When it comes to gift giving, I always strive to put intention into what I’m buying. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, that means making the effort to find gifts that indulge my loved ones, while supporting locally-owned brands that are doing their best to uphold thoughtful business practices.
Ingredients, packaging, distance, quality, shipping — these are all factors I consider when deciding which gift is the best. And in a world of mass production, excessive plastic, and ingredients we can’t even pronounce, these seven locally-owned businesses remind us that, sometimes, less is more.
Just over City Ave. in Ardmore you’ll find Abiyah Naturals, a skin- and hair care store owned by Topia Tessema, whose background in social work enables her to do what she loves most: Help people.
Her store features a wide range of handmade products, from soaps and moisturizers to hair serums, artwork and jewelry. All Abiyah Naturals skin- and hair care products are made in-house, using locally sourced ingredients and ingredients from other small business owners. Tessema also supports women artisans from around the globe by selling their creations, including The Jewelry Drop and Brown Girls Can. Can’t decide between Abiyah Naturals’ All In One Butter, Nourishing Oil, or bar soaps? Rest assured: You can always get one of the company’s signature bundles. The detoxing version contains a detoxing bar, cleansing skin toner and Turmeric Cream.
22 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, (484) 412-8077, abiyahnaturals.com
Duafe Hair Salon
Duafe Hair Salon founder and owner Syreeta Scott emphasizes the importance of self-love and the sense of empowerment that comes in understanding and caring for your hair.
Scott experienced racism growing up as a dark-skinned Black woman in the 80s. Today, her past inspires her to focus on hair as a form of activism. Duafe Hair Salon opened in 2001, during a time when, according to Scott, it was not socially acceptable for Black people to wear their natural hair out. So when it comes to locking it, braiding it, or moisturizing it, Scott guides folks through the process of taking care of their natural hair and encourages them to tune out messages telling them it is not beautiful. (Duafe clients include Ava DuVernay, Janet Jackson and Jill Scott — no relation.)
In addition to doing hair, Scott also makes her own holistic hair care products. One of the most popular products among Duafe loyalists: Hair Slicker, an aloe-based gel commonly used for locs that can also be used for wash-and-gos and cornrows.
3129 N. 22nd Street, (267) 297-7636, duafehairsalon.com
Duross & Langel
While working as a stylist in the 90s, Steve Duross realized something excited him even more than cutting and styling hair: natural skin and body care. Today, he owns Duross & Langel, the all-natural soap and more shop in Midtown Village. Most of D & L’s products are made in-house; products requiring a more complex chemical process are made in a local lab.
Formulated with natural and nourishing ingredients, like algae and green tea, D & L packages its bar soap in biodegradable wrap and uses recycled plastic for their liquid soap. They also recycle 64-ounce bottles their customers bring back. One particularly sweet Valentine’s Day idea: their adorable Two Hearts Soap.
240 S. 11th Street, (215) 834-7226, durossandlangel.com
DVINITI Skin Care
Clients love DVINITI Skin Care for its plant-based, naturally derived products — and because they get to have a hand in making them. With a background in cosmetic chemistry, founder Marquita Robinson Garcia believes in the importance of knowing what ingredients are found in your skincare products. So, during consultations with Robinson Garcia, clients choose the ingredients they want to add to their products, such as herbs and essential oils for fragrance.
The process usually begins with a digital skin analysis, where clients learn more about their skin; knowing whether you have dry skin, open pores, dark marks or irritation enables you to know how to take the best care of yourself.
Some of DVINITI Skin Care’s most popular products include Nourishing Vitamin E Serum, which Robinson Garcia refers to as “universal moisturizer” and Hydrating Toner. In this month of love and friendship, playing chemist for a day is the perfect galentine’s activity, or a thoughtful gift for any skincare fan in your circle.
1500 Locust Street, Suite #3801, (215) 845-5229, dviniti.com
Franklin & Whitman
Christopher Cieri launched Franklin & Whitman to be a skin care brand with a social mission. Every product is vegan, cruelty-free, nontoxic — and handmade in their BOK building studio. That includes goodies like oil-based facial serums, clay masks and themed candles. All of their oil-based products are made with high-quality rosehip, argan, jojoba oil and the like.
Franklin & Whitman also runs a recycling program that allows customers to mail back their containers after use. When customers send six containers, they receive a free clay mask. Cieri and Phoebe Unetic, Franklin & Whitman’s production managers, partner with Remark Glass, a glass recycling program also at BOK. Franklin & Whitman also donates a percentage of sales to the Pennsylvania SPCA and other dog rescue organizations. Psst: Their Valentine’s Day Candles will help anyone on your list set the perfect vibe.
821 Dudley Street, (215) 964-0666, franklinandwhitman.com
After saying goodbye to the tropical climate of Singapore and hello to Michigan’s cold winters, Adeline Koh quickly realized that her sensitive skin was not compatible with the harsh ingredients in conventional American skincare products. In 2015, she started making her own, using the same botanical ingredients found in Korean products. In 2016, after sharing her products with friends — who loved them — Koh dove deeper into the world of botanical skincare and entrepreneurship, and Sabbatical Beauty was born.
Sabbatical Beauty products are filled with natural ingredients, such as camellia japonica oil and ginseng. Their products are refreshing, nourishing and hydrating.
Before becoming a skincare enthusiast, Koh worked as a university professor focusing on race and gender studies. Her background in academia has impacted Sabbatical Beauty’s social mission. Today, the company donates money to progressive organizations and advocates for diversity by featuring different ages, races, and sizes on their website.
Grab your significant other or your bestie a Power Set or a Power Plus Set, which include a travel size Marine Serum (brightening) with Asian Powerhouse Serum (evens skin tone), and Dorian Gray’s Serum (anti-aging). Or, get them a ticket to Sabbatical Beauty’s Skin Care Party, where attendees get to indulge in an extra relaxing Sabbatical Beauty skincare regime, on March 27.
1901 S. 9th St #308, (267) 205-5529, sabbaticalbeauty.com
Vellum Street Soap Company
With her background as a chef, it’s only fitting that Melissa Torre’s brand would incorporate food ingredients. In 2015, she started Vellum Street Soap Company, a skin and body care brand focusing on products made with tallow — animal fat — and upcycled food ingredients such as orange peels and paprika.
Vellum Street sources its tallow from local and regenerative agriculture farms. Their most popular product is their Fat Marshmallow Whipped Tallow Skin Fluff, a nourishing moisturizer made out of biocompatible grass-fed tallow and marshmallow root, lightly scented with real vanilla beans. Other products include soap, candle, and bath salts. Every Vellum Street product has at least one other upcycled food ingredient, all sourced from local restaurants and businesses.
Vellum Street wraps its bar soap in recycled — and recyclable — paper; other products come in recycled glass from Bottle Underground, BOK’s community-based glass recycling program. During this chapped-lips season, Vellum Street’s Tallow Lip Balms are the perfect little gift for anyone on your list.
MORE PHILLY BUSINESSES AND BRANDS TO SUPPORTClockwise, from left: Abiyah Naturals' owner Topia Tessema, Franklin & Whitman Vitamin C Serum, Marquita Robinson Garcia owner of DVINITY Skin Care, and products from Sabbatical Beauty.