A happy couple hugging in their living room while they hold a bouquet of roses.
Small businesses that create unique and personalized gifts are especially attractive to customers during the lead-up to Valentine's Day. — Getty Images/ PeopleImages

Valentine’s Day is for every type of love, romantic or otherwise. Marketing around the day tends to promote a lot of spending on expensive jewelry or fine dining, but in today’s market, there are so many alternatives. These five small businesses do things a little differently to deliver refined products with personal touches for that special someone.

FINE & RAW Chocolate

Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like chocolate. And FINE & RAW Chocolate says, “above all else, be in love with the chocolate you eat.” Handmade daily in Brooklyn, this quaint chocolate factory takes this indulgent delicacy very seriously.

FINE & RAW Owner Daniel Sklaar is a self-taught chocolatier who honed his craft through YouTube videos and experimentation. He opened his chocolaterie in 2007 and went from making small batches for friends to having a global reach online.

From sourcing the world’s finest cacao beans to ensuring all ingredients are clean, organic, and plant-based, this confectioner holds itself to a high standard. According to Sklaar, the beans are flash-roasted so the shells are cooked but the inner nib stays raw. This is the best way to sanitize the food while keeping the antioxidant value high.

FINE & RAW is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a limited edition line that includes various gift sets, chocolate bars spelling out “love,” and beveled heart-shaped truffles.

Freestyle Vinyl

Music is a love language all its own, and the digitization of this media has opened up access like never before. However, some music buffs argue that the fidelity of digital music is weaker and advocate for the physical reproduction of audio recordings. That’s where Freestyle Vinyl comes in to record music in its purest form, with the customer’s personal touches of track selection and album artwork design.

Longing for the days of physical music and mixtapes, David Slenk put Freestyle Vinyl into motion in 2017. Combining customization and nostalgia in a disc, this Chicagoan business has pressed over 25,000 records since its inception.

The options include 7”, 10”, and 12” albums, and the ability to customize the record art or album sleeves. With Freestyle Vinyl, people can experience the magic of listening to high fidelity tunes and elevate it even more through this personalized service to create a treasured keepsake.

My Custom Candy makes custom printed mints and candies for bulk order, with personalized heart shaped candies inspiring the business.

Native Poppy

Flowers are another classic Valentine’s Day gift, and Native Poppy in San Diego, California, is a one-stop shop for single arrangements, bouquet subscriptions, and floral workshops.

Natalie Gill launched this small floral shop in 2014 after putting together arrangements with friends in her backyard. Taking some creative liberties, she came up with the idea of a daily flower menu and opted not to follow the traditional single-bloom, dozen-stem formula. In 2018, Gill’s first employee, Meghan Blancato, became Native Poppy’s co-owner.

Native Poppy has two shops, one in South Park and one in Solana Beach. Both are decorated to the nines with seasonal art installations and a signature stem bar. There is a third location to pick up from — the warehouse — located in Mission Valley. The company also delivers fresh plants locally and other merchandise nationally. There is a special Valentine’s Day menu that includes varieties of pink and red flowers, petal confetti, themed gift sets, cards, jewelry, candy, and other goods made by local artisans.

Lime & Lou

Owned and operated by a team of serial movers and visual creatives, Lime & Lou creates one-of-a-kind art pieces that freeze a moment in time — an anniversary, wedding day, or shared milestone — that will keep a memory alive for you and your Valentine.

Sofie Van Der Straeten and Tamar Meller put this vision into motion in 2021 after moving around quite a bit. They both realized the key to feeling comfortable in a new place was personalizing their space and felt this is probably a universal truth. So they created a small business that specializes in custom art that transposes favorite photos, song lyrics, or significant locations onto canvas, metal, or acrylic.

Lime & Lou also makes personalized embroidered hoodies for couples and families. A purveyor of sentimentality, this business will do well this February 14th.

My Custom Candy

What started as a side project in 2015 quickly over-delivered and became Sarah Hannington’s full-time gig. My Custom Candy makes custom-printed mints and candies for bulk order, with personalized heart-shaped candies inspiring the business.

After losing the original manufacturer that helped Hannington get her feet off the ground, she had to “figure out how to produce the candy, print on it, and set up a food licensed facility.” That took about a year, but as of 2020, the company had increased production capacity by 300%.

The six weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day are the most hectic of the entire year, with corporations like Soundcloud and Kiehl’s submitting large orders for conversation hearts. This is a great way for big companies to get into the holiday spirit with their customers or employees.

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