Editor’s Escape: Made in the Carolinas

Editor's Escape

Shopping for holiday gifts is one of my most favorite things to do. I often ditch the mall and seek out unique items that reflect the personality of the person I’m shopping for. 

I especially enjoy finding gifts made locally or regionally. Lucky for me, there’s no shortage of talented artisans in North and South Carolina. If you’re looking for the perfect gift, here are a few standouts to consider.

South Carolina

PuckerButt Hot Sauces

I discovered these sauces a couple of years ago at a festival in Fort Mill. I can’t handle super-hot and spicy things, so I was a little reluctant to try them. I’m so glad I did! They pretty much have a sauce for every palate. Extra Mean Green, Edible Lava, Payton’s Hot Strawberry and I Dare You Stupit are a few flavors to choose from. 

If you’re really brave, go for something from the Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper® Collection. (The Carolina Reaper is the world’s hottest pepper, by the way.) Check out their complete line at

Only Southern Made

If you’re ever in Greenville, you should definitely pop into their store on Trade Street. All their products are made, designed or manufactured in the South — and they have plenty to choose from. Whether you’re looking for something special for your favorite USC (or Clemson!) fan or need some jewelry to go with a holiday outfit, they have you covered.

I always have an unreasonable number of candles in my house, so I’m a huge fan of their Southern Firefly Candle Co. collection. My favorites include Cozy Christmas, Tree Farm and Winter Pumpkin soy candles. Check out their complete line of products and gift sets online at if you can’t make it to Greenville. (Though I highly recommend you make the trip sometime because Greenville’s awesome!)

The Original Hammock Shop 

Give the gift of relaxation with an Original Pawleys Island Rope Hammock. Designed by a riverboat captain in 1938, these comfortable and durable hammocks are hand woven and incredibly comfortable. They have a variety of hammock sizes and colors, as well as accessories. In addition to the cotton hammocks, they also craft DuraCord rope hammocks that are weather resistant. 

You can visit their website at for more information.

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.

These small batch tonics, bitters, syrups and cocktail accoutrements are sure to elevate every bartender’s game. Based in Charleston, the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. was inspired by owner Brooks Reitz’s great-grandfather, who was known to be quite adventurous (he once flew his plane under the Ohio River Bridge).

Their products have been featured in a slew of well-known lifestyle and culinary magazines, websites and podcasts. Peruse their line (and find some great recipes) on their website at

North Carolina

Cloister Honey

It’s so fitting that Cloister Honey is on my holiday gift idea list. After all, the company was born from a Christmas gift! In 2007, Randall York received a beehive from his wife, Joanne de la Rionda. Over the next three years, his hobby morphed into farmers market appearances, then on to small retail accounts. The popularity of their honey grew quickly, prompting them to officially start the business in 2010.

Their initial two hives have grown to over 50 throughout North Carolina. Most of the hives are about one mile north of Charlotte, while some honey bees are maintained on the LEED certified Green roof of the Ritz Carlton located downtown.

Gift sets like the Hive Favorite and Tea Lovers are filled with taster-size jars of whipped, infused and traditional natural honeys. Choose from flavors like Lavender, Orange Blossom, Vanilla Bourbon or Power Seed. I really love that Cloister Honey supports Cookies for Kids’ Cancer with their special label of salted honey. For every purchase, they donate $3.50 to the organization.

You can find their honey in a bunch of great shops in and around the Charlotte area. Visit their website, to find a retailer near you — or to place an order online.

Zola Craft Gallery

Situated in Durham’s Ninth Street District, this gallery teems with beautifully crafted jewelry, paintings, pottery, glass and other items. They’ve been around since 1995 and feature over 100 artists and craftsmen, so your gift selection here is quite varied.

While you’re in the area, make sure and explore the well curated indie shops that make up the Ninth Street district. You’ll find eclectic shops that feature clothing, books, memorabilia and other items. For more information about Zola Craft Gallery, visit their website at

Old School Mill, Inc.

Aptly named, this Albemarle, N.C. company was the brainstorm of David Hinson (1955-2010) who was inspired by creating foods the way our grandparents and their grandparents did. He built a molasses mill and later took over an antique grist mill, making those old-time flours, grits and meals available to a new generation.

His wife Robin and son, Parker, continue to live out David’s mission offering stone ground grits, baking mixes, and a nice selection of jams, sauces and molasses. The Southern Favorites Gift Basket, Breakfast Spread Gift Set and Cornbread Skillet Gift Set are all great options. Or, create your own with a two- or three- item gift set. You can visit their retail store and restaurant, Old School Mill’s Fresh House, on Main Street in Locust, or order online at

Village Soapsmith

Located in Pinehurst, Village Soapsmith was the result of Bonnie Howard’s desire to create natural bath products using homemaking skills she learned from her grandmother. Upon retirement, Bonnie moved to Pinehurst to enjoy the golf. Although she liked playing often, her creativity and independent nature beckoned her to do more.

The Pinehurst Memories Soap and Golf Ball Soap set make great gifts for the golfer on your list. Bonnie also has a beautiful (and wonderfully scented) selection of holiday-inspired soaps (Christmas trees, pine cones, etc.). Visit her retail location in Pinehurst, or go to the Village Soapsmith website.

Ready to start shopping? Visit to plan your route, make hotel reservations and much more!

(Original Hammock photo by Hazel Legate)

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