Friday, September 30, 2011

It's ALIVE! Breathe Life into the Craft (and crafters!)

Some of you my have noticed that the Etsy Mini has returned - will soon have things in it!

I have decided that for this holiday shopping season I would put some of my things back on my Etsy store.  Not all of them, and not all at once.

There will also be new treasures once they have been photographed.  Little by little, more things will show in all three of the shops I run - not just the one on Etsy, but my Zibbet store, and my MadeItMyself shop.  It doesn't matter where the purchases come from, so long as they come, so far as I am concerned. 

Etsy is the only one that charges per post and then takes 3% of the total sale, so its fees are the most expensive, but sadly is also the most popular, so yes, it will be populated from now until around the end of January.

Remember what I said in September, about hand-crafters needing support this holiday season? This is the kind of thing I'm talking about.  It's not free to post things on all these sites where you find your hand-crated trinkets and jewelry and furniture and toys, clothes, shoes, accessories, whathaveyou! 

Those of us who hand-craft put money up in the hopes of making it back, just like any business.  The problem with most hand-crafters is, they don't have the huge amounts of money to spend on advertising.  We all rely on each other, social media, and small ads here and there when affordable.  The more we make of course, the more we can spend, but that fluctuates so much that we never really know what our budget will be! 

We hand-crafters can't make something from nothing - most of our budget goes back into materials - NOT into our pockets.  Having been a skilled carpenter's daughter (and may he laugh at me from where he is now to hear me calling him a skilled carpenter, since I know I got my dissatisfaction of ANYTHING I made from the same trait in him) I know the general prices of lumber.  So when I see something like this:

I know that time was spent selecting the wood, and I also know that cherry wood doesn't come cheap!  Beyond just buying it, it has to be lovingly shaped, molded and joined to produce a beauty like this!  I also would not be shocked if this is the product of about 50 trial-and-hatred attempts.  A good half of my father's "scrap lumber" came from him building a shelf or even the furniture that up until a few weeks ago had been in our living room - He'd look at the "finished" product before stain or seal, judge it "That sucks!" and rip it apart before any of us could stop him - or even ask what was wrong with it!  (Usually it was a "that joint isn't quite right" or "that looks off" or "it's not squared right" - imperfections that WE couldn't see, but he could.)  He could spot an imperfection in his work faster than I spot imperfections in my own! But we both share that "Nope, I hate it!" trait.  Perfectionists.  Gotta love us!

In short, the price for that table isn't "IKEA" cheap.  It's also not "Department Store" cheap.  It's up there with the much more expensive lines of furniture from places like Thomasville.  Built well from solid and beautiful materials, crafted with love, not necessarily to order.

Clay is another thing so many people take for granted when looking at prices.  Sculpey's cheap! you may say.

Yes. Most Polymer clays come in blocks for around $3-4.  .... But it's a block of clay.  What good is that if you don't have the talent to shape it, mold it, sculpt it into a thing of beauty?  Would you believe this to be made of Polymer Clay?

Looks more like porcelain or plastic doesn't it?  No, this was made with Polymer Clay.  Something like this takes a LOT of time, a LOT of work, and a LOT of attention to detail.  So even though you might consider the materials "cheap", the asked price of this peice is NOT "out of order" or "too expensive". 

Is your time worth money to you?  Ours is.  If we're going to work hours to create things, how is that different to the hours YOU work in an office, or at a retail job?  We pay our employees the same way your company pays you.  They put out some kind of product, which then is bought, and the money goes back into the company for supplies, wages, overhead... No different with a hand-crafter.  Only a hand-crafter usually puts a lot more effort into their work considering they don't use a giant factory to pump out 200,000 of their item.  Uusually there's only 1-2 of that item, if it's not a One Of A Kind (OOAK), or a custom item, or a made-to-order item.  A hand-crafter took many hours to create that item, a factory takes the same time to make thousands of their item, coldly, impersonally, and as cheaply as the law allows.  Who cares if it falls apart the first time you use/wear it?  The Factory/Company typically doesn't, as long as the sales keep pouring in.

Hand-crafters want repeat business from quality or referrals.  Not because someone has to go out and replace something that broke, fell apart, or was faulty.  Imperfections always can happen, but we care a little more about getting it right the FIRST time.

So now you have a little MORE to think about behind the scenes.

Hand-Crafters often have to deal with up front or after-sale fees for the places they list their items.
Hand-Crafters spend 90% of their sales on materials.
Hand-Crafters spend far more time on their items than any Big Box Company.
Hand-Crafters typically have a HUGE "Quality Assurance" instinct.
Hand-Crafters are a LOT less likely to sell you a faulty product, then grin gleefully as you buy a second one to replace the first.

Need more reasons?  I'm sure I'll come up with a few more reasons of why you should buy handmade this holiday season!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Big Box Mentality and Christmas Shopping

It's getting to be that time of year, where hordes of folks go out to the malls, to the shops, hunting down That Special Thing for That Certain Someone (or Those Certain Someones, or just for that thing for someone so they aren't insulted - don't be shy, we all have them!), or looking for That Decoration that will spark off this year's celebration focus.

Most of you will likely go to stores where you can buy boxes of decorations or gifts for cheap, considering that this year's economy is very tight.  Many of you will not even leave your home, saving gas by looking online for your items.

Consider this for a moment if you will -

Bellina Creations says it all very well

Why not look to purchase a few handmade items this year, whether it be a gift, or a decoration. 

Why not make it a point to hunt down a shop that's not doing the best, or has very few sales, and see if something from there catches your fancy? 

I know you likely have a budget, but so does every one of those artists who put their heart and soul into creating, who are put down and stomped on every time they hear "I can get that cheaper at the mall," or "that's really expensive for (Insert Item Here)."

Why not support one (OR MORE!!) of the sellers of hand-crafted items this holiday season?  Why not make their holiday brighter by having a few sales, offering them the little extra money to maybe pick up a Special Something for their Certain Someone(s) this year?

Stop putting money into the pockets of those who send their jobs to other countries.  Support one of your local hand-crafters instead.