Friday, September 26, 2014

On Etsy and Buying Handmade

One of the ways to live sustainably is to buy local and handmade items when you choose to consume.  Knowing your producer and his or her production methods means that you know a bit more about materials used and how the items were produced.  That's why I've always been pleased to sell on Etsy, the online home for handmade items.

My shop, Carrot Creations, sells sustainable living products.  The best-sellers are our yoga socks, which feature a unique design and which allow you to practice your yoga and other barefoot exercise more comfortably in cold studios.

I've worked hard at my product line, and I think our customers appreciate it.  (Thank you!)  That's why I'm watching with interest the changes at Etsy.

As you can see from this article, Etsy has recently allowed businesses to use outside manufacturers for their goods.  In other words, a business can expand beyond the homemade realm and go into larger scale production.

On the one hand, I applaud this.  It's nice that Etsy has allowed small businesses to grow into medium-sized ones and still use the platform as their e-commerce site.  I think that's great.

But I'm concerned that, as the article suggests, this allows large-scale, overseas operations with exploitative working conditions to pass their goods off as something that belongs on Etsy -- that is, as something made with great care and individuality.  In the process, these large producers can swamp a small business.

So I'm waiting to see.  In the meantime, as the holidays approach, I ask this of you if you care about supporting small business:  ask questions.  Ask shop owners questions about where they are from and how they produce their items; a good shop owner loves getting questions through the conversation function.  And realize that a flood of items priced very cheaply probably means a production method that is less kind to workers.

All we ask is that our customers shop smart and shop according to their values.  Beyond that, I know I speak for many small shop owners when I say that I hope that competition sharpens us all rather than submerging us under a flood of poorly-made goods.
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1 comment :

  1. Buying local is a great idea. I try every chamce I get. thats why I like go to local festivals and events, you can find the neatest homemade things to buy.