By Jenah Wieczorek, Head Shopper for an Army Family of 4
Holiday Shopping Guide
With small business Saturday and Christmas upon us, I got to thinking about my favorite Military Spouse and Veteran-owned businesses. These brands have something for everyone on your holiday list, military or not. Before you rush out for your holiday shopping, see what these companies have to offer. Remember, when you shop small business, you’re supporting a family and what better family than a fellow Milfam?
FOR THE LADIES
S & P is founded by 2 Army brats (1 turned active duty Soldier) and offers more than just bags for ladies, but I’m so in love with their totes and clutches that it is filed under here. These bags are made from military surplus gear and can be a purse, gym bag, diaper bag, laptop carrier, etc. all in one. They also feature clutches, duffle bags, backpacks and jewelry! Everything is made in America and 10% of their proceeds are donated to veteran organizations. Win-win for everyone.
Hope Designs Jewelry
This Milspouse has been on the scene making jewelry for some time and I love her stuff. Ever hear of sweetheart jewelry from the World War eras? It was a tradition to send home something to your sweetheart that she could wear as a memento while you were gone. I know swoon right? I’m the proud owner of a sweet heart necklace (Tanker locket to be exact) with a photo of my Soldier inside. These are great holiday gifts for spouses and Moms of active duty personnel. Let Hope Designs open your eyes to how fun military themed jewelry can be.
The official lifestyle planner for today’s military spouse inspired by Rosie the Riveter. This year-long planner is made by and for Milspouses and features PCS & Deployment checklists, military holidays, and much more. Buyers can choose from 3 different cover styles and start getting organized. Just make sure to write in pencil because ya know…..military life.
Who doesn’t like to get fun mail? The Milso Box is a monthly subscription box designed for the significant others holding down the home front. This USAF Veteran started her company with the idea to uplift spirits and pamper the ladies. Know an awesome Milspo? You can donate a box to her! Learn more about the monthly themed boxes at http://milsobox.com
FOR THE FELLAS
This Marine went from shaving every day to growing a huge beard when he got out of the military. His beard inspired him to start his own company selling beard oil! Beard Oil helps tame and moisturize the hair and skin below the beard styling it into a well-groomed situation. Try their original or CLP (clever title!) blend and kiss those mangy beards good bye.
Combat Flip Flops
There isn’t enough time to talk about how much I love the mission behind Combat Flip Flops. These former Army Rangers did multiple tours in Afghanistan and saw hardworking people who want jobs. “Business, not Bullets” lead to CFF making flip flops to begin with and has branched out to sell claymores, sarongs, and jewelry – all made in Columbia, Afghanistan, and Laos. Every product Combat Flip Flops sells puts an Afghani girl into secondary school for a day and every Peacemaker bangle or coinwrap sold clears 3 square meters of Unexploded Ordnance from a region effected by war. Just go ahead and buy ALL THE THINGS because these gifts literally keep giving.
Started in the hot garage of a former Navy Seal, Bottle Breacher is a stylish way to open a cold one. These are authentic, decommissioned .50 calibur rounds that have been turned into bottle openers. How cool is that? My spouse got one of these as a best man’s gift and then I got my own personalized one at the Milblogging 17 Conference this year AND had the pleasure of hearing Eli speak. Even Clint Eastwood opens his booze with a bottle breacher so enough said.
Savings for those who serve. It’s literally that simple. GovX is the largest ecommerce site for military and government families offering discounts on tactical brands, travel, sports tickets, apparel and so much more. Check out their Black Friday sale that is kicking off early (today!) that will feature over 200 brands on sale. Shop til you drop without paying full price.
Got your Six Coffee
Know a tired mom or anyone in the Military, Law Enforcement, EMT, or Fire Fighting communities? Then this is the coffee for them. Got Your Six Coffee was started by a Coastie on a mission to end Veteran homelessness and the 22 suicides a day that plague the Veteran community. “We are taking the necessity of coffee and using it as a catalyst to make a difference in our community and the country that we hold so dear.” Coffee bags make excellent stocking stuffers for just about anyone. Rise and grind at https://gotyoursixcoffee.com/.
“Home is where the Army send us”. That is what I googled when I was led to the site of this Milspouse shop that makes custom signs with the duty station slats and I fell in love. The “Home” signs track your military career through duty stations, family achievements and whatever else you want to customize it to do. Our sign has where we got married and where our sons were born. It’s fun to look at and grow as you PCS around the world. EB also features unique teacher gifts and wedding gifts for fellow Military spouses (I cast my lot with a Soldier sign is my go to). Document where the military sends you with this great shop!
I live in Kansas which doesn’t currently sell this Vodka, but I gave it a go on a work trip to Dallas. It was had me feeling all sorts of fine after just 1 drink, so I can vouch that all the awards this Vodka has received are well earned. Started by a Former Marine on 11.11.11, Heroes Vodka is now available in 21 states and gives a portion of proceeds back to the Veteran community. Check to see if your state made the list at http://www.heroesvodka.com/
Strokos Creative Designs
It happens with every PCS. I need new décor to go with this house and I always start locally with my fellow Milspouse community. I’ve scooped up an adorable sign and lazy susan from this Marine spouse and love all her décor. Check out all the fun, personalized things you can order for friends and family at https://www.facebook.com/StrokosCreativeDesigns/.
The sauce for every meal holds up to its name. I got a bottle of Original and have put their slogan to the test. It started with a breakfast sandwich, progressed to some chicken, and then used it on some dried-out pork tenderloin (sorry mom!). The best way to describe the tomato-based sauce is it’s like a few condiments got together and had a baby. We are fans! The original recipe came from USAF Veteran “Mutt” and he passed it down to his Granddaughter who is also a USAF Veteran and now sells it in his memory.
My Little Sweatshop Boutique
It all started with a funny kitchen towel and then I was hooked on this Milspouse owned shop. She can make your business or spouse club shirts, give you hilarious hand towels, make adorable home décor signs, and hook you up with the best coffee cup I’ve seen to date. We should probably add some Heroes Vodka to it and make it a true statement. Let this Army spouse personalize the perfect holiday gift for your family member.
These milspo and veteran owned businesses should have something for just about everyone on your holiday gift list. And if you know someone PCSing next year, give them “the gift” of PCSgrades.com, a review platform for military and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station and read the reviews of where you are PCSing to.
Home is where the military sends us and together we can make a difference!
Author: Jenah Wieczorek, PCSgrades Social Media Director, is an Army spouse, mother of 2 boys, dental hygienist, and volunteer. Jenah is a two-time recipient of the First Cavalry Division Commander’s Award for Volunteer Excellence, the Department of the Army Award for Patriotic Civilian Service, and is a member of the U.S. Cavalry and Armor Association’s Order of St. Joan D’Arc. Jenah enjoys coffee from 9-5, wine from 5-9, leggings as pants, reading and spending time with her boys. She currently resides in Fort Leavenworth, KS with her family.