Curated by Heidi Nast, Carrie Brophy, Stephanie Alger and Alice Thorson

Whitney Manney Fashions

from the artist

Whether she’s doing an exhibit, a runway show or posting on Instagram, Kansas City designer Whitney Manney lights it up with her creative approach to fabric and fashion. For girl gifts, we love her vibrant patterned tote bags and clutches and her cool, drippy earrings. The 2012 alum of the Kansas City Art Institute is a whiz with color; she also moves easily between geometric designs, as seen in her 12” x 8” Printcess Zipper Clutch, and organic motifs, captured in miniature in her Mini Drip Acrylic and Enamel Earrings. Shop ’til you drop at — Alice Thorson

Prices: Zipper Clutch, $25; Mini Drip Acrylic and Enamel Earrings, $18

from the artist

Lindsey Owen Custom Jewelry

Who wouldn’t want a kiln-fired enamel cuff in luminous hues? The custom-fitted bracelets are the specialty of Dallas-based artist Lindsey Owen Leath, who learned jewelry design and silversmithing at the University of Kansas before founding Lindsey Owen Custom Jewelry and embarking on a career as an independent enamelist/jewelry maker. “I’ve homed in on achieving pure opaque and transparent colors,” Leath says, in “color schemes with stormy, oceanic depth paired with galactic bursts of warm, bright nebula-like formations in glossy and matte textures.” She forms each copper or fine silver piece by hand, using metal hand saws and hammers, then sifts vitreous enamel color over each piece before kiln firing it. Leith guarantees a comfortable fit and offers new clients a personal wrist fitting kit with no charge for shipping. To purchase, contact or visit — Heidi Nast

Prices: $200 to $300 and up

from the artist

Jamie Gray: Half Moon jewelry

Jamie Gray’s jewelry is a staple of Kemper Museum Shop. This year, her Half Moon Marbled Necklaces caught our eye. Simple and elegant, they come in colors to coordinate with any outfit, and the unique hand-marbled patterns reflect her background as an abstract painter. The shop also carries Gray’s Marbled Half Moon Earrings. She will be present at the museum for a group pop-up Dec. 14. — Carrie Brophy

Prices: Necklace, $42; Earrings, $30

Momoko Usami: Ceramics

photo by Tracy Qjx

She’s everywhere. Momoko Usami has a devoted following on Etsy, and her charming figurines and uniquely embellished cups can also be found at Belger Craneyard and Kemper Museum Shop. Most fun at Kemper are her chubby reclining figures with an arm that moves to reveal a hole that can hold a little plant. Kemper and Belger both carry Usami’s ceramic “Slide Boxes,” adorned with amusing illustrations. The artist also has a great line of unusual ceramic earrings. She will be present at the museum for a solo pop-up event Nov. 23 and for a group pop-up Dec. 14. — Alice Thorson

Prices: Figures, $70; Slide Boxes, $100; Earrings, $46 to $68

Bear Soap Company

photo by Matt Bramlette

Organic goat’s milk is the main ingredient in Kansas City-based Bear Soap Company’s handmade body soap in scents including Wild Lavender, Orange/Mint, Honeysuckle, Beach, Leather Bar and Cedar Woods. If you find showering to be one of life’s great pleasures, this is the shop for you, with an inventory that includes shower steamers and shampoo bars with no irritating chemicals. “A shower steamer is basically the aroma-therapy part of a bath bomb, but for the shower,” says Matt Bramlette, co-founder of Bear Soap Company with Rick Leavitt. “It lasts for two to three showers and releases pleasant combinations of essential oils. Each is wrapped in a biodegradable bio-plastic made of algae. We started making the solid shampoo bars to help reduce the single-use plastic waste,” he explained. “One bar replaces a bottle of liquid shampoo.” Bear Soap’s bath salts, bath bombs and shave butter are crafted with the same attention to user comfort and the environment. Bear Soap Company products are available at Soap Bar, 318 Westport Rd., and online at — Carrie Brophy

Prices: $6 to $25

Zoey Simone: The kindest shoes on the market

from the artist

Fresh from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Kansas City designer Zoey Simone has launched her first line of vegan and ethical footwear starring an ankle-high boot and a flat. The slim-fitting Block Heel Boots are, according to Simone, “tall enough that I have good posture, but short enough to be comfortable.” Simone’s products — sustainable, fashionable, vegan and approved by PETA — are crafted with her love for animals, people and the earth at the forefront. From the materials she uses in her designs to the partner who produces the products in Portugal, she works to be as sustainable as possible, considering each step of the process to create the kindest shoes on the market. To order: — Stephanie Alger

Prices: Block Heel Boot, $425; Wide Strap Flat, $345

The White House Historical Association: Ike in Flight

White House Historical Association

The White House Historical Association has released another stunning Official White House Christmas Ornament, a tradition that dates to 1981. The 2019 ornament, a gold-trimmed helicopter, honors President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first president to fly in a helicopter while in office. Throughout his presidency, Eisenhower used several crafts and crews for short-distance travel, so the ornament represents the style of helicopter used rather than a specific craft. One side of the ornament displays a presidential seal; the other has his five-star ranking, earned during WWII. The exquisitely designed ornament is housed in a box adorned with an illustration of the south lawn, where Eisenhower’s helicopters would land.

The non-profit White House Historical Association was founded in 1961 “for the purpose of enhancing the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion.” The organization releases a Christmas ornament yearly to raise funds. All proceeds from sales are “used to fund the acquisition of historic furnishings and artwork for the permanent White House collection.” The Ike in Flight ornament is American-made by a veteran-owned company. — Stephanie Alger

The ornament can be purchased online for $22.95 at or by calling 800.555.2451. It is also available for $29.95 at the Eisenhower Library’s museum store, 200 S E 4th St., Abilene. For more information, 785. 263.4751 or


Sandlot: Monarch Wallet

Sandlot, specializing in durable, high-quality leather goods, was founded in 2013 by Chad Hickman, a Washburn University graduate who has developed the company’s line to include belts, wallets, journals, bags and more. For the men on your list, you can’t go wrong with Sandlot’s flagship product, the slim, three-pocket Monarch Wallet, constructed of eco-friendly Wickett & Craig Vegetable Tanned Bridle Leather and available in tan and black, with additional colors on the way, Hickman said. You can find it at the Made in KC Marketplace on the Plaza or order through the website, — Alice Thorson

Price: $45

Hammerpress: Holiday Cards


Founded by Kansas City Art Institute alum Brady Vest in 1994, the Hammerpress letterpress print shop and design studio is a treasure trove of printed items, from posters to stationery to a charming line of holiday cards, including an image of a llama with the greeting, “Fleece Navidad,” and a gift-bearing polar bear wishing you “Bear-y Merry Christmas.”

The cards are a team project, says Elise Sanders, retail sales and marketing manager. “A few of us gather and dream up ideas for meaningful and fun language and images we would like to see on the cards,” Sanders said. “While Brady comes up with a lot of the images and first drafts — either with ink drawings, hand set type, or paper cutouts — nearly everyone on staff has contributed to a card or print design over the years.”

A best seller, Sanders said, is the “Happy Holidays from Kansas City” card, which can be customized with a different city, a state, family name or business name. Custom greeting minimums are 48 singles ($3 each) or 12 box sets of six ($9 each). Hammerpress is located at 500 Southwest Blvd., Suite 1A, or shop online at — Alice Thorson

Prices: $6 each; $18 for boxed set of six

photo by Roy Inman

Irma Starr: Shuttlecocks

Popular Kansas City ceramicist Irma Starr, long known for her slip-glazed Santas and ornaments inspired by the Burnap Collection at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, has added a Shuttlecocks line to her offerings in the museum store. New this year is a Shuttlecock ornament made of durable glazed stoneware based on the iconic Oldenburg Shuttlecocks that dot the museum campus. For year-round enjoyment, pick up a Shuttlecock Demitasse Cup and Saucer. You can purchase the ornament and other shuttlecock pieces by Starr at the museum store or online at — Stephanie Alger

Prices: Ornament, $15.95; Shuttlecock Demitasse Cup and Saucer, $15.95

photo by James Brinsfield

“Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art,” by Mary Gabriel (Little, Brown and Company)

It came out in September 2018, but if you missed it, add it to your Christmas list this year for a riveting, 944-page look at the pivotal role of five women painters in the development of Abstract Expressionism. Author Mary Gabriel vividly illuminates the challenges — personal and professional — that each of them faced in the testosterone-fueled milieu of the postwar New York art scene. Travels, parties, affairs and family history form a colorful backdrop for artistic inventions and breakthroughs that helped make American painting what it is today. It’s a history that has been waiting to be told and will get even more attention when Amazon launches its recently announced one-season series based on the book. — James Brinsfield

Price: $12.99

from the artist

Carrie Colpitts: Matchbook notebooks

One of the best little finds at late summer’s KC Zine Con at UMKC were the tiny matchbook notebooks by Springfield, Missouri-based Carrie Colpitts. Emblazoned with images ranging from cowboys to cartoons, the notebook covers are eye catching and nostalgic. “The tiny matchbook notes came to be when I found a big bag of vintage matchbooks at a flea market,” says Colpitts. “A friend had gifted me a cute little notebook made from a matchbook, and when I saw the bag of matchbooks, I thought ‘why not try making some?’ I sell them at zine fests and on my Etsy page, Everyday Yesterday” Stock up. You can throw one in your purse or your pocket, and always be able to take notes. — Carrie Brophy

Price: $3

NidaLu Handmade

NidaLu Handmade

You’ll want to live in these handcrafted modern shoes by NidaLu Handmade. Founded by Courtney Vardar and her Turkish-born husband, Suleyman Vardar, the NidaLu shoes were a staple at Nomads, the couple’s downtown Lawrence boutique, until the shop closed in 2018. Now they are for sale online at Designed from a 700-year-old traditional Turkish shoe and made by a family in Gazintep who has been making shoes for generations, they use five different leathers, all organic, and natural dyes sewed with cotton thread soaked in beeswax. They fit like a glove and will last a lifetime! — Heidi Nast

Price: $150 for most shoe styles

Vox Vineyards

Vox Vineyards: TerraVox Munson Report

When it comes to a holiday gift, you can’t go wrong with a special bottle of wine. Vox Vineyards’ TerraVox Munson Report was the silver medal winner at the 2016 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition. It’s a dessert wine, says owner and chief winemaker Jerry Eisterhold, with “fruit notes of figs, baked black cherries and pomegranate molasses cradled by undertones of red apple skin, dried eucalyptus, tamarind and freshly baked sticky buns.” Eisterhold recommends pairing TerraVox Munson Report with chocolate truffles, cheesecake or poached pears. It is also, he says, “surprisingly balanced by a stinky cheese, perhaps Roquefort.” (19.0% ABV, 10% RS, 75 cases produced.) — Alice Thorson

Price: $44

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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