Unless you've been under a rock for the last year or so (or if you're new to this whole "internet" thing), you know that everyone is all about handmade right now. Customizable is the new must-have thing, but how do you know where to shop?
There is a sea of handmade shops across the internet, be they individual websites or sites like Storenvy, Etsy, Aftcra or Artfire (or The Basket, for the UK peeps out there). You can find anything from jewelry to home decor to bath items- all handmade. This is glorious for a few reasons:
1) Big business may feel the pinch
2) Individual people are putting more ideas into the world
3) People are able to work in an environment that makes them happy
4) Customers can customize virtually anything to fit their needs
5) The beauty. Oh. Em. Gee. The beauty.
So, you're looking for something handmade for your friend/grandma/worst enemy? Where do you go first? And who do you trust to provide quality?
Let's first address the issue most people have- How do I know my product will arrive and will be what I asked for?
Answer: You don't. Not anymore than you do when you order from Amazon, WalMart, Target, or whatever other site you're ordering from. The fact is that it's impossible to know because you're not physically picking up the item and walking it to the register. If you can't trust people, like, at all, online shopping isn't for you.
That being said, if you normally don't have concerns about shopping online, you really shouldn't with handmade sellers, either. Sure, you want to check ratings, policies and shipping times, but you'd do that with Amazon too, right? Right.
Handmade artists have a reputation to uphold, just like Amazon. But there's even more risk, because one bad review can sink the whole ship. It would take a bazillion bad reviews to slow down Amazon, but juuuuuuust one can bring a handmade shop to its knees.
I hope you're ready for some real talk, because here it comes...
People make mistakes. *GASP* Expecting a handmade shop to be more reliable than a company with huge resources is straight crazy. More often than not, you're dealing with one person who buys all the supplies, makes all the products, markets those products, manages the finances, ships all items, and keeps all inventory.
Generally speaking, this person also works crazy weird hours. Sometimes in the early morning, sometimes in the middle of the night. I know it sounds fun, but it's normally more of a necessity than a personal desire. It's nice to work from whatever-o'clock to whatever-o'clock and be done with it.
The second biggest concern I hear is "Handmade is too expensive." Is it? Really? Because personally, I find most things handmade are less expensive. There are some exceptions to that rule, but to balance it out, there are also handmade things you simply cannot buy mass produced. Let's go over some of these items.
- Feather hair accessories. Down with Plumes' hair accessories range from $9-$11 and look something like this...
Now, let's take a peek at what's available on the interwebs, mass produced-
$15 from Feathermart-
$20 from Feathermart-
More expensive? Nope. More personality? For sure.
BeeBeeandJack ear warmer/ headband for $15 (adult)-
And what do the mass produced stores have for us?
Well, Zappos has this available for kids for $16.99, which is the sale price.
Again with the higher price for less cuteness/personality/style.
But what about something big? Like a dress? Well, Be My Full Moon offers completely custom versions of this dress $85-
Adorbs, right?! I know. It kills me too.
On the mass produced side, we have ModCloth. We all know ModCloth has amazing styles, but they want $89.99 for this dress-
It's cute, and the price difference is negligible, but it should be noted that you'll pay $4.99 more for a dress that is made to fit whoever, or $85 for the one from Be My Full Moon that is tailored to fit your body. A few dollars less for an absolutely perfect fit? Sign me up.
And finally, what about baby blankets? Those are surely more expensive right? Wrong. Wrongity-wrong-wrong.
This adorable quilt/play-mat/pack-n-go from Blueberry Corner Quilts is the cutest stinkin' thing and rings in at $90-
Finding something like this mass produced will give you quite the headache. They're just not around that much, which to me is crazy. This is so genius and Blueberry Corner Quilts is totally on to something here. The closest thing mass produced is this blanket from Dwell Studios for $88-
It's cute and all, but it's just a blanket. Sure, the handmade quilt is $2 more, but it folds up into a bag to carry toys as well. Can you buy an adorable bag for your kids' travel toys for $2? Likely not.
I think you see my point.
There are common misconceptions with everything in life, and buying handmade is not immune. Most handmade shops provide quality items at relatively fast turnaround times with fair pricing. There are exceptions to every rule, but if you look at shop reviews, policies, and item descriptions, you're taking just as much risk as buying from anywhere else.
So tell me now, why aren't you shopping handmade?