By Nina Huang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
As we head into gift-giving season, here are some ideas from local Asian-owned businesses to help you kickstart your holiday shopping.
Something shiny and bright
Family- and Asian-owned Boma Jewelry features several collections that would make beautiful gifts this holiday season, including the Asian-inspired Treasured Collection.
Started in Seattle by CEO Suzanne Vetillart’s Thai father in 1981, Boma Jewelry started as a mostly manufacturing and wholesale business, but recently started retail in the last six years.
For the first time, Vetillart said that they started telling their story through the Treasured Collection. She wanted to make something that would make her family proud.
Passionate about sustainability, Boma Jewelry is a B Corp certified company.
“It’s one thing to say we’re sustainable, but it’s another thing to have a third party affirm that we do the things we say we’re doing,” she added.
Vetillart said that they also have several nature and outdoor-themed gifts that folks in the Pacific Northwest are particularly fond of.
In addition, her daughters requested some fun food-inspired earrings like boba, ramen, and sushi studs that would make perfect stocking stuffers.
“Boma is a story of family. I work with a lot of people that I’ve known since I was little, people who have seen me grow up, and now that I have four kids, there’s a quality of seeing company through the generations. That’s something that’s strong in the Asian community,” Vetillart said.
Located in Georgetown off the beaten path is Crystallography Gems, a magical showroom filled with one of the largest selections of crystals in the Pacific Northwest. With a diverse and eclectic selection ranging from $1 to thousands of dollars, there is something for everyone.
“Depending on where people are with budget and experience, whether you’re looking for a collector piece, home decor, or a pouch of healing crystals for a specific purpose, we help with pretty much any of that,” owner Michelle Ferris shared.
Ferris said their staff members are well trained and can help pick out gifts for people.
Labradorite is great for beginners and seasoned collectors alike, with its flashy and eye-catching appearance which is said to bring protection and inspire joy.
Ferris said another beginner stone is citrine, which is yellow and a good winter gift for people with seasonal affective disorder. It’s also known broadly for being one of the best manifestation tools around.
In addition, they carry small, large, rare collectors minerals, carved, polished, meteorites and tektites (including the much-sought after Moldavite), raw crystals, and jewelry, along with a diverse selection of other metaphysical tools like tarot cards and singing bowls.
KOBO Seattle, an artisan gallery featuring Japanese and Northwest fine crafts, has been open since 1995. Website manager Jesi Asagi said the lovely thing about KOBO is that there’s something for everyone. From functional gifts like house wares to fun toys and trinkets, you never know what you’re going to find.
Asagi said that shop owners Binko Chiong-Bisbee and John Bisbee do a great job of curating the selection.
“That’s the fun in exploring the shop. You’ll discover things you don’t see at other places,” she added.
Popular gift items include oil paintings on wood by local artist Rob Vetter, wood carvings by Japanese artist Atsushi Tanaka, as well as Karhu calendars that feature an adage or saying in both Japanese and English with beautiful illustrations.
Brittani Saephanh, who runs an online pastry business, Baked by B, shared that some of her most popular items are the ube crinkle cookie, coconut mochi cup, and ube cinnamon roll.
“The ube cookie has a cakey and fluffy like texture. The mochi cup is chewy but oddly addicting with the crunchy coconut.”
By popular demand, Saephanh is bringing back her pumpkin cheesecake for the holidays. She described it as a personal size cheesecake topped with cinnamon whipped cream and crushed pecans.
She also created a new mochi cup flavor for this season: black sesame.
Her own favorites include the BTCH cookie which is a twist on the chocolate chip, with hints of toffee, chocolate chips, and hazelnuts. She also loves the coffee cake muffin that’s glazed with Vietnamese coffee and drizzled with condensed milk.
Those with a sweet tooth can order from her website: bakedbyb.myshopify.com.
Jeannie Liu, owner of Miro Tea located in Ballard, shared that a lot of people gravitate towards herbal teas this time of year.
“Peppermint and ginger are helpful ingredients and appropriate for the winter season,” she said.
People like to create care packages or gift baskets with a wellness theme in mind. Liu also added that some people like to give thoughtful gifts that are edible, drinkable, and aim to improve someone’s lifestyle and won’t take up more space.
“Tea is very much in line with that. Everyone knows someone who is a tea lover and it’s fun to give tea drinkers teas to help them fill that collection,” she said.
This time of year, Liu appreciates a roasted oolong tea that’s nutty and comforting.
A lot of people are into matcha now, too, and matcha whisks with a bag of matcha are nice gifts to help them set up tea practice at home.
Located in Ballard, Lucky Envelope Brewing’s brewing philosophy is centered around “culturally inspired beer.” Inspired by fond memories during Chinese New Year celebrations, co-founders Barry Chan and Raymond Kwan named their brewery after the lucky money. The brewery infuses both traditional and non-traditional ingredients into their beers.
This holiday season, they feature an Asian-inspired Buddha’s Hand Citron IPA that has fragrant and intense flavors reminiscent of fresh cut lemon and crushed lemon candies, as well as a festive Gingerbread Cream Stout (most recent one) with gingerbread spices, vanilla, lactose, and real blackstrap molasses.
Kwan leans towards the barrel-aged porters during the cold weather months, and one of his favorites is the Double Happiness barrel-aged porter stout.
Chan gravitates towards lighter beers such as lagers.
“During the holidays, we’re celebrating for extended periods of times with family and friends, our lagers are beers that you can drink throughout the day at a family gathering and they won’t set you overboard,” he said.
Every Lunar New Year, they also release a new beer. In the past, they’ve offered beers like Li Hing Mui Sour Ale and Pandan Double Happiness Imperial Porter. For their annual collaboration this coming holiday, they are partnering with Highland Brewing (the oldest craft brewery in North Carolina and Asian-owned) to release a water rabbit yuzu pilsner. Chan anticipates it will be a very popular one.
In addition, they will also be partnering with Ladd and Lass Brewery in the University District to release a new recipe for a milk stout with the iconic white rabbit creamy candies.
These will be released throughout the week between Jan. 21 and Jan. 28, 2023.
Akiko Waters, owner of The Cura Co., a one-stop shop for conscious living, has a beautiful collection of ethically sourced cashmere socks and beanies by Joyride Supply that make the nicest gifts. She said that they’re very popular.
Waters is also on the board of directors of local nonprofit Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI). Through their partnership, her store sells vintage silk scarves and scrunchies handmade by the refugee women of RAI.
For stocking stuffer ideas, Waters recommends Cura candles that are made by refugee women on the East Coast, as well as lip balm by the Rose Company.
There are two Cura Co. locations, one in the Central District and the newest in Queen Anne.
Linda Takano, owner of candle shop LULUMIÈRE in the University District, shared that the Northwest candle is a great gift for those who have moved away.
“Everyone says it smells like Seattle and it’s a little bit of home. It’s like bringing the outdoors inside,” she said.
In addition, shower steamers are also pretty popular.
Takano saw a lot of bath bombs, but didn’t think it was practical, so she created shower steamers. They are great for those who take showers and need a moment of calm or relaxation, even just for 10 minutes.
“They’re also great for people who have just had surgery or are new parents. It’s more for everybody than a bath bomb, it’s more accessible,” she said.
Takano has been making candles for almost a decade. She’s slowly grown her business and she wanted to have a central space in the Seattle area where people can go and sniff candles in person. People can also bring in any old candle containers or jars to refill with a new scented candle of their choice.
“To me, that’s earth- and wallet-friendly,” she added.
Nina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.