Valentine’s is a day many of us love to hate. The pressure to be part of a doe-eyed pair up can be overwhelming at best and unnecessarily lonely at worst. Enter one of the best made-up holidays ever… Galentine’s Day, a celebration of sisterhood and the special women in your life, coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope.
It’s essentially an excuse to meet up with your female friends for a glass of something, text a pal you’ve not been in touch with much recently, or send them a card.
There have been numerous gift guides published, too – but here’s one with a twist.
We asked Michelle de Klerk, Founder of The Women’s Chapter, a platform which champions and showcases female-founded businesses, to share her perfect present ideas – each of which is the product of a woman entrepreneur.
From a gin making course to a wardrobe makeover, Michelle shines a light on 22 women-led brands that offer gifts to fit all budgets – and mean your Galentine’s presents will actually help women, too. And the good news is that most of them offer gift vouchers for last minute buys…
1. A wardrobe overhaul
Caroline Wolf had a successful career in communications, for Saatchi & Saatchi and as board director of Publicis London, and has been an executive coach for 15 years. She founded her personal styling service, Capsule Wardrobe Collection to help businesswomen dress according to their personality, and communicate it in the professional arena. Or, as she puts it: “Behind every successful woman is her stylist.”
2. The wellness retreat
More Life Adventures began when founder Stella Kamba found herself burning out in the corporate world. She left her job in commercial architecture and retrained to be a personal trainer, with the aim of helping other city people see more daylight and train intensely, smarter. Her retreats in Crete combine swimming, yoga and weight-training.
3. Bespoke travel – with a packed suitcase
Sophie Caulcutt, co-founder of Voyager Club, has cleverly joined the dots between the logistics of travel and your holiday wardrobe – organising both for her clients, who get to see the world’s hidden gems, too. She’s a passionate advocate of propelling women forward and is co-chair of The Leadership Council for Vital Voices Europe. Style with a sustainable heart – what could be better?
4. Gin with a smile
Helen Muncie and Kate Gregory are the founders of The Gin Kitchen in the scenic Surrey Hills, which offers tasting, making and cocktail masterclass experiences, as well as meals paired with gin cocktails. Both had full-time jobs and young families when they decided to found the business – and before long they were launching Spirit of the Month at Fortnum and Mason. A true testament to the power of passion and friendship.
Things to have and hold…
5. Cool as a Cucumber clothing
One for slow-fashion lovers, Cucumber is the brainchild of friends Nancy Zeffman (formerly in advertising with Saatchi & Saatchi) and Eileen Willett (ex-Nicole Farhi). They met at the school gates in north London almost 20 years ago, and have recognised the need for stylish, sustainable sleepwear and loungewear using cutting edge and sustainable fabrics to help women always keep their cool.
6. A bigger splash
Reign Swim was born when founder Kuku Nukajam ordered some new ‘fuller bust’ swimwear for her honeymoon in Thailand… only to find, once she got there, that it didn’t offer the support and coverage she needed and leaving her feeling self conscious. Her mission was clear: to design stylish, supportive swimwear that flattered women’s bodies and made them feel confident.
7. Wine without the alcohol
Several years ago, founder Amanda Thomson realised that people were becoming concerned about what was in their food, but no-one was asking about wine. Enter Noughty from Thomson & Scott. It’s the first organic, vegan, alcohol-free sparkling wine to drastically cut unnecessary sugar from the production process. Chin chin.
8. Handbags for life (on the move)
Sarah Haran couldn’t find the perfect bag that always looked good, but was practical on the run – so she made her own. Her top piece of advice for other female founders if to “always be easy to do business with”. A motto fitting for entrepreneurs and handbags, too…
9. For her feet
Founder Emmy Scarterfield has always been passionate about accessories. After working for well-known accessory brands in London and Milan, she noticed a gap in the market for bespoke bridal shoes. She and her nearly all-female team now have an off-the-shelf range, too… and they’re not just for weddings.
10. The gift of wellness
Kalamar founder Karen Ruimy gave up a career in finance to focus on helping others find balance in their busy lives. Your boho bestie will love their beautiful kaftans, signature scents and 1970s Marrakech-inspired collection. For anyone who needs patience and peace in their lives.
11. Bring her accessories back to life
The Restory was born after a cobbler ruined Vanessa Jacobs’s favourite boots. She decided to establish a place you can trust to breathe new life into your beloved accessories – sustainable, next generation aftercare. Perfect for the pal with shoes and handbags that could do with a little Galentine’s love.
For beauty lovers
12. Sicilian care for your skin
Irene Forte’s Mediterranean diet for the skin is an ode to Sicily. Each vegan product is created with ingredients grown on the organic farm at Rocco Forte Hotels’ Verdura Resort to deliver spa-grade skincare solutions.
13. Probiotic pleasures
Having spent nearly 10 years working for one of the biggest global pharmaceutical companies, Claire Vero learned about probiotics and the difference they can make to the skin. Her brand, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare uses scientifically-proven ingredients to protect, restore and balance the skin from within.
14. Serious skincare
Another gem for the eco-conscious, 79 Lux is the gift to give when you know your best friend is wild about using organic, superfood ingredients. Founder Karen Cummings-Palmer was inspired to create her hydrating, skin-healing products after suffering with bad skin herself as a child.
15. Plant power
Mauli has its roots in India’s Ayurvedic health principles. Founder Anita Kaushal and her husband are both Brits of Indian origin and were raised with an understanding of the power of plant-based ingredient which inspired their beauty range. Plus, her mother ran her own business while raising seen children – so her entrepreneurial spirit was born in childhood, too.
16. Cosmetics with a conscience
When Zeze Oriakhi-Sao moved to South Africa in 2009, at the height of the recession, she saw a gap in the market for a luxury brand with a local impact. Inspired by African healing rituals, her 100 per cent pure, plant-based exfoliants, candles, moisturisers, perfumes help to support children through the Ripple Reading project, which is now in eight countries.
Seriously impressive entrepreneur and investor Lara Morgan’s 100 per cent natural aromatherapy brand Scentered knows what women on the go need. With names like Focus, Stop, Reset they’re the perfect present for the woman who’s pulled in every direction and could do with engaging with her moods and emotions once in a while.
For interiors fans
18. Linen lovers
As a sleep deprived lawyer, Stephanie Betts became obsessed with slumber. Her brand Draper London is where you head to for affordable, yet snuggly linens. Perfect for Netflix night.
19. Flowerbx power
After 19 years working for Tom Ford, Whitney Hawkings felt frustrated with the cost and inconsistency of the flowers she was buying and sending. Her plan was to create a simple, chic online delivery service – not easy when you’re working with perishable goods! But the results speak for themselves. Blooming marvellous.
20. Go Wild
Marleen du Preez arrived in London in 2006 and working for Harrods, Aromatherapy Associates, Neom, Rodial, L’Occitane, Nailberry and Estelle & Thild.
Her passion for fragrance led to to create her own candle and room fragrance range focusing on botanicals unique to South Africa. Wild Celia is named after Marleen’s grandmother and mother – totally women inspired.
For Mind and Body
21. Wellbeing… delivered
Former corporate lawyer Geeta Sidhu-Robb’s brand, Nosh Detox, is like having a personal assistant who prepares you nutrient-dense meals and high-energy juices that also assist with weight loss and the rebalancing of the body.
22. Stretch to it
Yogi Bare founder Kat Pither was inspired to start her brand after being intimidated in an ‘elistist’ yoga class. Her message is one of inclusivity and fun – so whether she’s a newbie or a seasoned yogi, a mat or accessory (carry straps, stretch straps, acupressure accessories, yoga wheels and more) will be a welcome addition to her practice. Namaste.