Top Ten Reasons to Buy Handmade

March 22, 2012

Photo credit: DIY Headband by Stacie Stacie Stacie (Flickr)

There are many reasons consumers choose to leave the traditional model of shopping at big box retailers, malls and chains. But increasingly, handmade is becoming the way to go, with sites like Etsy and Pinterest glorifying craftiness, leading to an overall resurgence in DIY fare at locally owned shops across the country.

Here are the top ten reasons to buy handmade (in no particular order), sourced from various sites around the web.

1. The environment: Handmade goods do not rely as heavily on mass shipping, which requires the burning of fossil fuels, nor do they rely on factory production, which emit fumes and other no-good gases into the atmosphere. Additionally, many crafts are recycled, or upcycled, from previously made or found objects. Handmade decreases pile-ups in landfills.

2. Local business/economy: Buying handmade takes money that would normally be spent at businesses owned by corporations, and redirects it into the hands of local business owners, entrepreneurs (your friend’s new jewelry line) and innovative business models. The community that spends together, stays together.

3. Spending consciously: When you are choosing to purchase something handmade or recycled, you are paying more attention to where your dollars are going, because you can see the recipient at the time of purchase. You see where money changes hands, and you know it isn’t going into the vault of some billionaire who secretly owns “Big Box Store A” which donates to “Politician B.” That way, even if you are impulse shopping, you are aware of what you are spending your money on, and can also likely find out how the item was made and why.

4. Supporting artists: The best way to support an artist is to either purchase their work or promote it. Buying a handmade item from a local artist does both: it directly provides for the artist so he/she can make more, plus, the item serves as a conversation piece to direct future customers to that artist’s work. It also inspires other artists to get off the ground, by introducing them to a community that supports artists.

5. Human rights: Rest assured that your handmade item did not require exploitation of workers or infractions on labor laws in order to create it. Handmade means made with care, love and respect.

6. Intricacy and uniqueness: Handmade items very easily showcase a certain level of intricacy, and sometimes imperfection, which means your item is completely unique to you; nobody else can have the exact same one. Additionally, for very skilled workers,  you can see evidence of an astute attention to detail and craft, like stitching, beading or brushstroke.

7. New business model: Along with not supporting the status quo business model of not paying attention to where your dollars go, or who you are actually supporting when you shop at a certain retailer, buying handmade encourages the creation of a brand new business model, coming back to the community and helping anchor an economy in physical proximity to where you live, work and play. If you’re buying handmade online, it works the same way, because that money is going directly into the artist’s community, rather than to some invisible national entity.

8. Breaking the ice: When you are buying handmade, you also make a very personal connection with the artists, and they with you, that can forge a bond which might be the jumping off point for some grand future art project or new business. Networking with people of whom you respect their work can be just the start for new connections leading to future opportunities. It is the easiest and fastest way to brand yourself, without relying on gimmicks and “returns on investment” statistics.

9. Inspiration: Haven’t you ever looked at a beautifully crafted, unique handmade item and been inspired to do something creative yourself?

10. Involvement: Going along with all the above reasons, buying handmade includes you as part of a bigger movement to get away from reliance on ignorance as a way to exist in the world. The more intention we have in purchasing, the less power is in the hands of corporations who want to take away our agency. And you’re involved in that when you buy a handmade bracelet, bowl, blanket or whatever!

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