These Are a Few of Ms. Mak’s Favorite Things

Scissors and Glue

by Annie Makela, Founding Director of the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship

It has never been more critical to be mindful of how our holiday shopping and eating can be a powerful tool for social change. For many small businesses and local restaurants, the next three months will be make or break. As tempting as same-day delivery and last-minute sale prices may be, let’s remember what we love about our communities and imagine how we might all do our part. The holidays may look different this year, but we can still use our dollars to show what matters to us.

  • Eat local and tip well (shoutout to Pizza My Heart, Oren’s Hummus, Purple Onion, and Nothing Bundt Cake, which are Hillbrook-family owned!) 
  • Shop small
  • Shop women- and POC-owned
  • Shop B corp and Fair Trade

I hope this curated list of my favorite lesser-known social entrepreneurial businesses can help you to think deeply about how your purchase is more powerful than ever in 2020. Do you have ideas for shops or items we should include in a future Scott Center Shopping Guide? Send them to us at scottcenter@hillbrook.org!


My favorite 2020 website also led to my favorite discovery of a gift for kids. “How exactly do solar panels work?” is a question we get a lot from our 2nd-5th grade students. This is a perfect opportunity to do a mini engineering project over the holiday break!

I look forward to my monthly delivery and love reading about the farmers. I worked closely with the founding team at Vega and love gifting this to new parents and coffee lovers!

Bold, beautiful, and bright! I use these Kazi baskets for decoration and to organize household items. You’ll even find a few on the Hillbrook campus with post-its and sharpies! The sturdy yet beautiful designs always brighten my day.

My Etkie bracelet is my good luck piece of jewelry and when I need a really special gift this is my go-to! Etkie celebrates the rich landscape and cultural heritage of the southwestern United States. Their collections are produced by Native American men and women in New Mexico. 

Such a fun stocking stuffer for kids and adults (and even puppies!), especially if you plan to spend time in the mountains. The Skida+1 donation of hats and scarves to cancer patients brings a bit of extra joy to the purchase.

My family makes fun of me for my extensive bag collection. This Cotopaxi self-proclaimed “bagpack” is my go-to for comfortable travel. A perfect gift for the jet setter, college student, or summer camper! I love everything at Cotopaxi, especially their commitment to sustainability and love for protecting the outdoors by making beautiful and functional items out of reused materials.

Hicklebee’s is a local Willow Glen favorite with a wonderful collection of children and young adult books. A great opportunity to shop local and share stories that matter to you with loved ones in your life!

The only current B Corp in San Jose! Neev brings the wonders of travel to India right here to our South Bay community. Perfect for a unique hostess gift or for the parent, sister, friend who has it all. This is the triple crown: Local, woman/POC-owned, and a certified B Corp! 

I had the joy of watching Emily launch Sword and Plough as a classmate and friend and one of only a few ROTC students at Middlebury a decade ago. Her commitment to the Veteran community and to sustainability makes sporting these bags around town a pure joy.