12 gifts to give this holiday season that were made by Mercerians

Collage of 12 photos featured in article

Support a fellow Mercerian this holiday season by shopping from businesses owned by Mercer University alumni, students, employees and Innovation Center fellows. Whether you’re buying presents for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, another holiday or just because, these Mercerians are sure to have a gift your friends and family will love.

Z Beans Coffee

Wrap up some premium coffee for your favorite caffeine addict. Mercer alumnus Shane Buerster founded Z Beans Coffee after a Mercer On Mission trip inspired him to create sustainable solutions for Ecuadorian coffee farmers. Shop gifts from bagged coffee and single serve “Z-Cups” to bottled cold brew concentrate and chocolate to mugs and apparel at zbeanscoffee.com. Or visit a Z Beans cafe — at Mercer Village, downtown and Coliseum Hospital in Macon and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus — for a handcrafted drink while you’re out and about.

Kingfisher Leatherworks

Consider a handcrafted leather good from Kingfisher Leatherworks for the sportsman in your life. Mercer student Luke Kolbie, a senior finance major and entrepreneurship minor, grew his hobby into a business, which sells fine, handcrafted leather goods geared toward sportsmen. Kingfisher Leatherworks sells products such as belts, wallets, weekend bags, cartridge bags, purses and bottle totes, which can be purchased online at kingfisherleatherworks.com as well as about 20 specialty retail stores across the East Coast.

Leslee Mitchell Art

Bring a pop of color to any room with a toy car print from Leslee Mitchell Art. Photographer Leslee Mitchell is a Mercer Law alumna who is known for her Matchbox car prints, as well as wedding and interior photography. Her toy car prints come in a bright array of colors — including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, mint and pink — and feature a variety of different vehicles that will delight children and car enthusiasts alike. Also on her website, lesleemitchellart.com, you can find adorable Christmas gift wrap and gift tags.

Worthwhile Pursuits

Give the gift of time to your kids this holiday season with interactive family games Find Me Funzy the Fox and Love You Lickey the Labrador. Mercer alumni Bryan and Julie Scott started Worthwhile Pursuits, the company that sells the family games. Their signature product, Find Me Funzy the Fox, is a seven-day interactive hide-and-seek game for the whole family. Love You Lickey the Labrador is a tickle game that parents, grandparents and other other loved ones can play with their children. Both games, sold at worthwhilepursuits.com, come with a stuffed animal and book to lead the family through the activities.

KUDU Open Fire Grill

The KUDU Open Fire Grill would look great at any fan’s tailgate. Mercer Law alumnus Stebin Horne created the KUDU grill after he visited South Africa and fell in love with the traditional braais in which family and friends gathered around an open flame to cook and eat. The KUDU grill is a versatile cooking system that allows cooks to grill, bake, sear, sauté, smoke, steam and fry — all over an open fire — while friends and family enjoy the food in an unhurried way. The grill and various accessories are available at kudugrills.com.

Royalty Headwear

Pamper your friends with natural hair by giving a Royalty Headwear product. Mercer alumni Jabril Edmondson and DeShun Gilchrist created Royalty Headwear after they became frustrated with traditional durags. Their flagship product, the Royalty Rag, features one strap and is made of soft spandex that maintains moisture and provides better compression than other durags on the market. You can buy the Royalty Rag on their website, royaltyheadwear.com, along with the Royalty Cap, a compression headpiece; brushes; and pomade.


Banish broken cellphone chargers with Angled, an attachment that goes over your existing charging cable to keep it from fraying or breaking. Mercer Innovation Center fellow Christopher Rice created Angled after he got tired of buying a new cellphone charger every time the wire frayed. The attachment, for purchase at angledprotect.com, comes in various designs featuring emojis, food, sports and more. Angled’s small size makes it the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who owns a wired charger, whether its for a cellphone, headphones or other gadget.

Lux Leonis Skin Care

After a year like 2020, we all need a little more self care. Lux Leonis Skin Care offers just that through its various skin care products for your face, body and hair. Dr. Ania Rynarzewska, an assistant professor in the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business, founded Lux Leonis to provide sustainable luxury skin care products to its customers and educational opportunities to Mercer students. The handcrafted soaps are as beautiful as they are nourishing to the skin. Special holiday soaps depicting the three wise men, wintery scenes and snowflakes are available along with all other products at luxleonisskincare.com.

Bear Food

Satisfy cravings for both the sweet and savory with Bear Food, gourmet peanuts that come in several delicious flavors. Founder Mac Brydon, a Mercer alumnus, uses a time-honored family recipe, but that’s not all that’s special about the company. Through its fulfillment center, Bear Food helps young adults with disabilities get job experience, encouragement and training for the future. On its website, bearfood.biz, you can find peanuts of all varieties, including Bear Food’s best seller dill pickle gourmet peanuts. Other flavors include double-dipped chocolate, jalapeno, lightly salted, cajun spiced and butter toasted.

Steve Berry Books

For bibliophiles and history buffs on your shopping list, check out the Cotton Malone book series. In the series, written by New York Times best-selling author and Mercer Law alumnus Steve Berry, the titular character is a former Justice Department operative who travels the world facing deadly threats. For new readers, start with “The Templar Legacy,” the first book in the series. For friends who already are fans, Berry’s latest book, “The Kaiser’s Web,” coming Feb. 23, is available for preorder now. Books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or ask your favorite local bookseller.

Macon Merch

Help Maconites on your list show their hometown pride by giving them uniquely Macon apparel. Graphic designer Matt Smith, director of digital communications at Mercer, grew up in Macon and has a great passion and appreciation for his city. Earlier this year, he created the Macon Shirts for Good campaign, raising over $23,000 for local businesses suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith’s Macon-centric designs, featuring the city name and 478 area code, are printed on T-shirts, trucker hats and stickers and come in a variety of colors. Order online at maconmerchtable.com/macon-merch.

Georgia Artisan

For a one-of-a-kind gift, consider giving something handcrafted from reclaimed wood. Georgia Artisan, founded by Mercer alumnus Andrew Eck, recovers wood from blighted houses in Macon and gives them new life as premium artisan furniture. On its website, georgiaartisan.com, you can order furniture for the dining room, kitchen, living room and bedroom. Check out the handmade beer flight that holds 5-ounce sample glasses for the craft beer connoisseur in your life.

This story features just a sampling of the amazing businesses run by Mercerians. Many of the businesses shown here have been featured in The Den’s “Mercer Made” series in which we write about notable people, businesses, products and inventions connected to Mercer. If you have a business you’d like us to consider, please email den@mercer.edu and put “Mercer Made” in the subject line.


Do you have a story idea or viewpoint you'd like to share with The Den?
Get in touch with us by emailing den@mercer.edu or submitting this online form.
Jennifer Falk
Jennifer Falk is director of digital communications at Mercer. She edits and writes feature stories for The Den and examines web data and analytics to drive content decisions. She also creates and supervises the creation of content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters.