Mass-produced goods have taken over retail stores and shopping websites, particularly in the last decade. It’s so easy for consumers to frequent the same places and purchase products that are manufactured on machines overseas – from technology gadgets to fashion accessories and home appliances. Finding something handmade can prove difficult. Handmade items add a special touch to any gift. Not only do handmade goods celebrate talented artisans and craftsman, they are one-of-a-kind pieces that typically come with an interesting formation story. DC is known to exhibit and explore talent, so handmade gifts are carried by many local stores.
3166 Mt. Pleasant St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20010
Amani is an organization that uses proceeds from fair trade handmade items to give back to those less fortunate in Africa. The items are produced by African women in five African countries: Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. The headquarters is in Nairobi, Kenya and serves as a safe haven, bringing peace and encouragement to many. Women at the African centers are paid two times the minimum wage, a very good pay check in comparison to most jobs in Africa. Handbags, home goods, jewelry and children’s items are among the goods constructed of African materials. Also popular are the handmade cards that add a thoughtful detail to any gift.
1415 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
There are four Appalachian Spring locations throughout the DC area, each of which showcases excellent American craftsmanship and creativity with extensive collections. The recently renovated Georgetown store is the largest, just two blocks from the original Appalachian Springs location that opened in 1983. New handcrafted inventory arrives weekly and products include pottery, blown glass, fashion accessories, toys and much more. Price point ranges from $30 to $100 – a great price tag for high-quality products.
As Kindred Spirits
Reagan National Airport
1 Aviation Circle
Washington, DC 20001
This spiritual retailer houses distinctive decor and wearable art in the form of jewelry. The owners believe in giving back to environmental and fair trade movements. As Kindred Spirits has a location in Congressional Plaza in Rockville, MD and in Reagan National Airport.
1743 L St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
The colorful store, referring to itself as weirdly sophisticated Washingtonians, is just tacky enough to be entertaining. There’s nothing subtle about the inventory and Chocolate Moose visitors often spend a fair amount of time looking around to take it all in. Interesting handmade items include jewelry, beaded bracelets and woven cuffs and funny art. If you have a quirky loved one or eccentric friend, visit Chocolate Moose. There are tons of cards to complete your present.
An Umba box is filled with hand-crafted goods made domestically and abroad. The world “umba” means “to create” in Swahili. Umba is structured to empower those entrepreneurs who make the goods, and also those who sell the goods. The company sells products online, where customers sign up for monthly subscriptions or can buy items a la carte, and also employs ambassadors. An ambassador is someone who sells Umba goods in their area as independent consultants, hosting trunk shows and getting involved in the community. Umba was launched and built in DC, and 10 percent of the ambassadors reside here. Contact one of the local umbassadors to get exclusive access to Umba goods that all have significant stories.