Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why Buy Handmade?

This post is a part of the Etsy Bloggers Street Team Blog Carnival. This week's topic is "Why Buy Handmade." and is being hosted by me!

Back in the dark ages (you know about a year and a half ago, before I had ever heard of Etsy) I was a good shopper. My mother had taught me well. I would look long and hard to get quality at the best price possible. And, as horrifying as it is to realize now, at craft shows I was one of *those* buyers. You know, the ones that other sellers kvetch about? The uneducated shopper who whispers "I could make that" or blanches when they see the price. I simply did not understand nor appreciate how a simple bracelet could be $30 or why a stuffed animal was $50. I was comparing prices with what I knew-- items sold in stores.

A year and a half later, I am a believer. I am 100% behind handmade and here are a few of my reasons why:

1. Custom, custom, custom. If I see something that is *almost* right, 9 times out of 10, the seller will custom make me something that is *exactly* right. It's hard for me to let go of control and allow others their creative process, and I am a picky customer, but I have been nothing but delighted with my custom orders.

2. Connection. I get to "meet" the people who make my stuff and how cool is that? I love knowing that my things were made with love. Even better is knowing something about that person. What is their family like? Where do they live? What do they struggle with?

3. Supporting Artists. Not only do I *feel* good knowing that my money is going directly to a person who has bills to pay instead of a CEO's pension plan, but by supporting artists we keep crafts alive. Do you know that we cannot make stained glass like they did in the middle ages? The art was lost and even our best efforts today cannot duplicate what skilled craftsmen of the time were making.

4. Quality. When items are made in small batches by someone who is passionate about what they do, their standards are high and the results are incredible. Now, granted, just because something is handmade does not automatically mean that it is of the highest quality. But there is amazing quality on the handmade market and you don't have to look particularly hard to find it.

5. Originality and Uniqueness. Previously if I wanted something "unique" I went to Hot Topic and bought the same "unique" thing as hundreds of thousands of others. Wow, I feel so special. With handmade goods you can buy one of a kind things, but even if you are buying a hugely popular design from a hugely popular indie designer, you probably are still more "unique" than buying the stuff at the mall.

The handmade market is also faster to get with the trends since the long lead times of manufacturing are not a concern. If you want buttons or shirts that play off pop culture, you can often find them a matter of days later on sites like Etsy.

These twin characteristics also mean that handmade is an excellent gift choice. You can almost guarantee that Aunt Sally does not have that tea kettle in her collection.

6. Logo Free. The handmade market is a wonderful oasis from the marketing that permeates society. Here I can find t-shirts that have beautiful designs consisting of much more than just a dolled up version of a company's name. I can find stuffed animals and toys that do not tie in a TV show, video game series, and line of breakfast cereals. In short, can buy things I need and want without being a walking billboard.

I am an Etsy Addict. If I need something, I check Etsy first. My husband and I found shelves on there today. I've found fire pits, furniture, deodorant, tooth soap, swimwear, and just about everything else on Etsy.

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