Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Handmade?

I adore buying handmade. Not just because I sell handmade either! I love buying handmade for several reasons that are very important to me.

1. I like my money to go to a person instead of a corporation. There are real people behind handmade products. They have real families. They have real stories. They aren't executives sitting in an office getting rich off the hard work of others. They are people like me. People like you. They work hard and they deserve to be paid well for it. I would rather hand my money over to them instead of Walmart or Target any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.

2. Handmade products have a story. I am all about stories! I love a good tale! Every handmade product has a story behind it. A story of a young single mother raising two beautiful daughters while sewing to put food on the table. A story of a middle aged man who left his desk job to follow his passion for working with wood. The story of inspiration sprung out of a single moment in time listening to a robin sing in the park. Those stories cling to the items and become a part of my home, my family, myself. I think it's beautiful.

3. Handmade products are higher quality. It's just true. People who make their own products take pride in them. They produce work that is amazingly high quality. Maybe it's just me but when I spend my money on something, I want the best. Handmade, in my very humble (sometimes) opinion, is the best.

4. Handmade products connect me to other people. This is my biggest reason for buying handmade. It is also my biggest reason for selling my own handmade products. When you buy a scarf from Wally World (shudder) you get a scarf that came off the assembly line, was made as cheaply as possible, is covered in chemicals and is completely impersonal. When you buy a scarf from me, you get a product that was thought up by me. I have carefully and with glee selected just the right yarn to knit or crochet it with. MY hands made that scarf. The same hands that knead the bread dough for my family's meals. The same hands that wipe the tears from my child's eyes when they are hurt or sad or afraid. The same hands pick flowers and vegetables from my garden. A handmade product is highly personal. Every time you wear a handmade scarf or drink your coffee out of a handmade mug or look in awe at a handmade art piece you are connected to another human being. It is an awesome and humbling thing to think about. In this vast world, this infinite universe, we can connect to other people. People we never would have met, never would have know and they become a part of our lives through their product. I just love that!

5. Handmade products connect us with our past. When I pick up my crochet hook I cannot help but think of the thousands of women through history who have made exactly the same stitches I am making. My great-grandmother crocheted. I only knew her for a few year of my life but every time I crochet, every time I wear a crocheted scarf or snuggle my children into bed in a crocheted blanket, I think of Great Grandma Doris. These arts, these crafts have been passed down generation to generation and when we participate in them, whether through the craft itself or just by using a handcrafted product, we are connected to our ancestry, our history.

Those are the big ones for me. Those reasons and so many more are why I buy handmade whenever possible. What are your reasons?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Handy Dandy Holiday Bazaar Hints and Tricks

The holiday season is almost upon us and for serious business crafters that means one thing. Bazaar season. Oh yes, we flock in droves to eight foot tables to sell our beautifully handcrafted items. We love to make them, we love to sell them and we LOVE to see you take home something we lovingly made to be a special gift on Christmas day. But holiday bazaars are not all about glamour. In fact, they are downright hard work. So I present to you, oh crafter extradonaire, this first installment of helpful hints for crafting bazaars. You can look for the next one next Sunday!

1. Wear comfortable shoes. This is a must. You will be on your feet all. Day. Long. If you’ve never done a craft show or bazaar before this is your warning. Your feet will swell, your legs will ache and if you go for the oh so pretty but feet murdering high heels you will want to saw your feet off before the end of the day. Practical can pretty too but always, always go for some comfort.

2. Smile! I can’t tell you how many times I have not bought from a great crafter because of their negative energy. When people shop at lovely little bazaars with beautiful handcrafted items they want to see a sweet and beautiful person behind the craft. And you are a sweet and beautiful person! So let it shine. If you’re having a bad show and you are discouraged smile anyway and tell that potential customer who asks that you’re having a great show, thanks so much for asking! Do not ever, ever complain. Not to the potential customer, not to the other vendors, not even to yourself. Don’t give the negativity a foothold. I once did a show that I paid $500 to attend (gasp, faint) and I made around $100. I cannot quite think of a more disheartening show. But I still smiled at everyone who came to my booth and told them my day was going fantastically. In the case of craft shows, misery does not love company. So stuff it.

3. Set a goal. How much money do you need to come in from this show? That’s your minimum goal. How much would you like to see from this show? That your moderate goal. How much would make you jump through the roof, buy a round for the bar, fly to the moon and squeal like a pig? That’s your high goal. Simple, no? A goal helps you prepare and plan and dream a little. Set them and then work your arse of to achieve them.

4. Have enough product. This one seems so simple but it’s crucial. What’s your high goal? $1000? $5000? Here’s a secret. Ok, it’s really just common sense but it hit me strongly one day and left an impression. You can only make as much money as you have product to sell. If your high goal is $5000 and you only have $1000 of inventory how exactly can you hit that high goal? Sure, you could do some custom orders but $4000 in custom orders might be pushing it just a bit. So make and bring enough products to meet your goal.

5. Bring a friend. If it is at all possible, bring a friend along for the ride. It sucks to have to leave your booth unattended just so you can urinate. It’s also nice to have someone to chat with a bit during the slow times. It’s also super nice to have someone to be your gopher. There might be a time that you would just kill for a coffee because you stayed up until 2am pricing your beautiful creations and now it’s getting close to closing time and you can’t keep your eyes open. Aha, but you have brought your bestest friend Sally Sue! She can run over and get you a coffee. Beautiful. Now you’re awake, your booth was never left alone and you’re a happy crafter once again. Just make sure you have some mints for after that coffee. ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Who am I?

I just read a post on the Etsy blog about success. The woman who wrote it touted that to be successful, the key is to be yourself. Ok, me thinks, that's easy. Or is it? I suppose before I can be true to myself, I know who I am. So, who am I?

I'm the girl who wears flip flops in the snow because I hate to have my feet confined by socks and shoes.

I love sunrises more than sunsets because I love to see the new day dawn with beautiful possibility.

I wish I could live on the beach or in the mountains, away from it all, a happy hermit with my family.

My favorite color is purple.

I love to feed people. I love to hear that people like the food I make for them.

I am very trusting (too trusting) until someone breaks my trust. Then I never trust said person again. Ever.

I am passionate about gay and lesbian rights.

I believe all children are beautiful and special and precious and should be cherished and treasured above all else.

I like classic rock and country and pop and jazz and classical music. Actually the only music I don't like is rap.

My all time favorite song is "Both Sides Now" by Jodi Mitchell.

I believe religion should be set aside for love and peace.

I look forward to Eggnog Lattes all. year. long.

I like shiny, glittery things.

I love vintage and retro and shabby chic. If it's old, if it has a story, I'm hooked.

I love handmade for the same reasons as old things: The stories they tell.

I only drink organic coffee and only with coffee mate creamer. Anything else just isn't coffee.

I am twenty-seven years old and I still don't want to grow up.

My life, no matter where I am in it, is uniquely mine and I love it. The good, the bad, the inbetween. I am thankful for each moment of it and I plan to enjoy them!