Friday, December 5, 2014

Who is Handmade

The biggest shopping season of the year is upon us, and many of us are preparing to swarm the big box retailers to gather all kinds of deeply discounted [mass produced] items. Meanwhile a niche of the global community is toiling away, creating things that can't be found in those stores. Makers in places near and far are designing, painting, carving, stitching, weaving, and building magical things, including a revival of small business values, such as attention to detail, customer service, ownership. But who is handmade, and why should you buy from them?
While I can't speak for every other creative person hoping to win your favor and your business, I can clarify in short, from my years in making and selling my art, what I do, why it has value, and why you should patronize makers and small business in general.
In fact, I'll just run down a quick list of what it takes for me to present something I make for you to add to your collection. I hope this list, in some ways, is a nod to what many creative professionals do, but I don't flatter myself to think I know their business like I do mine. Anyway, here's the quick rundown. In my [one woman] company, from the point of idea, to arrival at your door:
  1. Concept/design: including sketches, measurements, various details.
  2. Research unknown aspects needed for the piece.
  3. Acquisition of supplies.
  4. Trial and error, which happens even with an established, repeatedly created design.
  5. Completion of the piece.
  6. Pricing (including research) the new item.
  7. Photographing, photo editing, copywriting, for the new item.
  8. Shop/website administration
  9. Marketing and  promotion to help you find the item.
  10. Package design/packing/shipping.
  11. Customer service.
  12. Bookkeeping.
I'm sure I've left steps out, and they vary from one project/piece to another. Also, this list does not factor in the costs (such as advertising, overhead, supplies) to create original work and offer it to the public. It's a lot, and it takes organization, hard work, and dedication. When you invest in handmade/creative services/small business, you contribute to economic independence over big business, self sufficience over corporate control, and old fashioned ingenuity, resourcefulness, and creativity over mass-distributed indifference. I don't mean to turn a shopping choice into a political statement, lol, but the statement "we vote with our wallets" does have a ring of truth to it. What's more important for me to convey is the care and attention that goes into something you buy handmade. And choosing even one of the gifts you give from a small business, instead of one of millions off a conveyor belt this holiday season speaks volumes.
If you've read this far into my little crusade for "the little guy", thank you! And if you've patronized a small/creative business, thank you again! A very handmade holiday to you.