Forth Chicago 2014 Gift Guide Part 1: all women-owned businesses, all local, all awesome, all for the home / by Lisa Guillot

Forth-Chicago-all-women-owned-businesses-Gift-guide-for-the-home It's that time of year again, and we've got you covered on the gift-giving front. This year, we've put together a guide to help you shop local and support Chicago - and more specifically the awesome women, all Forth alum, behind some amazing businesses! We're highlighting a handful of options in our two-part gift guide, with Part One focusing on items for the home - enjoy!

Sarah Drake Designs

Forth Alum, Sarah Drake, has turned a childhood passion into a full-blown super successful business. Sarah offers everything from linens to fine china to gorgeous bedding in her online shop and uses her design talents to create wedding invitations and custom family crests. Her work continually appears in the press and has been featured in Real Simple and InStyle magazines and is even recommended by design goddess Grace Bonney on Design Sponge.

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 We love: the collection of thank you notes! They make a perfect gift around holiday times, when people are most likely to pen their gratitude

For your friend who loves to play hostess: The Napoli Vintage placemats and table linens are divine - and can be monogrammed!

Rare Bird Preserves

Rare Bird Preserves serves up "bliss in a jar" for any foodie on your list. Forth alum Elizabeth Ferguson Madden takes the traditional preserving process and adds a twist with unexpected flavor combinations like Meyer Lemon Rosemary and Peach Lavender. Using the highest quality fruit and fresh ingredients, her passion for preserving is apparent in every jar. Available online

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We love: The Gift Box option and oh-so-badly want to taste test the Chocolate Fruit preserves!

For your friend with a sweet-tooth: The Chocolate Blueberry Preserves

Sugar Beet Co-op

Give the gift of health that keeps on giving all year long! Sugar Beet co-op is offering life-time membership to their community-owned store that will provide convenient access to fresh, local & organic food. Perfect for your friend who loves Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food."


 We love: The Rum Barrel gift box from the Coop which Sugar Beet will sell when they open! The gift box includes the Rum Barrel sauce (enhanced with barrel aged, wild apple cider vinegar), Jalapeño Pork Sticks from Jake’s Country Meats, and a Wild Mary Mix to get your next bloody mary (or tomato soup) started.

For your friend who likes to grow her own garden: Co-Op Membership

Johanna Winter Harper Designs

Johanna Winter Harper, a Forth alum hailing from London, England, has her own line of whimsical linens -including tea and dish towels - and lovely prints with inspiring sayings available in her Etsy shop.

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We love: This Amy Poehler quote and want to hang it somewhere to read every day 

For your friend always whipping something up in the kitchen: The Berry Basket gift set

Paragraph Quilt Co.

Mary Bess Ser is a sensational seamstress who uses her talents to whip up everything from cloth napkins to intricate quilts. She's currently working on a variety of cloth napkins that would be the perfect accent to any holiday table setting - visit her site for contact info and check back soon for her creations on her site!



Hand & Cloth Designs

We love the story and mission behind Hand & Cloth, a group of textile enthusiasts who have started a business aimed to empower women through the traditional artisan skills they already possess. During her travels abroad, Forth alum Sarah Aulie, was mesmerized by the unique textiles and blankets sold by women in the markets of Bangladesh. She felt that their beautiful blankets, called Kanthas, needed to be shared with the rest of the world and founded Hand & Cloth in 2007. The non-profit now sells over 80 different blankets (how are we supposed to decide?!) and works exclusively with vendors that provide fair wages for women allowing them to send their children to school.

Hand and Cloth Forth Chicago Gift guideWe love: that when you purchase products from Hand & Cloth, you are protecting women in Bangladesh by providing dignified work. And the color combo in the Table No. 21 would surely brighten up any wintery day

For the office holiday gift exchange: the Kantha stockings - most definitely will be the most creative and thoughtful gift at the party!


Modern Sprout makes gardening for any urban city slicker a piece of carrot?? This brilliant company, founded by Forth alum Sarah Burrows, utilizes the innovative hydroponic gardening technique to provide self-sustaining plants..which means you essentially cannot kill your garden AND can have fresh herbs growing in your apartment despite the impending polar vortex!


We love: The Garden Sack - a practically fool-proof self-watering culinary kit for those of us with a normal-colored thumb

For the person on your list with a green thumb: Splurge on a plug-in planter or the 4 Garden Jar Kit 

Nourishing Notes

Nourishing Notes is an ode and celebration to all things food and has everything from kitchen towels to card sets. Forth alum Julie Morelli takes her passion for "design, writing, printing and baguette baking" with her co-founder Andy Schwegler to bring you punny greeting cards, unique kitchen towels, aprons, totes and prints perfect for your kitchen. We love all the clever spins that Nourishing Notes puts on standard kitchen products and think you will too!


We love: The "Trust your Gut, not the Recipe" print- words to live by! 

For your friend who loves a good pun: The "Going to Market" bag

Want MORE? Check out Part 2 of our gift guide with sweet options for the artsy charming bikers in your life!

Don't wait for Black Friday - go out and get shopping, friends, while supporting women-owned businesses in Chicago.