Editor’s note: This feature is the fifth in Startland News’ five-part holiday gift guide showcasing Kansas City makers and their products. Check out the featured maker below, then keep reading for five gift ideas to get started.
It’s only fitting that Whitney Manney’s favorite Christmas gift memory comes packed with references to her future fashion career — a journey that flourishes from Kansas City without specifically labeling the brand (or its products) with a big “KC.”
One Christmas past, the local designer and founder of the WHITNEYMANNEY (WM) label unwrapped a Barbie storage suitcase for all her Barbie clothes and accessories.
“If my mama would’ve let me out of the house with it, I definitely would have been using it as a backpack,” she said.
While Manney — whose designs have been spotted in the Kansas City-provoked reboot of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and on episodes of “Make48” — hasn’t designed a suitcase like that yet, her label features several handbags, clutches, and even a fanny pack, that give off a street-art vibe. She also creates wearable-art clothes and other accessories like earrings and scarves.
Manney — a member of the 2021 American Craft Council Emerging Artist Cohort — said the holiday season is an important time to support local makers, especially BIPOC artists.
“The city has so many BIPOC-led businesses solidifying their platforms,” she explained. “It’s a good time to plug into the community and learn about talent you haven’t heard about yet. And we create within so many categories.”
Click here to check out more gift ideas from Kansas City makers.
5 gifts made locally that don’t scream ‘Kansas City’
Whitney Manney I Spy WHIT Satin Zipper Clutch — $35
This sewing studio-inspired clutch is a functional piece of art for the fashionista in your life. They will hit the streets of KC with unique, eye-catching style.
Click here to shop Whitney Manney online.
Tesseract Tactical NF1 Knife — $199
This everyday carry folding knife is designed and developed here in KC using the same process that Tesseract deploys to invent next-generation robot technology.
Click here to shop Tesseract Tactical online.
Spur & Serif Letter From Santa — $35
Whether the kid in your life is on the naughty or nice list, they deserve a personalized letter from the jolly man in the red suit. Bonus, Santa outsources the work to an elf in KC who has the most beautiful handwriting on the planet making this a scrapbook-worthy keepsake.
Click here to shop Spur & Serif on Etsy.
High Noon Pottery Mugs — $45-$60
These colorful and quirky mugs are perfect for the tea or coffee-loving person in your life. Every piece is unique and made with love.
Available at Shop Local KC. Click here to shop High Noon online.
Madison Stitch Love Letter Clutch — $225
This love letter is made of hand-crafted leather by a KC company that employees refugees and local artisans. A portion of the profits are donated to women’s shelters and training programs to develop the next generation of skilled artisans.
Available at Made in KC. Click here to shop Madison Stitch online.
Bonus: Stocking Stuffers
Umeshiso Rainbow Chopsticks — $21
These colorful chopsticks will take your favorite takeout to the next level. The KC queer Asian-owned small business also makes rainbow dipper spoons.
Available at Cafe Cà Phê. Click here to shop Umeshiso online.
GivePet Dog Treats — $10
It’s important not to forget our furry friends when buying presents. This Overland Park-based company also gives treats to shelter dogs with each purchase.
Available at Made in KC. Click here to shop GivePet online.
Bliss Chocolatier 9-Piece Pie Collection — $25
These almost-too-beautiful-to-eat bonbons are perfect for any pie lover in your life. They are all made from scratch and hand painted by a mother-daughter team in Blue Springs.
Available at 3100 Southwest 7 Highway — Suite D in Blue Springs. Click here to shop Bliss Chocolatier online.
More ideas from the 2022 Gift Guide
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.