For much of what I spend my money on, I love handmade. I buy handmade, I make handmade and I sell handmade. I have salvaged handmade from rubbish skips and opportunity shops, the world over. Just yesterday, I was asked why handmade is so special and why I bother making in the first place when “similar” things can be found all over the place, in malls and department stores. Strangely, these days one is asked directly why one does this and even how one’s business is progressing. Even by people one has only just met! It often feels intrusive and, more than once, hostile. I am often stumped as to what to answer. I know there are people out there who do what I do, so I shall be referring to “we”. If you are reading this, then you know who you are.
So what really is so special about handmade? It really is a mistake to compare handmade with mass production and even multi-level marketing or direct marketing as it has become known. There is no comparison and it is not sold the same way. We don’t buy it in the same way or even receive it in the same way. What we do is made to order, bespoke, custom and very often, unique.
Buying handmade is more sustainable Mass production means bulk buying and this forces the lowering of prices down the line, mainly in the production. Handmade is more sustainable than mass production. Lower production costs ensure that the large-scale companies can make more profit while selling, at what first appears to be, a low price – a bargain price. People buy cheap, get sick of it and chuck it out. They can afford to buy new stuff because it’s cheap. Where does a lot of this stuff end up? Landfill.
Research has shown that many people worldwide are forced into jobs with low pay. In turn, this has a knock-on effect for those countries, in so far as they cannot develop. The wealthier nations, such as our own, subsidise these poorer countries with loans, rescue aid, charitable giving, etc. Guess what? That money comes from you.
Buying handmade is the real thing Many shops want their product to replicate the handmade feel, but it does not. They continue to buy from trade fairs and mass producers. Buying from local artists means you are helping to sustain local business and that is priceless.
Buying handmade supports local people Buying handmade supports local craft people, wherever you buy it. The price you pay for it is exactly what you see – there are no hidden costs. The revenue stays within the country and people are not out of work but working in their business either as individuals or groups. Taxes are paid, money is generated and the overall impact on our economy is huge. Buying handmade keeps craft skills alive.
We are facing lost skills, the demise of fine quality handcrafts and a real loss of our cultural identity. The general buying public can’t even tell the difference! Buying handmade ensures traditional craft skills are kept alive and creates a demand for education in these skills. Buying handmade celebrates who we are and each high quality handmade item is about people, not machines or corporations. It’s about the skill of each maker and the magic of their imagination. It’s about the time and effort that goes into each piece of work. It’s treasure in a world of disposable mass produced tat.
Handmade is forever not for just now Each handmade piece of work is unique. Just like you. Mass-produced items are perceived as disposable. We’re living in a subculture of if it’s broken, toss it out and just buy a new one. This attitude is so prevalent that we actually throw away things that are perfectly fine. We want an upgrade, the latest version, the next best thing… because we want to be noticed that we have what she has. Where’s the fun in that? Spend a pile of cash, just to get what she has???
OK, so I’m biased … but don’t deny the facts – buying handmade is far better than some people have ever given it credit for!