There is no better place to get into the holiday spirit than at the Downtown Holiday Market on Eighth and F Street NW in Gallery Place. The market is open daily from 12 to 8 p.m. until Dec. 23.
This year marks the 19th annual Downtown Holiday Market, promoting more than 70 businesses and six food vendors. The market is arranged by the DowntownDC Foundation, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve community relations through environmental, social and economic programs.
For Kristen VanZandt, CEO and founder of KVZ Designs, the holiday market serves as an important way to sell and promote her jewelry and textile goods.
“This is my biggest market of the year,” VanZandt said.
Everything that Kristen sells is handmade by Tz’utujil artisans in Guatemala. While working and volunteering as a nurse in their region, she formed a relationship with the Indigenous people who create traditional crafts and jewelry and began a business to highlight their accomplishments.
“I work directly with them, particularly for the beadwork,” VanZandt said.
VanZandt designs the jewelry for KVZ Designs herself and ships the supplies directly to the artisan workers who make them. Her necklaces and bracelets are the most popular items.
Alongside KVZ Designs, several other imported craft shops are featured at the market, including Alyssa Bazaar, Tunisian Touch, Mundo Handmade, Indie Blossom and Toro Mata. Imported items such as pottery, kitchenware, glass art and accessories are sold at the market from all around the world.
Local artists from the D.C. area have also set up shop at the holiday market to sell paintings, prints, stationery and more.
Right Place Studio is a community favorite, owned by artist Samantha Testa. Her D.C.-inspired watercolor prints and calligraphy work make the perfect gift this holiday season, and can be bought at the holiday market or her studio located in Brookland.
For those shopping for lifestyle products and cosmetics, Olive & Loom has you covered. Owner Ferzan Jaeger, originally from Turkey, started Olive & Loom in 2016. She sells home linens, candles, jewelry and self-care items.
“We hire refugee women settled in D.C. to make the candles,” Jaeger said.
Jaeger said she was inspired to help the local refugee community when the Syrian civil war was at its peak. She taught the community how to make candles and hired some to be a part of her team.
“We give them economic independence,” Jaeger said.
Her selection of soft and silky robes, towels and blankets are made by small manufacturers in Turkey.
“We design our products and we pick our colorways, then we get them made,” Jaeger said.
Jaeger also sells specialty soaps alongside other local businesses, such as Raw Blossom and Best Life Organics. BannerBee Co., based in Montgomery County, offers soaps, lip balm and lotion made from 100 percent organic and cruelty-free bee products.
Aside from shopping, the holiday market also provides customers with delicious food options to enjoy. The pop-up shop A Little Slice of Europe offers a variety of European cheeses to purchase and sample for free. Alongside A Little Slice of Europe, the market also has food and drinks from other vendors such as The Taste of Germany and Old Blue BBQ.
People from all over the D.C. area come every year to the Downtown Holiday Market to enjoy the spirit of the holidays and it is a special tradition for many vendors. The market offers holiday fun until it closes on Dec. 23.
“It’s a fun market,” VanZandt said. “The crowds are always very happy.”
This article was edited by Sara Winick, Patricia McGee and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Olivia Citarella and Luna Jinks.