Monday, December 01, 2008

why buy handmade?

i try to keep my rants few and far between, but sometimes i think i hold back a little too much. i mean, what's a blog for if not to express ourselves? but since it is Cyber Monday and all, and i am a seller of goods online, i am just brimming with thoughts that i need to share. i think about this stuff all the time, and most of my friends do too, as many of them are makers, artists, or designers as well. but i wonder about people who don't 'make a living making things'. are they as conscientious consumers as we makers are?

about three years ago, i pledged to myself to stop buying clothing made by corporations, basically all of whom use overseas sweatshop labor. i am a self-employed clothing designer, and live on a very tight budget. so the clothes i tended to wear were what i could afford; most frequently H & M. i would meet people and eventually it would come up that i make clothes, so the immediate question would be "oh, did you make what you're wearing?" and inevitably the answer was "no, it's H & M!" this began to deeply disturb me. it wasn't that i wasn't making clothes, but i felt it was more important to bring the pieces i made to one of my local indie boutiques, not keep them to wear myself. so i have been slowly trying to convert my wardrobe to self-made, other independent maker-made, or vintage. originally there were certain categories i considered exemptions, like jeans, coats, and underwear. but slowly i am coming around to the idea that i can make EVERYTHING i need! i would say i'm about 30% there, but i try to at least wear something handmade every day.

anyway, the point i really wanted to make today is this: if you can't make the things you want and need, at least carefully consider your choices when you hand over your hard-earned dollars. greedy corporations sell cheap products at the expense of others. we are all feeling the effects of the current state of the economy, but most of us will still shop more this month, to buy gifts for our loved ones, than at any other time of the year. try to shop locally and support small businesses over national chains. attend your local farmer's markets and craft fairs and buy directly from independent producers. consider buying one higher-quality handmade gift for each person, rather than lots of disposable items. be someone's first customer. when you buy from the hands that made the piece, there is a soul and a story behind it. we just saw how important it is to VOTE and that the result can change the world. most people don't think of shopping as voting, but it is. every dollar you spend is a vote of support, so choose your candidates wisely!

ok, i'll wrap this up since i'm not used to writing so much. check out the handmade pledge. etsy's gift guides are amazing; you'll be surprised what you can find there! and today is the last day of my free shipping/25% off promotion in the shop. thanks for reading and let me know what YOU think!


Christina said...

I agree that buying handmade is best. I'm not quite proficient with sewing yet but I definitely won't buy something I can make myself, like hats and scarves.

erin said...

well said cal! i'm definitely trying my best to buy all my friends and family handmade and/or local this year.