One of our previous themes, Windrush, led to us thinking about family ties and the deep and enduring importance of our mothers to our sense of home and place. So when it comes to thinking of gifts for our mum’s birthdays, it felt fitting to celebrate Caribbean and Windrush descendant female-owned businesses. From fun greeting cards to unusual plants and exciting book box subscriptions to cool ceramics, be inspired with our unique gift ideas for mum that will put a smile on her face this birthday and support Britain’s Caribbean business communities too.
Tihara Smith is based in South London, where she was studying design, and for her Graduate Collection worked on a series based on her grandparents’ experience of arriving in the UK in the 1950s and 60s. At the same time, she became fascinated by a photo exhibition that examined the Caribbean and West Africa diaspora in 1960s and 70s London. Her designs showed not only the settling experience – ‘You called, We came’, but what was left behind in the Caribbean: its nature, traditions and crafts. These two threads intertwined are still with her, as she designs fab and colourful fashion, accessories and lifestyle pieces. Above is an example of her wonderful cards to go with your gifts for mum’s birthday.
Gynelle Lyon was raised between England and her parents’ birthplace in St. Lucia. Going back and forth between the two gives her a grounding sense of where she’s from. She described the experience of her grandmother returning to St. Kitts to stay, knowing there she would never be told to ‘Go Home’, as the Windrush generation so often were . When she opened her shop, Prick London, she became a beacon of change and hope: “young, Black and happy”, adding vital diversity to the world of horticulture.
Prick London is the only boutique shop in the UK dedicated to succulents and cacti. Gynelle sees them as “living sculptures” taking years to develop into their mature selves, and needing little help from us, so “well-suited to modern city living”. She believes interacting with nature is vital for mental peace, and even the smallest living space has room for a tiny cactus – we can all bring nature inside. Prick also created a stunning range of pots of various sizes to go with each plant, complementing any décor. The plant shown is a Sedum mackinoi ‘kosmosi’, also known as a Sedum Tornado, unusual and beautiful – and is ideal for a gift for mum’s birthday.
Yard and Parish
Yard and Parish are two Caribbean cousins dedicated to celebrating the ‘Island’ girl lifestyle, showing their heritage and the diaspora as innovative, luxurious and uplifting for their communities. The brands they stock are all Black-owned, and many of the products are extra good on Black skin, and curly and afro hair. All brands they choose to stock are sustainable. Each brand curated by them has its own story and traditions – their business is a gateway to new experiences of beauty and calm. Pictured above is their Mum Bub Hub package, a must-have for gift ideas for mum’s birthday.
In the 1950s Sharron Jenkins’ parents left Dominica for the UK, becoming part of the Windrush generation. Sharron didn’t get to see the beauty of Dominica until she was nine, when it burst on her consciousness as an explosion of sights, colours and fruit lushly growing everywhere on the island, to be picked and eaten as you went past. Later, this memory still vivid, Sharron opened a business championing the natural beauty she loved and pairing it with the rich tropical scents, and warm fragrant spices of Dominica, to be used as an act of soothing remembrance and momentary escape to the Caribbean. She specialises in vegan and organic tropical skincare and bath products, as well as evocative soy candles. Pictured above are 2 x 120ml soy wax essential oil candles – Caribbean Sunset (ginger, orange and patchouli), and Calypso Coconut (coconut, lemon and vanilla). This gift idea for mum’s birthday pairs perfectly with the bath products from Kalabash or Yard and Parish.
Naked Clay Ceramics
Carla Sealey grew up a very practical girl: in South London her Caribbean parents taught her to sew clothes, crotchet and have a good eye for aesthetics, thanks to her dad’s gift of a camera. It wasn’t so much craft, as something needful and functional. Her first clay foray was a round-bellied terracotta policeman, made at school. The love of clay as naked and unglazed came later. After several degrees and varied jobs, she originally began showing and selling her ceramics in galleries and at craft fairs, but the advent of Instagram was a real catalyst to growing her business. After Black Lives Matter began to hit the headlines, her click traffic and followers increased hugely. Whilst it was good for business, its cause was deeply troubling. However, her products now sell out faster than she can make them, so you’ll need to be quick to snap up as any gift ideas for mum’s birthday. To see what new pieces she is producing, her Insta feed is full of news:
To see the shop’s site, see below, with new pieces added all the time!
Heady Mix Quarterly Mix
The Windrush Generation was an inspiring and needful theme for us to curate a book subscription box at Heady Mix. Founder, Justina Cruickshank, admits that this was a difficult theme to curate for several reasons, with global and domestic events becoming pivotal in its development: the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the sparking of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the US; over here in the UK, Brexit ground on, with the lives of 3 million UK based EU citizens suddenly stripped of their rights; and The Windrush Scandal continued too, with the handling of compensation not adequately and quickly forthcoming. All events, harmful and unavoidable; shattering a sense of belonging. Who could be next?
As 2021 continues, it’s clear we still have to fight for BLM and racial equality, as injustice continues daily. For Windrush, we delved into the themes of the fragility of belonging, but we also spotlight the hope brought to the UK by the Windrush generation and their descendants who have contributed so much. The Windrush collection exhibits powerful and beautiful writing about the Caribbean and stories of its diaspora. As gift ideas for mum’s birthday go, this one packs a punch.
Windrush sold out so is unfortunately no longer available. However, Heady Mix does have books by fantastic female Caribbean writers in its diverse bookstore.
Last but not least is AFFANDJAM. They are an ethically conscious Jamaican Ghanaian co-owned partnership of female artists designing upcycled clothing. They value ease of wear, love of music, arts and feminity as the touchstones of their aesthetic. Their heritage inspires each individually printed one-off piece, with all fabrics sourced from local fairtrade suppliers. Their packaging is 100% plastics free and recyclable, so this gift for mum will be as virtuous as it is useful and beautiful. The photo shows their Satin Dream pyjamas – perfect for mum to relax in on her special day.
We hope these ideas give you some inspiration for treating your mum – she deserves it! And if you’re still looking for ideas, check out our list of gifts for feminists.
Cover image: Prick London.