We are quickly coming into the season of giving (and receiving). Maybe you have already started writing a list of Christmas gift ideas? You may even have started shopping. Before you complete that list I want to give you some great alternatives to those big box stores. I present to you your Vancouver Island Gift Guide!
I made it my mission these past few weeks to seek out the best of the best of local handmade goods. Through this journey I discovered we have some truly creative, and absolutely wonderful, local artisans and crafters on Vancouver Island. There were so many, in fact, I decided to narrow my scope to include only those who live and work in the Mid-Island area.
In a three-part series, I will showcase our amazing local talent, and give you some fabulous gift ideas too!
First up is, ‘Gift Ideas for Him‘.
I don’t know about you, but I always find shopping for the men in my life (husband, brother, and father) the most difficult. Well, that is until I found the following local artisans. If you too are looking for unique gift ideas for him, look no further.
I urge you to read through the bio’s of the following artisans and small shops, and peruse through their products via the links provided. I know you will find some fantastic ideas to help you get through that Christmas list this year.
Gift Ideas for Him – Your Vancouver Island Gift Guide
Showcasing a locally made Vancouver Island t-shirt by The Other Side Artisan Collective (retails for $36)
The Other Side Artisan Collective
The Other Side Artisan Collective is a retail store located in Coombs, owned and operated by Chris and Kristin. Shopping in their store feels much like shopping at a local market, due to the wide variety of products all made by local artisans on Vancouver Island. However, this ‘market shopping experience’ is open 6 days a week! The most popular item in the shop is their made in-store t-shirts (shown above). They screenprint, sew and dye the clothing right on-site.
As a little side experiment, they have recently added vinyl records to the shop. Obviously the records are not made locally, but are a cool addition to the store. Chris is an avid vinyl collector, and is excited to offer new records to other vinyl junkies in the area.
How Their Business Came to Be
Chris and Kristin were eager to work for themselves, so in 2014 they started selling products at local artisan markets. Kristin had studied textile arts in school and was ready to focus on that full-time. As they eased into the market scene, Chris added some t-shirts to their growing inventory of facecloths, scarves, and headbands. Eventually they grew to a point where they were ready to open their own store. They are happy to report that their business keeps them busy full-time.
They know all too well how hard it is for new businesses to get off the ground, not to mention the difficulties of finding places to sell products. This is why they use their retail space to showcase the work of local and emerging artists.
Average Price Range
With a wide variety of products in the store, the prices range from as low as $3 to around $100. You can get a nice bar of handmade soap for $5, or pick out a unique print to decorate your wall at home for as much as $120. As mentioned above, the most popular item is their t-shirts, which, on average, are priced at $36.
Where to Find Their Products
The Other Side Artisan Collective store is located in Coombs, at 2345 Alberni Hwy, just west of the Goats on the Roof Market.
You can also buy and view their products online.
Facebook: (The Other Side Artisan Collective)
They wholesale to the following stores:
- Island-ish (Nanaimo),
- Nezza Naturals (Victoria)
- Tonic Jewelry (Victoria)
- Wabisabi Surf Shop (Coombs)
- Ski and Surf Shop (Courtenay)
- Wilde and Sparrow (Parksville)
- Weinberg’s Good Foods (Fanny Bay)
- Shades of Green (Parksville)
- Salish Sea (Bowser)
- Om Organics (Invermeer)
In the coming months, you can find Chris and Kristin at the following Craft Fairs:
- All Decked Out – Nov. 18 – 20 – Tigh-Na-Mara in Parksville
- Christmas Artisan Fair at the Bowser Legion – Nov. 20 (10:00 – 3:00) – Bowser Legion Branch 211
- Owl Designer Fair – Dec. 2 & 3 – Fernwood NRG in Victoria
- Errington Christmas Arts & Crafts Fair – Dec. 3rd – Errington Hall
- Boreal Collective Winter Fair – December 17th – The Hub at Cowichan Station in Duncan
Showcasing a woodworking or shop apron from Etchythings
(Apron with trees retails for $44.02, apron with mountain retails for $34.39)
Etchythings and Accents Inc. is a handmade supplier of custom rubber stamps, wood tags, and other supplies created from the home studio of Mei and her husband Frank in Yellow Point. They make wood signs, metal signs and fabricate products using as much reclaimed materials as they can find. They also make custom design metal art work for local customers. In truth, Mei dabbles in a lot of different things, much like many creatives.
How Etchythings Got Started
Mei has been practicing yoga for over 15 years and eventually become a yoga instructor. When she was laid off from her job in 2009, she had the opportunity to become her own boss. One thing led to another and she found herself making yoga style rubber stamps on Etsy, which eventually branched out into other creations.
Mei’s business is all about creating things she loves, which in turn attracts those who love and want the same things.
Etchythings and Accents Inc. is built with some very important values in mind. They strive to change lives through mentorship, coaching, and helping others grow. They share their joy and passion in all they do, and believe everything is interconnected in some way. As a result, their motto is to naturally and organically grow their business responsibly.
Recently Mei has started trying to create custom stamped recycled copper jewelry, using their on site kiln. As well, she has started a line of hand stamped linoleum aprons (shown above), bamboo hair sticks and other silver plated jewelry. Mei and Frank have two rescue dogs, so you will also find some fur-baby items in their online shops as well.
Average Price Range
The average price of their products is approximately $25. But you can buy a temporary tattoo for as little as $1.65, or a set of zodiac rubber stamps for as much as $123.00.
Their woodworking apron (featured above) is perfect for a reclaimed artist, Woodsmith or Ecopreneur.
The apron has a total of 5 pockets (2 at the top and 3 at the bottom) and is ideal for studio work, craft shows or as a uniform for the small business owner.
Made with a light weight denim material, Mei created the mountain landscape pattern using a linoleum stamp to represent our beautiful West Coast scene.
The mountain landscape patterned apron (shown above ) is 19.5″ wide by 20″ tall (bib only). More sizes, as well as ones that are adjustable, can be found on the online shops.
Where you can find Etchythings
Pinterest: Etchythings and Accents Inc.
Example of products from Red Shepherd Design
(socks retail for $20, Vancouver Island sign retails for $53, pistol sign retails for $30)
Red Shepherd Design
Shelby, of Red Shepherd Design, offers handmade painted wood signs for your home, as well as personal little gifts like socks, and mugs. She does loads of custom orders too, working directly with customers to create the perfect sign or gift just right for them.
The Start of Red Shepherd Design
It all started with a rustic sign, gifted to her Mom, made from cutting up old pallets which were then hand painted with a bird design. Shelby felt honoured to see her work hanging in her Mother’s home. This prompted her to create more signs for other family members, including one for her Dad’s shop. She fell in love with making and creating, and consequently started buying more tools and supplies. and then started sharing her designs on Facebook. Eventually she decided to take a leap and open up an Etsy shop. She continues to expand and explore, and isn’t afraid to try new things. For example, she is currently working and creating with vinyl, and having a lot of fun doing so.
Red Shepherd Design is named after Shelby’s German Shepherd “Red”. She is a dog mom, with a soft spot for rescues. Because she knows she can’t adopt and rescue them all, she has found a way to give back. She creates personalized dog signs, with an attached mason jar for treats, and a hook for a leash. Each time one of these signs are sold, Shelby donates $5.00 to the SPCA, and a German Shepherd Rescue group on the mainland.
Average Price Range
Red Shepard Design products are extremely reasonable, and range from approximately $10 – $100 depending on size, and detail.
Where to Find Products from Red Shepherd Design
You can also find her “Bring me Wine” socks, (among other sayings) at Left Coast Fashions in Ladysmith.
While Red Shepherd Design hasn’t participated in any craft fairs yet, Shelby is hoping to step into the market scene in the near future.
Showcasing the ‘Gentlemen’s Collection’ from Haven Living
(prices range from $18 for the Shaving Soap to $35 for the Rejuvenating Serum)
Haven Living offers clientele an all natural alternative to chemical laden skin care. The skin care products are hand crafted by Desja, an esthetician by trade, and made with pure essential oils and no toxins or chemicals. Haven Living Skin Care Collections are hand crafted in small batches to preserve quality and freshness.
Desja has a flagship store, located in Port Alberni, with the same name. Along with her natural skin care lines, the store also carries an eclectic blend of new, salvaged and hand curated wares from across Canada.
The concept for the business was born from Desja’s desire to be creative, while keeping her hand in the cosmetology industry that she loves so much.
As an esthetician, creating authentically natural products are extremely important to her. She is a mother of 3, so having an all natural baby line was something that drove her passion. Haven Living also has a Spa Collection geared towards ladies that want something natural and simple to add to their beauty regime. As well, she has a line of Home Fragrances, and Art Prints.
Due to the many retailers who carry the Haven Living Skin Care line, as well as keeping up with stock at her brick and motor store, Desja has stepped back from the local craft markets. However, she loves seeking out new and exciting vendors to potentially carry in the shop.
Average Price Range
The Haven Living Skin Care products range from $7.99 – $38.
Where to buy the Products
The Haven Living store is located at 4528 Adelaide Street in Port Alberni.
Products can also be found online:
Pinterest: Haven Living
The Haven Living Skin Care Collections can be found at an impressive selection of retailers across Canada and the USA. For a full list, please visit the Stockist page on the Haven Living website. Select Vancouver Island stores are as follows:
- Hey Beautiful (Nanaimo)
- Island-ish (Nanaimo)
- Chopstix (Ladysmith)
- Merge Artisan Collective (Tofino)
- Rock-A-Bear Baby Swag and Spa (Parksville)
- Nature Spirit Earth Market (Gabriola)
- Nest and Cradle (Victoria)
Showcasing the ‘Fly Fishing Advent Calendar’ from Allure Tackle (retails for $69)
Allure Tackle offers fun, yet highly effective fishing gear. Mark, the owner and designer of Allure, hates the term ‘novelty’ because it implies a gimmick or that the products don’t work (or are designed to only lure fishermen, not fish), which is just not true of his products. Yes he offers new and unique designs, but checking out the media images on the website’s “Dock Shots” page, truly showcases the effectiveness of his products. He has many, many happy customers.
The Evolution of Allure
Mark has been a designer for much of his life. He found out at a very early age that having a nine to five job wasn’t for him. Hence, he has been mostly self employed in some design capacity for most of his working career. He has designed everything from fine furniture to home decor, graphic art logos to greeting cards, and has even dabbled in interior design for homes, restaurants and commercial spaces.
His tackle company came from a passion for fishing, as well as his graphic arts background. Mark’s been an avid fisherman since he was old enough to carry a rod, and is truly a designer at heart. He has always wanted to design fishing gear and equipment with a focus on the fun of it. Because, after all, fishing should be fun!
If you get a glimpse of Mark, you may recognize him from the HGTV show, Canada’s Handyman Challenge, where he won the title of Canada’s Best Handyman.
Average Price Range
Most products are under $20. However, the Advent Calendar (featured in the image above) is the main focus of Mark’s company right now, and retails for $69.
Where to buy Allure Tackle Products
Facebook: Allure Tackle
You will also be able to find Allure Tackle at the following Christmas Craft Fairs:
- Christmas Chaos – Nov 17 & 18 – Island Savings Centre (Multi Purpose Hall) in Duncan
- Kris Kringle Craft Fair – Nov. 19th & 20th – Beban Park Social Centre (in the Man-Cave) in Nanaimo
- Cumberland Winter Fair – Nov 26th – Cumberland Recreation Institute
Showcasing the two products from Vancouver Island Hot Sauce
(sauces retail for $8.00 each)
Vancouver Island Hot Sauce
Vancouver Island Hot Sauce offers customers two choices, ‘Owl’s Screech’ – made with BC grown Scotch Bonnet peppers, and ‘Breath of Humbaba’ – made with BC grown Jalapeno peppers. Both sauces have a nice kick, but also a lot of flavour. The sauces are locally made in Qualicum Beach, using fresh ingredients often locally grown on Vancouver Island.
How it all Started
When Eben and Karita got married in 2013 they gave their guests a homemade hot sauce, called “Red Hot Monogamy”, as wedding favours. The sauces were a big hit, and it was recommended by many to start selling their product. Eben has always been a fan of hot sauce, and with his working career in the food industry, he was familiar with sauce-making of all kinds. So they took the plunge. They started selling their hot sauce at the Qualicum Beach Farmers Market in May of 2014. Their sauces can now be found in many stores, markets, and restaurants on Vancouver Island.
Where to Find Vancouver Island Hot Sauce
Website: Vancouver Island Hot Sauce Company
The sauces can be bought at the following locations:
- Delicado’s (North Nanaimo)
- Fredrich’s Honey Farm (Cedar)
- Little Qualicum Cheeseworks (Parksville)
- Market on Millstream (Langford)
- Meat Craft Urban Butchery (Port Moody)
- Nesvog Meats and Sausages (Nanaimo)
- Old Country Market (Coombs)
- Olive This & More (Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo)
- Oscar & Libby’s (Victoria)
- Pineridge Farm Market (Spider Lake)
- Pepper’s Foods (Victoria)
- Realm Food Co. (Parksville)
- Salish Sea Market (Bowser)
- Signature Oil & Vinegar (Comox and Campbell River)
- Sprat Lake Landing (Port Alberni)
- The Olive Station (Duncan)
- Tidal Taco Shack (Qualicum Bay)
- Village Butcher (Oak Bay)
You can also find Vancouver Island Hot Sauce at the following Christmas Craft Fairs:
- Kris Kringle Craft Fair – Nov. 19 & 20 – Beban Park Social Centre in Nanaimo
- Cumberland Winter Fair – Nov. 26 – Cumberland Recreation Institute
- Errington Christmas Craft Fair – Dec. 10 – Errington War Memorial Hall
Showcasing a variety of products from Wayward Distillation House
(prices range from $35 – $55 on average)
Wayward Distillation House
Wayward Distillation House offers clientele the opportunity to learn more about spirits while engaging their senses in the tasting room (taste, aroma, and mouth-feel). It is the perfect way to discover your palate for spirits. While you are there you get a glimpse into the science and art of fermenting and small batch distilling with the offer of in-depth tours. These tours leave you with a deeper appreciation for our community, and the locally grown/sourced quality ingredients that go into making the products.
Where it all Began
Andrea and Dave have always been fascinated with fermentation and distillation. They toured breweries and distilleries of all sizes all over the world – from expansive Scotch in distilleries in Speyside to nano breweries in Portland. When the provincial Craft Distillery designation was created in March of 2013, they saw the potential in running their own craft distillery, and jumped at the opportunity.
The distillery is open seven days a week, from noon to six, for drop-in tours and tastings free of charge. They love to share their knowledge and passion for distilling with guests, and are always looking for new and creative ways to enjoy spirits. They love showcasing the delicious and unique flavours of our area by collaborating with local businesses, farmers, and wild crafters.
Wayward Distillation House also has a barreling program in the works – so expect to see more Drunken Hive Rum, crafted from caramelized honey, as well as the return of Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin.
Average Price Range
They have a good variety of products and bottle sizes. You can check out what is currently available, and their associated cost direct from the distillery, on their website. However, prices run from approximately $35 – $55.
The feature product, shown in the image above, is their Wayward Order Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur (375ml – 40% ) and sells for $34.70 +tax, when bought through their website.
Where to Buy their Products
Wayward Distillation House is located at 2931 Moray Ave in Courtenay. You can find a member of the team there every day of the week. If you can’t make it to the distillery, you can order online, and the products are shipped directly from the website.
On the website there is also a map where you can zoom in to your neighbourhood to see if any private liquor stores or bars and restaurants in your area carry Wayward Distillation House spirits. The list of select retailers is quite significant, so I am sure you will be able to find one near you.
Featuring a few products from RSDK’s men’s line
(all products shown here are $35 each)
RSDK offers a small piece of Vancouver Island in each article of clothing they design. When they design items and graphics it always comes back to an idea which was inspired by where we live. Their clothing is designed by, and for, the organic mix of artists, wave riders and characters
How it all Started
It was a conversation between two friends, hanging out in a wood shop one day. Both Josh and Rick had been doing design work for others and thought it was time to start creating for themselves. Naturally they gravitated towards creating a brand which is fueled by the lifestyle provided by the island. They are constantly amazed at all the great people they have met through this venture.
RSDK sells hats, hoodies, and sometimes other cool stuff, for both men and women.
Average Price Range
Their t-shirts and hats are $35, while their hoodies are around $90.
Where you can Find their Products
Josh and Rick are happy to report that they get to work with some of the best stores on Vancouver Island and the mainland. The stores are all independently owned by locals who contribute to their communities and keep people stoked on surfing, skating, snowboarding, climbing, diving and adventuring.
RSDK products can be currently found at the following select retailers:
- Alternative Groove (Nanaimo)
- Wabi Sabi (Coombs)
- Storm Surf Shop (Tofino)
- Coast Surf Shop (Comox)
- Cove Apparel (Port Hardy)
- Beyond the Usual (Chemainus)
- HtO (Victoria)
- Lucky Surf and Skate (Tsawwassen)
In the past they have sold their products at the Parksville Craig St. Market, which proved to be a great success.
This month they will be hosting their first pop up shop/birthday party in Nanaimo on Nov 12, at White Sails Brewing.
Featuring products from Raincoast Rustics
(Beer sign -$35, Lantern – $40, Van Isle Wood Slab – $45)
Raincoast Rustics offers a wide range of reclaimed wood products including furniture, artwork, and signage. Custom orders are also accepted.
Steph is a stay at home mom of three with a fine arts degree majoring in painting and graphic design, and also has a business diploma. She has always fantasized about building a home based studio, where she can create art while taking care of her children. The term ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ was built into her since childhood, so following with that same idea for her business was only natural. Steph capitalizes on reusing wood materials with an artistic flare, and she loves colour, paint and anything with wood grain.
She started off with only mediocre wood shop skills, with some additional ‘dad’ taught skills mixed in. But after spending hours in her garage tinkering around mastering her craft, she has now figured out a cost effective way to get her art on the market.
Raincoast Rustics has a wide variety of prices. For example you can purchase coasters for $6, or a live edged Farmhouse table for $1500.
Where to Find the Products
Steph’s work can be found in 17 stores throughout Vancouver Island, but you can also order direct through her Facebook page.
Facebook: RainCoast Rustics
You can find Raincoast Rustics products at the following Mid-Island retailers:
- Revived Vintage (Qualicum Beach)
- Soak Essentials (Parksville)
- The Other Side Artisan Collective (Coombs)
Steph won’t be attending any Christmas Craft Fairs this year, but in the spring and summer she will have a booth at the Oceanside markets in Qualicum and Parksville.
Yellow Point Cranberries
Yellow Point Cranberries is a family owned and operated cranberry farm. They offer guests a complete farm to table experience. When you visit their farm you will not only see the fields, but you also get to taste the products. As well, you will gain knowledge of how the whole process works.
When the Keefer family bought the farm in Yellow Point it wasn’t being used as a cranberry farm, but it did have the right type of land they were looking for, as well as a few buildings and extra space. Grant Keefer’s grandmother used to make lots of preserves, which gave them the idea to have a small store to sell cranberry themed products.
The Cranberry Cottage Store is open 7 days a week from August until Christmas Eve, 11-5 daily. At any given time up to 50 products are made with their farm fresh cranberries.
They also offer tours September 1st through to Thanksgiving weekend for groups of 10 or more. A few days during the year they offer complimentary tours to the public. Both the group tours and the public tours fill up very quickly, and are often booked a year in advance.
Where to Find Yellow Point Cranberries
The Cranberry Cottage Store and farm is located at 4532 Yellow Point Road, in Ladysmith (Yellow Point).
At the present, they have a hard enough time keeping products in their own store (preserves, salsa’s, etc.), so those items are not available elsewhere. Their fresh cranberries, however, are carried by 49th Parallel, Niagara Grocery, Pomme Natural Market, The Root Cellar, Great Greens, and Eat Fresh.
Yellow Point Cranberries can also be found online:
In the coming months you will be able to find Yellow Point Cranberries on the Cedar Yellow Point Christmas Tour – a self-guided tour of 18 artisans and farms in the Cedar and Yellow Point areas. The tour happens November 24 – 27.
They will also be at the Deck the Halls Christmas Market, on Nov. 26 & 27, at the Cowichan Fairgrounds.
I hope this Vancouver Island Gift Guide has given you some great ideas for those men on your list.
Before you start shopping, though, I have a wonderful surprise for you…
If you are eager to get your hands on some of the above mentioned products, you are in luck!
Every artisan featured in this post generously donated one (or more!) of their products to be given away in a gift basket for one lucky reader.
The generosity of the local artisans showcased in this post, and as well the quality of work they produce, is truly impressive.
Please make sure you spread the kindness by visiting their websites, social media links, and shops. I know they will appreciate it!
The items in the gift basket are suitable for men, but anyone can enter…as long as you live on Vancouver Island. (Sorry Mainlanders – this giveaway is just for us Islanders).
What’s in the Gift Basket?
- A Vancouver Island t-shirt, donated by The Other Side Artisans Collective (shown in feature image above)
- $25.00 gift voucher towards any product from Etchythings
- ‘Bring me a Beer’ socks, donated by Red Shepherd Wood Design (shown in feature image above)
- Pre-Shave Facial Scrub, donated by Haven Living (shown in feature image above)
- Shaving Soap, donated by Haven Living (shown in feature image above)
- Salmon Fishing Spoon, donated by Allure Tackle
- Bottle of hot sauce, donated by Vancouver Island Hot Sauce (shown in feature image above)
- $25.00 gift card towards any product from Wayward Distillation
- Tall Trees & Cold Seas RSDK t-shirt, donated by RSDK (shown in feature image above)
- Department of Tall Trees & Cold Seas hat, donated by RSDK (shown in feature image above)
- Wood beer sign, donated by Raincoast Rustics (shown in feature image above)
- Lantern sign, donated by Raincoast Rustics (shown in feature image above)
- Van Isle Wood slab, donated by Raincoast Rustics (shown in feature image above)
- Cranberry Mustard, donated by Yellow Point Cranberries
You guys, this gift basket is completely amazing, and has an approximate value of over $350.00!!!
Here is a sneak peek of what the items look like together:
(please note, at the time of publication I didn’t have a photo of the Cranberry Mustard Sauce donated by Yellow Point Cranberries)
Enter the Giveaway Here!
The Men’s Giveaway Basket is open from November 3, 2016 until midnight on November 20.
Just a note about entering the giveaway – I promise not to use your name and email for anything other than contacting you should you win. Unless, however, you decide to use the bonus entry and sign up for our newsletter.
All the details, as well as the terms and conditions, can be found when you sign into the contest below. But the most important factor of entering is leaving a comment (in the comment section below).
And it is probably worth repeating…the contest is only open to those of us who live on Vancouver Island.
Best of luck!