Shop Tiger-owned businesses this holiday season
Check off everyone on your list by supporting student and alumni small businesses
By Rebecca Kirkman on November 30, 2019
This holiday season, you can support small businesses and the Tiger community by shopping from student- and alumni-owned companies.
We’ve pulled together a selection of small businesses run by Towson University students and alumni. From food and beverage makers to apparel companies and inventions to hack some of life’s simple tasks, find a gift for everyone on your list.
On campus and throughout the community, TU supports and encourages entrepreneurship in many ways, including the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the TU Incubator and the Student Launch Pad.
For the craft beer nerd: Full Tilt Brewing
This Baltimore brewery was co-founded by Dan Baumiller ’06. Visit Full Tilt’s taproom on York Road in Govans to play pinball and enjoy the creative beers on tap or get cans to-go as gifts or to pair with your holiday meals.
For the party host: Union Craft Brewing
Jon Zerivitz ’04 is Union’s creative director and one of its three founders. Anchoring the new Union Collective space in Baltimore's Medfield neighborhood, Union now employs more than 50 people. A 5-liter mini keg of its holiday beers would be welcome at any party.
For the holiday dinner table: Basignani Winery
This decades-old winery got its start in the 1970s, when founder Bert Basignani purchased 10 acres of farmland in Butler, Maryland, while still a student at then-Towson State University. Today, Basignani Winery makes 6,500 gallons of wine per year.
For the coffee lover: Vent Coffee Roasters
Established in 2013, Vent Coffee Roasters moved into its brick-and-mortar home in Medfield’s Union Collective in 2018. The coffee roastery and cafe was co-founded by Andrew Young ’06. Stop in for a sampler box, branded mug or T-shirt, or gift a 10-week whole bean subscription to a coffee lover.
For the natural wine drinker: Old Westminster Winery
Drew Baker ’10 is the vigneron at Old Westminster Winery, a family winemaking business he runs with his siblings on the family’s farm. Visit the Carroll County winery’s tasting room, or find bottles at local Maryland liquor stores or restaurants.
For the foodie: Tessemae’s
Brothers Greg, Brian ’09 and Matt ’10 Vetter launched Tessemae’s All Natural, based off of their mother's salad dressing recipe, while Brian and Matt were still students at Towson University. Today, the dressings, sauces, condiments and salad kits are stocked in stores across the U.S.
For the fitness junkie: Natural Force
After connecting over fitness and healthy living while students at TU, Joe Rakoski ’10 and Justin Quinn ’09 founded Natural Force to bring dietary supplements to others seeking to live a clean lifestyle. Today, their company sells products ranging from keto coffee kits to grain-free, organic protein powder.
For the perpetual snacker: Hippy Chick Hummus
Erika Brown ’13 turned her favorite college snack into a farmers market staple. Now, it's the foundation for her thriving Frederick cafe, Hippy Chick Hummus. More than two years in, Brown has gone from the lone employee to head of a 17-person staff.
For the gluten-free friend with a sweet tooth: Dulceology
Sisters Alejandra ’15 and Nicole Leiva began baking and selling gluten-free alfajores (a South American cookie with dulce de leche) through their Etsy shop, Dulceology, in 2012. They plan to open a brick-and-mortar store in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood this winter, and will open a stall in D.C.’s La Cosecha at Union Market in January 2020.
For the cyclist: Spoke Apparel Co.
From Michael Karfakis ’99, mountain biking clothing company Spoke Apparel Co. creates graphic T-shirts and cycling jerseys while building a community of enthusiasts around the sport.
For the loungewear lover: My Lilianas
Tired of searching in vain for women’s loungewear that was comfortable, functional and long-lasting, Samantha Stelz ’16 set out to create her own. The result was My Lilianas, cotton women’s boxer shorts that are ethically-made and environmentally-friendly.
For the vacationer: Hayley’s Collection
Towson University sophomore Tayler Person ’22 launched her purpose-driven swimwear line, Hayley’s Collection, in June 2019. Named in honor of Person’s cousin, who has the rare genetic condition Trisomy 18, the swimwear line features on-trend cuts in bold colors and prints.
For the environmentalist: Guppi
With her apparel company, Abby MacQueen ’19 is helping the planet. Inspired by the Eastern Shore and made from recycled plastic, Guppi clothing features laid-back designs and comfy construction. Plus, a percentage of profits go to fund beach clean-ups.
For the trend-setter: Brunette & Co.
This online boutique from Brianna Volatile ’18 grew out of a fashion and lifestyle blog she started in high school. Brunette & Co. is home to on-trend clothing and accessories like statement jewelry, plus a line of gear designed to wear on Ravens game days.
To encourage self-care: Afriq Hair
Founded by Agnes Brewah ’18, Afriq Hair offers natural products for women seeking low-maintenance, protective hair styles, as well as a line of handmade shea butter hair and skin products and imported goods from West Africa, like African print fans, fanny packs and jewelry.
For the new parent: Collapse and Go
An overflowing diaper bag compelled Lauren Shapiro ’10 and her husband to search for collapsible bottles. When they couldn't find one, they created their own. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in spring 2018, Collapse and Go is making life a little easier for parents across the country.
For the friend that has everything: PB Spoon
Through trial, error and grit, Chris Herbert ’13 got to the bottom of a problem we’ve all faced: how to extract that last dab of peanut butter from the jar. He turned to 3-D printing to develop the PB Spoon, a hybrid utensil that could scoop, scrape and spread.
For the social media influencer: Loophole
Co-founded by Patrick Crowe with friends and TU grads Steven Stillwell ’18 and Josh Miller ’18, Loophole is an adhesive phone accessory allowing you to grip, hang and stand your device.