Let's be honest. Sometimes, it just feels good to shop. But what feels better than scoring that perfect pocketbook, T-shirt or home accent piece? How about making a purchase that positively contributes to the community?
This month, for our Philanthropy Issue, we bring you a roundup of fun local products whose purchases help raise funds for important projects, from under-funded Hamilton County school programs to faith-based African ministries. The next time you're in the mood to spend — do it. By treating yourself, you'll be treating those in need, too.
Locals Only Merch
1421 Market St., Chattanooga | 423-551-GIFT (4438)
The mission: Exclusively carrying locally made goods, with sales primarily helping support small local businesses, this unique gift shop also has its own line which offers a more tangible local giveback. "We are proud to donate 10 percent of all profits from the sale of our Locals Only Merch line of products to the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga to assist in their mission of increasing student achievement so that all students may succeed in learning and in life," says shop owner Danielle Landrum.
The products: Ranging from T-shirts to tea towels, the Locals Only Merch line is a testament to Chattanooga's unique sense of community. Featuring designs that invoke elements of the Scenic City's persona, "each item in the line is designed by a local Chattanooga artist and printed by Inkelope located in Red Bank," Landrum says. And, like the "Chattanooga Way," the machine-washable designs will stand the test of time.
Rocks glass, $11.99
Shot glass, $9.99
Pint glass, $10.99
Assorted tees, $19.99-$29.99
The Mustard Seed Gifts' Karama Collection
1306 Hanover St., Chattanooga | 423-805-5917
The mission: Karama is an African-based nonprofit organization in which local artisans receive on-the-job training from master craftsmen while earning fair wages through purposeful work. Every year, Karama donates its profits to Young Life, a nonprofit ministry focused on helping African children grow their faith. "All the money that I spend to purchase [Karama products] goes to that ministry," explains The Mustard Seed owner Susan Southerland.
The products: Featuring a variety of handmade leather products and brass jewelry, one of Karama's most extraordinary items is its "Shield of Faith" necklace. The intricate cross pendant blends contemporary design and Ethiopian tradition, and is handmade using melted bullet casings. In addition to pendants, earrings and bangles, Karama showcases sewn and hand-finished leather wristlets, tote bags and travel wallets.
Leather envelope, $112
Leather business card holder, $44
"Shield of Faith" necklace, $64
330 Frazier Ave., Suite 104, Chattanooga | 423-266-0585
The mission: Continuing its mission of supporting local artists — a commitment that took Plum Nelly from a clothesline art show to a formal store more than 40 years ago — some of the shop's one-of-a-kind pieces benefit more than the buyer and local community.
The products: "The Field Play Project" is the result of classically trained artist Judith Mogul's observations of an open field behind her home and its transformation from an untamed place of play into a developed property. Each hand-numbered edition comprises three elements: a 27-minute stop-motion animated film based on the "elephant tree" that stands sentry over the wild litter; a film documenting Mogul's process for this piece; and a field guide that not only tells the field's and project's story, but offers classroom projects related to the outdoors. Sales of the book benefit the Chattanooga Nature Center.
Another book by Mogul offers hand-sketched scenes that capture the chaos and destruction experienced in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, with 100 percent of proceeds going to disaster relief in the territory.
Amid Plum Nelly's wide-ranging selection of jewelry, most of which is handmade by area artisans, the Chavez for Charity bracelets offer an on-trend way of promoting equality and philanthropy. Color-coded to represent issues ranging from safe drinking water to empowering girls globally, the beaded bands benefit their corresponding color's cause through 25 percent of profits.
"The Field Play Project," $30
Judith Mogul compilation, $25
Chavez for Charity bracelets, $12 apiece
The Rustic House's This Little Light candles
Available online and locally at the Chattanooga Market and Merchants on Main
The mission: When she launched her scented soy-based candle line five years ago, Emily Warr didn't want to just make money for herself, but also for others. "I tried not to make it about money, but about the mission itself," she says. "No matter how big or how small, there's always something to give."
Starting with Rising Minds, which helps indigenous communities in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range become self-sufficient through agriculture, education and health training, she has proven that over the three-year partnership, which has netted $2,288 for the Guatemalan-based nonprofit. Last fall, Warr expanded her "This Little Light" outreach to include local nonprofit HomeBound Books, which provides free lending libraries in inner-city schools, whose students often don't have books of their own at home — and who often can't read on grade level. For each of TRH's This Little Light candles sold, $12 — more than half of the proceeds — is donated to the respective nonprofit.
The products: "Sweet Stories" offers an intoxicating blend of black raspberry and vanilla, while "Fireside Stories," an annual autumnal release, channels a favorite of the season: campfires. Both fittingly benefit HomeBound's local literacy efforts. In a nod to the exotic flavors of Central America, the Agave + Lime candles benefit Rising Minds' multi-faceted outreach.
Be a part: Warr isn't just supporting her mission, she's living it. Having already made one trip to Guatemala to help Rising Minds with its multitude of projects, she's organizing another trip for February 2019. Part yoga retreat, part philanthropy, the trip has openings for those who would like to join. Contact Warr at Info@ShopRusticHouse.com for more details.
Sweet Stories, 40- to 50-hr. burn time, $22
Agave + Lime, 40- to 50-hr. burn time, $22
Available locally at The Mustard Seed Gifts, Scenic City Souvenir & Sweets, Genevieve Bond Gifts, Nooga Boutique and Diana's Hallmark Shop
The mission: A portion of the proceeds from this Tennessee, faith-based clothing line is donated to Cry for the Broken, a local Christian-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping sex workers take back their lives. "When I thought about what I'm supposed to be doing, it's to take the words of the Bible and take them out in the world," says company founder Felicia Lane. "The people on the streets, the addicts, those who are prostituting themselves — those are who need [Jesus] the most."
The products: The goal of this clothing line, Lane says, is to show the world that faith is still relevant. Each article of clothing — ranging from T-shirts to quilted caps to baby onesies and more — is printed with a faith-based slogan and a corresponding Bible verse. For example, the "Salty" tank refers to verse Matthew 5:13, which reads, "You are the salt of the earth." Made using a super-soft, tri-blend cotton, these shirts not just quippy, they are also comfy.
"Salty" blue tank top, $24
"Go into all the world" T-shirt, $24
"Fierce" pink-and-white striped onesie, $18
Amani ya Juu
420 S. Willow St., Chattanooga
The mission: Founded by Chattanooga native Becky Chinchen, Amani ya Juu is a nonprofit Fairtrade organization that teaches marginalized African women — many of whom lost their families to war or disease — practical business skills such as design, stitching, management and bookkeeping. Proceeds from the handcrafted goods they create help fund the Amani center in Africa.
The products: Available online or shipped to the Chattanooga storefront, Amani's selection of handmade goods ranges from apparel to home décor. The items are distinguished by their vibrant motifs and African colors, beautifully illustrated by this 20-by-24-inch quilted wall-hanging, stretched over a wooden frame, which pays tribute to the friendship and fellowship shared by Amani workers.
"Amani Sisters" wall hanging, $64
swayyhammocks.com (available online only)
The mission: A percentage of Chattanooga-based outdoor company SWAYY's profits are sent to Papua, Indonesia, to help build schools and chapels. "Last year, our revenue was $5,000 and we donated $500. This year, we'll give around $1,500. That should help build one school," says Seth Hill, company founder and CEO.
The products: Using special technology and triple-insulation, SWAYY hammocks are a tent, a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad all rolled into out cozy piece of gear. Best of all, they are designed to prevent "cold butt syndrome," caused by penetrating winds. SWAYY offers two different hammocks: the "Premus," and the "Eira," which includes a rain fly. Both products are made with water-repellent down and have a temperature rating of 35-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Colors include blue, yellow, lime green or outdoor green.
The "Eira" hammock, $499
Available online and locally at REI Chattanooga, L2 Outside, Refinery 423 and Merchants on Main (The "Bitter" hat is available only at The Bitter Alibi).
The mission: Five dollars from every "hatt" sale is donated to Hamilton County school programs geared toward preparing students for the workforce. Company founder and Hamilton County public school graduate Ty Conner says, "50 percent of the [local] jobs available require trade school training or college, and only 35 percent of the population has those credentials." The goal, Conner says, is to help support school clubs like robotics or coding, which teach students the real-world applications to such skills. Though open only since November 2017, Hattanooga has already donated $1,500 to its cause.
The products: Offering a range of hip hat styles, from snapbacks to poms poms to "dad hatts," Hattanooga has become a fast favorite, in part, due to its local themes. Two of its most popular designs are "Walnut St.," depicting a simple, geometric illustration of the iconic bridge, and "Bitter," paying homage to local bar and restaurant The Bitter Alibi with a clean-line rendering of the building. Custom hatts are also available.
Walnut St. Dad Hatt, $28
30 Frazier Ave., Chattanooga
The mission: As a local business owner, Tina Harrison believes it is important to give back, often stocking items that benefit various organizations and initiatives. "We're all about community and doing things a little differently. We certainly appreciate people who are trying to help other people make their way in the world," she says.
The products: Harrison says people often reach out to her regarding products with a mission. Just last month, she started stocking wallets made by local teenagers through the "Magic Markers" entrepreneurial summer camp, an extension of the Chattanooga nonprofit art program Mark Making. Designed and constructed by the kids, 100 percent of the proceeds goes back to the organization.
She's also been partnering with an Athens, Georgia-based women's incubator, Coloring Their World, for three years. The money Harrison pays to stock the charming handmade bird mobiles helps supplement part-time working moms' income.
Another perennially popular item with a purpose can be found in the shop's line of Sari Bari messenger and handbags crafted using old saris. Handmade in India, each bag includes the name of the woman who made it — and whose craft and employment through the company means she no longer has to be a sex trade worker.
Banded, a Franklin, Tennessee-based company, uses headbands and accessories as a means of attacking profound problems. For every Banded product sold, the company supplies three meals for children in need in Latin America and the Caribbean — providing more than 10.4 million meals since launching in 2012.
Tyvek wallet, $15
Mobile, $14.95 for the branch plus $10.95 for each bird
Banded headbands, $11.95 apiece
Messenger bag, $45
Threads on Signal
1207 Taft Highway, Signal Mountain
The mission: A portion of this company's profits goes to local childhood cancer research organizations. Opened in 2013, Threads' original owner Mindy Sanders made this her cause after her infant son was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, her son has recovered and earlier this year, Sanders sold her company. But new owner Jennifer Schleger recognizes the importance of the mission and plans to keep up the donations.
The products: Specializing in personalized and monogrammed goods, Threads mountaintop boutique features clothing, bags, home goods and more — including popular Corkcicle drinkware and Scout bags. Both functional and fashionable, this triple-insulated, Tennessee-themed drinkware and breathe-easy, poly-canvas Scout laundry bag would compose a fun care package for the college student in your life. Make the gift more personal by adding his or her initials.
Corkcicle tumbler, 24 oz., $35
Corkcicle canteen, 16 oz., $35
Scout "spin cycle" laundry bag, $32.50