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CoveyClub’s Very Special 2020 Gift Guide
Let those who got you through this miserable year know they count -- more than they know
Women have always been great gift-givers. Here, however, are great gifts that were created by women.
From whiskey to gold, Covey has unexpected ways to say “you matter.”
Former global digital marketing executive Michelle Hernández decided that cooking was her passion and enrolled at Paris’ fabled Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. After graduating at the top of her class and working at Michelin-starred Parisian eateries, Hernández opened Le Dix-Sept pastry shop in San Francisco in 2011. Here, she combines her classical training with her interest in botanical ingredients such as flowers, herbs, and organic honey. Nougat is one of Hernández’ signature confections, and she offers several gift boxes with different flavors. We like the limited-edition Winter Box: Noel with California pistachios, cherries and cacao nibs for $38.
Uncle Nearest, whose formal name was Nathan Green, was the Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey. Three years ago, after pouring herself into researching Uncle Nearest’s history, writer and entrepreneur Fawn Weaver founded the Uncle Nearest whiskey distillery in his name in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Nearest’s great-great-granddaughter, Victoria Eady Butler, left her job at the Department of Justice to become the master distiller at Uncle Nearest. She is the first Black female distiller in the business and has earned numerous awards, notably one of two “World’s Best” whiskies from Whisky Magazine’s World Whiskies 2019 awards. In addition to making whiskey, Butler also runs the Nearest Green Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to Green’s descendants; with Weaver, she launched Near & Jack Advancement Initiative with Jack Daniels to diversify the whiskey industry.
Even if entertaining this year has changed, we all need some delicious nibbles for a cold winter’s night, and the charcuterie gift sets from D’Artagnan fit the bill. D’Artagnan was founded in 1985 by Ariane Daguin, who hails from Gascony, France, from a family of restaurateurs. Decamping to the US for college and working for a pâté producer ultimately led her to establish her own company, which has grown from being a supplier of duck to a purveyor of meats and delicacies including caviar and truffles. Daguin was one of the pioneers of the now trendy farm-to-table movement; her suppliers are small organic or all-natural producers, with her mantra being that “the care taken on the farm can be tasted on the plate.” D’Artagnan’s charcuterie gift boxes come in sizes for four, eight, or 12 people and feature a variety of dry sausage, pâtés, smoked chicken, and other specialties, along with a dash of truffle butter. (Hear Ariane’s reinvention story told to CoveyClub founder Lesley Jane Seymour on our podcast here.)
This brand-new website featuring delightful vintage table and glassware is the result of serendipity and resilience. Two years ago, fashion and accessories studio director Aude Chomette decamped to New York from Paris for a career opportunity that Covid dashed last Spring. This gave Chomette the opportunity she’d been long-craving — to create her own company of tabletop goods, combining her love of collecting with her passion for traditional French arts de la table. Her goal is to make entertaining less fancy and more fun; thus her Objects Inanimate features unprecious and colorful mid-century glassware, ceramics, and table linens that she found mainly in the US, where she notes there is a big second-hand market for such goods. The ever-changing offering is a result of her hauls over the past few years, as well as last summer’s road-trip honeymoon across the US (which replaced pre-Covid plans to celebrate in Europe), with lots of stops at flea markets and second-hand stores.
Start 2021 off with the fabulous inspirational, educational, and organizational Brave Sis journal celebrating Black women and women of color, which will appeal to all women. Creator Rozella Floranz Kennedy, known to her besties as Rozie (disclosure: I grew up with her in Manhattan), works in business development for a nonprofit environmental accelerator. She’s been on a personal mission for better health and wellness, and when she was looking for a planner, she could not find one that suited her. Many seemed to target white suburban women — Rozie is Black and and decidedly urban. Those for Black women seemed to be trying too hard, and others were too focused on “SUCCESS!” Kennedy explains. So, thanks to Kickstarter funding early this year, and months before the Black Lives Matter Movement reemerged, she created her own linen-covered hard-bound journal which, in addition to calendar and planning pages, has mini-essays about pioneering women of color, inspirational prompts, unintimidating goal setting pages, and pages for coloring. Be among the first to discover Brave Sis; Kennedy just signed with a major publisher for 2022!
IbuMovement, based in Charleston, South Carolina, was founded by former minister Susan Hull Walker and features fashion, accessories, and home goods handcrafted by female artisans around the world, a partnership that allows these women to be economically independent. Walker, a passionate collector of vintage textiles, met actor Ali MacGraw several years ago while nosing around the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, where MacGraw lives and where Walker lives part-time. Walker asked MacGraw to create items for Ibu in 2017, and they have been collaborating on items for the capsule Ali4Ibu collection since then. For the holidays, MacGraw wanted to design pieces that, at the end of this tumultuous year, embodied hope and love. We love the silk-lined and beaded Hope-Love clutch made by women in Haiti. Each item from the Ali4Ibu gift collection will come with a handwritten note from MacGraw, the icon, and will be wrapped in coordinating colors and ribbons.
After years in specialty retail management and working as a real estate agent, Locke returned to art and creativity, and has become a maker of fine jewelry. Locke had always been creative, but it wasn’t until she was in her 50s that she pursued jewelry design. After studying metalsmithing, and taking jewelry making classes in the US and Europe, Locke began her jewelry business in earnest on Nantucket, where she has her own gallery featuring her creations. Her work is also displayed at Mary Mahoney in Palm Beach. She works in 18K gold and other metals, and colorful precious and semi-precious stones. Her prices range from $75 for a silver alphabet charm to $58,000 for the bold “Cleopatra” cuff in hammered gold with pink and purple sapphires and tourmaline. (Listen to Susan Lister Locke’s reinvention journey on Reinvent Yourself with Lesley Jane Seymour here.)
This hand-crafted luxury handbag and accessory collection is from German-born fashion designer Tina Lutz. Lutz studied fashion in Paris and has worked for top designers and fashion brands on both sides of the Atlantic, including Issey Miyake, Calvin Klein, Coach, and Tse. After spending more time in her native Germany, Lutz launched Lutz Morris in 2015. Lutz describes her collection as being made slow and responsibly. That means, for example, that the German tannery supplying the company is “gold rated” by the Leather Working Group, which audits tanneries for their environmental practices, and that the company doesn’t use exotic skins. Ninety percent of what goes into making Lutz Morris bags is done in Germany, thus reducing the company’s carbon footprint. We also love that $10 from every purchase goes to Every Mother Counts, the charitable organization founded by Lutz’ friend, top model Christy Turlington, which advocates for healthy pregnancy and childbirth practice availability around the world.
Nikki Kule grew up in fashion; her father and mother founded the Happy Legs pants label in the 1970s. Wanting to get into the same industry, Kule attended Parsons School of Design in New York City to study fashion, and first launched Kule as a children’s wear collection. After she was tapped to be the creative director for Brooks Brothers children’s wear, Kule relaunched her eponymous label in 2015 as a women’s collection of striped t-shirts. Now, Kule dresses and accessorizes the entire family. We love Kule’s signature take on the French sailor striped shirts and sweaters but we are equally enamored of her fun fashion pieces including the Bailey Faux Fur navy and white striped jacket and the whimsical collaboration t-shirts featuring iconic graphics from Monopoly and even Mister Potato Head.
Launched on Kickstarter in 2012 by engineer Debbie Sterling, this media and entertainment company was created to bring more girls into STEM fields. “GoldieBlox’s mission is to inspire girls to take risks and embrace failure as a means of learning and improving,” Sterling told Fast Company in an article about her experience in being asked to step down by her board of directors. (She didn’t step down; instead she embraced executive coaching to be a better, more communicative leader and hired more top executives for day-to-day management.) GoldieBlox offers arts and crafts and construction toys including a crystal-growing kit or this watermelon purse set that can also be used to make a pencil case or a picture frame. Among its virtual offerings, the company boasts the Fast Forward Girls YouTube Series and Curiosity Camp, both in partnership with the Lydia Hill Philanthropies and their If/Then Initiative.