The last weekend of November traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season with Black Friday (the day after American Thanksgiving) followed by Small Business Saturday – which is a great opportunity to support small businesses, side hustlers and passion projects by filling your stockings with handcrafted products.
But it’s not only on widely publicised days like Small Business Saturday that we should be supporting our local owners, entrepreneurs and side hustlers. Especially as these businesses form a large part of the economy – so much so that by the end of 2019, there were more than 5 million self-employed people in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
With that in mind, here are four small businesses and side hustles you can support this festive season.
Book a woodworking class with Helen Welch
Paperweight - Brazilian rosewood with mother of pearl and abalone
If you’ve watched Channel 4’s Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker then you would’ve seen Helen Welch as a judge on the show. Helen is the founder of the London School of Furniture Making and offers woodworking classes for all levels.
The school runs classes during the week and weekends and Helen uses traditional hand tools, so there’s not a lot of machine work going on.
She offers a set of modules – students can choose to take one or all of them. And there are nine core skills that run from ‘Joinery’ through to ‘Finishing’. Her lessons cover the most important skills in woodworking and the school aims to give you a clear progression route where each class adds a new set of techniques and knowledge to your skillset.
Have a bespoke cake made by Fiona Jeffrey
Have a special celebration coming up and need a cake to match? Babycakes Bespoke Cakes is a London-based company specialising in one-off, 3D celebration cakes.
Fi turned her baking hobby into a business after the pandemic forced her to work from home where she found herself taking on some baking and decoration classes to fill the time. From there, she took to Instagram to share her creations and started selling them for birthdays, christenings, etc.
Screen printed t-shirts and tote bags of London
Looking for your next tote bag or trendy t-shirt with London landmarks on it? Then look no further than Subtopia.
The side-hustle was started by Rachel and Tom, who after designing t-shirts for Tom’s band, thought they could do it themselves. The inspiration behind the brand is some of their favourite places around London, such as Kentish Town and Tufnell Park.
They also offer customisable printing. All you need to do is send them your artwork and they will take care of the rest. They can also help you to design and create your own custom artwork and print it onto your garment.
Beautifully scented Opali Candles
Opali was created with the idea of making a beautifully scented candle with a vessel that was just as meticulously designed and beautiful to look at. The reason behind it was simple: if it was nicely designed, people would want to reuse the vessels as a vase, pen pot, plant pot, etc. once they’d burned their way through the candle.
Each one of the vessels is created by a master craftsman in Stoke-on-Trent, which has been the home of the UK pottery industry for centuries.
The fragrances are mixed to a unique recipe, designed to evoke specific memories and stories, like Embers which has a complex, smoky fragrance evoking the warmth and comfort of weekends in the country.