I’m making a commitment this year to only do my holiday shopping from makers, artists, and businesses run by people who have disabilities. And as October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month I decided to start my holiday planning early by compiling a list of spots to shop.
So why am I buying from this population specifically? On average, people with disabilities find themselves underemployed, which basically means they are forced into working jobs that are sub-par by some standard be it hours, pay, appropriate for their level of education or ability to be promoted. The poverty rate for working-age people with disabilities was 34.5% in 2013 compared with 12.2% for those without disabilities. (American Progress). A 1934 Labor Law, still in effect in many states, allows states to pay certain people with disabilities as low as $3.34 an hour! (NPR). And even though there are laws protecting against it, many people with disabilities still struggle to find workplaces that are willing to accommodate their needs. That is why many people with disabilities have chosen (or been forced) to go out on their own and build an income on their terms.
So this holiday, I want to focus my buying on people with disabilities. Here is a non-exhaustive list of people that I have found (send me more and I will update it!) Even if you don’t have the cash to support them, give them a follow!
Laura Makes Things: Artist Laura Babiuk (@laura_makes_things) creates beautiful cards, needlepoints, and other colorful and festive creations.
Unstrung Studios: Disabled OT turned full-time Artist, Megan (@unstrungstudios) creates things that meet at the intersection of science, nature, and art.
Troy Made It: Pottery made by Troy, a young man with Down Syndrome. Be aware, his stuff sells out quickly! (@troymadeit)
Andy Merideth: Beautiful black and white photo prints taken by Andy, an artist with Down Syndrome (@andymeredithphotography)
Alyssa K Silva: Here you will find gorgeous cards and prints created by @alyssaksilva
Gateway Arts: Located in Brookline, MA, Gateway Arts is a collaborative of artists with disabilities. In addition to employment, artists receive a 50% commission on all sales. (@gateway.arts)
John Bramblit - By looking at his incredibly colorful paintings you would never imagine that John went blind when he was in his 20s. He sells prints and original work. (@bramblitt)
Art By Jessica Jewitt - Jessica Jewitt (@artbyjessicajewett) creates Incredibly intricate sketches and portraits available in print form.
Geoffrey’s River Bend Gallery: Geoffrey Mikol is a professional photographer that owns River Bend Gallery with his family, in historic Galena, Illinois. As a person born with Down syndrome, Geoffrey sells his photography in many forms such as prints, puzzles, calendars, and note cards.
Grace Place Art: Beautiful colorful paintings created by Grace (@graceplaceart)
Clothing, Bags, Homeware:
Fever Dream Boutique: Emily (@fever.dream.boutique) creates vintage clothing and lingerie. PS - an extra shoutout goes out to Emily for sharing many of the names on this list. ?? Make sure to give her a follow.
Home Row Fiber Co: Fiber Alchemist Rochelle (@homerowfiberco) creates colorful bags and fiber creations.
John’s Crazy Socks: Have some fun this holiday season with crazy socks created by this father and son duo. (@johnscrazysocks)
Dance Happy Designs: Totes, bins, planters, and pouches — all handcrafted by three awesome friends celebrating differences. (@dance.happy.designs)
Culture’s Closet: A clothing line built for “Curvy Cuties” created by entrepreneur and mom living with Lupus, Qiana Allen.
DaBombs By Morgan: Morgan Tibbens created and sells her own line of bath bombs, soaps, and scrubs in tons of different scents. (MorganDaBombGirl)
Juniper Pine Leather: Gorgeous leather creations made by Ashley Howard (@pistolashly)
KillerBangz: “Killr merch for the rule breakers, rebels n misfits!” Here you will find creative jewelry to fit any mood. (@killrbangz)
Garden24: You’ve certainly seen Morgan Harper Nichols’s Work before if you’ve wandered into Target. But this autistic artist has a beuatiful line of products she sells via her own site. @morganharpernichols)
Jacob’s Rugs: Doormats and t-shirts created by Jacob, and advocate for the Down Syndrome Community (@this_is_jacobs_rugs)
Allie Art: Bright-colored jewelry and accessories created by Allie Guard from Cincinnati. (@allieartdesigns)
In Her Summer Dress: Cyndi creates beautiful earth-inspired Jewelry (@anoracrescent)
Aspire Accessories: A collective of artisans with autism and intellectual disabilities based in Houston, TX. (@aspireaccessories)
Top Shelf Baskets - Curated baskets for any occasion by (@topshelfbaskets)
Candidly Kind - Cozy clothing made by artist, model, and Down Syndrome advocate Grace Key. (@candidlykind)
Collettey’s Cookies: Collette, a young woman with Down Syndrome has perfected her cookie recipe, so much so, that she has built her life and business around it. (@colletteyscookies)
Sweet Heat Jam: Culinary artist and entrepreneur, Nolan has created a line of jams with a kick. (@sweetheattx)
Unseen Bean: Gerry Leary, founder of the Unseen Bean, has been blind since he was born. But his lack of vision does not stop him from roasting coffee. While most will not be close enough to try a fresh brew, he does sell his coffee online. (@unseenbeancoffee)
Gabi’s Grounds: More coffee options! However, this one comes with a signed note from the founder Gabi! (@gabisgrounds)
Books & Music:
The Pretty One by Keah Brown: Creator of the viral #DisabledAndCute hashtag describes her life growing up with cerebral palsy. (@keah_maria)
Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judy Heumann adds to her Crip Camp story by helping the reader understand what really went on during the disability rights movement. (@theheumannperspective)
The Kiss Quotient by Ellen Hoang - A romance novel where the main character and the author both have autism.
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century: Edited by Disability Rights advocate Alice Wong, you’ll hear from many members of the disabled community on their lived experiences. (@disability_visibility)
Born To Sparkle: A children’s book written by Megan Bombarrs, who has Down Syndrome, is all about achieving your dreams. (@meganbomgaars)
Swanyne C.O.P.D. - He is the first person with a trach to record 14 albums. Hear his music here. (@swaynecopd)
Gracie’s Doggy Delights: Gracie's Doggie Delights is operated by a young woman with Down Syndrome who loves dogs. An owner of three rescue miniature schnauzers, Gracie loves to give them treats and now sells their favorites online. (@gdogdelights)
Hen & Goose: You’ll love these fun and festive collars for your furry friends (Harry Potter collar, anyone?) created by a husband and wife who founded the company when they were not physically able to do other work. (@hen_and_goose)
Doggy Delights By Allison: Another option for delicious dog treats created by Chef Allison (@doggy_delightsbyallison)
If you have other people you think should be on this list, leave a note in the comment section and I will add them to the list. One note, I only added artists and businesses that currently have products in stock.
Molly Levitt Lazarus
Sharing my journey of understanding what it means to create inclusive spaces. Applying all that knowledge to develop Camp Linda alongside the population we are building for.