Shop, shop, shop!  The holiday shopping season is off to a strong start. This year’s Black Friday set records: more than three billion dollars were spent, with more than 1 billion dollars of that coming from mobile devices alone, says Adobe. It’s the highest amount ever. What are y’all buying, and what are you getting me?!

We haven’t hit the absolute peak of the shopping season quite yet (the Saturday before Christmas is always a biggie), and before we do, consider this: rather than turning to the usual national retailers for your holiday shopping this year, with their crazy discounts and loud promotions, consider shopping from your friends first.

Yes! The ones you may tend to overlook in your newsfeed, but sort of remember are out there. Ask them to remind you what they do, and let’s take the opportunity here during the holiday season to support and celebrate our friends who are makers.

As first identified three years ago, the “Maker Movement” is in full effect. There are approximately 135 million makers out there among us; individuals and small businesses who bring one-of-a-kind crafts, jewelry, clothing, baked goods and decor to the masses and pump more than $29 billion into our economy (says the master maker herself, Martha Stewart).

We know that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and, especially in trying times (hint, hint, NOW), they can help us remember what’s so great about our country in the first place.

I took a minute myself last week to ask my friends to remind me which of them had small businesses, and it was great to see.

Kyle Collins On Your Grind
Images: Four Eyed Girl (Etsy), Tiffany’s Atelier (Etsy)

There’s my friend from college, Ashley, who’s now in Memphis, making custom clothing in fun prints

Look at these gorgeous paper sculptures by my friend, Tiffany! 

Kyle Collins On Your Grind
Images: Beautycounter, Paparazzi, Thirty-One Gifts

Plus, a couple of friends (Kirsten and Kim) who go the direct selling route (a great way to augment your income) for companies like Paparazzi and Beautycounter.

Carolyn works with Thirty-One Gifts; their products are stylish, fun and functional. (I literally carry a bag of theirs, a genius tote/backpack combo I got last year, around with me everyday of my life.) And you can personalize them!

Kyle Collins On Your Grind

Also! Think outside of your immediate circle to the writers and bloggers you read (probably for free) every day. Do any of them have businesses you can support? (For me, it’s Jordan Reid’s Glam Camp. I think about this Adulting sweatshirt often.)

And! Here’s a handy dandy list of maker markets and pop-ups you can get into in the NYC area. The Brooklyn Makers Market is a must-do, and it’s coming up 12/17 and 12/18. Although you may not know them personally, the story here is that you’ll be getting a unique and wonderful item and supporting a local business owner/maker at the same time. Total win-win.

Take a moment to think outside of the big chain retailer box, and you, too, may find a whole new world of goodies that you can gift and makers that you can help support, as they’re on their grind.

Tell us your faves! What local businesses and makers are you loving? Email, and we’ll share them all month on social media:

@KyleCollins on Twitter

@KyleInterviews on Instagram