8 Superlative Gifts That Were Made — and Can Be Bought — in DC
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Forget Amazon, forget the brand-name chains, forget all those big-box stores — and instead, support D.C.’s creative community this holiday season with one-of-a-kind gifts.
Members of that community include Rob Marshall, an Army veteran and founder of DC-based Dapper Guru. Seeing a demand for men’s grooming products in 2010, Marshall created a natural skincare line that he sold at weekend markets across the city. “Dapper Guru products are sensory, so connecting with customers in person was a huge part of my business model,” says Marshall, who switched to online sales only during the pandemic. Since lockdowns were lifted, Dapper Gurul has partnered with Madewell on an in-store Father’s Day pop-up and participated in the Military Made subscription box, while being carried by Shop Made in D.C.
Supply chain issues have recently posed a problem, namely sourcing bottles for the beard oil and aftershave balms. “They’ve been impossible to find, but it’s steered me toward making solid and waterless products now, which are more sustainable from a packing and ingredient standpoint.” While butters and balms had their moment, Marshall says his bar soap is now Dapper Guru’s top seller.
For our pick from Marshall’s line — and an eclectic line-up of similar worthy gifts — see below.
Toast the 51st state while taking a stroll down familiar streets with this pair of classic Old Fashioned rocks glasses.
Rob Marshall’s male grooming line is made using natural oils and ingredients; this travel-friendly hard shave soap comes in a head-turning Bay Rum and Cuban Cigar scent that will have anyone daydreaming about the islands in no time.
Show your fandom for the District with this one-of-a-kind vintage pillow inspired by memorabilia from a bygone era — handmade in Washington, D.C., by artist Marcelle Fozard.
The provenance and place of D.C.’s oldest neighborhood is celebrated in this colorful hand-illustrated map by artist and founder of Terratorie Maps + Goods, Torie Partridge.
With designs that fuse “simplicity with a little Persian spice,” Pegah Shahghasemi and Lisa Ramber create functional wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery for everyday use at their Arts Walk studio, including this planter from their earth-inspired Landscape line.
A WWII Air Force duffle served as inspiration for this waxed canvas weekender designed by husband and wife duo Cesar and Pial Vega, whose DC-based brand has been crafting vintage military-inspired bags since 2017.
Carrying top and middle notes of cherry blossom, jasmine, and bamboo over a musky wood base, any D.C. native missing the District will appreciate this hand-poured small-batch candle inspired by the Nation’s Capital.
No matter where you’re based, surprise friends and family with some holiday snail mail by sending them this keepsake card of Capitol Hill by Samantha Testa, the owner-operator of a calligraphy and watercolor studio in Little Rome.
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