There is no better way to start off the new year than by supporting your local businesses and making smart, responsible purchasing decisions. Buying small and local is good for so many different reasons. Firstly, it is good for the environment, as it reduces emissions caused by transportation. Also, it stimulates and supports the economy in your local area, it supports the dreams and livelihood of passionate entrepreneurs, it provides new jobs in your area, and so much more. I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t support these amazing brands, so here is my guide to the small businesses to support in 2021, for each and every type of person.
1. For the foodie - M.A.T Tacos
This vibrant, colourful, authentic Mexican restaurant absolutely took my breath away. It is located on Strada Mircea Vulcănescu, about 15 minutes away from Piața Victoriei, in a cozy but cool restaurant. What is so special about M.A.T tacos is that all of their ingredients are locally sourced and incredibly fresh, and their cooking techniques are authentic to Mexican cuisine. They cultivate their own corn for their delicious tortillas in a field outside of Bucharest, and mill it in an original corn mill purchased from Mexico. The masa mixture (the dough which their tortillas are made out of, and which their name is derived from - masa artisanal taqueria) is prepared into tortillas daily, which have the most scrumptious and toasty taste, acting as a perfect base for their flavourful tacos.
Their menu includes mouth watering options, for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike, such as tacos with beef, lamb, fish, sweet potato, cauliflower and more. Their combinations of vegetables, sauces and other toppings makes these tacos one of the best Mexican dishes that I have ever tasted. When I visited the restaurant this January (photo on the left) I tasted the beef tacos and lamb tacos, which were a true Mexican fiesta in my mouth. I also ate the cornmeal, pistachio and rose cake that I strongly recommend, and they also have a chocolate and cherry cake that I can’t wait to try next time, as well as their other tacos. Support this incredible business by following them on Instagram @matbucuresti, or visiting their restaurant which is open on Thursdays to Sundays. If you prefer to stay home they are also available for delivery on Glovo, Tazz and FoodPanda.
2. For the book lover - OMG Publishing
OMG Publishing is a youthful and innovative Romanian publishing house, founded in 2019, and based in Cluj Napoca, Romania. They print a variety of contemporary Romanian works of fiction and non-fiction, including works of narrative, poetry, philosophy, and literary theory. So far they offer books under the categories of OHMYGODPOETRY and OHMYGODTHEORY, but their OHMYGODFICTION category is said to be coming soon, so make sure to be on the lookout for that. They carry authors such as Sebastian Big, Lucian Brad and Deniz Otay, all modern and compelling Romanian authors that are definitely worth supporting.
What makes OMG Publishing so intriguing and special to me is their overall mission and aesthetic. Even if you are not a big reader, I believe that it is worth following OMG Publishing for their modern, fresh and almost psychedelic aesthetic alone. They perfectly target their audience of young people, with everything from the catchy name, to their 3D-looking logo, which creates a laid back and fresh brand image. All of the books published under OMG Publishing have gorgeous, hypnotising cover designs, and are all sold at very reasonable prices. Unfortunately, this company only sells books in Romanian at the moment, but we never know what the future holds. You can still support the brand by following them on Instagram @ohmygodpublishing, which I highly recommend, as their social media is very aesthetically pleasing. You can purchase their books directly from their website, www.omgpublishing.ro, or through Cărturești.
3. For the environmentally conscious - Marilyn Soaps
Marilyn Soaps is an artisanal soap brand that uses 100% natural ingredients. They encourage reducing plastic usage, with their sustainable blocks of soap and shampoo that don’t use any plastic containers or bottles. Their packaging is also fully sustainable, making use of recyclable paper and corrugated cardboard, rope as well as dried flowers. This elegant and beautiful packaging is one of the most unique selling points for Marylin Soaps, in my opinion. I have never seen such carefully crafted and meticulously designed packaging, that is also sustainable, used by a small business.
However, let us not forget the most important part, the soaps themselves. Marilyn Soaps offers a wide variety of hydrating, exfoliating and detoxifying soaps, each with their own unique benefits. They use ingredients such as olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, Shea butter, and add ins such as lavender, cinnamon, turmeric, coffee grounds, marigold, mint, active charcoal and essential oils. Their production process is also extremely fascinating. The oils and butters are kept at a low temperature, in order to fully maintain their nutritional properties, and the glycerin produced as a result of the soap making is conserved in the soap, in order to provide a delicate cleansing of the skin. If you are looking to purchase new soaps or shampoo I truly recommend this brand, as their prices are also extremely affordable (15-25lei). The orders are carried out directly through their Instagram account, @marilyn.soap.
4. For the avid tea drinker - Blop.ro
Blop is a gorgeous ceramics business that I discovered through Instagram. They sell handmade and hand painted ceramic containers, and are best known for their exquisite mugs and teapots, hence the recommendation for tea lovers to check them out. However, Blop also produces and sells ceramic trays, plates, vases, bowls, fondue sets and more. Their designs are intricate and sweet, featuring small flowers, stars, spirals and other delicate, nature-inspired patterns. Their colour scheme focuses on a rich, calming royal blue, complemented by warm oranges and reds, cheerful yellows, chocolatey browns and forest greens.
Their Instagram page, @blop.ro, will instantly transport you into a magical, Disney- movie-like world. You can explore their various ceramic collections, such as “Iarna pe Uliță” (winter on the lane), “Lalele, frumoasele mele” (tulips, my beauties), “Vacanță Grecească” (Greek holiday), “Inimi pentru Inimi” (hearts for hearts), and more, as well as be the first to find out about new collections. The ceramics are sold at an extremely reasonable price, considering their detail, durability and high-quality craftsmanship, as they are hand made, and there surely is something for everyone available to purchase. You can shop on their website www.blop.ro, or visit their showroom on Strada Brazilia 13 - check out their website for the schedule and reservations.
5. For the candle snob - Liniște Candles
Personally, I love candles. I find them incredibly relaxing and stunning to look at, and I am so thrilled that I discovered this amazing candle business. The name “Liniște Candles” (quiet candles) couldn’t be more perfect, as they instantly transmit a sense of peace, tranquility and quiet to me. Based in Cluj Napoca, Liniște Candles sells a variety of hand poured, 100% soy candles with a satisfying crackling wick, for a perfect burn every single time. An aspect of Liniște Candles that I find wonderful is their creative, and at times funny, candle names, such as “Turtă dulce ca tine” (gingerbread as sweet as you), “Tiramisu fără regrete” (tiramisu without regrets) and “Dovleac melancolic” (melancholic pumpkin), just to name a few. They carry scents such as vanilla, eucalyptus, musk, rum, cinnamon, tangerine, coffee, caramel, peony, rose, charcoal and more.
Their website and Instagram page carry a variety of useful information that I found very interesting. To start off, the choice of soy wax, rather than paraffin or petroleum based wax blends, was a very deliberate one, chosen due to its non-toxic burning quality, clean and crisp burn, stronger smell when burnt, as well as the sustainability of the ingredient. Liniște Candles also provides abundant information regarding how to care for the candles, which is crucial. This includes things like allowing the first layer of the candle to fully burn when you first light it, due to the “memory” effect of the candle, trimming the wick before each use and more. Find out more and support the business on their website www.eliniste.ro, and on their Instagram @liniste.candles.