Gift Guide: Best of the Best from Clever Reinventors
From gorgeous jewelry to handmade honey-infused whiskey, these products are not only fabulous but support women fabulously
CoveyClub is all about supporting reinvention, so we’ve pulled together a fantastic gift guide featuring women (and two brothers) who have either reinvented themselves to pursue a new business or were passionate enough to launch something as a side-gig in their already busy lives. Enjoy!
Carolina Wickenburg & The Hippo Project
Cuban-born Carolina is a classically trained sculptor. In preparing for a girlfriends’ reunion where everyone wanted to exchange a gift, Carolina wanted to offer something that her friends could wear. Using her sculpting talent, she came up with the hippo pendant and was delighted to learn that in Egyptian mythology hippopotami were often considered protectors of mothers and children. Prices start at $165 for a baby hippo (1 1/4″) in solid brass and green nano stone eyes and go up to $6,500 for the regular-size hippo (1 1/2″) in 18k gold with emerald eyes. Order soon, as there is a two-week lead time. Carolina donates 15 percent of hippo proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Enter promo code COVEY at checkout for a 10% discount.
Julia Parish Jewelry
Julia hand-makes exquisite jewelry at her studio in Red Hook, New York. Specializing in 20k and 22k gold with precious and semiprecious stones in innovative settings, Julia does everything herself — including making the alloy, castings, and settings. Julia came to jewelry-making after meandering in and out of various jobs and undertakings, including being a waitress, earning a master’s degree in English from Radcliffe, working in fashion public relations, and owning a vintage clothing and antiques business. While in the vintage trade, she wanted to rework some of her jewelry pieces and took jewelry-making classes. This led to an “aha” moment, where she realized she had the passion and talent to pursue jewelry-making professionally. Prices start at $275 for large sterling silver hoop earrings and go up to $8,000 for a one-of-a-kind 22k-gold dragonfly necklace with a 20k-gold chain. Julia sells online and by appointment.
ALM Bijoux by Anna Moine
Born in France and raised in both France and the US, Anna worked as a marketing and public relations executive for skin- and hair-care companies for years before becoming a consultant to the spa industry. About five years ago, Anna discovered the beauty of druzies, stones with a coating of fine crystals or crystal-lined geodes. This led to a trip to Brazil, where she stocked up on minerals and created her signature wrap druzy bracelet that launched the ALM Bijoux collection. Anna designs her one-of-a-kind pieces and outsources the making of the settings and castings. Proceeds or gifts in kind are donated to a variety of charities. (PS: Anna is also Covey’s Spa Ambassador.) Prices range from $39 for a briolette necklace to $395 for 18k vaporized gold druzy pieces. Enter promo code COVEY at checkout for a 30% discount.
Evie Marques by Susan Swimmer
Longtime magazine editor Susan Swimmer was looking for an entrepreneurial business to launch, but she didn’t know she had an idea right under her nose. Upon her mother’s death, she inherited her mother’s big, bold necklaces and wore them regularly, receiving compliments wherever she went and questions about where they were from. So, she decided to launch her own necklace business called Evie Marques, a combination of her mother’s nickname and because her mother left a “mark” on the family — and Susan gave that mark a French spin. The resin-bead and hand-knotted cotton cord necklaces come in 18 colors and cost $225.
Emily Kuvin Jewelry
Emily practiced journalism, on-air reporting for Court TV, and the law before founding Emily Kuvin Jewelry, the culmination of a passion that dates back to her high school years. In 14k gold or sterling with precious or semiprecious stones or pearls, her pieces are designed in her home in New Hampshire and made in America. Prices start at $292 for a Mini Stella Necklace in sterling silver with semiprecious stones and go up to $3,400 for the Piccolo Grand Stella Necklace in 14k gold, diamonds, and colored gems. The Classical Collection ranges between $606 and $3,030. Enter FRIENDS18 promo code at checkout for a 15% discount. A portion of December sales is being donated to Everytown for Gun Safety.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Francine’s Outrageous Fudge Sauce
Francine Ryan, who had a career in magazine publishing and also cofounded (with her husband) the New York-based marketing agency The Ryan Group, always made fudge sauce as holiday gifts for her clients. It was so good that clients encouraged her to transform this gifting activity into a business, reminding her that Stonewall Kitchen, now owned by Heinz, started off as two guys selling preserves at local markets. The fudge sauce is truly extraordinary, and eating it out of the jar is allowed. There’s no website yet but you can order by phone or email, and there’s free gift packaging for the holidays. firstname.lastname@example.org. 917-796-7586.
Annie Bystryn & Cider in Love
While studying abroad in Ireland and working in London after college, Annie Bystryn developed a taste for cider, the fermented apple-based drink with a low percentage of alcohol. More recently, during a trip through Normandy exploring the Route de Cidre (Cider Route), Annie became passionate about the locally-made, artisanal heritage ciders. But it wasn’t until 2016, after a weekend trip to the Hudson Valley with her husband where they tasted New York-made cider, that she decided to turn her passion into a business and develop Cider in Love, an online curated collection of small-batch hard-to-find ciders, almost like an Etsy for this delightful drink. This, after a dozen years in marketing and digital and consumer engagement in the beauty industry. Cider is a bubbly beverage that has a dry, crisp flavor and does not taste at all like apple juice; there are also still versions of cider. It is wonderful served as an aperitif, with dinner, and for celebrations. Cider in Love, launched last June, offers ciders and other apple-based beverages in single bottles starting at $15 but has created “trios” for the holiday season, which cost upwards of $42. Ice cider and pommeau start at $28.
Claire Marin & Catskill Provisions
Former New York City publishing executive Claire Marin gave it all up for the bees. Disillusioned with where the publishing industry was headed, in 2010 she turned her bee-keeping hobby into a business, Catskill Provisions, and defines it as “an artisanal food and craft spirits company with honey at our core.” Yes, Catskill Provisions produces amazing honey, but there are other delectables such as New York apple cider vinegar infused with honey and herbs or honey rye whiskey. For the holidays, we’re tempted by the whiskey-infused chocolate truffles! Prices start at $6.99 for the honey ketchup to $25 for a 9-piece box of truffles. The award-winning whiskey, about $45, is available at www.whiskeylovers.com, or you can find a retailer via www.nyhoneyryewhiskey.com. You can read more about Claire’s reinvention in TheCovey in “From Queen Bee to BeeKeeper.”
Melisse Shaban & Virtue Labs Hair Care
Melisse Shaban was a top executive in prestige skin- and hair-care for 25 years. Several years ago, a chance encounter on the beach led her to Dr. Luke Burnett, a retired US Army Colonel who was running a regenerative-medicine lab in Winston-Salem, NC. Burnett’s team discovered a way to extract human keratin in its purest form — it’s called Alpha Keratin 60ku™ — and found that it can help heal burn wounds, regrow tissue, and repair hair. Launched last year, Virtue Labs — which Shaban calls a “biotech company to repair hair” — uses this form of keratin (extracted from ethically sourced human hair) in their products. This writer, with unruly, broomstick-like hair, is a convert. Full-size (8 oz.) shampoos start at $36, conditioners start at $38, treatments start at $40, and styling products start at $34.
Jackie de Jesu & Shhhowercap
When you don’t want or need to wash your hair every day, former advertising art director Jacqueline de Jesu has just the thing for you. She reinvented the shower cap and in turn, her career. The Shhhowercap is made from a superior nanotech, 100% waterproof, antimicrobial fabric. Thanks to the cap’s shape and design, your hair will not get wet, unlike what happens with typical plastic drugstore shower caps. The cap costs $43 and comes with a 90-day no-questions-asked trial period.
Cindy Edwards and Stephanie Duttenhaver: Sapelo Skin Care
This dynamic duo met over lunch with writer Pat Conroy. After convincing him to headline the Savannah Book Festival, they realized they were a great working team. This, after years of being housewives and very active with local events and philanthropies. Frustrated with the trend toward abrasive skin-care methods, they wanted to create a skin-care line that was natural and kind to the skin, promoting gentle rejuvenation. Sapelo, named for an island off the Georgia coast, has local and oceanic ingredients such as seaweed, oyster-shell calcium, Georgia-grown honey, gardenia stem cells, and magnolia oil. The Sapelo collection retails for $38-$260. Check out the CoveyClub podcast Reinvent Yourself, A Beautiful Reinvention, in which Cindy and Stephanie reveal all of their start-up secrets.
TREAT YOUR CHILDREN WELL
Iana Dos Reis Nunes & House in the Clouds
One of the luxury and fashion worlds’ top publicists and marketing strategists and proud mother of three, Iana Dos Reis Nunes yearned to create a beautiful luxury product of her own. She launched The House in the Clouds last year, a luxury knitwear collection of simply designed and beautifully made alpaca or cotton sweaters, pants, blankets, and scarves for children aged six months to two years old. Everything is made in Brooklyn, something that Paris-born Iana is extremely proud of. House in the Clouds is her after-hours work; Iana recently established her own PR and marketing consultancy, Iana Consulting, within the brand-development agency Starworks Group. Prices start at $68 for the Neel cotton scarf and go up to $825 for the Neel travel set — sweater, pants, and blanket — in alpaca wool. Fifty percent of holiday sales will be donated to RxArt, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children heal through visual art.
YiLing Chen-Josephson & The Picture Book Club
Former attorney, writer, and editor YiLing Chen-Josephson has loved picture books since she was a child. She gave up the corporate world to launch The Picture Book Club to capitalize on her passion and the trend of subscription boxes. The Picture Book Club offers themed or custom book subscriptions including groupings like the self-explanatory “Women Who Changed the World” or “The Life Aquatic,” which features tales from above and below bodies of water. Prices start at $11.99 per month for a custom paperback/board book subscription and go up to $23.99 per month for a custom hardcover subscription. Enter promo code COVEY at checkout to get $10 off any order over $100 through December 25th.
Elie Sullivan and Charles Warren: 2662 New York
Longtime Wall Street executive Elie Sullivan gave up finance for frocks and joined forces with designer Charles Warren to launch 2662 New York, a collection of dresses and separates made from luxe materials that are created for real women, not stick figures. Their trick? Designing and scaling on a size 8 fit model, unlike the industry norm of using a size 2 model. This technique means 2662 clothes, made in New York, actually fit women who are not runway models. The dynamic duo also has one of the greatest bags out there, the Sullivan tote: a perfect carry-all in full-grained Italian leather and German merino felt for $625 that’s crafted in Los Angeles. Enter promo code COVEY at checkout to get 15% off. Read more about Elie and Charles in The Covey, “Reinventing the Way Clothes Fit.”
Sage and Cody Disch: Ace & Everett
TheCovey is all about women, but we couldn’t resist the socks from these young male reinventors, brothers Sage and Cody Disch, who quit the safe corporate path (in consulting and legal studies, respectively) to make the best men’s socks in America. The Ace & Everett Supima cotton socks are as American-made as possible, from the yarn to the manufacturer. The yarn for the merino wool and silk socks comes from China, but they are finished at the company’s dye house supplier in North Carolina. All socks are made in a North Carolina factory on rare double-cylinder jacquard knitting machines that are uniquely able to produce such intricate designs. Thanks to a little nylon and spandex, these socks fit beautifully and don’t fall down. Prices range from $24 to $38. Enter promo code COVEY at checkout to get 10% off through December 15th.
Barbara Harman & The Butler’s Closet
After years running Parfums Nina Ricci in the US, followed by executive roles in nonprofit development, Barbara Harman wanted to start her own business. Her love of fashion and desire to keep her clothes and upholstery in pristine condition led her to create The Butler’s Closet, an online purveyor of clothing-, furniture-, and accessory-covers, developed with the help of museum conservators, in museum-quality 100% chemical-free cotton percale. The website has other fashion- and furniture-care accessories including these just-added shoe shapers for men and women, also in chemical-free cotton. Prices for a pair range from $18 for small to $20 for medium. They can also be bought in a three-pair set for $49 and $54, respectively. Free shipping for U.S. orders over $50 until December 15th. Read more about Barbara in TheCovey in “Museum Quality Storage for Your Clothes.”
Gigi Mortimer & EyeJust
Gigi Mortimer — a career fashion accessories designer (Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang), founder of fashion retailer Glamourpuss, and the director of design inspiration for Tory Burch — has gone high-tech with the 2017 launch of EyeJust, a blue-light blocking protector for iPhones and iPads that cuts out 37 percent of blue light and 100 percent of UV light emissions. Scientific studies have shown that blue light damages retina cells, leading to macular degeneration. Blue light also disrupts sleep by tricking the body into thinking that it is daylight, and thus suppressing melatonin and disrupting circadian rhythms. Early research also indicates blue light can damage skin the same way prolonged exposure to UVA light can. Mortimer began researching the effects of blue light on people after noticing that her son couldn’t fall asleep, and she had a hunch it was because he was on his screens late at night. The EyeJust screen protector uses the same technology as blue-light blocking eyewear, but at $24.95 for iPhones and starting at $37.95 for iPads, it costs way less and avoids the self-consciousness that might come from wearing glasses. It applies to iPhone and iPad screens like any other screen protector, and image clarity and color is undisturbed. Enter promo code COVEY at checkout to get 15% off through December 19th.