Gift Guide #4: Doing Good

November 27, 2012

By Gabrielle.

Happy Giving Tuesday! For today’s gift guide, I thought it would be helpful to gather up some of my favorite products that give back. Each of these products is tied to social good. Some provide jobs for Cambodian women in need. Others help feed African children. Still others provide disaster relief right now in the USA. All would make perfect gifts for someone on your list!

Enjoy. And if you know of a great product-that-gives-back, I hope you’ll add a link in the comments!

1) Sseko Sandals
Love these! I have a pair with stripey blue ties and I get compliments on them everytime I wear them. They’ve lasted for years! And I just keep replacing the ties. Based in Uganda, Sseko began as a way to generate income for young women to continue on to university. Sseko has graduated three classes of women and every graduate is currently pursuing her college degree! Sseko recently launched a new leather bag collection as well — they look buttery and amazing.

2) Buy Her Bag Not Her Body
Nomi bags and accessories are made by survivors of sex trafficking. Nomi carries loads of covet-worthy products — I’m currently favoring this adorable fruity cosmetic bag made from recycled rice packaging (each one is unique!). Nomi products are designed in New York. Made in Cambodia. And they each come with a very cool Buy Her Bag Not Her Body tag.

3) (Red) Products
You’ve seen (Red) products in many of your favorite stores for years. They offer cool tech gear (like ipad covers and phone decals), jewelry and t-shirts. May I recommend the Ado(red) Onesie? So cute! And 100% of profits go to the Global Fund, to help deliver an AIDS Free Generation by 2015. An AIDS-free-generation. I like the sound of that.

4) FashionABLE Scarves
We visited this tiny tin-roofed factory in Ethiopia. The women who work there are former commercial sex workers and the company recruits them by going out in to the streets and convincing them there’s a better life. I picked up an armload of these gorgeous scarves at the factory and have been giving them out as gifts like crazy. Each comes with a hand-written note from the weaver! I think Etanash and Abeba are my favorite.

5) Warby Parker Glasses
With 3 bespectacled family members, we have become huge fans of Warby Parker. They carry stylish, affordable frames and they follow a buy-one-give-one model. Buy a pair of glasses, and another pair is donated to someone in need. Don’t wear prescription lenses? No stress, Warby Parker offers sunglasses too! I’m digging Evelyn.

6) Feed Bags
Do you know these bags? They are new to me. I saw Karen Walrond carrying one and it was so good-looking, I became an instant admirer. (I was already an admirer of Karen. : ) There are tons of beautiful options to choose from. My very favorite might be the original Feed Bag 1 in Gray. Designed by Lauren Bush, a purchase of this bag provides school meals for 1 child for a year.

7) Alaffia Body Care
This product line was created by Olowo-n’djo Tchala, a Togolese native. He was looking for projects in his home country that would reduce poverty and gender inequality. He wanted to use natural resources (like shea butter) in a sustainable manner to empower his community. And his efforts have been a huge success! I haven’t tried these yet, but I keep hearing great things about them. If you live near a Whole Foods, you may be able to sample these products in person.

8) Print Aid NYC
I posted about these earlier this month, but they’ve added new designs that I don’t want you to miss! Designed by New Yorkers to help New Yorkers that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. 100% of the proceeds go to the Mayor’s Fund for New York. I’m in love with Lighthouse, designed by Alonzo Felix.

9) Kenana Knitters
I’ve been writing about these beautiful products for years! They’re adorable in photos but irresistible in person. This sheep cozy! And the set of 7 hand puppets — they are one of my favorite toys in our family collection (they’re in storage in Colorado and we miss them!). Really good looking, really fun to play with. Handknit by rural women in Kenya.

Yay for products that give twice!

P.S. — One more for good measure: Ambassador Believe Beads. To fight infant mortality, Believe Beads will give $5  from each Ambassador bracelet purchased to the United Nations World Food Program. This will pay for a mother and her baby to eat for 5 days. 

P.P.S. — Gift Guide #1 is plugged in. Gift Guide #2 is for book lovers. And Gift Guide #3 is all about toys.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rebecca November 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm
2 Design Mom November 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Oh my goodness. Yes! I’m so glad you reminded me. I wrote about Punjammies just over a year ago:

But I had forgotten them! They are truly beautiful. And I’ve been craving some lounge pants. I need to add these to my wishlist.


3 Marille November 28, 2012 at 2:15 am

I was going to mention those! They are just the bet things ever.


4 Jenni Bailey November 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I love that Lighthouse print. I just ordered it (literally) a minute before I read this post. :)


5 Design Mom November 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Oh. It’s my favorite! (And great minds think alike.)


6 Lori H November 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I ordered a FashionABLE scarf last week and can’t wait to get it in the mail! This is a great list – I pinned a few things :)


7 Design Mom November 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the pins, Lori! These are such great products and great causes. Delighted you’re spreading the word!


8 Lisette Wolter-McKinley November 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I just ordered the Abeba scarf. Thanks for bringing such a great gift to my attention. I am hoping to give more meaningful gifts this year and this will certainly be one of them.


9 Design Mom November 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Yay! I’m so glad. Thanks for letting me know, Lisette.


10 Meghan M November 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Love this! My Sseko sandals are all I wear in the summer. Zimbags ( has some pretty bags that empower women (& therefore their children) in Zimbabwe! Thanks for introducing me to Kenana Knitters!


11 Design Mom November 28, 2012 at 5:06 am

Zimbags are new-to-me, Meghan! The ZimMarket bag with the green elephant has stolen my heart. : )


12 Deborah G November 28, 2012 at 1:43 am

Awesome list! I’m currently volunteering in Kenya with an amazing organization called Heshima Kenya that empowers orphaned and seperated refugee girls.

The girls are completely inspiring and hard working – they manage a scarf-making income-generation project called The Maisha Collective- seriously beautiful, competlely hand-made and super fashionable scarves- they are even more striking in person. Check ‘em out on Etsy!


13 Design Mom November 28, 2012 at 5:07 am

Oh and those hand-printed pillow covers — love!


14 Jess November 28, 2012 at 3:39 am

I pinned those prints when you first posted about them – just too gorgeous not to share!

Toms shoes ( are always great! Casual, comfy, easy to style, and so. many. choices. They follow the buy-one-give-one model, too (and have recently branched out into specs). There’s lots of interesting info on the website – like I totally thought shoes were necessary for dignity and avoiding sharp things, but hadn’t even thought about soil-borne diseases.

Maybe the geometry ones are my favourites –

But I’m also partial to a herringbone. Or a multi-coloured knit. Or even the white lace ‘bridal’ range (so dainty!)

Giving Tuesday rocks. I hope it goes worldwide!


15 Design Mom November 28, 2012 at 5:08 am

Toms! I too, am partial to a herringbone.


16 Sharon @ Discovering Blog November 28, 2012 at 7:43 am

This list is great – I just ordered a makeup bag from Nomi and 2 scarves from FashionABLE scarves. Perfect gifts for one of my friends – she’s going to love them!


17 Giselle November 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

My friend just came back from a 9 month design stint in Uganda with Sseko, she worked with the women there and designed their new line. It’s so lovely and her experience there was amazing. It’s a great company to purchase from.


18 liz bohannon November 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

EEEEKK! You must be a friend of Alexandra! I miss her SO MUCH already. What a brillant beautiful soul. We were so lucky to have her as part of the Sseko team this past year!


19 mandi@herbanhomestead November 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

So glad to see you doing this post! I do posts like these every year, but I reach a much smaller readership. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone bought just one gift that gives back this year?!?

ps- Sseko sandals are some of my favorites. Every time I wear mine I get compliments too! And it’s so fun to share the story! I also get compliments on my Apparent Project beads and Haitian Creations purses. My challenge to myself sometimes is to wear a completely Fair Trade/ Free Trade outfit!


20 Robin November 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for these great ideas, Gabby!


21 liz bohannon November 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

YAY! Love this list, Gabby! Adding Kenana Knitters to my gift list for some little ones in my life. So cute! Have never heard of them before! xo


22 Heather HS November 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Here’s one for the person who doesn’t need/want “stuff”… food!
The send fresh fruit to your gift recipient, and for every pound of fruit that is given, they match it with a equal amount of fruit for a food pantry! Tasty and a double gift. :)


23 Caren November 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I’d love to add our direct trade non-profit, Hill Country Hill Tribers. We work with refugees who have escaped persecution from Burma and are creating new lives here in Austin, TX. Every item is hand made and helps them hold on to their traditional craftsmanship. Thanks for highlighting other gifts that give back. Love the call for people to celebrate the true spirit of the season.


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