More than half of holiday shopping is done online, and why not, when it means you can stay firmly planted under a blanket on the couch? One way to support small businesses while enjoying the convenience of the internet is to check out Etsy shops from Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area artists and entrepreneurs. Here are a few places to start.
The work of this Iowa City artist is defined by bright, bold colors, and would make a great gift for the art lovers and crazy cat people on your list. The original art prints for sale in Pham’s Etsy shop depict dreamy figures — including humans, cats and insects — surrounded by flowers or starry swirls. Most prints are 7-by-7-inches, and signed by the artist.
If you’re shopping for a new parent, this Iowa City store could help expand their baby’s wardrobe. The Chipped Cup uses whimsical fabrics to create headbands, top-knot hats, bandana bibs, pacifier clips, burp cloths and more. There are also adult-sized headbands, scarves and lanyards. Bonus: almost all products are under $10.
Everyone knows at least one serious superhero fan. If you want to give them a serious gift, browse the Etsy shop of Cedar Rapids craftsman Grayson Burgess, who creates pop culture — mostly DC and Marvel comics — wall art and accessories. This can include a $45 Wonder Woman wall emblem or a $998 Wonder Woman replica shield. His products can do everything from light up a room to enhance a Comic Con cosplay.
Few gifts are as easy to customize as charm jewelry — especially when you get to choose from more than 2,000 different charms. Cedar Rapids seller Evelyn Mae Creations has filled her Etsy shop with sterling silver and pewter charms falling under nine different categories, including literature, astrology, animal and musical figures. Her culinary charms are especially fun to browse through, from potatoes to pizza to cheese graters.
You can’t go wrong with candles and lotions. This year, save a trip to Bath and Body Works and support a local vendor. Shop owner Britt Murdock — an Iowa City native and University of Iowa alumna — sells tea lights, wax melts and jar candles, the latter sporting wooden wicks; body and room fragrances; lotions and lotion bars; lip balms; bath soaks; skin-care products, including a shimmery bronzing spray, and more.
If you’re looking for a truly personal gift (and have a more robust budget), consider entreating North Liberty’s Matt Amelon for help. His Etsy shop has a number of interesting and affordable wooden pieces — his baseball displays and mountain shelves are particularly striking — but his custom soundwave art has gotten emphatic praise from Etsy reviewers. Send him a piece of recorded audio, like your voice saying “I love you, Dad,” or the chorus of your favorite song, and he will handcraft a piece of wall art from the visual soundwave. Amelon will help you customize the piece to your preferences, but make sure to allow plenty of time for completion. A last-minute gift, this is not.
Dapper and Swag offers a very particular item, but it makes a distinct fashion statement. The Iowa City shop sells collar chains capable of making a simple button up shirt or cardigan more, well, dapper. Some are simple shapes and others more intricate; some are feminine and others more masculine. These include dragons, bird wings, bees, bats, leaves, octopi, roses, antlers, a skull and crossbones, lion heads and more. (Their only non-chain item is a swallow tie clip.)
Iowa City artist Bernadette Hornbeck has an array of works both sweet and haunting. But on Etsy, she provides a distinctly adorable service: custom pet portraits. For $35, she can turn a photo of your cat, dog or other pet into a black and white work of art. Present a loved one with a portrait of their own animal and you’re bound to solicit some happy tears.
For the fashionably-inclined, riffling through a good vintage shop can make you feel like Indiana Jones recovering ancient treasures. Etsy lets you embark on a clothing expedition from the couch, thanks to vintage collectors like Jamie Elizabeth Hudrlik of Dirty Birdies Vintage. Browse nearly 1,800 items curated by the Iowa City-based Hudrlik and give a one-of-a-kind gift.