Last minute vegan gift ideas

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Have you left your shopping until the last minute? Need a few final ideas for someone on your list? Well, here you go! Just make sure you’re not seeing the person until after the holiday or spring for the faster shipping, because it’s getting late!

1. Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas

Nava’s most recent cookbook is a gorgeous hardback with beautiful food photography and holiday-themed dishes and menus beyond just Winter celebrations. It’s a wonderful collection that will inspire you in the kitchen year-round. We’ve only had a chance to make one or two things from it so far, but are looking forward to trying out a couple more over Christmas. (Full review forthcoming.)

2. Brownbird Rudy Relic: I Am the Juke

His first full-length album remains one of my all-time favorites and his latest is another great collection of original “holler blues.” He goes the old-school route once again, recording on a 1950’s Concertone (One Track) reel-to-reel with a 1940’s era RCA Victor Radio mic in an abandoned Brooklyn loft. You’ll be up and out of your seat in no time. (Plus, this is likely the first blues album to reference N.W.A in the opening seconds.)

3. Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal

Are you vegan? Are you or your partner pregnant? Sayward Rebhal’s handy little book published by Herbivore is one you’ll want to have your nightstand right next to Reed Mangels’ Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book. Full of both nutritional guidance as well as practical advice, the Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide is a light (but informative!), fun (but helpful!) read about what can be a challenging, confusing time. (Full review forthcoming.)

… or, 4. something from one of the businesses featured in our profile or any of the many other great vegan businesses!

Vegan Biz Profile: My Vegan Baker

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Our seventh entry in the Vegan Biz Profile series is My Vegan Baker, a Northern Virginia-based vegan baking business started by Kristin Stolz. I had the chance to taste some of her baked goods when she was getting started a few years ago, and let me tell you: they’re good.

Tell us about My Vegan Baker. What inspired you to start it?

I started My Vegan Baker two years ago shortly after moving here from Los Angeles. I wasn’t finding vegan options in Northern Virginia and I thought if I am looking, others are looking, too. I’ve always baked and one day a friend was telling me how good something I made her was and that was it. I started the long paperwork process that day.

Do baked goods make good holiday presents?

Baked goods make great presents! Who wouldn’t like a box of delicious mint chocolate chip brownies, tasty oatmeal bars, or even a cake? Vegans like quality baked goods as much as their non-vegan counterparts. This is the perfect time of year to show someone you care by giving the gift of tasty treats. They’re perfect for teachers, too. They probably don’t need another mug or apple ornament. But, a tasty gift they can share with others… now that’s something they would love.

Do you offer a vegan fruitcake?

While I don’t do a vegan fruitcake, I do take special orders. I do make an amazing vegan kransekake (see picture). This Norwegian delight is delicious. It’s made from almonds and is fun to share. A great conversation piece and fun for a party. If you’re looking for something you don’t see on the menu, just ask. Which leads to the next question.

What items do you offer that are particularly unique?

Vegan whoopie pies. Delicious.

Tell us about another vegan-owned business that you love that other people may not know about.

Another great vegan business is Arbonne. They offer botanically-based, certified vegan skin care, anti-aging, detoxification, nutrition, weight loss, and cosmetics. Everything is formulated in Switzerland and made in the US. This is important as Switzerland has such high standards relating to what goes into personal care products. Arbonne does not use parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, mineral oil, or other harmful chemicals. You can find them at www.arbonne.com. Their products need to be purchased through an independent consultant, of which I am one. I have used the products for years and believe in them. They also have a baby line which is so important, especially in light of the lawsuit pending with Johnson and Johnson and the ingredients in their baby products.

Vegan Biz Profile: Nice Shoes

Our sixth entry in the Vegan Biz Profile series is Nice Shoes, an all-vegan shoe store in Vancouver, BC owned and operated by Joanne Chang (pictured, hugging shoes).

Tell us about Nice Shoes.

We are the first all vegan shoe store in Vancouver, BC Canada. We sell online as well as at our store located on Fraser Street & 19th Avenue. We’re vegan/activist owned and operated. We exist mainly to fill a void in the Canadian vegan community (oh and of course to CRUSH the leather industry!!). Prior to our opening, Canadians have to go across the border to get decent vegan footwear or order online and pay a bunch of unnecessary customs fees and shipping. To ease the burden on Canadian shoppers, we offer free shipping across Canada for any orders over $100.

What great new items do you have for people buy this holiday season?

There’s too much to mention! Our hottest sellers right now are the Snug Boots by Vegetarian Shoes, they’re basically Ugg boots without the cruelty. Harvey’s Seat Belt Bags are beautiful purses made of seat belts. Jaan no silk satin skinny ties. Dansko rain shoes – perfect for the rainy Vancouver weather and approved by the American Podiatric Association for comfort. We also have great stocking stuffers like A Sent of Scandal Candles, Go Max Go chocolate bars and Truth belts.

You can check out our full Holiday Gift Guide here!

What’s been the biggest challenge of being a vegan retailer that sells online as well as at a brick-and-mortar shop?

Each aspect presents a different challenge. As a brick-and-mortar, we had to find a an affordable location within the city of Vancouver. This means opening up shop in a non-shopping district. Although we are on a major bus route and within 10 minutes walking distance from a very popular shopping area (Main Street), people have trouble wrapping their heads around coming here to shop. We also do not get much foot traffic.

As an online retailer, we find that people are apprehensive about shopping online for shoes due to the fit. In order to ease the minds of our customers, we offer free shipping and one free ship back for size exchanges. It’s not a profit making offer, but we are happy to help our customers get what they need.

There’s got to be a story behind the guitar straps in your store. They have their own specific top-level category in the shop and you have 12 options! Are you aiming to be the world’s foremost retailer of vegan guitar straps?

Actually, there’s not much behind it! We (my husband & I) have been vegans for nearly 20 years and Couch Guitar Straps is just one of those companies that has been around since the days when only a handful of vegan businesses existed. Couch straps and belts are hand sewn by vegan guitarists in downtown LA and they use upcycled car seat vinyl – how cool is that? They make such cool guitar straps, we can’t help wanting all of them. We also hear all the time from our guitar playing customers that it’s nearly impossible to find vegan guitar straps. So this is a win-win!

Tell us about a favorite vegan shop of yours that others may not know about.

I’d like to give a plug to a soon-to-be vegan shop. In 2012, Fairy Cakes, a vegan cupcake store is going to open up two doors down from us! Besides being vegan, Fairy Cakes caters to people with food allergies. And for the salt lovers, they will also be carrying savory cupcakes!

That said, if anyone out there would like to join us on Fraser Street, we are not opposed to the idea of being a part of a Canadian vegan mini mall. Just thought I’d throw this out there…

Vegan Biz Profile: Sarah’s Place

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Our fifth entry in the Vegan Biz Profile series is Sarah’s Place, the cute little vegan curio shop in Victoria, BC run by vegan cookbook author extraordinaire, Sarah Kramer.

Tell us about Sarah’s Place.

Sarah’s Place is the world’s smallest (I think) vegan curio shop – located in the heart of downtown Victoria. The shop measures in at a scant 7.5 feet wide and 30 feet deep. The boutique is a collection of some of my favourite vegan items. I carry pottery by Jeanette Zeis, clothing by Bernie Dexter, Hemp Hoodlamp winter jackets, Zimt chocolates, Estrella Soap, New Moon Kitchen cookies, etc., etc. I could make a long list :) If you can’t come to Victoria to visit, you can always visit the online version of Sarah’s Place store and check out all the items. I ship world-wide!!

What are some great new items folks can purchase from you as holiday gifts?

I have tons of yummy treats for stocking stuffers and/or I highly recommend Earth’s Herbal Teas as a stocking stuffer. They are wildcrafted by my dear friend Lily Fawn here in Victoria and all the teas have a medicinal quality to them as well as being super tasty.

For kids either or both of The Monkey Bunch music cd’s. Kids go crazy for The Monkey Bunch!! For the man in your life … a Hoodlamp P-Coat would be great! A purse always makes a great gift! If you’re looking for someone who likes to have fun in the kitchen then the Spirooli Slicer is perfect and of course … you could always get them a cookbook. I can think of 4 that I would highly recommend. :)

The one thing I DON’T carry at my shop is my new iPhone/iPad app called GoVegan! w/Sarah Kramer. It’s weird to have a product that I can’t physically touch or hand to someone. It’s available at Itunes and you can “gift it” to anyone you know who has an iPhone/iPad. We’re hoping to have a version of it available for androids very soon.

I love how your shop is so physically tiny – what are some benefits (and drawbacks) of taking a small, carefully curated approach like that?

Me too. I love my little store … it’s the shape of a shoebox and one side of the store is all windows. It’s like I’m in a human sized aquarium. The benefits are the rent. It’s expensive to rent a space in the downtown retail core of Victoria and so this tiny shop is affordable to me. It’s such a unique space that I initially had some issues with where to put everything but after a trip to Ikea for shelving and using some of the store’s vertical space to showcase the clothing… it feels small in here but not cramped. Although on a Saturday afternoon when everyone is in here shopping … having more then 6 people in here can feel tight. :)

The only downsize is that I would like to carry more products and just don’t have the room … but I wasn’t sure what the feedback would be for the store so I thought I should start small and see how it goes. I am in absolute shock at the response to the store. I’ve been busy since the first day I opened my doors and I am so grateful for all the people (local and from out of town) that come and visit me.

Has any actor from Sleepaway Camp ever purchased something from your store or one of your books?

OH MY GOD! Why are you asking me about Sleepaway Camp? [Ed. note: This is why.] Did you feel that chill run up my back?? I saw that movie in the theater when I was a kid and I almost shit my pants I was so scared … I don’t want to ruin the ending for anyone but the twist in the end scared me to my core. I can’t even think about that movie without feeling scared … ahhhhh! Next question!!

Tell us about another vegan-owned business that you love that other people may not know about.

Well I of course love the crew at Herbivore Clothing. I’ve been long-time friends with them and they are such good people. I also love VX in London and have worked with Secret Society of Vegans for years. They did the graphics on Vegan A Go-Go and also my 2010/2011 Calendar. I LOVE the ladies at Moo Shoes and of course Food Fight, Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe, etc., etc. As for new places – there’s a new Vegan Shoe store in Victoria that just opened up called VShoen. I can’t go in there anymore because I always walk out with a pair of shoes. *laugh*