Monday, January 25, 2021

Many Americans know how important it is to support local small businesses after the prolonged economic hardship of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past couple of weeks, I walked around my own community to find small stores where my family can do more of our holiday shopping this year. We made some great new discoveries, but I was sad to see that a number of stores had already gone out of business. That left some gaps when it came to finding certain gifts, so I began looking online for small businesses outside of our community that I can support. 

Then it occurred to me that I already know about a lot of them. For the past few years, I’ve been profiling one-person businesses in Forbes, particularly those that have gotten to one million dollars in revenue and beyond. Many of these founders have been tremendously generous is sharing their know-how with other small business owners who are starting or growing their own businesses.

In case you are looking for ideas on small businesses you can support in your holiday gift giving, here is a list of some of the one-person businesses I’ve profiled, some of which have stayed boutique-sized, and others that have grown beyond that. 

Apparel and accessories


Instagram influencer Julian o’Hayon and co-founder Thomas Johnston teamed up to create this street wear brand in 2017. It’s known for its all-black styles. Check out the all-black teddy bear. 

GILI Sports

If the folks on your gift list are interested in paddle boarding, Jay Regan is your man. He’s the founder of GILI Sports, a fast-growing brand of paddleboards he runs as a digital nomad. Know someone who’s into paddle board yoga? GILI Sports has inflatable models designed for that. 


Izzy & Liv

Nicole Brown, a mother of four, launched this company, which sells clothing, accessories and décor designed by and for women of color. One hot seller is its subscription Brown Sugar Box. 

Jersey Champs

Sean Kelly, a young entrepreneur from New Jersey, launched this business, which sells custom hip-hop, movie and sports jerseys. Many of his styles embrace the trend of throwback jerseys with nostalgic details.

Nomad Lane

Digital nomads Kish Vasnani and Vanessa Jeswani, a married couple, tapped their passion for travel to create this purveyor of travel bags. The Bento Bag they designed is a hot seller.


Tal Masica and Zeke Araki tapped their experience as the sons of fine jewelers to launch this brand of fashion-fashion jewelry online. Bestsellers include initial pendant necklaces, chunky hoop earrings and Swarovski crystal birthstone rings. 


Ana Gavia was a medical student in Australia when she decided to design her own bikinis and put them up for pre-sale on Instagram. That was the beginning of a fast-growing swimwear brand. 

Roq Innovation

Mom/inventor Raquel Graham is the creative mind behind the products on this site, among them NEKZ wraps—a substitute for itchy scarves—and Headlightz, rechargeable ski caps and headbands with built-in LED lamps to illuminate dark running paths. 

Sid Neigum

Toronto fashion designer Sid Neigum is the creative mind behind this high-fashion brand of women’s designer apparel. If you’re looking for sequined holiday styles, check out the latest collection. 


This subscription box company, founded by brothers Albert and Boris Vaisman in Toronto, sells funky socks for men and women, including a subscription box offering. They also offer a line of colorful shoes for men. 

Vivian Lou

Abby Walker always loved high heels but not the pain. Today, she sells Vivian Lou insoles, designed to make stilettos more comfortable. 


Joey Healy Eyebrow Studio

Eyebrow stylist Joey Healy offers eyebrow styling, both in-person in his New York City shop and virtually. He also sells his own line of eyebrow makeup. 


Engineer Elizabeth Davis launched this luxury hair care brand in a quest to grow longer hair. Shedavi sells vegan products such as shampoo, styling products and vitamins for healthy hair. 


Denise Duffield-Thomas

Money mindset mentor Denise Duffield-Thomas has built a big following among women entrepreneurs with her hilarious books Get Rich Lucky Bitch and Chillpreneur

Hal Elrod

Motivational speaker Hal Elrod has built his Miracle Morning books into a robust series. His latest, The Miracle Equation, looks at the two decisions that will move readers toward their biggest goals.

Fine art:

Iris Scott

Critically acclaimed finger-painting artist Iris Scott has made it a mission to make fine art accessible to all. If you’re interested in trying finger painting, check out her book Finger Painting Weekend Workshop: A Beginner’s Guide To Creating Brush-Free Works of Art.


Killer Snails

This New York city startup makes learning games including Assassins of the Sea, which will give you a crash course about the predatory marine cone snail, as well as virtual reality games such as Scuba Adventures and BioDive. Co-founders Jessica Hendrix, a K-12 educator, Mande Holdford, a chemistry professor, and Lindsay Portnoy, a scientist, are the minds behind it. 

Home and garden:

Ain’t It Nice

Johan Hattingh founded this business at age 62. It sells sells decorations for the home, garden and more. 

Bear Mattress

This company, based in Hoboken, N.J., sells mattresses in a box. Scott Paladini has turned what was once a one-man business into one of the fastest-growing companies in the New York City area. 


Rich and Vicki Fulop, a married couple from Brooklyn, founded this direct-to-consumer company, which sells stylish sheets and other linens. They’ve grown it way past being a two-person business after raising venture capital. 



This business provides trading research for U.S. markets to investment buffs. Rajesh Srivasta launched this business after a career in the Silicon Valley tech industry.

Health, fitness and sports:


CROSSNET makes a four-way volleyball game invented by brothers Chris and Gregory Meade and their buddy Mike Delpapa. It’s taken off, and the company projects $12-15 million in revenue this year.

This business sells fitness and supplement guides. Toronto entrepreneur Sol Orwell launched it when he couldn’t find reliable information on nutrition online. 

Lawson Hammock

Outdoorsman Wes Johnson launched this brand of camping hammocks to end his search for a hammock that was ultra-comfortable to sleep in. 

My Online Fitness Center

Tim Reiss started this ecommerce store after being trained by his martial arts teacher Dan Faggella, who’d run and sold his own ecommerce store. Reiss’s store sells products like digital fitness trackers, yoga mats and medicine balls.  

Neck Hammock

Physical therapist Steve Sudell invented this portable neck traction and pain relief device after suffering from neck that went back to playing football in college. He raised money on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to get it off the ground, generating a groundswell of support from people suffering from neck pain. 

Renaissance Periodization

Body builder Nick Shaw founded this store, which offers a robust set of training plans for powerlifters and weightlifters, as well as apparel and accessories and cookbooks. 

RIM Sports

Husband and wife team Colin Raja and Angie Lalla tapped their passion for fitness to create this line of boxing, weightlifting and CROSSFIT equipment.


Pet Honesty

If the furry friends in your life have enough dog toys, perhaps it’s time for a gourmet gift. Camille and Ben Arneberg, a married couple, founded this business, which sells natural dog treats.


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