The Bitter Lemon’s 2019 Ethical, Feel-Good Gift Guide!

I have mentioned a few times that I’ve been more conscious about where my money is going. I don’t shop a lot, but when I do, I want to support women and families, small businesses, ethical treatment and fair pay, and causes I care about. I know the holidays are right around the corner, so I wanted to put together a list of places that I know support efforts I’m passionate about.

I know there are loads of businesses out there, but I kept this to ones I know for sure are quality, because I’ve ordered, purchased, or used products from them before. However, if you know of a business — leave a comment so we can start shopping!

Art & Home Decor

Art from Lindsay Letters.

Lindsay Letters

Lindsay is an artist looking to make art accessible to all. She’s also a mom, a wife, and a believer in Christ. Her faith comes across in her art, and recently, her daughter had to undergo emergency brain surgery and she is still very much recovering. Lindsay mentions constantly how every purchase from her shop is supporting her family, who’s had a rough hand this year.

Antique Candle Co.

This company is based in Indiana, founded by a woman, and man, do their candles smell GOOD! I ditched the candles from big box companies and have been burning these beauties for a few months. I feel so much better supporting a small business in my home state!


This is a woman-founded company that supports independent artists. Artists create designs for Minted, people vote on them, and Minted sells the winning designs in the form of prints, cards, stationary… it’s a beautiful community.

Baked Goods & Food

Gummy bears from Sugarfina.


My dear friend and sorority sister owns this bakery in Baton Rouge and they’ve drummed up quite a following! Not only are their goodies delicious, but they also support other small businesses and serve as a place for everyone to feel happy and safe.

Daily Harvest

Woman-founded, offering healthy ingredients delivered right to our doorsteps, all to save some time. I’ve been eating subscription meals since I loved to Austin after realizing just how much anxiety the grocery store gives me. I am so thankful for these services.


Home of the cutest chocolates and the most delectable champagne gummy bears, Sugarfina started as a family-owned business that has really become popular. The company supports Kiva, an organization that empowers and uplifts women in 83 countries by way of small loans.


Book People

Book People is local to Austin and they are always supporting causes dear to locals, such as donating to help those in ICE custody earlier this year. If you’re in Austin, the shop itself is pretty impressive, but they also have a complete online shop for all to enjoy.

The Bookshelf

The Bookshelf is local to Thomasville, Georgia and is woman-founded and owned. I follow the owner, Annie, on Instagram and she’s a true book lover. She always offers great recommendations and is one of the hosts for the store’s weekly podcast. The staff sells monthly book subscriptions if you’re up for a personalized surprise.

Celebrities With Shops

Barware from Uncommon James.

The Little Market

The Little Market was started by Lauren Conrad and her friend from college in an effort to alleviate poverty. They buy fair trade goods that support those in need, women transitioning from homelessness, and survivors of domestic violence. Shop includes dining sets, candles, jewelry, soaps, and toys.

Uncommon James

UJ is Kristin Cavallari’s brand that covers home goods, jewelry and apparel. Some of the goods are specifically purchased from women artisans in other countries for a fair wage.


Woman-founded, DryBar is a company that empowers women through affordable blowouts and fantastic hair products! I just started using their products this year and quickly fell in love.

Kendra Scott

Woman-founded, Kendra Scott began in Austin and has grown! The jewelry and home goods are gorgeous, but they give back in big ways — not only to the local community but also to Habitat for Humanity and programs that empower women.

Clothes & Accessories

Headband from Headbands of Hope.


This has become a recent favorite of mine. ThredUp sells used clothing and shoes in an effort to support minimalism and the environment. Plus, you can sell clothes to ThredUp, so anytime I make a purchase, I feel good knowing that I’m putting money in an individual’s pocket.

Dottie Couture

This is a woman-founded boutique based in Indiana, and the clothes are always so cute and affordable… but a portion of their proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Rent the Runway

Co-founded by two women who were looking to empower women through fashion freedom, this company allows you to rent designer pieces and constantly rotate your closet. They also have their own foundation, which supports women entrepreneurship.

Stitch Fix

This is a subscription service offering personal styling, delivered right to your doorstep. Founded by a woman, this company also seeks to empower its subscribers through personalized clothing picks.

Headbands of Hope

For every item purchased, a child with cancer gets a beautiful headband. This company is also woman-founded, and… the headbands are so sweet. They sell other items, too, but I have two headbands from them that I’ve worn for years.


Goodhyouman makes the softest clothes with witty sayings on them, but best of all, they support cancer research and anti-bullying organizations. This company was created in honor of the founder’s dad, who lost his battle with cancer.

Cosmetics & Beauty

Smith & Cult nail polish.

Lunar Beauty

Lunar Beauty was started by Manny MUA as a family business that supports men and women in makeup. Their products are vegan and the company supports causes that assist the LGBT community, including the Trevor Project.

Smith & Cult

My favorite nail polish brand! They also sell makeup and beauty products, but were founded by a woman 🙂 and are cruelty-free.


BeautyCounter sells completely clean products and advocates for legislation around this rule. I’ve purchased their Beauty Balm and it’s pretty fabulous. I know many who swear by their products!

Glow Recipe

Co-founded by women, Glow Recipe makes a commitment to clean beauty and this stuff is LEGIT! It’s fruit-powered and wow, your skin is in for a treat with these products.


Female-founded, Birchbox sends beauty samples to its monthly subscribers. They also support other brands owned by women, and are a part of the Female Founder Collective, which helps boost other female-founded brands.

Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees is a company you likely know, but you can feel good about supporting them, because they source their ingredients fairly and use sustainable packaging. They also support causes to save the bees and our planet.


Little Words Project

This is a female-founded jewelry company that aims to support women through encouraging words on bracelets that can be passed on. I have two, and have gifted some, and they are so pretty and perfect!

The Giving Keys

This company sells hand-stamped key jewelry p, which looks super cool, but they employ those transitioning from homelessness. Not only do they offer them jobs, but they help them learn trade skills to get back into the local community.

Office & Geeky Stuff

Yoobi pencil case.


Yoobi sells the CUTEST office supplies, from pencil cases and mini-highlighters to notebooks and keychains… but for every item you buy, an item gets donated to a classroom in need.


This is a female-founded brand that supports mental health through funding and also through their products, which are often designed with positive messaging.

Create & Cultivate

Woman-founded, Create & Cultivate is a platform that supports women looking to live their dreams. While most of it is community-based, they do sell books and geeky stuff 🙂

…And there you have this year’s ethical, feel-good gift guide! I know this doesn’t cover every category, but I’m hoping to grow it from year to year. I recently gave up Amazon, and am truly trying to focus my purchases with brands that do good.

I encourage you to do the same, at least for the holiday season. Another thing you can do is look for companies that support causes, just for the holidays. I bought some things at Dollar Tree a few weeks ago and at checkout, they asked for a toy donation, so I did that. Last year, American Eagle donated a scarf for every scarf purchased to a child in need. Keep your eyes open for these opportunities to help others without spending extra time or money.

Happy shopping!


  1. Anna Olave

    Thank you for sharing this list – it’s truly inspirational. I am already enjoying Antiques candles, and plan to shop with a purpose, instead of just convenience.

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