t negate their importance in our societies. In fact, quite the opposite. Data from GoDaddy’s Venture Forward Initiative, a multi-year research effort to quantify the impact microbusinesses have on the U.S. economy, show how small businesses are critical to economic growth and resiliency. Simply adding one microbusiness per 100 people in a community raises the average household income by $485 and can reduce the unemployment rate by .05 percentage points in a county. Essentially, regularly shopping small is like giving your whole city a stimulus check.
In 2020, U.S. consumers spent $6.3 million per minute shopping online on Black Friday, but nearly one-fourth of those sales went to Amazon alone. Imagine the impact we could have focusing those shopping efforts on small businesses. So, although this holiday season’s Black Friday deals may be tempting, consider shopping smaller than the S&P 500 and put money back into local economies by supporting small businesses.
If you don’t know where to look, seek out marketplaces that cater to small businesses like Etsy, Uncommon Goods or a new marketplace called Spouse-ly, which sells a wide variety of handmade products and services created by military and first-responder families. Founded in February 2020 by Monica Fullerton, who herself is a military spouse, Spouse-ly is based in Las Vegas and supports more than 300 vendors (aka families) selling items ranging from apparel to home decor, gifts, arts and crafts, jewelry and more.
You can also search the hashtag #localbusiness on social media to find locally owned and operated shops near you, use Google or read on for some suggestions of small businesses, all with fewer than 40 employees, that offer some amazing products shipped nationwide.
Number of employees: 20
Based in: Los Angeles
An e-commerce brand that ships instruments directly to your door, Orangewood Guitars was founded in 2018 by two brothers, Eddie and Sooj Park, based on their childhood love of the guitar after immigrating to the U.S.. Orangewood sells over 40 different acoustics, like its best-selling guitar, The Oliver Jr. ($225)—a slightly smaller sized guitar great for novice players looking for a new hobby and frequent travelers alike. Each Orangewood guitar is designed by a team of musicians and balances modern elegance with the classic acoustic experience. Plus, Orangewood created its Giving Guitar Program in partnership with the Give A Note Foundation, so every guitar sold helps put instruments into children’s hands for music education and therapy programs.
The Challah Box
Number of employees: 2
Based in: New York
Perfect for those who enjoyed the sourdough craze of 2020, The Challah Box is a subscription box providing everything you need to make delicious braided challah bread. Each box ($45) contains five pre-measured, labeled ingredients, and simple-to-follow instructions for even the most unseasoned bakers. The Challah Box was founded by Ilana Ramer Bass and Ariel Markowitz during the pandemic as an ode and celebration of togetherness. After months of distancing, The Challah Box is a wonderful reminder of the joy in breaking bread with one another and celebrating life.
Number of employees: Less than 20
Based in: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Penh Lenh, meaning “whole,” is a Cambodian-based jewelry brand on a mission to empower women worldwide. Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by its female artisans who are building new lives for themselves and their families—and 100% of the Penh Lenh’s net sales are reinvested into the brand’s social mission to provide fair and dignified employment, skill training and educational opportunities for its artisans. Penh Lenh jewelry is ethically sourced, responsibly made and crafted using conflict free, 14k gold-filled material along with semi-precious gemstones, as seen in its best-selling pieces, the Dainty Gemstone Chokers ($58-$69) and bracelets ($48+).
Number of employees: 10
Based in: Miami
After being constantly frustrated by not finding the right products for their organizational needs, two Latina moms, Gabriela Mekler and Maribel Moreno, decided to create their own line of simple yet practical organizational products to keep their homes (and lives) tidy. And thus in 2014, mumi was formed. The brand provides items to stay organized at home, school, the office or when traveling, including its cornerstone packing cubes ($49.90) to optimize your luggage space, and divider cubes ($19 – $23) to organize drawers of clothes and accessories—and 100% guaranteed to spark joy.
Number of employees: 5
Based in: Boston
If the past 18-plus months have felt unprecedented, perhaps Nuzzie, maker of unique and stylish weighted blankets to help people get their best night’s sleep, is the ideal small business for you. Weighted blankets are specially designed to gently hug your body to help alleviate anxiety and improve sleep quality. Nuzzie’s weighted blankets ($225+) do all of this and more—Nuzzie’s blankets are weaved with an open knit design, which makes them breathable, thermoregulating, and great for naturally hot sleepers, too. The brand also prioritizes giving back to both Mother Earth and also people in need—each blanket is made with 100% reusable and recycled materials, and for every blanket sold, Nuzzie donates a blanket to charity.
Number of employees: 4
Based in: Seattle
Founded in 2019 by Courtney LeMarco, Black entrepreneur and entertainment industry veteran, MOTSI is a lifestyle brand offering sustainable swimwear, skin care and cosmetics designed to celebrate underrepresented forms of beauty. MOTSI’s vegan and eco-friendly skincare line uses high-quality ingredients that are free from sulfates, parabens, carcinogens, gluten and just about every other thing you wouldn’t want in your body. The line puts self-care at the forefront; and like its Detoxifying Charcoal Mask ($45) or Cold Brew Beard Oil ($48), each product is mindfully developed and designed to bring out your all-natural beauty.
Number of employees: 35
Based in: Orange County, California
A clothing brand that makes its wearers feel comfortable and confident, Richer Poorer is full of your closet staples, like classic tees, tops, loungewear, dresses and more. Founded in 2010 by two friends, Iva Pawling and Tim Morse, the company now offers anywhere from 75-100 different styles using only the softest fabrics, including its best-sellers Men’s Weighted Tee ($44) and Women’s Cloud Weave Button Up Dress ($88). Richer Poorer is committed to sustainability, provides carbon neutral shipping and is part of the 1% For The Planet alliance, donating 1% of its total annual sales to environmental organizations worldwide.
Number of employees: 20
Based in: Los Angeles
Ideal for the everyday athlete, Lasso offers compression socks that help you move confidently, recover safely and ultimately feel like the best version of yourself. Lasso uses a patented SmartSupport compression technology weaved in a special pattern to mimic KT-Tape support around the arch, heel, and ankle to help with conditions like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains and more. Lasso’s bestseller, men’s and women’s crew socks ($30) come in various sizes and colors like classic black and white or tie-dye. Each pair is moisture-wicking with graduated 15-25mmHg compression to promote circulation and faster recovery times, so you can keep moving toward your goals.
Photo by @maximova.ta/Twenty20
Megan Nicole O’Neal is a writer with a passion for storytelling, traveling and whenever possible, mixing the two. The UCLA alum lives in Los Angeles; more specifically westside coffee shops with equally strong wifi and dark roasts. Connect with Megan on Twitter at @megan_n_onealor her website mnoneal.com.