Taking Back Black Friday

Posted on Nov 27, 2013 by Oliver

A holiday gift guide for those whose goods aren't in mall window displays surrounded by poinsettias

Hey, friends! Tis the season to celebrate the joy of giving, so they say, and there's a lot of talk in the air about taking a conscious approach to one's holiday gift-giving. I wanted to enter the discussion and do more than pay lip service to the noble ideal of buying locally and supporting independent business, so I have compiled a list of artists, craftspeople and businesses who do amazing work that you won't find strolling the fluorescent-lit halls of your nearest shopping mall. They are EVERYWHERE, people. Let this season be a reminder to us that we are practically swimming in a sea of creativity and artistry, and that it can be tough going as an independent artisan in the era of big-box retail and Amazon. Let's celebrate the richness of talent and skill all around us and reinvest our money in vibrant, self-sustaining communities!

(If you really like malls, please don't let me take that from you)

Think about it!

NO slave (ahem, sweatshop) labor

NO overseas shipping and the accompanying use of fossil fuels

NO shitty piped-in music

and, on the other hand

YES to directly supporting the livelihood of someone in your community who provides a valuable good or service, and perhaps even building an ongoing relationship with them

YES to unique gifts you won't find anywhere else but from the hands who made them

YES to remembering that we don't need the mediation of megalithic corporations to be the creatively abundant people we were born to be.

Vote with your money for a self-sustaining, mutually supportive global village. Take back Black Friday.

Here are just a few suggestions, please, please, please contribute more ideas in the replies section and I will update the post to hopefully include an ever-growing roster! 


Adrien Miller: ceramics, paintings, fine art. Adrien made the beautiful cover art for my debut record When the Moon, and is an insanely prolific Seattle-based sculptor and painter. Check out his hand sculpted tea cups and pots for great gift ideas. His work evokes a feeling of peaceful joy.

Oliver Franklin: Yup, ME, baby. I made a record in 2012 called "When the Moon". I think it's really damn good music. Impress your friends with your discerning taste in independent, local sounds! You can buy it in the form of high quality files or on a compact disc! If you are reading this blog post and somehow still aren't following me on Facebook, that can be amended here.

Dance lessons with Nomad Dance: Contact Ryan Wren Barrett through this Facebook link to take advantage of holiday discounts on dance lessons for individuals or couples, taught by a mover and shaker in the Portland Fusion Dance scene! (GREAT FOR COUPLES!!!)

Photography by Ilyanne: Ilyanne specializes in weddings and couples portaiture, exemplified in her (B)LOved project. Go to her website for samples of her work, or like her here!

Louography: Jessy Lou is an incredible photographic artist. She excells at band and musician protraiture, but also creates other images with a degree of beautiful abstraction that really evoke feelings of mystery and compelling whimsy. Check out more work on her Tumblr

Mary VanderJack Photography: Check out her awesome wedding photography! Tell your friends!

Ghost Gallery: Fantastically curated independent art gallery on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

Original Practice Shakespeare Festival: This innovative troupe makes it their mission to get the works of the bard before the public both through free outdoor performances and educational outreach. Want to support them and ALSO buy someone you love the gift of entertainment? They do private parties! Their highly trained actors will show up at your office or home or ANYWHERE and deliver a monologue or a play. Send your sweetheart a sonnet, or bring Twelfth Night to your block party. Their performances are fresh and engaging.

Genghis Barbie: The world's leading post post-feminist feminist all-female horn experience. You heard me. Their new album Amp it UP! has droppen just in time for Christmas, and you can buy it here. Your mom will like it, they promise! Like GB here.

Aaron Joshua Shay: An upstanding gentleman and a songwriter par excellence. I highly recommend his two eps "None the Worse for Wear" and "Nothing is Ruined". Like him!


Mercy Supplies: Handcrafted leather goods, ethically sourced materials. Killer wallets and belts, and that's just the beginning.

Wethouse: Ingenious t shirts ranging from whimsically tasteless to downright inapporiate, and all damn hilarious: Behold the greatest Michael Jackson t-shirt of all time.

Peepwool: Handmade felted dolls and hats! Offbeat and unique.

Cyberoptix Tie Lab: "Ties that don't suck" is their motto. See for yourself! I myself am rather covetous of the circuit board silk.

Lastwear: Seattle's finest purveyors of Steampunk couture. They make snazzy vests, among other items! (You don't have to wear goggles to look good in them, don't worry). Like Lastwear Here

Live Poultry: Brooklyn-inspired handscreened t shirts.


Saebyn Marie Designs: Elegant metalworked jewelry. Wings, clocks, keys: they will look good on you. Like Saebyn Marie's work here

Twill Studios: Funky, asymmetrical jewelry and bags made from utilitarian materials.

Elysian Botanicals: My friend Meia gave me some of these handcrafted soaps last year. They make me smell good, they're all natural and they get you clean. What more can one want from soap? WHO DOESN'T NEED SOAP IN THEIR LIVES? Gift the gift of soap to that charming person you care about who needs it most! (There's always one). Contact them through the Facebook link above or check out their Etsy shop

The Library of Lives and Letters: Amazing journals made from repurposed antique books.

We All Have Bright Ideas: Personalized laser-cut wood keepsakes! LAAAAAAASEEEEERS

Loverlees: Charming handmade home and wedding decor. Enter "HAPPYHOLIDAYS" in the Coupon Code section of checkout and get 15% off anything purchased!
Greenland Kayak Paddles: Awesome. Hand carved kayak paddles CUSTOM DESIGNED for optimal performance. Beautiful work, crafted in north Seattle.
Westlake Woodwerk: From their website: "A small group of retirees volunteer their time making small, classic wooden toys such as trains, pull toys, puzzles, mini rocking horses and replicas of Washington State Ferries. The volunteer woodworkers use high-quality mahogany, dark walnut, maple and ash.  This workshop represents the collaborative effort of highly talented poeple who love working with wood". It's really beautiful and classic, see for yourself. If you go there, ask for Maria Manness and she will customize ANYTHING MADE OF WOOD by burning a name or message into it! Tell her who sent ya.


Green Bean Books: Awesome children's bookstore on NE Alberta in Portland. Their staff is friendly and clearly love the business that they're in. I found great gifts there for my nephews. PLUS, they have an awesome "parents section" for you to browse while you're little one digs on Babar, featuring such titles as "How to Not be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette Guide". Required reading, to be sure.Like Green Bean Books here


Oxfam America Unwrapped: Okay, this is just awesome. If you have a loved one who doesn't think they need more stuff, why not give them the gift of sharing in helping to improve someone's lot in an impoverished part of the world? You can buy a family a goat that will provide them milk that they can drink and sell, buy them seeds, soap, blankets. I would be stoked if anyone got this as a gift for me.

Da Vinci Arts MIddle School Arts Fair: Over 70 local artists peddling their wares to support a Portland Public School with fantastic programs! 30% of proceeds go to the school, and there's sure to be a huge variety of handmade gifts.  December 7th 10am-5pm, December 8th 10am-4pm

K.I.N.D.- Kids In Need of Desks: Unicef's fund to provide school supplies and text books to African students.

Heifer International: Similar to Oxfam, providing livestock and other means to a self-sustaining lifestyle in developing nations.


Hunny Bunny Farms: Absolutely delicious raw honey from a farm in Manning, Oregon

Queen Mary Tea Room: A gift certificate to this Seattle institution or a box of their premium loose leaf tea would be a great gift for SOMEONE you know, I'm reasonably sure. Who don't like tea?


Orange Dracula: Weird kitsch in the heart of PIke Place Market.

Self Defense and Sport Combat Lessons: Oin Condit has over ten years' experienced in mixed martial arts, ranging from Sambo to Muay Thai. He is a phenomenal teacher, a great communicator. He will put you at ease while teaching you how to punch him. Highly recommended! Based in north Seattle.


Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for all of these companies being fastidiously, ethically perfect. If you have any questions for the artists about their sources, products or process, I'm certain that they would be thrilled to answer them for you!