So many things that you can buy online and in stores are mass produced by large nationwide brands. The natural thought is if the brand is that big then what they make and sell must be good, right? Well, not necessarily.
Large companies often use the lowest quality of raw materials that they can get away with. Some manufacturers are more concerned with cranking out products as quickly as they can without regard for the quality of the product or the end user. Believe it or not, there is actually demand for these lower quality products in the United States because they cost less for the consumer!
If the product doesn’t work the way you want or breaks too easily, did you really save any money? Think about it.
Another common practice is rebranding, which is when someone other than the company who is on the label made the product. One example is store brand peanut butter. The grocery store didn’t make it and you might not ever know who did. Sometimes a manufacturer makes the exact same product for many different stores and each one puts their own label on it. In this case, you will almost never know who made it. It’s also possible that what you are buying wasn’t even made in America, though the brand name makes it seem that it was!
Handcrafting doesn't mean kid's art projects and things glued together from kits. Anyone who creates their products by hand is a handcrafter and many are also considered artists or artisans. Handcrafted events are filled with people who pour their hearts and souls into creating beautiful and one of a kind items. Handcrafters can create almost anything! Quilts, baby clothing, candles, soaps, lotions, painted items, mixed media art, needlework, knitted or crocheted items, greeting cards, furniture, wooden toys, pottery and dishes, home decor, glass items, jewelry, baked goods, fudge, salsas, jams and jellies...I could go on and on listing the wonderful products I have seen (and purchased) at handcrafted artisan events!
So why choose handcrafted products?
- Each piece that you have purchased has been quality checked.
- Handcrafters physically touch every item they make multiple times and are proud of the products they create. They are on the lookout for anything that might decrease the quality of their products. From my own experience in working on assembly lines, mass produced products are frequently quality checked using random samples, which means that the one product that a living, breathing human being checked may have been good but others were assumed to be good and may not have been. One place I worked at checked 1 out of every 10 pieces while another only checked 1 out every thousand!
- You are supporting real people instead of large faceless corporations.
- According to the Small Business Administration, there were about 30.7 million small businesses in the United States in 2019. Many of these businesses are owned by handcrafters who will spend the money that they make on the local level. Small business is the true driver of the American economy!
- Great pride, time, and effort was put into each product.
- Handcrafters are in control of each process that goes into the product they make. They choose the colors, materials, finishes, embellishments, and whatever other components are needed to create the products they see in their minds. All of that takes time as well as talent.
- The maker will always stand behind the product that they made.
- One single bad review can cripple or kill a handcrafted business. The customer service that you will receive from a handcrafter is exemplary, not because they are trying to avoid a bad review, but because of all of the work that was put into making your product. The crafter is the face of their brand - it’s their reputation! There are no nameless customer service reps assisting you, it’s the maker themself who handles things.
- Handcrafted products offer a more fulfilling experience to the buyer because there’s a story behind each one.
- Every handcrafter can tell you why they decided to make the product that they are selling and all about its materials and features. Next time you are at a craft show, pick up a product that one is selling and ask why they made it and what went into making it.
- Handcrafted products are unique. Even if two makers are selling similar products, such as blankets, the style that they are made in will be different between the two.
- For many handcrafters, methods of creating their products have been passed down from previous generations. Everyone has their own way of doing things, including the materials they use, the tools they use to make their products, and the methods used to create it. Think about painting - there are many different mediums (watercolor or oils) and styles (abstract, impressionist, realist, etc) - and no two painters will see the same subject in the same way. Why choose mass-produced when you can have something original?
- Handcrafted products keep crafting skills alive.
- As late as 150 years ago, manufacturing was not widespread and nearly all goods had to be made by hand. Handcrafters today are continuing this tradition, which means that the products you buy from them will be of the highest quality. They take pride in their skills and are their own worst critics about what is "good enough" to sell.
When you buy handcrafted products, you are supporting real people who put great pride into the products that they have made. They answer to their customers rather than shareholders or some CEO in a penthouse suite. You will also get your money’s worth!
Support handcrafted business!