5 innovative gift ideas from Houston startups
The holidays are fully upon us, and in the spirit of giving, why not give a little business to local startups as you shop for friends and family this year?
Browse this year's roundup of Houston startup-created gift ideas below, and then click here to check out last year's gift ideas too for eight more options for you.
Low-carb treats from ChipMonk Baking
Give the gift of healthy desserts with ChipMonk Baking. Photo via chipmonkbaking.com
Houstonians David Downing and Jose Hernandez were tired of having such limited options when it came to finding healthy dessert alternatives. So, they founded ChipMonk Baking, a local, mail-order bakery that creates treats using monk fruit and allulose, a low-calorie (0.4 calories per gram) rare sugar that's found naturally in foods such as raisins, dried figs, and kiwi. Hernandez began developing ChipMonk's recipes to satisfy his taste for cookies after being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
An online business, ChipMonk offers every snacks from cookies and bites to mixes and sweeteners. There are also a few bundles to choose from as well as a free, downloadable holiday cookbook
Skin-healthy athletic wear from Élastique
Emeline Kuhner-Stout, founder of Élastique Athletics, wanted to create a product that was easy to wear and benefitted lymphatic health. Photo courtesy of Élastique Athletics
Moms know how to make the most of their time, and that's exactly how Emeline Kuhner-Stout came across the idea for Élastique Athletics, a clothing line that promotes skin health and reduces cellulite.
"We did some research, and found that the best way to improve the appearance of your skin and move those fluids — because the cause [of cellulite] is really about those fluids that get trapped under your skin and cause a lot more negative effects other than skin appearance," Kuhner-Stout previously told InnovationMap.
She learned that exercise is the best move for improving lymphatic drainage, and another option is to do it manually through massaging and with compression. After around five years of research and development, Kuhner-Stout was able to release her first product for Élastique Athletics — a pair of leggings that have MicroPerle™ micro-massage beads in the compression leggings to massage the skin when worn.
Now, Élastique has three "wellnesswear" products available online.
Support local with Sesh Coworking
Sesh's gift sets are available for pick-up or delivery. Photo via girlsesh.com
Sesh Coworking is a space founded for women, by women, and that focus extends to the company's in-store and online market. Located in Montrose, Sesh opened its doors in February and was founded by Maggie Segrich and Meredith Wheeler to fill a need in the coworking sector.
"We as women show up in our work lives as a whole person. We don't compartmentalize and forget about all the other things happening in our lives," Wheeler previously told InnovationMap. "We wanted a space that reflected that and embraced it."
While the market supports local female-owned business year round, Sesh has some special items for the holidays. The company has produced a 2020 Holiday Haute List to help users find the perfect gift as well as some gift bundles for the working women of the world. These sets and more are available on Sesh's online store.
Stylish sanitizers from Cobalt
Cobalt's gift set comes with a bottle of each of the company's three FDA-approved cleaning products. Photo via cobaltclean.com
This year's pandemic inspired new products and companies aplenty, and one of them here in Houston is Cobalt founded by Houstonians Molly Voorhees and Christina Milligan. Their hand sanitizing and surface cleaning products blend the importance of cleanliness and safety with the added value of accessibility and a refined appearance.
As working parents of young children, the two women wanted to create a line of sanitizing products that boosted their confidence in the safety of their environments amid a pandemic and that they'd be proud to pull out of their purse on short notice.
"Cleaning products are in your bathroom or are in an ugly looking bottle or the back of our restaurant in massive chemical containers. There is really nothing for the on-the-go market," Voorhees says.
The company sells six FDA-approved sanitizers, sprays, keychains, and to-go kits that eliminate 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses in easy to access, personal-sized, contemporary bottles, ranging from $14 to $30. The products are designed to be free of harsh, alcoholic odors and come in scents like peppermint and bubble gum.
The gift set, which is available online for $50, includes a bottle of hand sanitizer, surface spray, and mask refresher.
Humidity-conscious women's workwear from Cotidie
Cotidié's fabrics are lightweight and moisture wicking — similar to exercise clothing — making the pieces conducive to the Houston heat and humidity. Lauren Marek/Cotidié
Other than during Houston's brief winter, rocking a professional wardrobe is tough in humidity that is so iconic to Houston. Local entrepreneur Kristina Haag founded Cotidié to design clothes with this struggle in mind.
"With Cotidié, it is all about the functionality of the clothing," Haag previously told InnovationMap. "It is more traditional items, but the use of technical fabrics is our differentiating factor."
The online retailer, which launched in June 2019, offers dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, and tops, ranging between $60 and $200 in price. The fabrics, sourced from Italy and Taiwan, provide breathable comfort, along with an elastic, structured fit for a more tailored look. All items are moisture wicking and machine washable.
"Everything we use on the line is athletic technical fabric that you would typically find in workout attire, but I've repurposed these fabrics to use in a contemporary womenswear line," Haag tells InnovationMap. "I wanted to create a more foundational capsule clothing collection that women can draw their own inspiration from."