Support these alumni-owned businesses for graduation gifts

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

Bassigue Clothing's newest collection features a classic zip-up sweatshirt with a pastel, color-blocked pattern, part of a growing trend in 2022.

There is no better way to welcome your graduate into the post-grad life than with a gift from the alumni network they will soon be joining.

From an avant-garde clothing company selling fits worthy of your next job interview to mini cakes sold in jars for any sweet tooth celebrating their graduation, these alumni-owned businesses have the perfect gift for any graduate. Gift a product from one of these small businesses to show your support for alumni and your love for your graduate.

Bassigue Clothing
A combination of “basic” and “vogue,” alumna Gamze Keklik and her business partner Asli Acar started Bassigue in 2015 to create a line of basic wardrobe staples, like cropped tees and hoodies, that fit with modern fashion trends. The shop’s newest collection features a classic zip-up sweatshirt with a pastel, color-blocked pattern, part of a growing trend in 2022. The Bassigue brand was first sold online and at Beymens, a department store in Turkey, before hitting U.S markets at Wolf & Badger in New York. Bassigue dubs itself a “sustainably aware” brand that uses recycled materials in designs and packaging to provide clothes that its customers can feel reassured to buy.

Volley Tequila Seltzer
“When you drink Volley, you’re declaring yourself a believer in ‘good, clean fun,’” the founders of this alumni-owned business declare. The business offers drinks made from pure blue agave tequila with no added sugars and organic juice at 5.2 percent alcohol, designed for the graduate looking to relax with their college friends one last time. Alumnus Chris Wirth, his wife Camila and two of his fellow alumni Cory Grever and Caroline Shumway started Volley in 2020, designing a drink without excessive sugar to lessen the day-after illness after hangovers started to exhaust them after college. Their drinks have received a variety of positive reviews for their refreshing feel compared to other hard seltzers. Volley is available for purchase online as well as at several liquor stores in the District.

Penance Hall
Maturity is acknowledging that socks are an exciting gift – especially when they’re soft, sustainably produced and domestically manufactured. Penance Hall socks are all of that, with a variety of 11 different colors and combinations. Alumnus D. Turner Swicegood founded the company along with two U.S. Navy officers to sell high-quality socks made from merino wool, a thinner and softer material. Though the socks are American-made, the business model has international origins at the U.S embassy in Baghdad, where the trio noticed a lack of colorful socks for show. “Everybody in the embassy was wearing black socks, except for me,” Steinman told The Hatchet in 2014. “There’s no single company that you think of when you think about socks.” Penance Hall, with its signature thin striped design on vibrant-colored socks, fills that gap with fashionable flair.

SneaxByArish
Graduates will need an eye-catching pair of shoes to match any new pair of bright-colored socks, and SneaxByArish fits the bill. Founded by alumna Annie Rishty during her first year at GW in 2015, SneaxByArish sells shoes, including Timberlands and Nike AirForce 1s, with custom hand-painted designs. “I hadn’t taken a drawing or art class in years, but I started sketching some stuff out, and it just kind of came together,” Rishty said in a Hatchet interview in 2016. Rishty paints each pair of shoes to the buyer’s requests with designs ranging from cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Spongebob as well as animals like dogs and tigers. A newly-designed pair of kicks from SneaxByArish can make for a memorable gift for your recently-graduated loved one.

District Derp
Celebrate your graduate’s momentous accomplishment with a two-in-one gift comprised of weed and dog art. Alumni Chris Licata and Anais Hayes founded District Derp, a nonmedical cannabis company, in 2018 to sell prints of paintings made by their dog paired with pre-rolls, cartridges and a variety of edibles. To keep this business model up and running, Sudo – a four-year-old Alaskan Klee Kai – paints with a brush in her mouth to create the prints that feature paw prints to abstract work filled with color splotches that could give Picasso a run for his money. District Derp is one of the District’s cannabis shops that “gifts” marijuana to customers who buy other products, finding a loophole in D.C. law, which prohibits the sale and purchase of marijuana. Have your pick at Sudo’s masterpieces in frames ranging in size from 4×6 to 16×20.

Don’t Forget Cake!
Cake is a mandatory part of every celebration, but sometimes a full-sized cake can be too much to swallow. Look no further than this alumni-owned business that sells cakes in jars for the perfect serving size to satisfy your sweet tooth. These cake-in-jar creations by alumnus Warren Brown make gifts that satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, similar in size to a jar of ice cream. Brown came to GW in 1995 as a law student, but he quit his job as an attorney to pursue his passion as a baker. The jar-filled desserts, made of two layers of cake split by two layers of frosting, come in seven flavors ranging from Tres Leche to Carrot Cake, all made with real cream cheese frosting. The cakes in a jar are available for purchase online, with a 10 percent off discount with code STOPCOVID.

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