Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Handmaker's Say: Please Save Handmade.

(image from Sweet Pepita)

I've been trying to write this post for 3 days now, and I guess I ought to just do it.
I know it's a busy time for all of us, and you may not have a lot of time to read this right now, but please know I would not put anything like this on the blog if it weren't frightening to me and in need of addressing right at this moment.

I left my job in an art print sales (you know the "art" at motels, conference centers, banks...) three years ago to make tshirts and haven't looked back. Since my first craft fair in Washington DC (crafty bastards) the craft community has been nothing but overwhelmingly supportive and nourturing to me. Most crafters I know work more than one job, and do what they do as a hobby. 99% of the people I've met in the community use recycled materials, organic cottons, natural and soy based this and thats. They hand make everything, and try to keep costs low to their customers, and because of this, do not make that much money off of their sales.

Phil and I have made it our goal to buy more local and handmade products in the past few years, not just because we like supporting our peers in the craft & handmade worlds, but we also think it's better for the environment and our community, to buy locally, rather than things shipped from faraway countries. Going with this goal in purchasing for ourselves, we have also begun purchasing more gifts for others, especially our niece, Annie and other children in the family. Every new kid in our lives gets a cotton monster; a handmade recycled shirt from Sweet pepita; and of course, screenprinted onesies from Red Prairie Press. We feel better buying from the maker themselves, and as sellers of children's clothing, we also rely on others feeling the same way!

Assuming you're reading this blog because you DO feel that can imagine the horror that we in the craft world felt, then, when the US government announced the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act. This act, written in response to the rash of lead tainted toys from China will basically put small businesses out of business with the costs of mandatory testing. From the Handmade Toy Alliance Website:

" * A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
* A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
* A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
* And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007."

This bill would also affect makers of children's clothing. Including red prairie press, and many of our friends.

This change would go into affect in just over 50 days. This is very frightening, and has already been addressed by The Handmade Toy Alliance, Craft Mafia's around the country,, and more in the craft community.

PLEASE- Sign this petition and/or write your US congressperson and encourage them to rework the law, to better include makers of small edition or one-of-a-kind toys and children's products. Help us stay afloat while complying with safety regulations so that kids of the future can also safely enjoy handmade things, and indie businesses can stay "safely" in business. Otherwise, it's one more step toward big business overtaking.
Once you've done this - you may want to go rub the back of your local craftsperson.


Juliet said...

=) maybe putting a cute little face to this problem will help. Nolans veggie pirate onesie is still in heavy rotation, I did not realize that even folks who screenprint on pre-made shirts are effected too! That is insane.

Rachel Bone said...

agreed. how can anyone resist the Nolan Factor?

Rachel Bone said...

(thank you for letting me exploit your child further for this purpose.)

fingers crossed this does not get passed as is.

Sweet Pepita said...

Life would be so dull without Pepita demanding to wear her awesome pirate shirt everyday!

I don't think childhood would ever be the same. I can't believe the government didn't think about the history and importance of handmade children's items in this country. I am so sad.

Lindsay said...

signed! I will repost your text on my blog, rach, if that's ok...I have some readers who will certainly sign up to support handmade. We love you!

Rachel Bone said...

definitely okay! thanks Lindsay

Nichim said...

I signed the petition. And if this passes, I'll support the underground economy and buy from folks who are breaking the law.