In April the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 4.4% – in May it skyrocketed to 14.7%, higher even than the peak of the great recession in January 2010 which was 10.6%. While the rates have come back down and leveled out at 6.7%, many, many families across the country are struggling. And that’s just in the U.S. The EU aggregate unemployment rate increased by about 1% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020. Of course, EU countries offer substantially more social support to their citizens which have included numerous Covid-19 era schemes to keep families afloat.
On the flip side of the unemployment coin is the wealthy becoming wealthier. Elon Musk added $140 billion to his net worth in 2020, while Jeff Bezos added $72 billion. If you lived to be 79 – you would need to get paid about $6.5 million per day, from the day you were born, to reach the current net worth of Bezos by the time you die. But, the truth is you do not need to be worth billions to have come out of 2020 financially better off than you went. The stock market, despite its early pandemic crash, finished off at about a 14% increase.
While no sector was untouched due to the pandemic, white collar workers were significantly less affected. And with stay-at-home orders they spent less too. Fewer dinners out, holidays cancelled, no commute to work, no expensive lunches at bougie midtown restaurants. No restaurant bottle prices, no new work outfits. Many, many people in fact saw their savings grow in 2020. And – as vaccine rollouts come, albeit slowly – these people are looking to live it up and splurge after months upon months of being grounded.
So, all of this to say that – keeping in mind a virus still rages us around us – we have money to spend, so what can we do with it? Well, one thing we can not do with it is give it to Jeff (Amazon). He simply doesn’t need it and he does more harm than you could imagine. So, let’s talk small creatives.
Here are some I love – buy from them.
Annchen – the owner and artist behind these beautiful custom drawn travel maps – is an Instagram friend of mine. I love the colorful simplicity of her maps. I love that each one is entirely unique and that she will put anything you want on them or do the research herself to fill spaces. I ordered two of these for Christmas. One for my brother – it wasn’t really a travel as I had her design one of his Brooklyn – the different places he’d lived. I also ordered one for myself, of my beloved Vietnam and the places I’ve been/ridden a bike.
I had the maps shipped from her South Africa to my United States and not only did they arrive on time and in tact, the shipping was not that absurd.
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Started by a British friend from my Vietnam, Woven Vietnam supports women in rural Vietnam by bringing their weaving work to a global marketplace. Surviving on as little as $1 a day, the women who create these bags come primarily from the Mekong River Valley. Though I do not have one of the bags, I trust wholly in Natasha – the woman behind this social enterprise – to only be importing and selling top-quality goods.
You can find the bags on Etsy – and were it ever to happen again, you could also find them at markets around London (check IG for more info).
I think one of the best travel hacks is switching to bar toiletries – like shampoo, lotion, etc. There are lots of big eco brands that provide really nice products, but there are also plenty of little guys. This small company is owner by Audra – and old family friend who runs a small farm in Vermont where she has bees, alpacas, and lots of other stuff going on.
For Christmas I ordered myself and my family a few items to see what they were like, and I can report that they are divine! Her solid lotions are creamy, luxurious, pillow-like luxury. I haven’t used my shampoo bar yet (using up my last one) or my soap bar – but I can confirm they both smell lovely.
Products can be bought direct from her site.
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This is a small Etsy shop run by Emily, an old college friend/enemy/roommate. I bought a set of her macrame coasters as part of a mutual friends wedding gift. Emily does a number of other macrame pieces – such as larger wall hangings or plant hangers. But what I’m really into are her state string art pieces. You have to take a look to know what I’m talking about – it’s hard to describe – but is one of those great ‘we loved this place’ keepsakes.
All these lovely pieces can be bought in the Fleur Decor Etsy shop
O.K. for now – that’s what I’m giving you – I am not one to recommend buying from places I have not yet bought from. So, as I continue to buy from the little guy, I’ll keep you updated so you can too!
I’d love your suggestions of your favorit (travel adjacent) creatives so I can look into them, support them, and get others supporting them too!
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