There are so many wonderful handmade shops out there. I've seen dozens of moms, college students, wives, and couples start and maintain a business from a simple idea, and it's great! What better way to learn responsibility, offer shopping alternatives to consumers, reuse materials, and help the environment than starting a handmade business? It's a great idea, and one that I've always had a soft spot for, whether I've been successful or not. There's just one problem - the customers. Many people don't realize how important shopping small and/or handmade is, or that it even exists at all!
So why shop handmade? Here are just a few of the obvious reasons:
- Service. Fewer customers means a better seller/customer experience. Obviously these tiny businesses have fewer customers than the big guys, but consider that a plus when perusing their shops. Because they have less people to deal with, they'll focus on giving you excellent customer service so you'll come back again (and we hope you do!).
- Quality. Fewer products means more time spent on each item to ensure top quality and well-made products. These people are either trying to make their business a full-time job, or are already there, and therefore are focusing hard on product quality. They tend to use high-quality materials and a craft or technique they're skilled at. No mass-produced, manufactured goods here - each item is carefully made by two human hands.
- Unique. You won't be getting one of millions of bags designed for and sold by Target. That scarf you thought was adorable? Chances are you'll see it on ten different women in the supermarket. When you shop handmade, you're buying something completely unique, designed and created by an artist.
Now for the less obvious reasons.
- Custom work. When you buy from an artisan, you're buying from someone who is making these products by hand. What does that mean? It means they usually offer custom work, or personalized options! So if you're trying to order a statement ring for your friend, chances are you can get it sized to fit and made to order. Or if you want to get that messenger bag for your niece, but you know she'd like it a bit larger, the owner will be happy to work with you! Where could you possibly find that kind of service? These are people who love what they do, and want to keep doing it, so they go above and beyond to make sure you get exactly what you want.
- It's simple. Especially if you're shopping online. Seriously. All you have to do is click a button and get handmade awesome delivered right to your door - often for extremely affordable shipping prices! Some sellers even offer free shipping! What could be better than shopping for unique, beautiful products from the comfort of your couch?
- Community. If you buy handmade, you just helped your 'neighbor' in a big way! Many handmade shop owners are supporting a family, putting themselves through school, or helping the community by offering local shopping alternatives. You get to be a part of that whenever you buy something handmade!
When I first started this blog post, I didn't realize how much I'd be able to write about this subject. I hope I've enlightened you a little bit, and encouraged you to shop handmade this season (and all year round!). Check back soon for a list of my favorite handmade shops - there are some pretty amazing artisans out there that you should definitely be keeping your eye on. Thanks for reading, friends!