Next time you have to buy a gift, veer away from the norm and check out these quirky brands and online stores – we’re sure you’ll be as enamoured as we are.
Cartophiles (yes, this is a real word; it refers to a person with an interest in maps), rejoice! The Map Hatter is where you’ll find a fantastic range of map-inspired artisanal gifts sourced from all over the world. Their world maps are printed on certified Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paper so you know you’re paying for quality. In an age where a kid’s idea of a good gift is an electronic device or games console, getting something like a Columbus Globe – which you can change colour according to your mood – or a World Map Table Cloth – that kids can colour while learning about what country goes where – is a breath of fresh air.
Meanwhile, the magnetic map where you can mark the places you want to visit is the perfect gift for the armchair traveller. Bonus: The Map Hatter’s wrapping paper is almost too cool to gift wrap with and features prints of old maps, old fashioned anatomy posters, the periodic table and even the Snellen chart! Order online and check out their site for information on which market they’ll be at next.
Founded by two young parents in 2015, Cotton Pines exude a minimalist appeal. If you’re looking to solve the messy playroom conundrum, we recommend getting the multifunctional Cotton Pines storage sacks – it features slick prints; is made from thick, durable material; and serves as an effective toy storage solution, fashionable play mat and a laundry bag (while travelling). Made from 100 percent cotton and soft material, it provides padding from the hard floor and a safe place for baby to crawl, roll, play and sleep on; you can even bring it to your next picnic.
Apart from this hugely popular product, Cotton Pines also has plushies, baby blankets and placemats featuring delightful prints and are well priced for the quality. For those for whom minimalist décor rules the home, check out the site and we’re sure you’ll be ordering something soon.
Hello Deer by café and cupcake chain Wondermilk stocks a bit of everything for everyone to suit every budget. What started out as a party space in 2012 is now also a successful business selling artisanal gifts covering accessories, home décor and kids’ products. Peruse items such as tote bags with cheeky statements, charming light boxes and home goods in addition to plenty of quirky T-shirts and baby clothes.
How’s this for a gift idea – customised gift boxes featuring a selection of Hello Deer products from cookies and greeting cards to tote bags and cute miscellaneous odds and ends. Find the perfect present for a friend, your kids, or even yourself! Apart from whimsical gifts, parent company Wondermilk also churns out beautiful cakes and regularly hosts art markets featuring up-and-coming local brands. To shop Hello Deer, you can either head to their shop in PJ or online.
This lifestyle label focuses on high quality, ethically sourced towels, blankets, throws and caftans made from Turkish cotton. Peshtemals are traditional Turkish towels that were originally used in Turkish baths and had different print colours denoting the different parts of the country. The Real.m version is made with cotton bamboo fibre from a farm that is GMO free, and coloured using natural vegetable dye.
The towels come in different sizes and in a range of colours from classic neutrals to gorgeous bright colours. Throws and blankets are the ideal travel companion and are multifunctional so you can use them to cover a sofa, as a blanket, beach towel or even to wrap your little one in. The caftans are also versatile – beach coverup one day, over a pair of jeans the next for that boho chic look. The fabric used is very light, dries quickly, surprisingly highly absorbent, and can be machine washed. Best of all, they make excellent gifts.
When it comes to creativity, the Black Milk Project has it in spades. Established in 2013, this online retailer stocks and creates custom gifts suitable for kids and those who are into whimsical designs. Choose from a personalised line of tees and rompers from the Mimpi and Wild & Whimsical collections featuring cute characters such as owls, unicorns (of course) and cats. The art work is truly lovely and the clothing is made from 100 percent cotton materials with irritation-free button poppers and non-toxic fabric paint, making ideal gifts for babies and toddlers.
There are also watercolour paintings and digital prints that would brighten any kid’s room. Check out the plush cushions in the shape of durians, curry puffs, bacon and even ang ku kuih – if you’re looking for a quirky gift, these are definitely it!
What do you get when you put colourful pom poms and fringes, hessian combined with an array of vibrant fabric, and tassels galore together? A cool little brand called Little Tropical where all things flamingo, pineapple and whimsical come together in a collection of bags, clutches, baby bibs, fabric baskets and baby headbands. If there was one word to describe these items, it would be ‘happy’.
From the watermelon print on the baby bib to the uniquely customised round rattan bag (all the rage right now), every product has obviously been created and curated carefully. If you’re looking for a distinctive gift for someone who loves bright colours and the whole boho chic vibe, you can’t go wrong with a pretty clutch or fabric basket to put all those bits you never know what to do with – anything with pom poms is a winner. Watch out for Little Tropical at bazaars or get in touch via Facebook or Instagram to purchase these items.
For most people, a handwoven basket is purely utilitarian and used for storage. For others, baskets are decorative so appearance is as important as function. If you fall into the latter group, you’ll appreciate the lovely handwoven baskets from the Mogwli Store. Founded in 2015 by Safuraa Razak, Mowgli offers a good selection to fulfil both your functional and aesthetic needs. These baskets aren’t your typical storage containers – they’re all hand-woven by local artisans in Vietnam where seagrass containers are traditionally used to collect and store rice.
Boasting bright colours and a tropical resort vibe, baskets here are versatile and great way to keep your home tidy. Their bestseller, the baloo bakul is versatile enough to carry or serve as beautiful décor on its own. Sturdy and well-designed, the baskets are ideal for bedroom storage, laundry and look great with a plant inside it. For fashionista mums, the handy size of the mini baloo bakul makes it an apt accessory as well. Aside from being a holiday wardrobe staple, this unique boho-chic bag can go from brunch to the poolside with ease.