Keep It Local Blog
Stories, interviews, and local insights that we hope will inspire you to support the local shops, restaurants, and services that make Oklahoma unique.
Every summer I look forward to growing wildflowers in my backyard. Developing my gardening and landscaping philosophies has been a long, enjoyable process for me. I really believe in planting things that flourish in their environment with very little care. Maybe because I am lazy. Maybe because it feels more natural. For sure because growing native plants is an excellent predictor of gardening success.
My favorite thing to grow in my Oklahoma backyard garden is wildflowers. They take very little watering and they grow like crazy, especially when you clip them often. This is the dream of an interior stylist who loves to have fresh blooms in her home.
It's late summer now and too late to plant wildflower seeds because of the heat, so you should find a friend with a wildflower garden and ask for some flowers. AND you should also ask that friend what their favorite flowers are and which grow best. I've been walking around my neighborhood noticing which plants are thriving, which direction they face, and how much light they get, so I can plan my flowerbeds for next year. It's time to take notes and ask questions so you can have allllll the flowers next year.
If you want to make a plan for next summer, here's my trusty starter guide to planting an Oklahoma wildflower garden.
Ashley Daly co-owns Retro Den, a home store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that buys, sells, and trades vintage home goods and furniture. Also find locally crafted homewares, as well as air-plants and regionally grown succulents. Everything you need to make your home a place that gives you energy and joy. Follow them on Instagram at @retrodentulsa.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first son, I had all of these dreams and plans on how balancing a baby at the shop was going to go. It went something like this: I would have the cutest outfit on while wearing my precious, sleeping baby who wore a darling handknit romper that never got spit up on it and I would calmly be helping customers shop. Baby would never cause a scene and my customers would be so understanding if I needed to close the shop for a few minutes while I breastfed him. It is so comical to think on now. Somehow (and I really don’t know how) I took both of my sons with me to work every day until they were around two, when I put them in Mother’s Day Out. I had a pak-n-play in the bathroom where they took naps. I lived in a constant state of fear that a customer was going to trip (and sue me) on one of the million toys that were scattered all over the store. There were sooo many evenings where I closed an hour early because I was done and they were losing their minds and I didn’t want someone to come in and see me crack. Sorry if you were one of those people who came in while we were unexpectantly closed. Having children "period" is probably one of the most difficult things in life. Bringing your children with you to work is just pure insanity. I think I did it for two reasons: The thought of my kids spending a good chunk of their day away from me was too hard. I know every mom struggles with that. I was lucky enough to have the option to bring them to work with me. The other reason was that a friend told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. That is probably the main reason. I was bound and determined to prove her wrong. My husband always jokes with me that the thing I say more than anything is “I can do it by myself”. And that is probably my biggest takeaway as I look back at having to close my shop, Collected Thread.
Trying to balance having my kids at work with me AND run the shop AND provide engaging customer service was too much for one person. I wish I had asked for help more. I wish I had taken people up on their offer to help with the kids or help me with my window display installation or pay for someone to do my freaking bookkeeping! I wish I had been able to take some of the load off my plate because then, instead of treading water and barely staying afloat, maybe I could have looked more objectively at the whole situation and made it better. As much as I love doing the bookkeeping (I know, I know, Big Nerd), and the buying for the shop, and talking with customers, and making new displays, and promoting our brand, and everything else; there were people in my life already who could have done a much better job and made my business much stronger.
Am I saying not to bring your children to work with you if you have that opportunity? No! I would make that choice again in a heartbeat. You CAN do it. But make sure you are leaning on others for help. You can’t do it all well. Something is going to get lost or sacrificed. Make sure you have people in your life (who you will listen to) who will call you out when it starts to become too much. Take a step back every so often and ask yourself if there are areas that someone else could be doing a better job. Moral of this story: Asking for help can make you stronger, not weak.
Lindsay is a talented creative and the former owner of Collected Thread, a local retail shop that was located in Oklahoma City's Plaza District for nine years.
If I’m being honest, gift-giving is the least of my love languages. The same goes for my husband. Together, we don’t make a great gift-giving pair but we try our best! Luckily, I find that shopping for gifts is one of the easiest things to do locally. While it would have been easy to focus this blog around the holidays, I thought it might be more helpful to focus on gift-giving year round. From baby births to loved ones passing, and all the gifts that happen in between.
For the most part, my friends and I have pretty similar interests and styles, so I don’t usually fret too much about where to shop. Books, records, candles, barware and vintage treasures are what I tend to lean toward. Some galfriend shopping staples for me are Plenty Mercantile, Guestroom Records, Commonplace Books, RINK Gallery, DNA Galleries, Shop Good and Chirps & Cheers. Booze and restaurant gift cards are also my go-to. I usually grab a Good Egg Dining card so the recipient has lots of choices and Broadway Wine Merchants is always a great place to find something special.
For the kiddos: Green Bambino, Porch Art Supply, Commonplace Books.
For the parents: Curbside Flowers, TLC Garden Center, Native Summit, Coki Bay, The Plant Shoppe
For the siblings: local restaurant gift cards, Easy Freezy Meals gift card
Love & Babies
I’m pretty practical when it comes to gifts, so I don’t want to ignore the realistic necessities that babies and new homes bring. With people out of town, it’s so easy to just ship the gifts right off the registry. So, when I’m shopping for someone locally I try and find something small and special at a local store to add along with the crib sheets or hand towels on a registry. My favorite places to shop for something special: Plenty Mercantile, Green Bambino, Urbane. I also discovered The Lingerie Store for bachelorettes for the brides-to-be.
For the last few years, we’ve decided on a theme as a way to help us narrow gift shopping down. Picking a broad theme such as books allows us to go fewer places but still find something that interest the individuals. Last year we bought most of our gifts at Commonplace Books, the year before we made our own art, and the year before we bought booze from local liquor stores.
What does shopping more local mean for a millenial(ish) couple who are striving to have a more minimal lifestyle when it comes to material things?
For this reason, we really like to make gifts super practical or super sentimental. If we can’t find a gift that meets either of those categories, we tend to give experiences and gift cards...which can all be found locally!
What is the feasibility of a commitment to shop local for those that do not have much flexibility or resources? For the single mom, the family living paycheck to paycheck, the person without access to reliable transportation?
No matter your budget, there is a local store that offers something affordable. Mix and match smaller gifts, homemade gifts and gifts from big box stores. It’s not the size or price tag of the gift that matters!
So ~plot twist~ I’m currently writing this from a coffee shop in downtown Denver. If you follow me or Keep It Local on Instagram, you know that I recently made the move West, leaving my my Oklahoma home of 23 years. It’s been a bittersweet process, but it honestly made my last district takeover on Instagram that much more fun. My most recent takeover was in Automobile Alley, debatably the heart of downtown OKC. I couldn’t think of a more fitting place to have some of my last local experiences (read: I’m really mad it took me this long to find some of these places that I can’t go to anymore, so PLEASE GO AND I WILL LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH YOUR INSTAGRAM POSTS). That being said, these were a few of my Automobile Alley favorites.
OKCollective Candle Co.
I was fortunate enough to meet one of the owners of OKCollective Candle Co., the new business that occupies the can’t-miss-it pink shipping container on 9th St. I learned that they create all their own scents, so they’re essentially scientists/candle mixologists which is pretty amazing. They have everything from woodsy and dark to bright and floral. “Don’t kill my vibe” is one of their more popular scents, which is exactly how I felt after leaving with two mini candles of my own. I left with “Take a Hike” and “Make Love not War.” If you need me, I’ll be too zen-ed out to be bothered thanks to these guys.
Shopping local is great, but shopping at a local store that helps others is even better. Siempre Viva checks both of those boxes. Every item in the store is made from artisans in Southern Mexico with the goal of creating sustainable access to employment. On top of supporting local businesses and artisans, they just have really beautiful and unique products in the store. So much so that I actually ended up going back two days later to buy a shirt that I now literally live in every day (hey, let’s not judge, okay?). Siempre Viva is a great local option for interesting pieces that will make your home and closet one-of-a-kind.
I know...I know, it’s the business I can’t stop talking about. Just across the street from OK Collective Candle Co. and sharing a space with Siempre Viva is Twinkle Apothecary. It can be easy to swap restaurants or even your wardrobe out for local alternatives, but beauty and self-care products can be harder to find – or so I thought. Twinkle makes that switch so much easier. They have everything from dry shampoo to CBD chocolates, both of which I’ve bought, tried, and completely fallen in love with. Seriously, try this place out and see how many swaps for local goods you can make. Also, they have online ordering so you better believe I’ll be placing some orders from here on out.
All it took was a little exploring to realize what kind of awesome businesses were right in my backyard. And while I can’t wait to find favorites in my new “local” scenario, there’s something really unique about the small business community in Oklahoma that can’t be replicated. Go explore it for yourself – I promise it won’t disappoint.
Natalie is the former Creative Lead at Keep It Local OK. She loves puppies and matcha. Follow her on Instagram at @natalierayh.
Getting to know clients is one of the best parts of my job. Discovering their careers, family structures, religious leanings, and political ideals is a true delight in my day. Listening to fellow Oklahomans has made me realize how vibrant our state has been and is becoming.
When catching up with clients, there are two conversations that come to mind. The first topic, a sort of "Whats new in Oklahoma City,” consists of new restaurants, bars, and retail. A blend of rumor, fact, and desire to be in the know fuels this conversation.
The second, is often about traveling to a city that is way “cooler" than our own.
Clients will rave about a dining experience as if they've never had pork chops before, or a shopping experience like it was visiting Mecca, and froth over a hotel as if it changed the way they perceive reality.
When thinking about these “cooler” cities there is a very distinct picture that they paint. Austin has a cultured weirdness. Seattle claims coffee, grunge and NPR. Denver is bountiful with breweries, subarus and edibles. More recently you hear tale of smaller southern markets being hailed as the new king of cool; Charleston or Nashville comes to mind.
So whats their deal? Why do these cities have a perception of being so much cooler?
When comparing, we [Oklahoma City] have great local restaurants, a thriving coffee scene, super trendy retail, breweries, and salons/barbershops. The list is long. Just visit the Keep It Local business members page and you'll be quickly overwhelmed.
So this begs the questions, Who are we? (Que cheesy BBC documentary about the fabric of human existence, and say “who are we” in a British accent). At a glance you can write us off as any other midwestern city. Our identity could be perceived as vague. But what makes us unique is that we are a deeply relational city. A “Big Friendly” as we’ve been coined. We are more likely to stop and talk when It is inconvenient. When we ask "hows it going?" we mean it. We champion our neighbors, we have a relational culture of selflessness that is hard to find.
I’m ok with not living in a perceived “cooler" market, in fact, they can keep their cool. Oklahoma City is great, not because we have fantastic local businesses, but because we want to be good neighbors. To me, that is a trade off worth having.
Jake Phelps is the owner of Capital City Barbershop and lives in NW Oklahoma City. He is married and has 2 little girls. In his free time, he loves all things BBQ and guitar pedals. Follow Jake on Instagram at @jakelahoma & @capital_city_ok