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Buying local and handmade this Christmas

Items purchased from local artisans are often handmade and high quality, and I feel good knowing I am supporting a local business owner while giving a unique gift to a loved one
Spinks Soap and Body at Cutten Fields for the Handmade Market in November.

The shops are decked out with Christmas displays, aisles stocked full of gift ideas, while holiday tunes play over speakers above our heads 24/7.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is on its way, and for those that celebrate Christmas and give gifts, it’s time to start shopping.

Our family tries our best to not go overboard during Christmas. We want to celebrate and rejoice together and keep our faith at the centre of the celebrations. Still, gift giving is important to us. We give gifts to loved ones and try our best to be both thoughtful and frugal in our giving of gifts.

One thing I have tried my best to do over the years is give gifts made by local artisans and small shop owners. Items purchased from local artisans are often handmade and high quality, and I feel good knowing I am supporting a local business owner while giving a unique gift to a loved one.

Over the months of November and December I try my best to go to as many local craft sales as I can. It’s there where I can visit many different local artisans, get to know them a bit, and purchase special gifts for people in my life.

One of my favourite shops that I first discovered at a craft show is Tara Spinks’ Spinks Soap and Body. She makes natural handcrafted soaps and bath and body products. I remember the first time seeing her soaps and seeing the love and care she puts into each one. They are all little pieces of art.

Over the last few months I have returned again and again to purchase soap from Tara, and I have gotten to see her love for all things local and handmade.

Tara fell into the handmade business accidentally. She got into soap making because she needed a soap that would help soothe her psoriasis; something made from natural ingredients. She started giving excess soap to family and friends and was encouraged to start selling within the community.

Tara has experienced a positive and encouraging environment for small businesses within the community.

“I feel Guelph is an amazing environment for small business because the people here are very open to new things, enthusiastic about their community, and friendly. They want to take the time to get to know you personally and what you're about.They love to support local. Being from Guelph and basing my business here has really allowed me to connect with the community and the great people that live here,” said Tara.

Like me, Tara believes that supporting local during the holidays is a worthy goal for any shopper.

“I believe that people should shop small during the holidays because you are supporting another individual in many ways similar to yourself. Many small business owners and makers have other jobs, families, school, and other responsibilities in their lives. They are pursuing their business out of a love for their craft and their desire to share it with others. It's genuine and  from the heart,” she said.

Tara offered the helpful tip to try to find local artisans through social media. She said that she finds many of her favourite shops by searching #Guelph and #Handmade on Instagram and Facebook.

Shopping small doesn’t have to be expensive. A small handmade gift for a friend, teacher, or family member can be meaningful and affordable.

This year, perhaps you’ll find your favourite local artisan to support over the holidays!

You can find Spinks Soap and Body on Facebook and Instagram.