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Gifts By Panthers, For Panthers

And for everyone else on your list. The Pitt Alumni Association shares 11 Pitt entrepreneurs you can support while gift shopping this holiday season.

As major retailers like Walmart and Amazon face supply chain shortages, there’s never been a better time to support artisans and shop locally. Pitt business expert Prakash Mirchandani explains why:

"To make the local economy strong and vibrant, one has to purchase locally to ensure those businesses continue to grow," says Mirchandani, director of the Center for Supply Chain Management and a professor in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. "It's more convenient to sit on your laptop and order from a big online player, but my advice is to support your local businesses by doing your holiday shopping there."

Doing so allows for more unique gift offerings that keep your dollars in the community, Mirchandani says. It's also more sustainable.

"There's cost to the environment in delivering, because packaging gets thrown away. That sustainability cost can be avoided by picking things up locally."

He expects supply chains will emerge stronger after the pandemic but, in the interim, offered this insight: Love your neighbor — don't stockpile.

"Make sure your family and loved ones are provided for, but at the same time, think about other people who also have their loved ones and families. Don't buy more than what you need."

If you’re looking for alternatives to shopping with big online retailers or chain stores, the Pitt Alumni Association has you covered. They shared a list of Panther entrepreneurs selling gifts this holiday season that will help make everyone on your list feel merry and bright.


Art prints

Give the gift of color. Sagar Kamath (ENGR ’20), in partnership with his father, creates contemporary works inspired by South Asian motifs and culture through their collaboration, Pinaka Arts, based in Pittsburgh. 

Homemade gourmet marshmallows 

Sink your sweet tooth into some delectable marshmallows from Baltimore, Maryland-based Sweet Jumbles. Don’t miss Kristin M. Russell’s (A&S ’99, ’05) inspired take on holiday classics like her gingerbread man marshmallows or chocolate-dipped peppermint marshmallows.

A Jamaican resort stay

Treat your loved ones to a stay at Gail Jackson’s (ENGR ’79) Negril Tree House Resort in Jamaica. Give the gift of sunshine, beautiful beaches and a kickin’ reggae soundtrack.

Drink mixers

Why not gift a shrub? No, not a bush — a cocktail mix-in. Heirloom Bottling Co, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is the brainchild of Bradford Zulick (A&S ’98) and the place to buy shrubs, which are non-alcoholic syrups made of a combination of concentrated fruits, aromatics, sugar and vinegar. 

Axe throwing

Time to de-stress! Gift your loved ones a trip to LumberjAxes, Pittsburgh’s first competitive axe-throwing venue. Launched in 2017 by Matthew Peyton (A&S ’12) and two of his friends, LumberjAxes is an experience your friends and family will be talking about for years to come.


A bouquet is a classic and classy way to thank a holiday host or hostess. Cheryl Bakin (CGS ’74) is the proprietor of Parkway Florist, a Pittsburgh-area shop featuring contemporary floral designs and same-day local delivery.


Give the gift of scent with a candle from Blis 23 Candle Company. Jasmine Thompson’s (EDUC ’19) creations are clean-burning, non-toxic and 100% soy wax. Check out her seasonal, sweet-smelling offerings: sweater weather and cozy vibes. Handcrafted in Pittsburgh.

Christmas ornaments

Every tree could use a little more razzle-dazzle. Leah Curry (BUS ’16G) is the woman behind Keystone Steel Co., where she creates modern farmhouse decor from raw steel. Her store features a wide selection of Christmas ornament designs — everything from basset hounds to kayaks. 


Pamper winter-worn hands with a manicure. Purchase a gift certificate to Polish’d Essence Nail Services and let School of Education student, C’enna Crosby, provide a relaxing, restorative experience in her shop on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Fitness classes

Help your friends and family in New Jersey stick to their New Year fitness goals by buying them a membership to David Lorenzo Jr.’s (A&S ’13) gym, R.D.T. Fitness and Performance. Gym members can train via Cross Fit and receive physical therapy and nutritional counseling. 


Pitt staff member Jon Malek uses his camera lens to shares his love of Pitt with the world. Purchase an artful print of the Cathedral of Learning or the Monongahela Incline from this Pittsburgh photographer.