The Bitter Lemon’s 2020 Ethical, Feel-Good Gift Guide!

Last year, I really started being more conscious about where my money went. 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. This year, I’m building onto last year’s list to add more businesses — including black-owned options — I’ve shopped with.

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

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.

Happy Place Candle Co. 

A female-owned candle shop that has the best scent combos! Their seasonal scents are yummy, but their year-round Moss & Rain candle… wow. So good. Plus, the jars are frosted and look designer for a fraction of the price.

One Eleven Candles 

Not only is this a black-owned candle shop… but all of their candles have crystals in them! They have seasonal scents, but also scents and energies for all year long. They also sell essential oils, sage, and incense.

Lovely Earthlings

I got a piece of art from here this year, and it’s beautiful! Karina’s art shows women of all colors and I love the fun vibe her pieces have.

Baked Goods & Food


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.

Trade Street Jam Co.

Need jams for your holiday charcuterie board? Check out this black-owned business that sells jams with unique flavors like rose plum and cranberry sage… yum!


While not a female-owned business, I love that Winc has a mission to make wine more accessible and approachable. Nearly all of the wine is made in the USA, too!

Brooklyn Tea 

A black-owned business right in Brooklyn. They sell tea, apparel, teaware, and even tea giftboxes. Perfect for the tea drinker on your list!


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.

Black Pearl Books 

Black Pearl Books is a black-female-owned bookstore in Austin and I shopped with them for the first time this year. Their staff was very kind and accommodating during a really busy summer, so I’lldefinitely be purchasing from them again.

Celebrities With Shops

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.

Morgan Stewart Sport

Morgan Stewart was one of the women I had on my vision board for 2020, so I bought some of her apparel during a sale — I got a sweatsuit, a sports bra, and workout shorts, and I love all of it. The sweatsuit is heavy-duty, so perfect if you live in a colder climate.


Owned by Kim Kardashian, I’ve really come to love Skims! I have several items including leggings, bras, and underwear. It’s very much worth the price and I love buying when they are donating for a cause.

Clothes & Accessories


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.


Made right in NYC, Baublebar has the cutest stuff that’s so creative and affordable. Definitely a place to gett fun designs for the creative fashionista on your list.

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.

Beauty Bakerie 

This is a black-female-owned brand and this year, I’ve tried SO many of their products! My favorites are their lip whips and the setting spray. The packaging is adorable, so any makeup lover on your list would love something from here!


If there’s a bath lover on your list — this the place to go. Not only are their products top-notch, but they don’t test on animals and they support important causes, including Black Lives Matter.

Jade & Fox Co. 

Another black-female-owned option, however, they got their shop cleared out over the summer — which is good — but with COVID, it seems like the restocking is slow. Put them on your radar, though, because I got their entire skincare line over the summer and it is amazing. I also got a body oil and it smells delicious!


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 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.

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 🙂

Ivory Paper co. 

Black-female-owned business here. I bought my 2021 weekly planner from here, and my 2021 budget planner here… they are beautiful! Skip on planners from the big box stores and get one from here — you can even get them personalized.

…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’ve given 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!

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