UK Artisans Host Gift Exchange to Support Colorful Community

When you love what you do, you bring out the best in yourself. And by putting your best self forward and standing out from the crowd, you can inspire the world. Throw in a spark of creativity, a splash of color, a whole lot of Girl Power, and the world will listen.

Colorful. Bold. Playful. Driven.

love inspires our best work
Love inspires our best work. | Image courtesy Amy Tangerine

Each and every day, independent artists, makers and designers learn to cast aside inner doubt and insecurities to bring their cutting edge style and ideas to the global community. They take pride in the niche they create for themselves. And an era of the e-commerce meets buy-local movement, it is becoming easier and more efficient to connect with not only potential customers, but with each other.

Though they may be driven by a lifelong passion, small business owners learn early on that it takes dedication, devotion and very high level of commitment to succeed. In fact, according to the UK-based National Federation of Self-Employed & Small Business Limited:

In 2018 there were 1.4 million employing businesses and 4.3 million non-employing businesses. Therefore, 75% of businesses did not employ anyone aside from the owner(s).

Statistics aside, becoming a successful indie artist means hard work, no matter what the occasion. And in the case of one group of UK-based artisans, it’s all about community rather than competition.

Creative Minds Connecting

“Creativity is a powerful tool for individuals to create change for themselves and their communities.” — Jennifer McGlone, Owner, Braw Wee Emporium (Glasgow, Scotland)

Being an indie artist does come with its share of challenges — one of which is working remotely (and, of course, independently) — without the connection and buzz of working in a lively office environment. Having a like-minded cheerleader by your side can be quite encouraging!

highland cow pin
Scottish-inspired art | Image courtesy Bonnie Bling

“I have a laser cut jewellery business creating unique pieces inspired by Scotland and the world around me,” explains Mhairi Mackenzie, a modern Scottish maker and owner of Bonnie Bling. “It can get kinda lonely running your own business, so I have a great deal of fun on social media, sharing the ups and downs with other indie businesses.”

“I have loads of brilliant followers on Instagram, many of whom are makers like me and we like to share our tales with one another,” she says. “I am also part of another UK-wide group called The Indie Rollercoaster run by Leona of Lucky Dip Club. This has been an inspiring place to meet others, to learn and find out about different ways of making your business work for you. Overall we are a pretty amazing community filled with colour, creativity and real hard work.”

In the world of social media, The Indie Rollercoaster serves as “a supportive community for creative independent [UK-based] business owners to share information, experience and cheerlead one another.”

As they say — sometimes it takes a village!

A Gift Exchange to Bring Together Like-Minded Hearts

floral gift
Colorful expression – from one Indie Artist to another. | Image courtesy Mhairi Mackenzie

“As Christmas passed us by in a flurry of orders — it’s our busiest time of year — I decided to reach out to my internet pals and see if anyone would like to join in a celebration of Indie Business in time for Valentine’s Day,” Mhairi explains. “I gave it the name #myindievalentine and after a recommendation from one of the others, I decided to set it up via Elfster.”

Though their medium may be diverse — a jewellery maker, a needlepoint creator, a watercolor artist, a feminist stationery printer, an animal illustrator, and a Scottish-inspired cardmaker to name a few — participants in this gift exchange spread joy and love and a piece of their own heart.

“I decided after everyone’s hard work over the busy season, it would be really nice if we could all just share a little bit of what we do with each other, to help get to know each other a little bit better,” she adds. “After sending out so many orders to other people, a bit of happy mail would be well received! Seeing the posts starting to pop up on Valentine’s Day was so exciting as I realized IT WAS HAPPENING!”

jewellery artist
Handmade and from the heart | Image courtesy @pulpstichin

“Everyone was so kind with their gifts and I have had some lovely messages from participants who can’t wait to do it again next year!”

For Mhairi, getting to see each other’s work and to gift something from one indie business to one another has been really special. “I’m a great believer in helping each other out and supporting other small business so this was just the perfect match.”

“Each package I’ve seen was just so perfect!” she adds. “Lovely packaging, little indie valentine messages and cards and so many brilliant gift ideas! What a talented bunch of people they all are.”

“We all loved it!” Mhairi admits. “I can’t wait to do it all again next year and make it even bigger.”

Looking for a great way to spread a little generosity in your own colorful community? Organize a free, online Secret Santa-style gift exchange with Elfster. It just takes minutes! Want to connect with the elves at Elfster? You can reach us via Facebook, Tweet us @Elfster, or catch us on Instagram at @Elfster.

Keep Going Necklace image: Little Pig Jewellery Design

About Meghan L 212 Articles
Meghan L has been elfing it since she joined the team in 2009. She enjoys coordinating exchanges, talking to organizers, and all things Christmas. Join her for an eggnog latte anytime at