Top, L–R: Lev Apparel, Hey Sugar Snap, Perfect Imperfections 608, The Mad Makery and Lazy Suzen. Bottom, L–R: Revel, local restauranteurs and CocoVaa Chocolatier.
Well, it’s the first Valentine’s Day we can say that’s happened during a pandemic in our lifetimes — but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be special. Especially when we have so many brilliant Black- and female-owned businesses in Madison that we can buy gifts from and support to make the day celebratory. Here are some to check out.
Perfect Imperfections 608
We’re big fans of Jasmine Banks’ natural body care product business — especially since she was one of our 2021 Women to Watch! (Read her profile here). After her mother passed away from cancer, Banks started looking at the ingredient lists of the body care products she was using — and it concerned her. It motivated her to make her own natural body care products, and she founded the business in 2016. Her line consists of body butters, lip balms, soy candles, body oils, soaps and more.
“The choice of ingredients [I use] stems from the natural health benefits that they provide. For example, the calming effect of lavender, or cocoa butter is high in fatty acids and known to hydrate and nourish our skin,” she explains.
Exclusively for Valentine’s Day, order the box pairing her Chocolate Covered Strawberry candle with the Rose Body Oil for $40 to feel pampered. perfectimperfections608.org
Started by friends Erin Tomlinson and Tiffany Golden who want to help friends and clients “impress others with artisan cheese and curated meat mastery,” Lazy Suzen’s curated boxes are beautifully arranged and make for a fun surprise for a friend or loved one.
Try their Candy Crush box ($20) filled with sprinkle-dipped marshmallows, chocolate-covered pretzels, conversation hearts, chocolate hearts and more. For a savory treat order their Brie My Valentine box ($20) with Brie, raspberries, walnuts and honey. The Be Mine Cheeseboard ($35 or $60) has all of the fixings such as several types of cheeses, plus sweets too. Boxes need to be ordered 5-7 days in advance and can be delivered for $5 in the Madison area. (They can also arrange for pickup/delivery outside of Madison.) facebook.com/lazysuzen, linktr.ee/Lazy_suzen
We’ve written about Lev Apparel’s amazing mission before, and this fair-trade clothing line “creates job opportunities for at-risk women living in the slums of New Delhi.” Their line consists of lovely, timeless pieces such as T-shirts, skirts and blazers that will become staple pieces for years to come.
A newer addition is the slinky herringbone Elevate Necklace ($48), named because “each purchase helps exploited women and girls in Asia experience freedom, establish independence and develop careers. This is why we have named her the Elevate Necklace,” the website reads. We love the look — and the cause — even more. levapparel.com
Hey Sugar Snap
There’s nothing better than a mother-daughter duo behind a business. Photographer Marla Bergh and her daughter Layla run Hey Sugar Snap, a company that makes photo-related crafts for purchase. Their limited edition Valentine’s Day Crate ($32) is adorable and contains tons of cute surprises for a kid or adult. Think: the company’s DIY frame kit, candies, stickers and novelty Valentine’s items, like heart-shaped sunglasses. sugarsnapmail.com
Syovata Edari, another one of our past Women to Watch, owns CocoVaa Chocolatier. The trial-lawyer-turned-chocolatier earned her master chocolatier training in France and Italy, and flavors such as coconut lemongrass, smokey pine caramel and Persian saffron add to the allure of her sweet business. For Valentine’s Day we suggest her Roseberry flavored chocolates, which are “caramelized raspberry purée infused with rose water, encased in 68% dark chocolate.” Currently, her storefront is open for weekend pickup only, and orders can be placed online. cocovaa.com
Revel and Mad Makery Craft Kits
With so much at-home time on our hands, creative pursuits have become much more popular. Enter craft kits from Revel and The Mad Makery, which are fun ways to pass the time, or even host a Zoom sesh with a friend while you make your crafts together and chat! Revel offers wall art, jewelry and décor, and The Mad Makery has projects that add minimalist chic to your décor, like a simple sunburst or rope coasters. revelmadison.square.site/craft-kits, themadmakery.com/shop/kits/12
Restaurant Gift Cards
Restaurants continue to forge ahead during the pandemic — but it’s tough when business is down, because the majority of their business is takeout-only. So help support our female restaurateurs by purchasing gift cards or ordering a Valentine’s Day takeout meal! We have some great suggestions of where to go, from our “Head of the Table” article, featuring Francesca Hong (Morris Ramen), Jamie Hoang (Ahan), Marissa Holmes (Marie’s), Joslyn Mink (Settle Down Tavern), Virginie Ok (La Kitchenette), Julie Przybylski (Nook) and Tami Lax (Harvest).