Treat the loved ones on your list this year with gifts crafted by your fellow Dearborn Wolverines — past and present!
This year, your loved ones deserve great gifts. Gifts that will end the year — an unseasonably challenging year — with a bang. Luckily, University of Michigan-Dearborn is home to a talented pack of Wolverines. Our students, staff and alumni are at the helm of businesses crafting unique items worth gifting family and friends this holiday season and beyond.
Whether you’re shopping for the foodies, style-setters or intellectuals in your life, our UM-Dearborn family has a gift for everyone on your list. With your purchase, you’ll be supporting your fellow Dearborn community — a gift that keeps on giving!
A to Z Wineworks
For the wine enthusiasts in your life, give the gift of a bottle of wine that’s great in taste and ethical in nature. In 2014, A to Z Wineworks — co-founded by Bill Hatcher, '76 M.M. — became a certified B Corporation and has been recognized as a ‘Best for the World’ company every year since. 100% of the company’s grapes are sourced from local farms in Oregon, shipping for all direct sales is carbon neutral, and all workers are paid above living wage — and those are just a few factors that represent their commitment to being a sustainable business. Try a refreshing 2019 Riesling with aromas and flavors reminiscent of lemon, apple blossoms, honeysuckle and rosehip tea; or a vibrant 2017 Pinot Noir with stone fruit, white pepper and cedar notes.
Treat a loved one (or yourself!) to a festive Taco Tuesday from home. Founded by Carlos Parisi, '11 B.B.A. and Patrick Schwager, '09 B.B.A., Aunt Nee’s has everything you need to take your Mexican-inspired dishes to the next level. Try their salsas — there’s mild, medium kicked up a notch with red pepper and a blend of spices and Mango Chipotle, a sweet-smoky combination of garlic, onion, cilantro and of course, mango and chipotle. There’s also a creamy guacamole and crispy tortilla chips made with non-GMO corn, too.
Backable: The Surprising Truth Behind What Makes People Take a Chance on You
Invest in the rising entrepreneur in your life by gifting them a read that will inspire. Backable (Little, Brown and Company, 2021) by Suneel Gupta, '00 B.B.A., offers tips from Oscar-winning producers, members of Congress, culinary stars, venture capitalists, and founders of iconic companies, and suggestions for ways to get others behind your biggest ideas.
Many of us are spending more time at home these days. That’s why a gift to help spruce up your space would be welcome by just about anyone on your list. Briana Walk, first-year CEHHS student, designs home goods, such as pillows, glassware and candles for fun accents to any room. Connect with Walk to customize the decor element of your choice.
Available:Message on Instagram for orders.
Cameron’s Cakes & Cookies
Whether you’re shopping for a special someone with a sweet tooth, or on dessert duty for a small holiday gathering, consider supporting home chef Cameron Parkins, '02 B.A. & '15 M.A.. Using only organic ingredients, Parkins cooks up a range of pastries, including cakes, cookies, breads and muffins. Try a classic, such as a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, or go for an unexpected confection like Parkins’ Apple Cider Cupcakes by the dozen. On a vegan diet? Just make a special request for a plant-based treat and Parkins will be happy to accommodate.
Detroit Engine of America
Written by DBusiness magazine editor R.J. King, '85 B.A., Detroit Engine of America (Momentum Books, 2019) details the city’s evolution from a French fort in 1701 to the world's largest manufacturing economy by 1900. (The book even chronicles the founding of University of Michigan in 1817.) The book is the perfect gift for the bookworms and history buffs in your life — and anyone with Detroit pride.
2020 has been a year when health and wellness has been top of mind for people across the globe and there’s no better gift than the gift of health. Consider purchasing something for the health-conscious in your life, like a juice cleanse from DROUGHT, an organic, Detroit-based juice brand co-founded by Julie James, '05 B.B.A. and Jenny James, '10 B.A.. The Wash and The Rinse are the brand’s blend of three to six 16-ounce organic, cold-pressed raw juices, intended to be consumed over the course of one day to help detox and give the digestive system a rest. There’s also an Immunity Potion Carton that can be shipped directly to your door, and gift cards, too!
Also available at DROUGHT stores.
Gorjess Virgin Hair
With virtual holiday parties and intimate family gatherings quickly approaching, ’tis the season for festive hairstyles and sleek updos. And for anyone who has ever purchased hair extensions, you can attest that the cost for the perfect ’do can add up. With Gorjess Virgin Hair, Jessica Griffin, junior CEHHS, is aiming to deliver high-quality hair at an affordable price. According to the brand’s website, Gorjess Virgin Hair believes in “the empowerment of women and the endless confidence she possesses starting where her crown sits.”
Husband-and-wife duo Huda Kattan, ’07 B.B.A., and Christopher Goncalo, '08 M.S. Fin. used their business savvy to build a beauty empire. Aptly named, Huda Beauty grew from Kattan’s background as a makeup artist turned superstar blogger and YouTuber. The beauty mogul racked up millions of followers for her makeup tutorials, skincare tips and product recommendations and today, operates the top-selling beauty brand with Goncalo as Chief Operating Officer. This season, gift a beauty-obsessed loved one an eyeshadow palette, a floral fragrance or a hydrating face mask — or, all of the above!
Steve George, '07 B.B.A. & ’12 M.B.A., and his family cherished the time spent sharing special moments and unwinding over a cup of coffee. That’s why they launched Más Coffee, a line of specialty coffees and coffee accessories. During this hectic time brought on by the pandemic — and the winter chill as temps are dropping — take comfort in a hot pot of coffee roasted right in metro Detroit. Choose from flavors such as Chocolate Hazelnut and Cinnabun, or opt for a Sample Pack to taste a variety!
Pop Daddy Popcorn
If you’re anything like us, working from home looks like having one hand on your laptop and the other in a bag of snacks. Though launched well before the novel coronavirus relegated many of us to our home offices, Pop Daddy Popcorn is a line of popcorn and pretzels that takes the guilt out of snacking. Mark Sarafa, '89 B.B.A., developed the brand with the intention of creating munchies that are not only tasty, but healthy and supportive of the community, too. All products are made without preservatives, artificial flavors, additives, or gluten and ingredients are sourced from Michigan-based farms.
Also available on Amazon.
This one is for the party animal in your life! Prime Party, developed by Paul Grekowicz Grey, ’70 B.B.A., offers a range of nostalgic games and activities inspired by pop-culture classics like The Golden Girls, Beverly Hills 90210 and Bob Ross for customers looking to throw one-of-a-kind parties. Prime Party also has cake decorations and an array of themed party supplies for at-home celebrations. The company even offers Zoom-based Bingo games to allow large groups to join in on the fun even from a distance.
River Rouge Brewing Co.
It seems like the days when you could enjoy a cool brew at your favorite bar or brewery like River Rouge Brewing Co. are a distant memory. By purchasing a gift card to the Royal Oak taproom founded by former producer and cinematographer Ed Stencel, '88 B.A., your loved one will have something to look forward to when the hotspot re-opens its doors — IPAs, stouts, ales on you!
This one’s for the eco-conscious. The nature-nurturer in your life will appreciate a gift from Strawesome, the company designing fun, reusable glass straws. The brand’s unique beverage accessories are toxin-free, durable — they can withstand temperatures below freezing and up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit — and an easy way to limit the consumption of single-use plastics. Allow your loved one to sip their drink of choice in style this holiday season with a designer straw decorated with a festive Christmas tree. Brian Surowiec, ’00 B.S., operates the business along with his family.
The Jewelry Vault
Perhaps your partner’s been hinting at a new watch or a pair of earrings. Or, maybe mom has been eyeing a charm bracelet. Bottom line is: You can never go wrong with glitzy jewelry when it comes to holiday gifts. The Jewelry Vault, a shop owned by Maissaa S. Dakhlallah, '08 B.A. & '11 M.P.P., has whatever it is you need. Head to the Dearborn shop for scintillating rings, solid gold bangles, custom necklaces and more.
If you’ve got a tea aficionado on your list this year, consider a gift that will satisfy their appreciation for verdant, herbal, fruity or spicy blends and will support an up-and-coming small business while you’re at it. By purchasing the Tea for a Year package, you help Kristen Pfeifer, '04 B.A., get one step closer to opening the company’s first tea pub in the Detroit area. Tea for a Year includes an infuser and a 2-ounce bag the first month, then a 2-ounce bag each month for the rest of the year. Plus, the loose-leaf teas will be delivered directly to your loved one’s door!
So, you’ve done the hard work of building a fitness brand — congrats! Now, it’s time for you and your team to represent your business with custom apparel designed with your unique branding. That’s where Titafit comes in. Founder Michael Smith, ’19 B.B.A., launched the cut-and-sew manufacturing company to simplify the process for finding a custom manufacturer in the U.S. Since 2016, Titafit has designed bespoke athletic wear for a range of fitness brands from its Detroit headquarters. With the help of Smith and his team, you can flaunt your logo on a baseball cap, keep warm in a pullover with your tagline embossed across your chest or even run errands safely with a customized face mask. The choice is yours.
University of Michigan-Dearborn Tumblers & Drinkware
If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas for fellow Dearborn Wolverines, why not a UM-Dearborn tumbler? The Department of Athletics & Recreation along with the Alumni Engagement Office are offering UM-Dearborn tumblers, water bottles and mugs. Personalize drinkware with your loved one’s name, graduation year or a special message to sentimental touch. Proceeds from sales of the drinkware will benefit UM-Dearborn Athletics or the Alumni Engagement Office for Alumni-specific items.
Waldo Wealth Partners
This year has brought financial challenges to families across the world. It’s also forced many to reconfigure their budgets and consider new spending habits. A great way to support friends or family members re-tooling their finances is to connect them with a great, local financial planning company. As director of Waldo Wealth Partners, Ian Waldo, ’08 B.B.A., offers a range of financial and investment planning services essential to your loved one’s personal or professional success.
Walt’s Pilgrimage: A Journey in the Life of Walter Elias Disney
A trip to Walt Disney World would be the ultimate surprise for anyone. If the extravagant gift is out of your price range, consider giving your loved one the Disney experience with Walt’s Pilgrimage (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017). The book, which chronicles the journey of the pioneer of the Disney empire, is one in a series of nine books on the fascinating life of Walt Disney by Christopher Tremblay, '14 Ed.D..
Many University of Michigan-Dearborn alumni and students submitted their business information to be included in this Gift Guide and we compiled this list as a service. Inclusion in this Gift Guide should not be considered an endorsement by the university for these products or services.