If you have been following along during the last few weeks, you will already know that we have been compiling lists of the best of the best of local artisans. The first article features ‘Gifts for Men‘, the second ‘Gifts for Kids‘, and now, ‘Gift Ideas for Her’.
This third instalment of the Vancouver Island Gift Guide showcases fabulous stores, shops, and artisans ideal for finding that special gift for those women in your life. This list is chock-full of so many fantastic businesses, the hardest part will be to know where to start (or possibly know when to stop…shopping that is!).
Vancouver Island Gift Guide Part 3 – Gift Ideas for Her
West Coast Kitsch
West Coast Kitsch offers upcycled home decor. Each piece is hand painted on reclaimed wood and inspired by their love of graphic arts/design and all things vintage. Their products include designs painted on reclaimed wood (as seen in the image above), and furniture from recycled lumber. They also enjoy sprucing up vintage furniture.
When Ashley was young her Mom made signs to sell so that there was money for Christmas presents. After her Mom passed away, Ashley wanted a memento of what she remembered most about her Christmases with her Mom. So she asked her husband, Kent, to make her a sign that allowed her to hold onto that memory.
And West Coast Kitsch began!
Kent and Ashley are inspired by the natural environment, the concept of sustainability, and simple and clean graphic design. They focus on the process of converting waste materials into art in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Upcycling is their mantra. This approach to art has to do with a strong environmental ethic, as well as the idea of rescuing orphaned items, both natural and manmade. Materials are of central importance to their work, and are chosen for both their associative meanings and their aesthetic appeal.
The average product cost is around $30, but really large items can cost up to $200.
Where to Find West Coast Kitsch
Sticks and Stones Gallery
Sticks and Stones Gallery has a knack for setting all life’s special memories in stone. Each unique and original pebble art is created to celebrate all your memorable moments. Sticks and Stones Gallery offers personalized, unique gifts for every occasion and everyone!
Showcased in black 8 x 10 x 1 inch shadow box frames, these unique creations are set off by navy blue, hunter green or black matting and a pearly white background to highlight the natural variations in the stones. Each shadow box encompasses a variety of beautiful materials hand picked from the inspiring shores of Vancouver Island. Angie uses special stones, beautiful pebbles, frosty beach glass, detailed shells, unique pieces of driftwood, and other beach treasures found by herself and family while beach-combing.
How it all Began
Angie’s first shadow box design was a bride and groom pebble art made for her sister’s wedding. As her sister and husband live in the California desert, Angie wanted to give them something special from the West Coast. While walking the beach one day with her family, a beautiful oyster shell caught her eye. She envisioned a tiered wedding dress, much like the one her sister was going to wear. Everything sort of evolved from that shell to create a unique, one of a kind wedding gift.
Since that time, Angie has made hundreds of shadow box pebble art pieces to portray and represent many of life’s special occasions. These shadow boxes have been shipped all over the world!
While each piece is original, they all share an underlying theme of love, tranquility, and peace, while celebrating your special occasions. Angie comments that when she is sitting quietly creating her pebble art, she swears that she can hear what the materials gathered from our beautiful shores have to say. She finds that creating the art is definitely a treasure in itself.
Most of the designs are between $90.00 -$110.00.
Custom orders require a 50% deposit, and may cost more depending on the nature of the work involved and materials used in the design.
Where to Find Sticks and Stones Gallery
Pinterest: Sticks and Stones Gallery
Sticks and Stones designs can also be found at Island-ish, a beautiful boutique shop on Wingrove Street in Nanaimo.
Blyss by Laura
Blyss by Laura offers all natural, luxurious bath products that are designed to relax and rejuvenate. What sets Blyss by Laura apart from other bath companies is her use of stunning botanicals that are designed to float along the top of your bath water. These botanicals are harvested locally, and the products are handmade in small batches right here on the Island.
Where it all Started
Laura was a brand new mom with a cranky baby whose skin was very sensitive. Like many new parents, she was desperate for a good night sleep. She wasn’t satisfied with other products on the market and thought she would try making some soothing and relaxing bath salts to use while bathing her little one. So she developed a formula of bath salts using only all natural ingredients, including her own herbs picked from the family garden, that was calming, soothing and safe for her baby. She called it Baby Blyss, and it worked like a charm! As a result, both baby and Laura started getting more restful sleeps, and her little one’s skin improved greatly.
Once friends found out what Laura was making, and most importantly that it worked, she started getting requests for different scents and blends. She experimented with different botanicals and blends and came up with original and luxurious formulas using the highest quality ingredients she could find.
In August 2015 she opened her Etsy shop and started selling her Blyssful goodies to the general public. Now her product line includes bath salts, bath bombs, bubble bars, soaps, scrubs, massage bars, shaving cream, and more!
Products range from $4 – $50.
Where to find Blyss by Laura Products
You can also find her bath products at the following select locations:
- Gifts N’ Things in Chemainus
- Coastal 66 in Nanaimo
- Left Coast Fashions in Ladysmith
- The Network Hub Pop Up Shop in Nanaimo
Emily Ferris Jewellery
Designed and inspired by the all the natural elements from the West Coast, Emily creates her pieces in her central Vancouver Island studio, which is nestled in the forest on her large, rural property. Emily’s designs are combined with careful and delicate workmanship to ensure durable pieces of jewelry that can be worn everyday, or used as statement pieces to dress up a formal outfit. She uses strictly 100% recycled silver and gold to create her jewelry. As well, she purchases all the sterling silver directly from a refinery that uses environmentally responsible practices.
Emily spent her early years living on a remote, off the grid island where she gained a large sense of community and self-reliance. Learning from her elders, she developed a strong love and respect for nature. Foraging and exploration of the seashore and natural world became second nature to her at an impressionable age. She also grew up surrounded by a long line of talented and creative people. This natural propensity for the enjoyment of original work, coupled with long hours of concentration, assisted Emily in the development of her own unique and original honed skill set. This leads her to create original distinctly elegant designs, and the ability to inspire many through her creativity and heartwarming gift.
While the average price is around $45.00, you can find pieces for as little as $20, or up to $150.
Where to Find Emily Ferris Jewellery
Emily sells her jewelry primarily in two local stores. The Salish Sea Market, located in Bowser, and Alcove Homegrown Living, located in Qualicum. Both stores are owned by fabulous women who are dedicated to supporting local artists.
She also has a few of her designs on her Etsy shop: EmilyFerrisJewellery.
Pine Co Crafts
Pine Co Crafts offers cozy and stylish west-coast inspired handmade accessories. Twin sisters, Rebecca and Naomi, work with quality yarn to create beautiful pieces that are both stylish and practical. Each item is made specially with love for their customers.
How the Business Came to Be
Rebecca and Naomi were raised in a family that valued homemade gifts and creativity. In fact, it is still quite common for the majority of their gifts to each other to be homemade. The girls started knitting later in their childhood, and a few years ago started to experiment with crochet. They had always joked about selling their creations. Last winter they decided to commit and make their dream a reality. It was an idea that has always been there, a dream resting under the surface of each blanket, scarf, toque, and slipper they make.
Born and raised on Vancouver Island, they have a love of the outdoors. And they design their products to be practical in our climate.
Their products range from $20-$60, with most sitting around the $40 mark.
Where to Find Pine Co Crafts
Remedy Essential Oils
Brittany and Kyla handcraft aromatherapy jewelry for diffusing essential oils. They design all of their pieces themselves, and use a wide range of materials. This includes lava stones, stainless steel lockets, silver plated lockets, gemstones, Sterling silver and rose gold. The jewelry is intended for everyday use, and can be worn with or without using the essential oils. However, using the jewelry with the accompanying oils is a great way to get the benefits of aromatherapy all day long.
They also create custom jewelry pieces for clients, as well as custom lines for retail stores.
How Remedy Essential Oils Got Started
The girls started out making essential oils blends for natural remedies for things such as headaches, stress/anxiety, cleaning, and insect repellent. They love showing people natural ways to treat ailments, as well as how to clean their homes without the chemicals and preservatives that are in commercial products. Since aromatherapy has so many health benefits, the diffuser necklaces came from people wanting to be able to benefit from essential oils on the go.
Kyla and Brittany really enjoy creating and crafting new pieces, and are absolutely thrilled with the response they receive from their clientele. So much so, that making jewelry has become the main part of their business, and something they have become quite passionate about it.
Remedy Essential Oils is locally owned and operated in Nanaimo, and both Brittany and Kyla are busy moms who balance their business with their family lives, as well as their other careers.
The necklaces range from $26-$48 in price. Their essential oil blends are around $10-$15.
Where to Find Remedy Essential Oils
Pinterest: Remedy Essential Oils
You can find Remedy Essential Oil products in the following select retailers:
- Departure Bay Aromatherapy – Nanaimo
- Wild Woman Medicine Show – both the Downtown Nanaimo location, as well as the Woodgrove mall Kiosk
- Shades of Green – Parksville
- Radway Eco Boutique – Cowichan Bay
- Vancouver Aquarium Gift Shop
Chicks and Stones
Callie makes one of a kind planters using succulents arranged in upcycled items gathered from all over Vancouver Island. The goal of Chicks and Stones is to give everyone in Nanaimo and surrounding areas access to something other than your typical flower arrangement. The planters, if cared for properly, should last forever. They make beautiful gifts for any occasion (baby showers, hostess gifts, teacher thank you’s, etc.) and are perfect for outdoor décor and/or centerpieces. She uses 100% upcycled planters from old wood bowls, teapots, and even high heels. She can truly plant in anything!
Where it all Began
Chicks and Stones began as a form of zen for Callie through her divorce. She has always enjoyed planting unique creations with her two young boys, now 5 and 7. So she started selling teacup planters at yard sales and got some amazing feedback to expand. Then the wonderful world of Facebook took her page to a whole new level. Two years later, Callie is happy to report that she now has over 500 followers, and does tons of custom planter orders every month…all out of her own backyard. She handpicks every succulent from the gardens of friends, and is now trying to grow a “chick factory” of her own.
Callie can customize anything, and loves personal touches that clients ask for. She thoroughly enjoys being able to use her creativity to turn orders into something amazing. Hand painting quotes on rocks is one of her favourite things to do. Callie promotes supporting local creativity, and strives to make her creations truly one-of-a-kind!
If ever a planter you purchased begins to look sad, Callie asks that you contact her so that she can fix it for you.
Planters range from $10-$50, depending on the size and accessories.
Where to Find Chicks and Stones
Facebook: Chicks & Stones
Soak Essentials Marketplace is a lifestyle boutique in the heart of Downtown Parksville that showcases handmade local finds from clothing to home décor.
The Boutique also acts as a studio for owner, Kristy, to curate her Soak Essentials Bath and Body line. She handcrafts an array of products including lip balms, bath salts, body butters, soaps, and bubble bath (to name a few). All products are made with love and in small batches so she can ensure freshness and quality in each item.
The focus of Soak Essentials is on pure, quality ingredients which are free of parabens and phthalates, and are sustainable and cruelty free.
How it all Started
Kristy started her business in 2009 with her signature bath salts. Even though at the time many people were selling soaps etc., Kristy noticed that there was no one selling salts where potential customers could get up close and smell them. So, she decided to create a salt bar at the markets where people could scoop up the salts, smell them, and enjoy the experience of choosing aromatherapy salts. After filling a gap in the marketplace, and finding success, she started doing many markets while slowly adding to her line of products.
In 2012 she decided to take a leap of faith and open a retail location. While she continues to do the odd market, Kristy now mainly sells out of her shop in Parksville.
Kristy also teaches Beginner Soap-Making classes in the Studio of Soak Essentials Marketplace. These classes are a great opportunity to learn how to make your own custom batch of handmade cold process soap. You get to choose the colour, scent, and additives, and the process gives you approximately 12-16 bars of soap!
The average prices range of the Soak Essential Bath and Body line is between $4-$20.
Where to Find Soak Essentials
You can find Soak Essentials Bath and Body Products, as well as many other amazing locally made items, at Soak Essentials Marketplace located at #4-180 Craig Street in Parksville.
Jewelz of the Isle
The designs from Jewelz of the Isle offer an opportunity to enjoy one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces. The jewelry is inspired by and evolved from nature’s colours, shapes, and unique crystal and gemstone treasures.
Where it all Began
Jewelz of the Isle was born from Tina spending many years of playing, crafting and working with a huge (and she means HUGE!) collection of glass, crystal, and funky handmade beads. She has had a life-long infatuation with crystals and stones. After realizing that she craved much more than just collecting and crafting, Tina started creating custom pieces for family and friends. This evolved into what has become a passion for sharing Mother Earth’s natural art.
All of Tina’s designs are truly infused with honor, intention, and much love. And she is humbled and thrilled that her artisan business is now growing and flourishing.
Tina is open to accommodate custom designs as well.
Tina’s jewelry designs are priced from $15 – $150, depending on the actual crystal, gems, stones, and metals that are used. She feels very strongly about prices being honest, fair and affordable so that everyone has the opportunity to wear, enjoy and/or gift her pieces.
The feature piece shown in the image above is a Ruby Aura Quartz & Gold-filled Pendant with genuine Swarovski crystal, and retails for $56.
Where to Find Jewelz of the Isle
Jewelz of the Isle designs are also available locally at the following Nanaimo retailers:
- Breze Salon & Day Spa (Country Club Mall)
- Lobelia’s Lair (Old City Quarter)
For the past 30 years Hot Chocolates has been handcrafting truffles, chocolates, nut barks and novelty chocolates for every season. They pride themselves on a fantastic chocolate taste experience with a beautiful presentation.
The late Sherry Marshall Bruce and her Mom Deanna Stewart were creating truffles and small chocolate bites as an extension of a cafe they operated on Denman Island. Although they found the cafe business pretty exhausting, they had received much love and support from the truffles they were offering. So in 1986 they gambled and established Hot Chocolates in Downtown Courtenay in a 400 sq foot space. They traveled back and forth from Denman Island for a couple of years until the commute and it’s delays wore thin. They then decided to make the move to Courtenay.
In 2006 Sherry and husband Jorden Marshall expanded and created Cakebread Artisan Bakery alongside Hot Chocolates. Today Michele Henry is GM and Head Chocolatier, Ian Harris leads the Bakery, and Arlene Wallace still takes your phone order and anchors the office.
The creative and enthusiastic team that creates your chocolate and bakery experience approaches 50 woman and men from the Comox Valley.
It is good to note that Hot Chocolates is much more than a beautiful store that sells hundreds of hand-crafted chocolates. They also have 24 flavours (seasonally) of house-made gelato and sorbetto, and even a full-service cappuccino bar. On the bakery side, they have an assortment of breads, cakes, and other baked delights, as well as a fantastic selection of oil and vinegar (which you can taste test).
For as little as $5, Hot Chocolates helps their clients enhance their traditions and say thank you, I love you, Happy Birthday, etc. As we all know, chocolate fits all occasions.
Where to Find Hot Chocolates
Their products can be purchased in store at 368 Fifth Street, Downtown Courtenay, or online.
They have ongoing relationships with a few markets and stores on Vancouver Island, Hornby and Quadra Island, however their products are delicate and a challenge to ship. So mostly they cater to clients directly in the shop, and/or over the phone or internet.
Backwoods Soap & Candle Co.
Backwoods Soap & Candle Co. specialize in soy candles, natural cold processed soap, bath bombs, and other bath treats. All of their products are handmade in small batches by Jackie and Christina – two sisters living in the Cowichan Valley.
The Business Evolution
In 2013, Jackie started making soap for her own use, and also to give away as gifts for Christmas. The following Spring she started experimenting with making candles. And due to the many people who compliment her on how nice her house smells, she hasn’t stopped since. The majority of their candles are made in mason jars to stick to a rustic décor theme.
While being creative and innovative they are able to produce products and scents that are exciting and beautiful at the same time. Their bath products use essential oils which allows you to benefit from aromatherapy too.
Their products start at $4 and go up to $20.
Where to Find Backwoods Soap & Candle Products
Backwoods Soap & Candle Products can be found at the following select retailers:
- Blue Poppy Garden Boutique (Nanaimo)
- Left Coast Fashions (Ladysmith)
- Russell Farm Markets (Crofton)
- Whippletree (Duncan)
- Loonie Bin (Lake Cowichan)
- Freestyle Salon (Cowichan Bay)
- Great Greens Farm Market (Cowichan Bay)
I hope this list of creative artisans and their beautiful wares inspires you to shop local this Christmas, as well as throughout the year!