Handmade speaks of time and care; these items don't roll off conveyer belts. Find a weekend crafts market or do an online search of your neighbourhood to find gifts. Or visit an online handmade marketplace, such as Aftcra, ArtFire or Zibbet.
In Denver, where I live, businesses that gear their handicrafts at dudes seem to be thriving; an art studio, Ink Lounge, began holding "ManCraft" markets four years ago. The latest is ManCraftival — to be held on Saturday, one day before Father's Day. It includes more than 45 hawkers of "manly" handiwork, including beard oil, designer ketchup, ceramic mugs with a superhero theme, even "mantiques" and "vintage" beer-can crafts.
Knotty Tie Co. is a team of young creative types who make ties of any width and length, including bow ties and pocket squares. The company, launched in 2013 with a Kickstarter funding campaign, offers its own colorful patterns, but much of its business comes from custom orders.
Have an idea for a tie? Knotty Tie's team will design it, digitally print the fabric and sew it. It serves wedding parties and companies looking to highlight a logo, and can also customize a single tie or bow tie for $45.
"We thought ties had become meaningless," says Knotty Tie co-founder Jeremy Priest. "Just the way they were being made and sold . our experience of partnering in the design really makes the product more meaningful."
He and business partner Mark Johnson have another agenda: to provide work for skilled refugees living in Denver. Eight of Knotty Tie's 16 full-time employees are refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq and elsewhere, and many are learning English on the job.
"We thought we could partner with the resettlement agencies to provide opportunities," Priest said.
Another business, Winter Session, began when the recession slowed co-founder Roy Katz's architectural projects in 2009.
He had "that extra 'free' time combined with his desire to start working with his hands again," says his wife and company co-founder, Tanya Fleisher.
Winter Session's canvas bags, backpacks and Dopp kits (men's toiletries travel bags), leather wallets, small cases and notebook covers look decidedly architectural. The vibe is "subtle, toned-down and timeless," says Fleisher.
"We more actively market to men," she says. "Guys typically will not buy anything they think is marketed to women . but women will buy anything."
Winter Session products incorporate sturdy materials — natural and waxed canvas, leather — that will age well, says Fleisher.
"We really are concerned with making things that are functional and durable and actually work," she says. "We like to think of our products as companions — you really start to depend on them. They wear and show marks of your adventures."
William Bussard was an out-of-work architect in 2008 when he created a necklace for his wife using electrical conduit and old wood that he found in his garage.
"I wrote her a little story about it," recalls Bussard. "And she loved it."
Many necklaces, cuff links and belt buckles later, Bussard steers Bussard Designs at the online shop Etsy. His handiwork also looks architectural: Lines are simple, crisp and clean.
He works with aluminum, reclaimed wood (mostly walnut) and even old shotgun shells.
The shell casings in Bussard's "shotgun wedding" cuff links look old because they are: His father digs the casings — many which date to the 1890s — out of the dirt on the family's Texas panhandle ranch.
Just in the Denver area, other businesses that fashion gifts for Dad include Strongwater small-batch bitters and botanicals for flavouring cocktails; and Live Beautifully, another husband-and-wife duo who craft perfumes, colognes and natural deodorants, some in "masculine" scents such as Fresh Mountain Timber.
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