Our annual gift guide this year features stuff you can get from amputees, for anyone.
by Melissa Bean Sterzick
Amplitude typically focuses its holiday gift-giving articles on products that are targeted to amputee recipients. This year we decided to switch things up and emphasize products and services that are aimed at general consumers but offered by amputee-owned small businesses.
This new approach lets us feature a broader selection of merchandise than we typically do, while spotlighting some little-known people and niches within the limb-loss community. It also enables you to channel your purchasing power toward small businesses that share your values and experiences. By devoting some of your holiday shopping budget to these companies, you can support the amputee community as a whole.
Our list of amputee-owned enterprises runs the gamut from winemaking and card collecting to clothing design, photography, crafts, kitchenware, and beyond. We’ve also included a few businesses that offer specialty products for amputees. If you want to buy some great gifts while supporting people with limb difference, here’s where to start.
Sports memorabilia is a $26 billion business, and it’s still growing. You can scratch your itch for cards, autographs, game-worn jerseys, and other mementos at Roadshow Cards. Cathy Green Mahan (a below-elbow amputee) and her husband, Jimmy, operate storefronts in four states and an online store, and they have a YouTube series about the card industry and the people in it. While the Mahans are passionate about cards, they’re even more enthusiastic about the community of buyers, sellers, product designers, and friends they have formed in the business. Visit their locations in Kentucky, California, Texas, and New York, or order online. roadshowcards.com
Love By JM Wood Flower Designs
Jacqueline McMillan used wood flowers in her wedding in 2017, and she loved them so much that she started making them herself. The project grew into a business, Love by JM Wood Flower Designs, which offers art and decor made from “hands-free” painted wood flowers. The hands-free label refers to McMillan’s limb difference: She became a quadruple amputee in 2009 after a long fight with sepsis. Her designs have been displayed at the University of South Alabama, and she sells them at arts and crafts fairs or online with nationwide shipping. McMillan says the best thing about her arrangements is they never die. lovebyjm.com
Everyday Chic Boutique
A love of shoes and shopping, an entrepreneurial spirit, and degrees in marketing and graphic design gave Karli Harris Pennington (a below-knee-amputee) the perfect starting point for her dream job. She is the founder and CEO of Everyday Chic Boutique—also known as ECB Nation—an award-winning emporium of women’s clothes, shoes, and accessories located in Wilmington, Ohio. Pennington’s goal is to provide more than just clothes—she wants to provide her customers with a shopping experience that is efficient and fun. ECB ships across the United States and internationally. everydaychicboutique.com
Easy Access Travel
Debra Kerper, a bilateral amputee, hasn’t missed out on travel because of her physical challenges—she’s been to 30 countries and gone on more than 90 cruises. Kerper has used her experience traveling with a disability to make vacations easy and enjoyable for others via Easy Access Travel, which specializes in accessible cruise vacations and land tours for people with disabilities. Her focus is on minimizing frustrations by trying to eliminate surprises and informing clients of the situations they may encounter. Accessible trips for 2024 include a cruise from Galveston, Texas, with port calls in Roatán, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and a tour of South Africa with stops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pilanesberg National Park. easyaccesstravel.com
Kasey Jean Rajotte and her husband, Tyler, operate Minnesota-based Studio Twelve:52 Photography and Twelve:52 Pets. They travel around the country doing photo shoots for weddings, events, and portraits. Rajotte is a former sports and concert photographer who has been published nationally in outlets such as US Weekly. She’s also a congenital amputee who spreads awareness about amniotic band syndrome (and limb difference in general) through speaking engagements and YouTube videos (@kaseyjean). In addition to creating family portraits and documenting special occasions, the Rajottes specialize in fur-baby photography through their spinoff project, Twelve:52 Pets. StudioTwelve52.com
Chef Eduardo Garcia (an upper-limb amputee) started his business making small-batch salsas in 2008 with a passion for cooking, a mission to empower the home chef, and a belief in the power of food to connect individuals and families. Since then, Montana Mex has gone from a farmer’s market stall in Bozeman, Montana, to national distribution, along with a cooking show called Big Sky Kitchen broadcast on the Magnolia Network and Discovery Plus. The company sells seasoning blends, sauces, and other merchandise, and shares recipes online. chefeduardo.com
Paralympic track and field medalist Hunter Woodhall (a bilateral below-knee amputee) and two friends decided to make the search for the perfect hoodie as easy as possible by designing one themselves. The comfy-clothes craze set off by the COVID pandemic gave them a boost, and by the fall of 2020, Giant Hoodies had gained hundreds of thousands of social media followers and a customer base they call The Hoodie Fam—which includes Oprah Winfrey. The company sells more than 5,000 product combinations of hoodies, sweatshirts, and shirts and ships them all over the world in eco-friendly packaging. gianthoodies.com
InnSpiration Vines & Wines
Paul and Sheila Thomsen started their InnSpiration Winery & Vacation Destination in Linn Grove, Iowa, in 2005, as a bed and breakfast. Guests enjoyed a comfy overnight stay, sightseeing, and wine tasting in a beautiful location surrounded by vineyards. Before long, the couple built a winery that’s set up for meetings, small receptions, and reunions. Paul did much of the building himself, and Sheila (a below-knee amputee) has had a defining influence on the site’s accessibility. If a trip to Iowa isn’t possible, the Thomsens ship their reds and whites almost anywhere in the United States, and their wine club delivers four bottles a year right to your door. innspirationretreat.com
Offroad Babes Official Clothing
Before she lost both legs in her 20s, Alyssa Salemi was already a rarity—a woman who loved to explore old Jeep roads and 4×4 trails on her own, unaccompanied by men. She’s continued to roam the unpaved backcountry as a bilateral amputee, while using her art degree to design fashionable, sporty clothing that celebrates the spirit of adventurous women. ORBO’s catalog includes hoodies, shirts, swimwear, tank tops, leggings, and a slew of accessories. Although the company’s tagline reads “Babes Support Babes,” there’s a smattering of merchandise for fellows, too. orboclothingco.com
An amputee’s path to fulfillment is a winding road, but Katy Hayes makes the most of the trip. She paints original pieces, shown on her website, and recreates photographs of landscapes, pets, and people. Hayes says it’s easy for amputees to feel invisible, and she uses her creativity to amplify her voice and encourage others not to give up hope. She’s also written a book, Beautifully Broken; The Katy Hayes Story, about losing all four limbs to infection after the birth of her third child. Learn more about Hayes’ trials and triumphs on her YouTube channel @katyhayes34.
Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery is perched on the picturesque Connecticut River waterfront in Brattleboro, Vermont. Co-owner David Hiler (an above-knee amputee) taps his life experience in the hospitality industry to create a congenial atmosphere with great food and gorgeous views. One of the company’s unique services, Pints for Parks, is a collaboration between Whetstone Beer and Vermont State Parks, where twice each year Whetstone creates a limited-edition beer celebrating a different state park. Every Whetstone beer can has a removable, collectible sticker on the label. Shipping is available across the United States. whetstonebeer.com
Ben Lovell experienced isolation and depression after losing his leg in 2017. He channeled his grief into making a difference for other amputees by creating AMP Camp, a program that combines health, fitness, and wellness with a five-star vacation experience. These all-inclusive packages enable participants to build connections with other individuals and families from the limb-loss community. They’re scheduled throughout the year in Tenerife (the largest and most heavily visited island of the Canary Islands) and Florida. If you’ve got a young amputee in your life, check out AMP Camp Kids. theampcamp.com
Technically we’re breaking format here, because the company that publishes Amplitude is not amputee-owned. But make no mistake: This is your magazine. It provides a home to your voices and perspectives, and your stake in it grows with every issue. With Amplitude moving toward a new subscription model in 2024, this is a perfect time to gift yourself (or a relative or a friend) another year’s worth of articles of, by, and for the limb-loss community. At just $10 (if you act before December 31), it makes for a perfect stocking stuffer or last-minute sweetener. Visit our subscription page to find out how you can brighten someone’s holidays with an Amplitude subscription. livingwithamplitude.com/subscribe
Joan MacDonald had been a designer and dressmaker for over 20 years before her above-knee amputation in 2018. She wanted a customized prosthetic cover for herself, but hard-shell options cost hundreds of dollars. She launched Socket Socks to give amputees a more affordable option to show their style and personality. Made of colorful fabrics with whimsical designs, Socket Socks come in all sizes and are available for both upper- and lower-limb amputees. socketsocks.com