Welcome to my annual Christmas Gift Guide to Empower Women! 

Every year I post a Christmas Gift Guide on my blog but this year it has been kicked up to ALL OF THE NOTCHES.

After all, we all know there is a lot of mindless consumerism in the world right now. So rather than aimlessly cruising the mall trying to find a random gift to buy for that one person and lining the pockets of more soulless conglomerates, we’ll step out of the system and spend our money intentionally and thoughtfully with an eye on empowerment for women!

I love subverting the system a bit – we will not only bless one another with gorgeous gifts but we will do some good, strengthen, and bring hope to small business, entrepreneurs, and women all around the world. After all, the big box stores won’t miss my money this year but for these women, our purchases can make a world of difference.

When we empower a woman, we empower an entire family and community!

And yes, you absolutely can and should forward this gift guide to your significant other with a gentle HINT HINT DARLING. I know I did. (Hi, sweetie, love you!)

Now let’s get shopping and sharing and pinning, eh? Let’s do some good this Christmas with our spending.

P.S. In case you’re wondering: I didn’t take any compensation from a single one of these providers nor am I making any affiliate money from anything you purchase. I genuinely chose these shops because they are doing good work and I love their goods, too. I’m so happy to spread the word about their work.


Gifts Under $50

Preemptive Love Coalition

My Pick: Sisterhood Soap Fig and Date Gift Set $35  – I have had Sisterhood Soap and their washcloths in my house for almost a year now and they are still my favourite ever. I often give these for the holidays in gift exchanges or to girlfriends (they are also excellent for Mother’s Day). Their soaps are also all-natural, made with 100% saponified olive oil and dried dates and figs. Fragrance free and allergen free, too. Plus look at that lovely refugee-made soap dish!

Other favourites: Sisterhood Soap in Chamomile or Sisterhood Knits Washcloths

Special deals: 10% off the Sisterhood Soap Fig and Date Gift Set with code BESSEY10

How they empower women: I have supported and loved the folks at Preemptive Love for years now. They are on the ground in Iraq and Syria, doing the real hard work alongside of refugees who refuse to let violence have the last word over their lives. Life in a refugee camp offers little space for beauty or imagination, but these small businesses are changing that. Each purchase provides income and stability for a refugee family—and a renewed sense of purpose for the women who make them.

The Brave Little Taylor

My Pick:  She is Clothed in Strength and Dignity 8×10 Print.  $23.68 CAD I would give this print to my daughters or my sister or my friends in a heartbeat. Longtime readers will remember that Taylor has worked with me in the past, too. She was behind the now sold-out Eshet Chayil prints from my book Jesus Feminist as well as all of the free printables for my book, Out of Sorts. And I have this appropriate print hanging up in my youngest’s bedroom right this blessed minute.

Other favourites: Isaiah 9 Christmas Print

Special deal:  25% off the entire shop with code SARAHBESSEY25

How they empower women: In addition to supporting a woman-owned and operated small business with your purchase, a portion of every sale goes towards supporting International Justice Mission.

House of Light Goods

My Pick: House of Light Scarf $30 CAD This warm and big scarf is lined so that it’s as soft as a t-shirt while still being incredibly fashionable. Everytime I wear mine, people stop me in the store to beg me to tell them where I bought it. It’s such a beautiful signature scarf.

Other favourites: Pueblo Pillow and the Juárez Diamente Blanket

How they empower women: Run by a couple of my dear friends here in town, House of Light Goods is a non-profit small business that provides empowered employment to single mothers in Primo Tapia, Mexico in cooperation with Casa de Luz and helps bring positive change to vulnerable families and children at risk. Each scarf, headband, and pillow cover is handcrafted by single mothers, enabling them to provide food, shelter and clothing for their children through empowered employment. 100% of their profits go back to Casa de Luz to provide nutritious meals, educational support, family counselling and other resources to impoverished families.

GIRLS CAN! CRATE: Inspiring Girls to Be and Do Anything

My Pick: 12-month subscription to GIRLS CAN! CRATES $29.95/month. I love subscription services as Christmas gifts especially for kids. Who doesn’t love a gift every month? From Marie Curie to Bessie Coleman, Irena Sendler to Florence Nightingale, Patsy Mink to Malala – GIRLS CAN! CRATE inspires girls to BE and DO anything by introducing them to fearless women who made the world better. Each month, the recipient will meet an inspiring female role model, discover her story in a fun 20-page activity book, receive a hands-on act or science activity, and also a surprise gift like stickers or play props and so on. Also available in 1, 3, or 6 month subscriptions. I’m envisioning this for my middle-grade niece this year!

Other favourites: Fearless Ladies t-shirt and the Persevering Painters Crate

Special deals: 20% off your first month’s subscription with code BESSEY20

How they empower women: The crates themselves are very empowering for our girls and that would be enough, I know. As Sally Ride said, you cannot be what you cannot see. This makes sure our girls can see the possibilities for themselves. But what really puts it over the top is how the organization use 10% of the proceeds from every single GIRLS CAN! CRATE purchased to give crates to local nonprofit organizations giving girls resources to succeed. 


My Pick: African Chai Tin with Hand-carved Wood Tea Spoon $15 CAD – It just isn’t a gift guide for me without a spot of tea, is it? This African Chai is a delicious blend of cloves, cinnamon, fennel, and rose petals – so aromatic! And it’s fantastic as an iced tea, too. The tea tins are one of my favourite gifts because even after the tea is gone, they are so useful around the playroom and garden. Plus these teas are non-GMO and Fair Trade!

Other favourites: Kenyan Earl Grey or Peppermint Detox

Special deals: 25% off your order with the code EMPOWER

How they empower women: A joint venture between Canadians and Kenyans, JusTea is Kenya’s first-ever, small-scale farmer-owned, Artisanal Tea Factory! Together they are providing fair and sustainable wages for tea farming families including creating over 200 jobs for youth and women and partnering with a Women’s Herbal Tea Co-op in Eastern Kenya.  Over 80% of the employees are women and they support hundreds of small-scale herbal tea farmers in their community.

Imagine Goods Sustainable Supply Co.

My Pick: Essential Oils Wristlet $32 USD. Head’s up Essential Oils folks! This handy little pouch can hold up six of your essential oils or your lipstick (I’m more of a lipstick gal myself). Because I love a big huge purse, I regularly use little pouches or wristlets like this for all of those little things that get lost at the bottom of the bag. There are a ton of other patterns if my rose pick isn’t your style, too.

Other favourites: Katherine Dress for women, the Men’s Necktie, and this gorgeous summery tablecloth with matching napkins

Special deals: 20% off the entire site with code EMPOWER20 (ends November 30, 2017)

How they empower women: Imagine Goods carried my now sold-out Jesus Feminist collection a couple of years ago. I have loved working with Michelle and Aiyana over the years and their company is legit. Imagine Goods employs survivors of trafficking in Cambodia. They even source a lot of their fabrics locally in Phnom Penh & Siem Reap, Cambodia. They are creating products that care for the human race—giving opportunity for individuals to care for their children, families, and health. . . so that a new generation has a fighting chance to break the cycle of poverty.

Sari Bari

My Pick: Mukti Christmas Stocking $40 USD – There are dozens and dozens of choices for Christmas stockings at this beautiful website – I can already picture a mantle filled with this gorgeous colour for Christmas Eve. The Sari Bari Christmas Stocking is created from recycled sari’s with a unique diagonal running stitch. As with all Sari Bari products this purchase creates hope and tangible way to freedom for the woman who made it.

Other favourites: Baby Blankets! *swoon* or Square Coin Purse

Special deals: 25% off with the code SARAHBESSEY until December 18, 2017

How they empower women: Sari Bari is a freedom business where women in India who have been exploited in the sex trade or who are vulnerable to trafficking can experience a new life in the making. With each stitch, a life is transformed. With each thread, hope is woven into a woman’s future. Sari Bari offers freedom to women who are trapped in the sex trade, and also provides opportunities to those who are vulnerable to being trafficked.

Brave Soles

My Pick: The Aventura Girls Sandal $28 USD – These sandals are so beautiful and versatile. You can dress them up or down, for church or for the park.  They come in six colours, too! Full leather uppers, hand stitched with care plus crafted with cool tire tread prints on the bottom

Other favourites: The Jasmine Sandal for women or the Men’s Santiago Slide or the Media Luna Purse

Special deals: 20% off your order with code “Sarah”

How they empower women: The story behind Brave Soles starts in a garbage dump in the Dominican Republic but that isn’t where it ends. Each shoe sole is crafted using tires from the landfills and their foundation works to provide basic necessities for landfill workers in Hispaniola. 

Just One

My Pick: Long Brass Arrow Necklace $45 CAD – This beautiful hand-hammered brass necklace is just the right length for my usual uniform of a black tunic with black leggings. Understated and elegant, it can be dressed up or dressed down for everyday use. It hits at just the right spot, in my opinion.

Other favourites: Small Hammered Brass Earrings or Handmade Elephant Wallet 

Special deals: 20% off your entire order with the code SARAH2017 until December 31, 2017

How they empower women: Just One is an organization that follows fair trade practices to offer world changing fashion.  Each purchase directly supports people around the globe struggling with poverty and brings awareness to their needs. Primarily working in Uganda, Just One purchases directly from local artisans who are mostly women and then also donates a portion of the profits back into the communities where they work and live.

Bright Endeavors

My Pick: Holiday Sampler Candle Gift Set $ 39.99 USD  I do love lighting candles in the evenings especially now that it’s getting dark by 4:00 p.m. *sob* Plus it seems like candles are the gift everyone loves so it would make an excellent gift for your co-workers. Lay in a good supply for the season and you’ll never be caught on the back foot for a gift. The set include The Whitebark Pine Signature Glass, the Almond Berry Galette 8oz Retreat Tin, and the Holiday Citrus Mini Signature candles. Everything is made in Chicago, USA and 100% of proceeds support the young moms who create this candle.

(Note: Bright Endeavors cannot ship out of the USA.)

Other favourites: The Chicago Candle (a perfect gift for those who love the windy city) or if you are a shop owner, they do sell wholesale!

Special deals: 25% off your order over $50 with the code BRIGHTLOVE. 

How they empower women: Based in Chicago, Bright Endeavors believes that young mothers are a groundbreaking opportunity for family and community transformation. In their neighbourhood, young moms are often battling homelessness and poverty. In most cases, women are living in low-income communities without access to quality education or job opportunities. Under these circumstances, the barriers to an empowered life filled with hope and opportunity can be overwhelming. Bright Endeavors exists to partner with these strong women and help illuminate the path toward a brighter future. Bright Endeavors transforms the lives of young moms by teaching them to craft premium soy candles in a supportive, professional environment. Through our paid job training program, we provide the guidance and job skills young moms need to secure quality employment and begin working toward professional success.

Glory Haus: Jen Hatmaker Line

My Pick: Brown & Turquoise Leather Earrings $33 USD – I have a pair of Jen’s signature huge leather feather earrings. Don’t get these unless you are prepared to be regularly talking about them with random women on airplanes or at school pick-up. They are light-weight and yet a major statement. I adore mine.

Other favourites: Love God, Love People, The End Board or Moxie Leather Bar Necklace

How they empower women: Glory Haus has two components that caught my eye besides their affiliation with Jen -first, all of their leather work is done by women in the USA who are transitioning out of homelessness through MUST Ministries at the Repurposed for a Purpose Workroom. Secondly, all of their linen products are handmade in a fair trade factory in India, called Daughters of Hope. Daughters of Hope provides employment, training, and HOPE to impoverished women. Daughters of Hope not only reduces poverty and injustice, but gives dignity, freedom, and hope to women who have been caught up in the cycle of economic and social oppression. Glory Haus helped with the development of Daughters of Hope and helps support fair wages, free childcare, free healthy lunches, savings plans, health insurance, lessons in personal hygiene, daily devotions, and more.

The Adventure Project

My Pick: Charcoal Bar Soap $20 USD  – I am late to the charcoal trend, I know, but The Adventure Project is what sold me on the notion. Plus your purchase of charcoal soap will put a charcoal efficient stove into the home of a woman in Kenya. 

Other favourites: The Adventure T-shirt or Give directly to sponsor a woman’s job training

Special deals: Get 10% off your soap purchase with code SARAHBESSEY10 until December 22, 2017.

How they empower women: Your purchase of charcoal soap will put a charcoal efficient stove into the home of a woman in Kenya, yes, but the larger story of The Adventure Project is that it is a collective of people who are empowering entrepreneurs and leaders in developing nations with venture capital and investment in their dreams.

Little Orchard Co.

My Pick: Love You Forever T-Shirt. $32 CAD. I admit it, I felt a bit teary when I saw this shirt. Most of you know that pregnancy loss is a big part of our story and this tee was created for every person who has loved a child – whether it was just 2 lines on a pregnancy test, whether it was before 40 weeks, whether they took them home from the hospital or not, whether they hold them in their arms, or only in their heart. These shirts bring awareness to the issue of stillbirth and infant loss with the iconic line from Robert Munsch’s book, “Love You Forever.”

Other favourites: Women’s True North Tee or Kids’ Happy Camper Tee or Adult Camera Pullover Sweatshirt

How they empower women: Based in Winnipeg, this woman-owned small business was deeply moved by the pregnancy loss of a dear friend and so created this special Love You Forever Project in response. Profits from the sale of the LOVE YOU FOREVER tees and onesies will be donated to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit organization that provides remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. You know how dear this grief is to my own heart.

Starfish Project: Restoring Hope to Exploited Women

My Pick: Natalie Turquoise Hexagon Stud Earrings $24.99 USD – I have an unapologetic weakness for turquoise and these unique studs are a dream. I’m a bit fussy about earrings with sensitive ears and so the fact that these 18k gold plated are hypoallergenic; lead and cadmium free with nickel content less than 100 ppm is a big plus.  Plus The Natalie Turquoise Hexagon Stud Earrings are equal to the cost of 1 week of room and board at the Starfish Project shelter. Because of your purchase, exploited women and girls will experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers.

Other favourites: Caroline Blue Earrings or the Audrey Necklace

Special deals: 30% off the jewellery in this section of the website with code SARAHBESSEY (offer valid Valid November 8-23, November 28-December 31 (excludes Black Friday sale weekend) and not combinable with other offers.)

How they empower women: Starfish Project restores hope to women escaping human trafficking and exploitation in Asia. They provide life-changing opportunities through Holistic Care Programs and social enterprise where women create beautiful jewelry and become managers, accountants, graphic designers, and photographers. Through our Holistic Care Programs, they provide vocational training, healthcare, shelter, counseling, and education grants for our women and their children. Starfish Project has employed over 100 women and has served thousands through Community Outreach Services.

Ten Thousand Villages

My Pick: Blue Spell Basket $24.99 USD – I truly feel that a family cannot have enough baskets. I use baskets for corralling everything from library books to toys to yarn to homework to blankets in our house. This shallow beautiful basket is fair trade and handcrafted in Uganda. I think it would be fantastic as a catch-all basket at your front door or in the kitchen – throw your keys, your bits and bobs all here to corral the clutter. But honestly, it’s so pretty you could hang it on the wall as a piece of art and call it good. I buy a lot of gifts from Ten Thousand Villages every year and the quality is always top-notch.

Other favourites: Sheltering Cave Nativity handmade in the West Bank or the Mennonite classic More-With-Less Cookbook

Special deals: Free shipping on all orders over $75 in November and December.

How they empower women: Ten Thousand Villages is more than a store. It’s a place where you can explore and connect with your global village. From communities throughout the developing world, every inspired design is crafted with love using local materials (usually natural or recycled) and time-honored skills by makers they have known and worked with for years. Every purchase improves the lives of makers by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income. Ten Thousand Villages is ethical at every step – providing a fair price, long-term partnerships, good working conditions, design collaboration, eco-conscious commitments, and with a strong track record of empowering women and children in particular.

Vi Bella

My Pick: Holiday Hope Gift Set $49.99 USD –  This is a stunning hand-picked sampling of products with a minimum retail value of $100 so hello GOOD DEAL. Each box includes a tote, wallet, headband, necklace, and either a bracelet or earrings! Contents vary in each box so there is even an element of surprise which is super fun. Everything is handcrafted by artisans in Haiti and Mexico. 

Note: US shipping only

Other favourites: Micah 6:8 Metal Set or Ruth Key Chain

How they empower women: Vi Bella Jewelry is centered on providing a path out of poverty for artisans and a deep desire to form a community for them that is encouraging and prayerful. The employment that Vi Bella artisans are given creating jewelry, accessories, and hand sewn goods also creates more beautiful lives for them, their children, and their communities. In addition to steady income, Vi Bella provides school sponsorships for all of our artisan’s children in Haiti and they fund after-school programs for children in Mexico which is a huge thing to working mothers!  Plus at their home office in Iowa, Vi Bella employs several women who have been referred by local agencies to provide them with steady work and a supportive environment to assist in creating stability in their lives. 

Halo Headwear

My Pick: Buffalo Check Hat $24.95 CAD – I know, I know. I’m SUCH a Canadian with the buffalo check but you know what? Sorry not sorry. This is a lightweight toque with a fluffy white pom pom and I will not apologise! But I will look mighty cute this winter, right?

Other favourites: Who’s Whoooo for the kids or this Bicycles on Black Headband for working out

Special deals: 10% off your purchase with the discount code SARAHSAVE10

How they empower women: This is a woman-owned small business that employs local women and gives generously to mothers and babies abroad by donating a portion of their Headwear sales to sales to Compassion Canada’s Child Survival Program which supports women and children in prenatal and postnatal care in the poorest regions of the world.

Haiti Design Co.

My Pick: Toiletry Case $28 USD – I keep most of my make-up and toiletries in little bags to keep them organized even at home and this zippered bag is beautiful AND useful – plus leather accents!

Other favourites: Artist Fringe Earrings and the Mia Leather Clutch

How they empower women: Employees in Haiti are trained in-house in leatherwork, sewing, or jewelry making. The goal is to provide skill training, consistent employment, and resources for personal growth. They are provided with a healthy lunch daily, health care options, savings accounts, emergency loans, counseling, and educational resources. A big focus is creating a safe, encouraging, and family-like work environment where individuals are supported and pushed towards personal growth and leadership. Many of their employees and leaders in-house have dreams of starting their own business. Haiti Design Co. also works side-by-side to bring this dream to a reality and give them the business training and resources needed to be successful entrepreneurs implementing the same values they learned while working in-house.

Thistle Farms

My Pick: ReEnergize Bath + Body Set $35 USD – I don’t know about you but I seem to buy a lot of bath and body products around the holidays for teachers, gift exchanges, and hostess gifts. Thistle Farms is your new best friend. This particular set has four minty fresh bath essentials sure to ReEnergize your morning routine. Great for both men & women, this gift set includes: Eucalyptus Mint Body Wash, Bath Soak, Shave Gel, and Tea Tree Mint Lip Balm. The muscle soak alone is worth the price, to be honest.

Other favourites: Love Heals Holiday Duo or the founder Becca Steven’s book “Love Heals”

How they empower women: Thistle Farms’ mission is to HEAL, EMPOWER, AND EMPLOY women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. They do this by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners.  

The Mercy Shop

My Pick: The Cozy Box $40 USD – If you’re looking to get your hygge on this winter, look no further. The Cozy Box is the perfect way to spread warmth around the world this season!  The bundle includes Fingerless Gloves from Azerbaijani Socks in Azerbaijan, Hot Cocoa Mix by Equal Exchange in Paraguay and Dominican Republic, Baby it’s Cold Outside Note Cards, Set of 10 (proceeds go to Mercy House Maternity Home), and a hand knit Coffee Mug Cozy made by the Refugee Project in Houston

Other favourites: The Christmas Bundle

How they empower women: The beautiful products in Mercy Shop are made by women empowered by Mercy House which exists to engage, empower and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name. Through their maternity homes, they empower women and teenage mothers around the world through partnerships and sustainable fair trade product development. 

Gifts Over $50

ABLE :: Beautiful Products by Women who have Overcome

My Pick: The Abera Crossbody Tote $178.00 USD – available in 8 colours. I cannot get enough of a good leather tote. I am so unbelievably done with diaper bags and backpacks. Having a gorgeous big leather tote  – big enough for a hardback book and everything else too! – along with the crossbody strap is incredibly practical while feeling luxurious at the same time.

Other favourites: The Diana Chelsea Booties and the Sol Sweater Coat. Basically I adore this entire shop and I want All The Things.

Special deals: ABLE is running a site-wide deal of 15% off for purchases under $50; 20% off for purchases between $50-$200, and 30% off for all orders over $200.

How they empower women: ABLE (formerly known as FashionABLE) is a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary circumstances. They manufacture directly in the communities they wish to impact, both locally and globally, creating jobs and ending the cycle of charity dependency. They choose to invest in women because they know that when women thrive so do their communities.

Sseko Designs

My Pick: Moody Floral Multiway Shawl $79.99 USD – Moody floral is the obsession of my fashion life right now and this gorgeous multiway shawl is a dream come true. Not only is it light and flowy and beautiful, you can wrap it up as an oversized scarf as well as a wrap. The possibilities are truly endless with this beauty.

Other favourites: My personal purse that I use every single darn day or the Duster in Kawa

Special deals: Keep an eye out for big Black Friday deals!

How they empower women: Sseko Designs uses fashion to create opportunity for women globally. They provide employment and scholarship opportunities to women in Uganda who are working to pursue their dreams and overcome poverty. To date, they have enabled 87 women to continue on to University! They also provide employment (along with access to a comprehensive social impact program) to a team of 50 women in Uganda. 


My Pick: Celebration Kantha Throw $98 This beautiful throw quilt is made from six layers of vintage saris, hand-stitched together by women in Bangladesh using the traditional kantha stitch. These quilts are the perfect weight for snuggling underneath on a chilly evening – not too heavy, not too light and always in high demand in the house. And they also work beautifully in the summer as a blanket for the grass. There are dozens and dozens of styles and designs including a classic white but I loved this bright style for these winter months.

Other favourites: The Apples No. 10 Kantha Large Throw and these gorgeous Tree Skirts for Christmas trees

How they empower women: The blankets are handcrafted by women who were previously trafficked into or otherwise engaged in formal or floating sex work (or at risk) and are now employed in work that brings dignity & livelihood in Bangladesh.  The price of a Basha product pays for things like on-site day care, medical support, benefits such as an annual bonus & paid leave, ongoing education, as well as a fair wage to the woman to made it.

cuddle + kind

My Pick:  Sadie and Wyatt the Fox, 13″ Hand Knit Toy $59 USD ‘Im sorry, hand-knitted little forest animals in clothes? Did someone just put up the Sarah-Signal? I’m so here for these gorgeous heirloom quality toys. And the best part? Each doll you purchase provides 10 meals to hungry kids.

Other favourites: Benedict the Bunny or Lucy the Lamb

How they empower women: In addition to their amazing goal of providing one million meals to hungry kids through cuddle + kind, this family of five also employs women artisans in Peru to create the heirloom-quality handknit dolls with a sustainable, fair trade income.


My Pick: Jatha Pant and Shirt Holiday Set $75 USD – I have been obsessed with Punjammies for years now. They are so comfy in super-soft brushed cotton, so stylish with the neutral tones finished with the gold and navy peacock border, and for those of us who want to live in pajama pants, they are a gift from heaven. This pant and shirt set would be an ideal Christmas Eve gift – hint, hint, sweetheart

Other favourites: Kala Robe and Short Set or Men’s Arush Punjammie Lounge Pants

Special deals: 20% off your order with the code EMPOWER20

How they empower women: For more than ten years, Sudara has advocated on behalf of and empowered women who have escaped from, or at the highest risk of, human trafficking by providing dignified employment opportunities. They are a mission-driven lifestyle brand whose success is not just measured or defined in sales and revenue, but in positive social impact and the creation of long-term, sustainable change. Through their associated non-profit, Sudara Freedom Fund, they have an even greater impact on the lives of women and children in India by equipping even more women and their children with education and housing and micro-loans — tools needed to build and sustain a new life such as the Sunetha Home, supporting long-term, systemic change by directly addressing issues that lead to generational sex work.


My Pick: Travel Case $78 USDAvailable in 2 colours. This travel case can double as a more sophisticated version of the diaper/wipes holder in your bag but it also works beautifully for all of the other bits in our bags like notebooks, planners, eReaders, and iPads. And just as an aside, I have often found that the men in my life are hard to shop for and so Otter-Pass is a great provider with a lot of options from wallets to messenger bags to dopp kits

Other favourites: Dad Wallet

Special deals: 20% off your order with discount code BESSEYGIFT20

How they empower women: The team that started Otter Pass has worked together before. For seven years, they ran a nonprofit called Hill Country Hill Tribers in Austin, Texas working with Burmese refugee artisans to sell their handmade products in the precarious years just after they resettled. Otter-Pass still has deep ties in the refugee community and have been inspired first hand by the dads and moms we know who gave up everything—their homes, their extended families, their entire lives—to save their children from war and persecution. So Otter-Pass is committed to giving back to community partners working directly with resettled refugees: 10% of the revenue from each product sold goes to support one of the nonprofits working directly with refugees in Austin: SARAMRCRSTCaritas, or iAct.


My Pick: Malti Vintage Vine Vegan Weekender Bag $130 USD You all know how much travelling I do for work and so having a good bag for the plane or to throw in the back of the minivan is a non-negotiable. This is a perfect and beautiful bag for that weekend getaway or even for the week’s work. Plus it’s a great choice for the vegans among us and the cotton is all hand-blocked on the outside so it’s a statement everywhere we go.  Also: lots of interior pockets! Praise hands

Other favourites: Suneli Emerald Birds Leather Handbag or Binla Indian Lace ID Pouch

Special deals: There will be a sitewide 25% off sale from November 21-27, 2017

How they empower women: In addition to empowering women through employment in Thailand and India, JOYN is reclaiming transparency in business as well as traditional family farms and methods. JOYN partners with entrepreneurs in the developing world to build strong businesses and healthy, thriving communities. JoyCorps supports development programs that move the community toward long-term sustainability by promoting wholeness in six categories: occupational, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social. The goal is not to give a temporary handout, but to move the community toward real transformation and the local businesses toward long-term sustainability for women.

Nettle’s Tale

My Pick:  Magic Bottoms $59 CAD – These are legit magic bottoms. If you’ve ever cried after trying on bathing suits in the Target fitting room, you are going to want these, my friend. I first came across Nettle’s Tale in our local news media as they’re a Vancouver-based company. Like a lot of women who have found their bodies change after childbirth and heading into their forties, I have often despaired of the department store or shopping mall swimsuit – those suits are not made for bodies like mine. But I still love to swim and I love to play on the beach with my kids! So when I heard about Nettle’s Tale, I couldn’t wait to feature them: these suits are mix-and-match, they are perfect for surfing, tanning, kayaking, and running after your kids. As they say, these suits love our stretch marks, pears, petites, six-packs, and plentiful busts! I paired the Magic Bottoms with the Julia Top and have never looked back.

Other favourites: The Julia Top and The Misty

Special deals: 10% off your order with the code SBGIFT

How they empower women: In addition to being a woman owned-small business, Nettle’s Tale empowers us – the everyday woman – and gets us out in the water with confidence again.


My Pick: Confidence Clutch $290 CAD –  This beautiful clutch can be worn three ways. It comes in three shades including a delicious looking cognac

Other favourites: Holiday Gatherer Bucket Bag

How they empower women: Founded by an Indigenous woman with a passion for First Nations entrepreneurs, SheNative was launched to create gorgeous goods and to elevate Indigenous women. SheNative employs 100% Indigenous women in the design and manufacturing of their goods. They also showcase stories of Indigenous women and cultural knowledge through their products and facilitate a powerful and positive narrative about Indigenous women and their cultures. Purchasing SheNative goods is a way to show honour and support of Indigenous women and girls. They are based in Saskatoon!

Trades of Hope

My Pick: Journey Laptop Sleeve $58 USD – We’re always toting our laptops around to coffee shops, libraries, and classrooms, aren’t we? Rather than risk the USB port, join me in tucking your laptop into this stylish and sleek laptop sleeve. Oh, wait. This is for Christmas…so perhaps it’s for your significant other and you can “borrow” it every now and again, eh? It is made of felt, cotton fabric, and partial leather, with a magnetic closure.

Other favourites: Peruvian Nativity Set

How they empower women: Trades of Hope works with the artisans themselves and with organizations that are helping women in difficult circumstances. Some women have been rescued from sex slavery. Others are raising handicapped children alone. Some are in war torn countries and others have HIV/AIDS and leprosy. Through a home party model, Trades of Hope help women to put food on their table, a roof over their head, get medical care and an education for their children.


My Pick: Blue Contrast Leather Tassle £60 – This style of tassle is traditionally worn by horses in the Sahel region of West Africa. It has been hand-woven by skilled reinsmakers in Burkina Faso following a family tradition that is now extremely rare. They can be used for horses of course as intended but it would make an excellent keychain or curtain tie-back or a charm on your purse zipper pull, too. There are smaller versions available for £30, too

Other favourites: Dog collars and leashes!

Special deals: 20% off storewide with code BESSEY20

How they empower women: A UK-based shop with roots in Burkina Faso, SAHEL works with traditional crafts people in Burkina Faso to relieve poverty in ways that are sustainable and respectful of culture and make quality products that are beautiful and unique.

Better Life Bags: Custom with a Cause

My Pick: Brynnda Chambray with Black and White Stripes $207 USD – This work/school bag is the perfect size – not to big and bulky but large enough to fit your gadgets and your books. Plus this is the ready-to-ship version so it’s ready to go. But what I really love about Better Life Bags (besides their mission, of course!) is that you can CUSTOMIZE. Hello! You can design your own bag right there on the site and the team will make it for you – messenger, cross-body, diaper bags, you name it.

Other favourites: Customize and Design Your Own Bag or  Love Your State outline (yep, I’ll be getting that Nebraska one for my in-laws, I imagine!)

Special deals: 15% off your entire order with the discount code SARAH15

How they empower women: Better Life Bags was started by a woman from Detroit out of her home. Right from the beginning, 10% of every bag sale was sent to a low income entrepreneur overseas through microloans. When her business began to grow, she hired an immigrant woman in her neighbourhood who had become her friend. Ever since then, their mission expanded to include hiring local women who have barriers to full-time employment to handcraft all of their bags.

The Batik Boutique

My Pick: Blue Shibori Silk Scarf $68 USD – This hand-dyed scarf is made with eco-friendly low-impact dyes on 100% silk and it feels like a million bucks on your skin. Handmade by artisans in Malaysia, it is perfect for all weather and will go from winter to spring so easily

Other favourites: Leather Zip Pouch or a 3-Way Clutch 

Special deals: 25% off your entire order with code EMPWRGIFTS25

How they empower women: The Batik Boutique is an award-winning social enterprise created to disrupt the cycle of poverty in Malaysia. They train women from low-income backgrounds to produce gifts and fashion accessories made from a traditional Malaysian fabric called batik.  First, they work with artisan families in rural Malaysia where they create batik textiles on natural fibersNext, women create ethical fashion and gift items with this fabric in their own sewing training center. Today, more than 150 artisans work with Batik Boutique to gain a fair, sustainable income and marketable skills.  Each purchase directly benefits the artisan who made it.


My Pick: Alice Large Glass Cuff $275 USD – From the Dark Skies Collection, these luxury bracelets are a work of art. Hand-beaded in collaboration with Navajo artisans using traditional techniques and materials sourced in New Mexico, these one-of-a-kind pieces “evoke the humbling, starry expanse of space or the awe-inspiring power of a sudden lightning storm.” It has a genuine leather lining, too, so it’s very comfortable to wear.

Other favourites: Paige Small Glass Cuff

How they empower women: The word Etkie translates to mean “impact” in Turkish. Started by an entrepreneurial woman, ETKIE is an ethical for- profit company that provides Native American beaders a platform to create contemporary designs using the artistic traditions passed down from generations. The team of artists earn living wages, impacting the choices they can make for themselves and their families. The artists live on the Navajo Nation where the roads to work are long and the jobs are nonexistent. Many of them elect to work from home on the land and in the community where their roots are deeply planted. In the spirit of true collaboration, their unique approach to traditional craftsmanship and modern design has developed into a global brand.

Looking for books?

Check out my ongoing series on books to empower women.

Start with Non-Fiction for Everyone

or Picture Books to Empower Girls.

And shameless self-promotion time! *ahem*

Check out Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith everywhere books are sold.


Images and some text courtesy of the shops themselves.

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