What goes into handmade? In simple terms, a lot of effort, love, skill and dedication. But it’s much more than that, its sourcing the materials needed at the right price, spending hours on a first design trailling and learning from it, learning from the sewing mistakes, the bad batches of soap and even the over powering candle fragrances, just to get it all perfect to sell to you. In the first year or two, there is generally more financial loss than there is gain, there is money set aside for marketing and advertising, business cards and flyers which are often handed out or put in your letter box by the business owner themselves, yes, most likely they walked around your neighbourhood for a few hours to advertise their business.
There are the early mornings getting ready to head off to a market to sell their products, setting up their stall and then standing or sitting at their stall all day cheerfully saying ‘hello’ and welcoming potential customers who stop by their stall. Then packing it all up at the end of the day to head home, exhausted and hopefully a little better off financially. Why? For the love of it, often handmade businesses run on dedication and a lot of love, for the product they make and sell and for the business itself. This is why I choose handmade, a small business is more likely to take in what you say, request and the feedback because they want to improve their business, the products are all made with so much care and dedication, nothing rushed and a dime a dozen like what come from factories.
Where does their money go? Often the money goes straight back into the community, it helps to put a child through school, put food on the table, pay for dance lessons, buy their team jersey, it goes back on materials to make more products, so the cycle can continue, more products made, more markets attended and more business cards and flyers printed and handed out.
Small businesses are fantastic yet many people look down on them or believe they can haggle with a small business owner. What you might see as a basic product that’s not worth the price tag, is often just a little bit less than what it should be so as to have a fighting chance at making it in the business world. You might see a basic pair of earrings, what you don’t see is the time, dedication and care taken to produce these earrings, you also don’t see the skills learned and used to make the earrings. All you see is something to compare with a factory made item and this is not a fair comparison. For all you know, these skills might have been learned in a jewellery class which they themselves had to pay for, the materials all had to be bought and paid for, sometimes including postage, you haven’t taken into account how long it took to make the earrings.
As an example, if a pair of earrings took 20 minutes to make, the materials cost $20, then maybe there is postage of $7.45 but we’ll split that and say with the materials bought it made 4 items, so the postage share on the earrings is $1.86 and the materials divided into 4 means $5 worth was used in the earrings alone. Already that’s a price tag of $6.86 just to cover the postage and materials used, if the earrings are priced at $15 then that leaves $8.14 to go towards the skill, time and effort of the crafts person. Now you might think ‘WOW they made $8.14 for 20 minutes work’ that’s not entirely correct, see people will want to haggle that price down AND the earrings need to be sold to make $8.14 profit, where a few dollars will be added back into the business to help it grow, and the rest will be seen as a wage and go towards what was mentioned earlier, putting a child through school, putting food on the table, buying dance lessons or a team jersey and even towards fuel so they could attend the market where you saw and purchased the earrings.
If you really want to help your community and those around you, buy from a local handmade business and keep your money here instead of sending it overseas.
Thanks for reading.