Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why Buy Handmade?

Selling handmade items, you will occasionally run into people who ask you why they should buy your handmade necklace when Target sells silver jewelry (or knit scarfs, or coffee mugs, etc) for less money. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Target, but handmade and mass produced items are two entirely different kettles of fish. I have had to try to come up with a good answer to these questions, and here is what I've got:

Handmade items can be unique or one of a kind - if the item is truly handmade, the crafter/artist isn't going to be churning out hundreds of thousands of them, so you will be buying something that very few other people have or that you can't even find in a store.

Each handmade item has a story - if you ask a handmade artist about a certain piece of their work, most likely they will be able to tell you the story of how it was made. Point to one of my chainmaille bracelets and I could tell you about how I managed to drop a container of hundreds of jump rings all over my carpet when I was making it. Or a knitter could show you where she zoned out counting stitches and ended up making an entirely new pattern. Items stamped out on an assembly line don't have much of a story to tell.

Handmade items are often higher quality than mass produced - Of course there are differing levels of talent  in the handmade marketplace, but the quality of well made handmade items is frequently higher than goods made in overseas factories. Handmade artists often use better materials than you can find in big box stores and a well crafted handmade item can last you a lifetime.

Buying handmade supports small businesses and individuals - Buying a scarf from Target won't make an impact on their bottom line, but buying a handmade scarf from a one-person craft business makes a big difference to that one person. Buying handmade can also be a political statement against corporations that might not have the fairest business practices or labor standards.

When you buy a handmade item, you have the chance to deal one-on-one with a real person, not getting lost in a corporate machine.

Buying handmade often has a lower impact on the environment. Handmade and "green" often go hand-in-hand, with many crafters and artists using sustainable materials and practices. This also often means that you can find more options for organic or "green" items from handmade sellers.

Handmade artisans keep traditional production techniques alive. With so many mass produced goods made by machines in faraway factories, many people don't know exactly how some items are made. Handmade artisans frequently like to share their craft, on blogs and in person and this keeps the knowledge of traditional techniques alive for future generations to enjoy.

So check out Etsy (I'm there!) or an arts festival or a craft fair and check out the amazing handmade artists that are making unique, one of a kind items that you can't find in big box stores.

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