Buying handmade seems to be becoming more popular; it’s more of a trend having something a little more personal, a one-off, something nobody else has and something unique, that nobody else will buy as a gift.
For some people, they do it to support local businesses, for others it’s about the quality. For me, I find Handmade goods tend to be more Eco-friendly; less of a carbon footprint and I tend to value the item more. Either way, I’m a big fan of handmade and support the industry as much as possible, buying soaps, handmade gifts and most of all handmade pottery.
Mr Pickles Elephant ready for his new home.
Looking at it with the eyes of an economist, mass manufactured goods can satisfy worldwide demand. But, there is the problem, with the worldwide demand being met; it means all these people have the same product as you.
The last few years, we’ve seen such an increase in environmentally friendly products, less plastic, more recyclable goods and less waste. People are eating less meat and consuming more natural food, everyone has just become more conscious and it’s actually quite exciting to see.
This is continuing through to the handmade market, more people are choosing handmade goods, and why shouldn’t they? As I see it, we are going back to basics, back to crafting and people taking a more mindful approach to life and the environment.
Why handmade matters?
We produce, promote and consume handmade goods differently than mass-produced ones. There's a different feel to buying handmade items. You can see and touch the uniqueness and the effort the maker has gone to; you appreciate the time it’s taken. Handmade items still have a creator's mark on them.
I know personally, one of the problems I face when creating the Little Pickles is trying to make them the same; the same size ears, the same length legs. More often than not, there’s a Little Pickle with a longer leg, a slightly chubbier arm. But, it adds to their character and gives them a little personality before they are even finished; all of this adds to their value and makes them more special, and unique.
We all know the manufacturing process, a big factory, lots of people and so much waste, the idea behind the factory is to create big quantities cheaply and make the most profit as possible. This is the opposite with handmade, less is actually more. I don’t have 100 Little Pickles ready to be packaged and good to go. I just have the five or six listed on my website that are made and ready to go now. Why? Because I don’t have the time to create large quantities, I create small quantities with attention to detail.
People think I can create a Little Pickle within a few hours, sometimes I wish I could. But then they wouldn’t have the quality they currently have, meaning they are just another product, who wants just another product?
I’ve just created a new pattern for a little coat that you can see in my latest store update. This pattern took me forever, hence why there has not been an update for so long. From creating that pattern, I’ve modified it 7 times; short arms, with pockets, without pockets, larger collar, and small collar… This means, 7 coats have been made to each variation. That’s a lot of hours, not just drawn up on the computer and sent to the production line.
Besides the manufacturing process, there are many differences that we can point out. So many people say that handmade is expensive and just buy from a big retailer. I hate this argument, and this is why.
People often don't understand the price difference between handmade and commercially made products. They look at them as similar items. One is cheaper, the other more expensive. But, nobody asks why they are so cheap. What matters is the price tag, but I get it, we are all on a budget to some extent. But, if you follow the product back to where it came from, where it was made and who was working to create it, looking at the bigger picture, you will see that it’s quite a sad story.
There is no comparison to the handmade and commercially made products. The quality, the feel the personal touches, it can’t be replicated in a factory. So the price may suit your wallet, but the product isn’t really a product, it’s just a thing.
It’s not someone who enjoys their craft or someone who is doing it as a hobby. It’s not someone who has been up to midnight to get a new pattern designed and failed so many times before they got it right. It’s normally, just a job to them. There is little love gone into the product, no personality and no thought. It’s a production line of 100’s, 1000s and even millions of these items being processed in minutes.
Handmade cares for the environment
What I love most about handmade is that it’s better for the environment, at Mr Pickles, We make sure that no plastic is used when making the Little Pickles, no plastic packaging, no plastic eyes and definitely no plastic bags (I’d have to charge extra for those) We actually pack our boxes out with straw, it looks pretty cool and is environmentally friendly. So I like to think we are doing our part for the environment too as well as putting a smile on a little kids face.
You're supporting someone's dreams
By buying a handmade, you are supporting someone's art and creativeness, pushing them to keep creating and to further their skills. You are supporting local businesses and their development, putting money back into the local area and not just giving more funds to big corporations.
You are supporting their risky decisions, their mistakes, the wrong orders and their late nights at the sewing machine. These large companies are hard for a small business to compete with. So many people give up and close their shops, and stop making. The costs are high and the return is very low, but we do it and we do it because we enjoy it. You’re supporting that every time you buy handmade.
You are keeping old traditions and skills alive
Many of the handmade items available at craft fairs, markets or online are all items that have been made traditionally for many years. They just have a new modern flair to them, a twist, something you’ve not seen before. But have more than likely been made before by your great grandma, her mum and so on. Making soft toys has been something that has been happening for many years, it’s the design that changes; they are still loved, befriended and passed on. This is something that will always happen because a soft toy is a child’s first friend.
By buying handmade, you’re encouraging the traditions to stay alive, encouraging the next generation to start crafting and to pass on their skills to their children. We have a natural need to make, to craft and to produce. So, why not keep it going and buy handmade?