11 giftworthy artist-direct companies to knock their socks off
The season of giving is upon us and gift shopping for the holidays is in full swing!
At press time, there are 20 days until Christmas. So the clock is ticking down. Can you hear it? Because I sure can.
This season I’ve decided to buy my families gifts from small Navajo or Native American businesses over non-Native corporations. So I decided to create a list of companies that you on and off the reservation can buy from.
I also wanted this list to go beyond companies that are household names in Indian Country, like B. Yellowtail, Urban Native Era, OxDx and NTVS Clothing to name a few.
While these companies are Native-owned and create amazing products I love, they have a larger platform and audience than the companies I chose to feature.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and are important to creating a thriving community. Small businesses are especially important for local economies.
- Shi Jei
If a loved one is into showing their culture and Navajo pride, try out Shi Jei owned by Courtney Nez-Gambler. Her T-shirt company is all about showing the beauty and strength of the Navajo people. Her shirts have cute sayings on them like “Sorta Classy, Sorta Rezzy” and “The early bird gets the warmest breakfast burrito.” Others say “Diné Strong,” “Sheepherder,” Self Care, Sage, Sisterhood” and “In the process of healing.” Her shirts go from XS to 3XL and come in a variety of colors. She also has a men’s T-shirt collection and a children’s collection. So, the whole family is covered! Her website is shijei.com.
- Crystal Daghaaii
Crystal Dugi (she uses the correct Navajo spelling for her company name) is an artist based in Tuba City. Her artwork is very bright, colorful and energetic. The colors she mostly creates in? Neon pink, neon green, neon yellow, basically all neon colors. Her art focuses on Navajo women wearing their traditional clothing. Dugi is a painter and her work is very contemporary. In some of her work, Navajo women are depicted as ballerinas, doing yoga and even welding. Dugi’s artwork can be put on coffee cups, phone cases, bed comforters, stickers, pillows and so much more! Her items can be purchased at redbubble.com/people/crystaldugi
- Kreations By Kris
Do you have a VSCO girl, sksksksk, in the family? Well, look no further than Kreations by Kris who sells saani scarf scrunchies. (If you don’t know what either VSCO or sksksksk mean, and you want to feel really old, look them up.) She also sells headbands, cross body bags and skirts all made or decorated using a saani scarf. Her small business is located in Tuba City but she does have a website where people can order. Her website is kreations-by-kris.com. Her scrunchies come in six different colors. Her skirts come in eight different colors. The purses come in 10 colors and the headbands have 25 color options. There are so many color options, it’ll be easy to pick one for a family member.
- Jewelry By Ednei
Ednei Yabeny is a young silversmith but his talent goes well beyond his age. He specializes in Navajo cluster-style jewelry. The jewelry Yabeny makes is fun, stylish and beautiful. They are definitely statement pieces that any turquoise wearer would appreciate. His jewelry is reminiscent of vintage Navajo jewelry but with a fun, modern twist. There is a youthfulness to his work that makes it unique. As of Monday, Yabeny had six pieces up for sale, five rings and one bracelet. He works with Kingman and Sleeping Beauty turquoise, spiny oyster, coral stones and sterling silver. His pieces have a more soft and cute look to them. Look for jewelrybyednei on etsy.com.
- Natan Jewelry
If you’re in the market for tufa cast jewelry, look no further than Natan Jewelry made by Navajo silversmith, Gabriel Natan. Natan creates everything from bracelets, earrings and pendants to bow guards. His pieces are made in the tufa cast style with his own unique flair. His work also plays on vintage style Navajo jewelry while also bringing them into this century. They definitely have a more masculine look to them. The pieces are absolutely beautiful and the silverwork is top-notch. He can be found on Instagram, @natan_jewelry.
- Simplyy Hooked
Crocheter and creator Nichole Sinohui is known for her crocheted scrunchies. They’re made with velvet yarn which gives them a glistening look. The scrunchies are super soft and will hold a pony tail well. Don’t worry if your giftee has thick hair, it will still hold a messy bun. Sinohui also makes crocheted baby blankets, throws and beanies. Her cutest beanies feature a faux fur pom pom at the top. She also has his and her camo beanies for couples who like to match a little. Sinohui has also gotten into the art of macrame. Currently on her website she has macrame feather key chains which adds a nice splash of color to a purse or set of keys. In the past, she’s also created macrame earrings that were a must have. Her website is www.etsy.com/shop/SimplyyHooked3.
- Endemik Exchange
This T-shirt company can be found every Saturday at the Gallup Flea Market if one is wanting to see the items in person. The company makes apparel with Native designs on them. Some items feature the image of Geronimo or Chief Manuelito. I’ve bought multiple shirts from this company and I really like them. The colors and design are what drew me to this brand. It has T-shirts, basketball shorts and jackets. The company has a more masculine vibe to their pieces but can surely be enjoyed by folks of all gender identities. It’s most iconic pieces are printed on black T-shirts with bright blue and neon green Native designs behind iconic Native American leaders. The T-shirt designs are so unique and have powerful messages behind them. The designs are definitely created to instill a sense of pride in being Native American. This apparel comes in all different sizes. Their website is endemikexchange.com.
- Salty Black Sheep Creations
Salty Black Sheep Creations is a sticker and card company. It’s best known for creating an iconic iridescent Navajo basket design created as a sticker. It can be put on reusable Starbucks cups and tumblers. Using the same iridescent colors, the company also created stickers that have people’s names as well as the favorite Navajo saying, “Yáadiláh.” The company also has shirts with the same saying with an illustration of a person rolling their eyes. The company can be contacted on Instagram, @saltyblacksheepcreations. I’ve been eyeing this brand for awhile and can’t wait to see what they come out with next.
- Hozho Life
The artist creates adorable illustrations of Navajo people. In some a woman is watering her plants and in others there’s a battle with lightsabers going on. The people are faceless which leaves viewers with the ability to place themselves in a scene. The illustrations have also been placed on T-shirts but most of their work is on paper. These pieces would look great framed and placed at home or work. The art brings smiles to my face and they also make me laugh. The pieces are super light and happy. The artist can be contacted on Instagram, @hozho_life.
- Yiiyah Man
Duhon James is a printmaker and he creates his pieces from a block of linoleum that he carves himself. Each of his prints are signed and some are even numbered. I, myself, have one of his “She Keeps Life Growing” tote bags. I also have one of his Woshdee UFO T-shirts. I really enjoy the scenes James creates. They’re funny and also serious. James has a unique ability to make me auntie laugh and also make me think about the deeper meaning of his work. I like his work because they often feature UFOs. My family is quirky and we love documentaries and shows about aliens and UFOs. DuhonJames on etsy.com.
- Ateed Designs
This small business sells all handmade purses, coin purses and traditional outfits. From design to the finished product all the items are made from scratch. The bags come in all sizes from tote bags to card holders. These purses and wallets would be beloved by anyone who uses a purse or wallet. They add a little pop of color and Indigenous flair to any outfit. Some purses use fabric with a Southwest landscape and others have a camo print on them. The purses are mostly black with a splash of design on the front. They can be contacted on Instagram, @ateeddesigns.