Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
76° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Holiday Gift Guide

12 Holiday Gift Options Made by North Texas Entrepreneurs

From gluten-free cookies to luxury sweaters, socks, and caftans, locally produced gift options abound in Dallas-Fort Worth.
|
Image

Home to some of the biggest retail giants, including Michaels Co., JCPenney, Tuesday Morning, Neiman Marcus, and more, North Texas provides an abundance of places to hunt for the perfect holiday gift. These retailers are stocked with the very best that the more than $635 billion U.S. consumer goods industry has to offer, and on their shelves are many products born from the minds of North Texas entrepreneurs.

In the spirit of the holidays and regional pride and to highlight the active entrepreneurial business community in Dallas-Fort Worth, here are 12 North Texas-based businesses with luxurious holiday gift options for all kinds of wish lists.

For the Outdoor Enthusiast

Nomad Grills

Yeti made the cooler a lifestyle choice, and customers are willing to pay top dollar for a statement product that’s as much about form as it is function. Dallas-based Nomad may be doing the same thing for the portable grill and smoker. The aptly named company was launched by founders Cam Leggett and John Veatch, who came up with the idea in 2016 and spent several years researching and developing the design. “It takes a minute to build anything that’s worthwhile,” Leggett says.

Nomad Grill
Nomad Grills have hardly been able to keep up with demand since their launch.

The grills are crafted with durable aircraft-grade aluminum that keeps the shell temperature low during use, meaning you can grill on the tailgate of a truck or other unconventional surfaces. It has venting that controls the heat for low and slow smoking, all while folding up like a suitcase, weighing under 30 pounds, and providing up to 425 square inches of grill space. The product gives barbecue enthusiasts a grill that maintains portability, size, and quality while letting them grill or smoke with high-quality charcoal and wood.

Leggett and Veatch focused on details that most wouldn’t even consider when thinking about a grill: honeycomb-shaped grill grates to maintain strength, a charcoal line that is sourced in Thailand and burns hotter for longer, and, for future iterations, removable rubber pieces to change the trim color. “This is not a pet project,” Leggett says. “We’ve gone deep.” Find the grills online or at Nomad’s showroom in Bishop Arts District—Will Maddox

Nomad Grill: $599


Solo Stove

When I first heard that the Solo Stove burned a nearly smokeless fire, I didn’t believe it. But after several impromptu campfires with our two pyromaniac sons, I can say that the experience is worth the upgrade. How does it work? The fire pits eliminate smoke by burning with higher heat. The company, owned by Solo Brands, has grown to 170 employees, with sales in the first six months of 2021 outpacing all of 2020, when revenue was $133 million for the fiscal year. Recently, Solo Brands opened a 430,000-square-foot headquarters in Grapevine to support growth and launched colored fire pits. “People are looking to extend their living spaces outdoors,” CEO John Merris says. “We want to create good moments that lead to lasting memories.”—Will Maddox

Yukon Fire Pit
Solo Brands, headquartered in Grapevine, produces smokeless fire pits. Chris Plavidal

Solo Stove fire pits: $90–$400


Taiga Coolers

Local entrepreneur John Hohenshelt noticed that people would slap a cheap sticker on the side of an expensive cooler. He saw an opportunity for custom-branded products, and he set to work. The former military officer and law school graduate left his family’s manufacturing business in Dallas to found Taiga Coolers in 2013. His venture lets companies of all sizes put their logos into the mold of the coolers, which can be customized to fit each brand’s color scheme. “If they’re going to spend their money on marketing their name, why would they have my [company’s] name on there?” Hohenshelt says. The veteran-owned business has attracted clients like Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, and Mossy Oak, but also sells to consumers and has a new model partially made from hemp. Taiga Coolers was growing by as much as 30 percent a year before the pandemic, and sales have already picked back up—Will Maddox

Image
Taiga Coolers feature customized labels.

Taiga Cooler: $150–$480


For the Wellness Guru

Fitish

Jenna owens named the video workouts and merchandise company she launched in 2017 after one of her favorite self-descriptors—“fit-ish.” Her goal from the start was to segue into her true passion, skincare. She pitched her idea for a post-workout line of CBD-infused skincare products to Mary Kay CEO David Holl. “I thought, ‘Where are all the post-workout sprays?’” Owens says. “Where’s the spray for my rosacea when I get red as a tomato when I work out, and then still have to go do something after?” Holl politely declined the opportunity but did provide some invaluable connections. Owens launched her first two products, a facial mist and setting spray, in 2018, and now the line is her full-time venture and sold by giants Neiman Marcus and Anthropologie. Fitish has expanded to include hair, personal care, and pet products, and doubled revenue each year since inception. “Now, it’s, ‘How do I transcend my own platform?’” Owens says. —Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

Image
Former radio host Jenna Owens launched Fitish as a post-workout skincare line.

Fitish skincare and beauty products: $5–$95


For the Fashion-Forward

Southern Scholar

Kevin Wohlman spent the better half of a year looking for the perfect fabric for a sock line he wanted to create. The former PwC accountant says he got to that point after struggling to find a dress sock that didn’t slip down his ankles throughout the day. The result? Fabrics made using special fibers and 200 needle count knitting machines—and launch of Southern Scholar in 2014. “I’ve spent the majority of my 20s relentlessly researching, testing, and re-engineering our socks,” Wohlman says. Available online, sock designs range from micro chevrons to traditional solids and stripes. Since its debut, Southern Scholar has doubled revenue year over year, even during the pandemic. Wohlman has expanded his product line to include no-show socks, ties, and pocket squares. What’s next? “Becoming a household name,” he says—D CEO Staff

Southern Scholar Socks
Courtesy of Southern Scholar
Southern Scholar Socks
Courtesy of Southern Scholar
Southern Scholar socks combine luxury fabric and fashion prints.

Southern Scholar socks: $22–$250


Valerie Garmino

Mesmerized by the silk scarves and clothes her grandmother picked up on global travels, Ecuadorean fashion designer Valerie Garmino showed an early interest in luxury fabrics. She altered her own clothes as a teen and, after studying fashion in America and Paris, launched her first collection in The City of Love in 2019. She now produces two lines a year from Dallas, the most recent of which debuts this month. “It is meant to evoke simple pleasures and moments of joy, striking the perfect balance between tradition, creativity, craftsmanship, and beauty,” Garmino says. Women artisans in Peru and Italy hand knit Garmino’s garments using sustainable, fair-trade, luxurious materials, including alpaca. She hopes to help her team achieve economic freedom through employment and mentorship. Celebrities such as Kameron Wescott and Miss Universe Andrea Meza have worn Garmino’s clothing. “Each piece has its own DNA, from the time of drawing and sketching to its completion,” she says—Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

Image
Valerie Garmino pieces incorporate sustainable, luxury, fair-trade fabrics.

Valerie Garmino sweaters: $275–$495


Finley Shirts

When the sportswear label they worked for folded in 1995, Finley Moll and Heather McNeill launched Dallas-based Finley Shirts. “The reps we worked with really wanted us to get going, and said, ‘We’ll make room for you,’” Moll says. A designer by trade, Moll created the brand’s first line and quickly realized its crisp, white dress shirts were best sellers. “That’s when we started to get some traction and evolved our style around that product line,” she says. The company designs and makes shirts and shirt dresses for Neiman Marcus and Tootsies, manufacturing its garments entirely in DFW. Finley Shirts added a third exec, Marty Washington, in 2006. The company has produced 180 designs in 2022, using many fabrics specially created for the brand. “Every shirt has a reason, and every shirt appeals to different people,” Washington says. —Suzanne Crow  

Image
Finley Shirts specializes in crisp tops and dresses produced in Dallas.

Tops from Finley Shirts: $90–$360


La Vie Style House

La Vie Style House was born from a 1960s caftan that Jamie Coulter purchased at a Long Beach swap meet, and a market gap for day-to-night dresses. Coulter moved to Dallas in 2012, after selling her Los Angeles-based accessories business, Ban.do. She met fellow stylist Lindsey McClain at a pilates class a year later, and they started making caftans for friends. They went into production as La Vie Style House in 2016. Their one-size pieces, designed to look good on all body types, caught the attention of Barney’s and have been worn by celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and January Jones. They launched their first brick-and-mortar in Highland Park Village in 2020—Bianca Montes

Image
La Vie Style House in Highland Park Village produces vibrant caftans. La Vie Style House

La Vie Style House caftans: $650–$1,250


For the Jewelry Lover:

Allie + Bess

Elevating vulcanized Heishi beads, made by Ghanaian artisans, is the million-dollar idea behind a local jewelry line launched by Allie Wardlaw (former occupational therapist) and Bess Callarman (former speech pathologist). Its success, though, is grounded in the duo’s unconventional choice to not focus on influencers but turn the lens on themselves. “An influencer will take a product and morph their story to promote that product. What we’re doing is a little different—we have a product, and we are taking our story to create that narrative of what our product is,” Callarman says.

The approach has paid off. During the height of the pandemic, Allie+Bess went from a $100 investment to more than $1 million in sales. The brand has expanded its product line beyond its signature colorful, stackable bracelets to include earrings and a Coke tab-inspired necklace. “It symbolizes celebration, happiness, and good times,” Callarman says. She and Wardlaw aim to expand their direct-to-consumer brand to the Midwest and West Coast markets this year—Bianca Montes

Image
Image
Alli + Bess bracelets are stackable.

Allie + Bess bracelets: $33–$145


Tracee Nichols Jewelry

Working the display case at the thrift store at her grandmother’s church, Tracee Nichols began collecting vintage jewelry as a kid. “I just became obsessed with gems, jewelry, and diamonds,” she recalls of her younger self buying costume pieces. She graduated to more valuable baubles while working at her aunt’s antique dealership. Friends began saying they would buy pieces from the collection with small tweaks. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to start making pieces,’” Nichols recalls. Drawing on her background in architecture and design, she created her first necklace, The Roman, in 2013 in Los Angeles. “It’s from the early 1700s, where people would rub a coin and engrave a message,” she says. Nichols’ line has expanded to include token necklaces, earrings, men’s items, and more, and her pieces have been worn by celebrities such as Taylor Swift and John Travolta. She moved her majority e-commerce company to Dallas in January 2020 and says she soon hopes to become a local name, expand into local boutiques, and focus more on custom collaborations—Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

Image
Image
Tracee Nichols Jewlery has been worn by a handful of celebrities.

Tracee Nichols Jewelry: $375–$5,800


For the Foodie

Meli’s Cookies

Former gemologist Melissa Blue received a Monster cookie recipe and a Bosch mixer as a wedding gift from her mother-in-law. While mixing it up, she realized it didn’t contain wheat or flour: it was oat-based. “That was kind of the aha light!” she says. “This is a great cookie, and it is gluten-free.” Blue knew there was demand as her niece struggled to find foods she could enjoy with a gluten intolerance, so she called her friend, Melissa Mehall, who was an attorney at Holland & Knight. In 2013, Blue left her job and launched Meli’s Cookies—a line of frozen, pre-mixed treats—alongside Mehall, who came on full-time in 2019. Now, Meli’s has grown to include five baking mixes and four kinds of ready-made mini cookies sold in more than 8,000 Kroger, Central Market, Target, and Walmart stores. Earlier this year, it expanded into Albertson’s nationwide. Next up? “Our goal is to lean into brick and mortar stores we are already in nationwide and their online platforms,” Blue says—Kelsey J. Vanderschoot

Image
Meli's Cookies are gluten free and use oats as a base.

Meli’s Cookies mixes and snacks: $6–$27


Rose Gold Rosé

Casey Barber jokes that she is the single mother of four children—a daughter, two sons, and Rose Gold Rosé. The former nurse practitioner had no experience when she launched her wine label in 2018, but that didn’t stop her from turning an infatuation with Provence rosé into her crisp fourth child. Barber tapped a French winemaker to produce Rose Gold Rosé, the grapes for which are grown about 50 miles northwest of Saint-Tropez.

Within its first 180 days, she was out of inventory. The wine can be found in H-E-B, Tom Thumb, and other stores, and on the menu at Sixty Vines, Al Biernat’s, and more. Barber is proud of her venture, and says her biggest takeaway is that you can reinvent yourself at any age. “I love that I’ve created this product that brings people joy and brings them together,” she says. “That’s something I never knew that I could feel”—D CEO Staff

Image
Rose Gold Rosé is on more than 230 wine lists in Texas. Courtesy of Rose Gold Rosé

Rose Gold Rosé: $20 per bottle

Author

D CEO Staff

D CEO Staff

View Profile
Advertisement