Contact us
milwaukee holiday gift guide

Looking for a last-minute holiday gift? There’s no better way to support local businesses than by sharing a piece of your hometown with loved ones.

Milwaukee is filled with talented, creative entrepreneurs that truly make Milwaukee what it is. We’ve got an eclectic group of business owners that take pride in their craft and the products they share with the world. In this guide, we interview a few of our favorite local Milwaukee small business owners!

Brush Box


Brush Box is a subscription craft box service that encourages people to harness their inner-creative skills by creating their own superhero. Started by Amber Thomas and KaDi Jones, they hand package each box with tons of different crafting materials like fun colored papers, pompoms, string, glitter, beads, mesh, and more.

Where did you get the inspiration to create Brush Box?

“Amber was inspired to create Brush Box once she saw the need for people to feel connected as she herself wanted to feel connected to others. So she decided to create an art experience that would bring about community. The superhero directive is something she saw brought a lot of her clients together and got them involved in the project, one another and the environment surrounding them.”

Kadi and Amber

Why is art therapy so important for people of all ages?

“Art therapy is important because it’s a therapeutic method that anyone can communicate through. Art is a universal language and it can have a strong impact on your mood simply from the process of making it.”

If you could use one sentence to describe Milwaukee, what would it be?

“One word… small-waukee.”

What’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee and why?

“Pierhead lighthouse area. It’s the perfect place to set up the tripod and take bomb photoshoots, duh.”

Bunny’s Bite

bunnys bite

Bunny’s Bite offers a wide-arrange of tasty vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free baked goods– perfect for your loved ones with or without dietary restrictions! You’ll be blown away by all of the tasty goods that Madeline Ruyle, owner of Bunny’s Bite, has to offer. Just some of the tasty tidbits include Double Chocolate Matcha Sandwich Cookies, Maple Mango Pecan Cookies, Walnut Streusel Banana Bread, and more.

When did you start Bunny’s Bite?

“Bunny’s Bite spontaneously started in the summer of 2016 as a creative project. It didn’t take very long for it to grow into a serious food blog. After two years of doing the food blog, I got licensed and started to sell my products in the spring of 2018.”

What’s the background story?

“It all started when I first met my significant other 5 ½ years ago. I was vegetarian at the time and he was and still is super lactose intolerant. So, we basically ended up becoming vegan together. We ate eggs sometimes, but it was a very plant-forward diet. We’re both big foodies so every date night we’d cook together and make something beautiful and delicious. He is a talented amateur photographer so every time we’d cook, we’d have a little photo shoot of the food we made. After a while of doing this with him, I decided to make a separate Instagram for our food creations. The name Bunny’s Bite came to me because I was nicknamed Bunny by my boyfriend and his family.”

madeline at festival

What was a pivotal moment for your business?

“After two years of working in a bakery and waitressing while juggling the food blog, I got invited to sell my desserts at a big vegan festival in Glendale. I had a huge fan base and this was the first time they were going to be able to try my desserts. After that first festival, I think I worked maybe one or two more weeks at my waitressing job before getting my next invitation to attend another festival the following month. That’s when I decided to quit my waitressing job and go all-in with Bunny’s Bite.”


canni store

With the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act in 2018, which legalized the sale of CBD products in all 50 states, CBD has taken the country by storm with hemp-derived products coming in many different forms. Colin Plant opened Canni in September of 2018 and has rapidly grown in the past few months, including the introduction of their own CBD line. CBD can be used to treat a variety of ailments, but the most common include pain relief, a way to ease anxiety and help those with sleeping disorders.

Why did you open Canni? 

“Our driving force was to create a comfortable, and informative experience in shopping for cannabis and other plant-based products. As cannabis enthusiasts, we felt we could offer our guidance to those looking to explore these alternatives in a very relatable and genuine approach. Our goal was to also develop our own products by supporting local farmers, extractors, and some of the best in the industry located here in our home state.”

What’s your favorite product/type of product you’d recommend for customers who are unfamiliar with CBD? 

“We are oil fanatics! We believe that the sublingual method is the healthiest and most bioavailable way to consume and throughout our journey have found some of the best products in the market, made all across the country. With that said, we took inspiration from many before us to craft our formulations with our farmers and lab.

My favorite would have to be our “Coast” blend for daily balance and alignment. If I am looking for more of a kick, our full-spectrum, 1200 formulation is made with orange and lemon oil as well as maple syrup to create a more full-bodied flavor and effect.”

canni oil

If you could use one sentence to describe Milwaukee, what would it be? 

“Milwaukee is home to some of the most genuine, resilient, and creative people I have ever met, and I am proud to call it home.”

What’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee and why? 

“Maybe a bit biased, but I am a south sider born and raised and my favorite spot to work, play, and watch grow over the years has been our neighborhood of Walker’s Point. From culinary to the art scene, to the music (when that was a thing) our neighborhood unlocks a vibe unlike any other place in the city! We love it.”

Jali Fruit Co.

jali stocking

Jali Fruit Co. is a tree-to-table dried fruit snack company that creates delicious, guilt-free munchies that are deeply-rooted in sustainability and social responsibility. Jali works with women-owned farms across the world to provide them with fair wages all while reducing the amount of global food waste. Joshua Shefner, Founder of Jali and Agricycle, tells us a bit more Jali:

What’s the background story of Jali and Agricycle? 

“The idea came as an outgrowth of a university project that asked if you could create incomes for farmers with excess mangoes by dehydrating them. The answer was “sort of,” and the farmers really showed us how it was a lot more than just designing a machine and handing over a manual.

After a few years of iterating on the concept and model, Agricycle was created, and our mission evolved too. We’re closing the gap between farmers in developing economies and global markets with a vertically integrated supply chain, incorporating each step, from technology to training to branding and sales, and covering so much more than just dried mangoes.”

What makes Jali different from other dried fruit snacks? 

“Jali is special because of how real it is. First of all, it’s absolutely delicious, and all it took was drying in the African sun–we don’t add any preservatives or sugars, making it truly natural. What people normally talk about, however, is the storytelling. Each bag is traceable from farm to table with hand-labeled QR codes that trace each bag back to their exact origins (and shares the story of the community who dried them). Creating that connection, and not having just one representative story for every bag, has been resonating with people.”

feeling Jali Pineapple

 if you could use one sentence to describe Milwaukee, what would it be?

“I’m not sure I can expand on my feelings in a sentence without needing to write a paragraph, but the word that comes to mind is “promising.” Things feel special right now, both nationally and here in the city, and I think we’re in the right place to be making an impact. We’ve gotten so much support from mentors and programs in Milwaukee that I couldn’t imagine us being somewhere else.”

What’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee and why?

“The Riverwalk and the steps just north of Kilbourn. I’ve had many great walks with friends where we ended up sitting and talking on the steps there.”

Midwest Cowboy

ahmed screen printing

Ahmed Ali was raised in Minneapolis and went to college in Milwaukee…if there’s one thing for certain about this guy, it’s that he absolutely loves the Midwest. He decided to share his passion by launching Midwest Cowboy in the summer of 2019. His apparel designs are bold and unapologetically inspired by all of the good stuff the Midwest has to offer — not just cornfields.

What’s your favorite part about creating?

“My favorite thing about creating is immersing myself in the community being able to connect and build new relationships with other creatives. I feel like I discovered another world in Milwaukee ever since I started creating. It amazes me how much talent this city has to offer.

There’s no requirement to create you just do it! Especially for myself, someone who went to UW-Milwaukee for Health Science with no education in any arts. Overall, getting positive messages of people wearing my clothes. It’s the best feeling having someone random rock my stuff.”

ahemed logo print

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

“Not to fall in the trap of comparing yourself to others, which is something I need to work on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in your niche and do not feel discouraged to slide in the DM of someone who is killing in the space. People love helping each other out. Also, don’t sleep on Youtube University!”

If you could use one sentence to describe Milwaukee, what would it be?

“One word…grit.”

What’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee and why?

“Either Trinity or Red White & Blue.”

Mild Tiger

jason ludtke

Jason Ludtke is a dude that takes immense pride in all of his fun designs with goodies ranging from prints, pins, patches, shirts, and stickers. If you take a look through his online Etsy shop, you’re certain to find something that you absolutely adore. Many of his designs are Milwaukee-centric that convey a sense of good vibes and positive energy.

Where do you find your inspiration from when creating your art?

“It might sound cliche, but my work comes from my life. Sometimes it’s super literal and it’s almost shot for shot of how things are, like the illustration of my cat Alfie, perched on my shoulders. That is an everyday thing.

Other times, it’s more abstract and it’s like how do I give a shape to this feeling. What does grief look like? When I was first grieving the loss of our first baby, I scribbled this very saturated pointy shape in my sketchbook, which I used to give a shape to that feeling of grief and later used to tell a story about processing grief. Finding a creative way to express what you’re going through, whether it’s sorrow or joy, it can be very cathartic.

My therapist once told me grief shared is halved and joy shared is doubled. Art does all of that.”

What’s the most satisfying part about being a designer? 

“What I enjoy most about being a designer would be a tie between the big idea “what if we could do that” phase and collaborating with folks. I think developing an idea and sharing and building on it with other people is one of the most exciting things.”

What’s your favorite piece that you’ve made?

“Most recently, I released a print featuring an illustration of a bicycle where the spokes spell out LOVE. Definitely inspired by my love of cycling but if it were an actual bicycle, you couldn’t ride it. It would just absolutely crumble.”

mild tiger love bike

If you could use one sentence to describe Milwaukee, what would it be? 

“The best little city with the world’s greatest people. We are truly gifted with such creative, caring, and hardworking folks here. “

What’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee and why?

“We’ve got such amazing green spaces within the city. Anywhere with trees and water.”

We plan on highlighting more small businesses in the coming months! Are you a small business owner or know someone who is? Drop us a line at and we’ll be in touch with you to schedule an interview!

Happy Holidays from Zealous Advertising,

Closing Names

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google
Consent to display content from - Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from - Sound