D.C. may be known for politics, monuments, and museums, but the city is also home to some great shopping—especially when it comes to locally made souvenirs.
Over the past three years, stores like Shop Made in DC and Steadfast Supply have opened multiple locations with a mission to promote Washington’s most talented makers, helping connect locals and visitors alike with more meaningful products. Even some D.C. institutions like the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. have started carrying local gifts, making it easier than ever to bring home a piece of the city.
When visiting, forgo the designer shops at CityCenterDC for stores or markets dedicated to made-in-D.C. products and you’ll leave with a one-of-a-kind memento. To help guide your shopping, look for our favorite local goods listed below.
Allison Street NW
A nonprofit director by day and designer by night, Allie Stifel is the woman behind Allison Street NW—a line of handcrafted clay earrings in shapes like rectangles, triangles, and half-moons. Available in both pierced and clip-on styles, the earrings are lightweight and easy to wear, adding a touch of funky style to any outfit. Named after women who inspire Allie, the drop earrings and studs come in neutral colors—white, granite, and matte black—and can be found at Steadfast Supply and Shop Made in DC.
District of Clothing
Designed to inspire conversation and build confidence, the T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats from District of Clothing bear slogans like “Dreamer Doer,” “Trust Black Women,” and “So Ambitious.” Designer and entrepreneur Dionna Dorsey founded the line in 2014 and has since been featured everywhere from the Washington Informer to Marie Claire for her comfy yet stylish clothing. Pick up one of her pieces at Shop Made in DC or the National Museum of Women in the Arts gift shop and you’ll head home empowered.
Stitch & Rivet
A bag and leather goods studio in Northeast D.C., Stitch & Rivet works with leathers and vegan-friendly waxed canvases from exclusively American finishers, tanneries, and salvage warehouses. Committed to eliminating waste, the workshop uses every remnant possible, then donates the leftover pieces to school groups, scout troops, and local artists. While the line is known for its day bags, totes, and clutches (as well as accessories like wallets, passport covers, and key rings), we particularly like the Made in DC leather coasters, which come embossed with the D.C. flag. Get them at Steadfast Supply or Shop Made in DC, or visit Stitch & Rivet’s Edgewood studio, which also hosts workshops on making belts, leather notebook covers, and more.
DC Is My City
Carlos Carmonamedina moved to D.C. from France when his wife accepted a job at American University. A designer and illustrator, he decided to use art to familiarize himself with his new home, drawing scenes he encountered while biking around the city. In 2016, he launched his DC Is My City series, for which he created one new illustration a week inspired by anniversaries, current events, or even his commute. The resulting project features more than 150 illustrations of both famous sites and off-the-beaten-path places, but whether of mounted police in front of the Capitol or a barbershop in Mount Pleasant, they all capture the human side of the city. Find the prints at one of Shop Made in DC’s three locations.
Hooked & Loopy
After growing disillusioned with her daughter’s plastic toys, Sarah Potter started crocheting animals and public figures for her to play with instead. The hobby eventually became Hooked & Loopy, a collection of figurines made from 100 percent cotton yarn and sold everywhere from Shop Made in DC to the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The toys range from animals and food to TV and movie characters, but for something especially local, pick up the Ruth Bader Ginsberg doll.
Pearl Fine Teas
Started in 2007, this small, independent, woman-owned business specializes in the direct sourcing of rare, single-origin teas. Founder Elise Scott studied herbalism for 10 years and became the first certified tea master in D.C. by the Specialty Tea Institute before launching Pearl. Now, she regularly travels to tea-producing countries like Taiwan, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Korea to seek out underappreciated tea masters and bring their products to Washington. Her teas—which range from standard white, green, and black to oolong, Earl Grey, and rooibos—are sold at local farmers’ markets in Virginia and Maryland as well as at D.C. cafés like Zeke’s Coffee, Dent Place Market, and Alchemist Coffee Company.
Modern Bar Cart
Founded by Erik Kozlik, Modern Bar Cart is on a mission to make great cocktails available to everyone. The company started with a line of bitters in flavors like orange, lavender, and chocolate, but it has since expanded to cocktail syrups, apple cider vinegar shrubs, and even tools like muddlers and glassware. For something unique, grab the Iki Japanese bitters—a mix of wasabi, seaweed, sencha green tea, and shiitake mushrooms that the bottle instructs works well in “dark, savory, boozy drinks” and pairs best with “Japanese whisky and other brooding spirits.” You can find it at Shop Made in DC.
>>Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Travel Guide to Washington, D.C.
Natalie Beauregard Natalie is a a New York-based writer and editor focused on travel, food, and drink. Her work has appeared in AFAR, TimeOut, Fodor’s Travel, Edible Brooklyn, Serious Eats, and Vox Creative, among others.