Monday, October 11, 2010

Handmade by Heart

Last night I finished up my work for the day, sat back, put my feet up and sighed. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I reflected on my last few days. For nine days straight my work days have averaged 12-14 hours. And the next week looks to be the same.

Who says working for yourself is easy? *wink* Those of you who do, know it is not. But it is a labor of love.

Mind you, I am not complaining. I love what I do. The freedom to let my wild imagination take me wherever I want to go each day is a gift! I tell everyone being this busy is a good problem to have! I’m tired; but it is a hard-earned, feel-good, happy tired.

In my reflection, I thought about something that has been popping onto my onto my radar lately. I hear comments now and then from people wondering why handmade items are so expensive. They say, “Why pay a higher price for something handmade when you can buy ‘the same thing’ at Wal-Mart for half the price?” Well, that’s certainly a personal choice and in these tough economic times, understandable.

But if that someone who wonders would really like to know why a handmade item is “expensive” ~~ hold my hand and I will walk you thru what it takes to create one of my Whee Ones from inception to putting it in one of my awesome customer’s hands.
I begin with:

1. Sketch an original idea (this requires dreaming one up)
2. Translate the sketch into a pattern
3. Choose fabric
4. Lay the pattern on fabric and cut out the pattern
5. Sew the pattern together to create the Wee One
6. Name the Whee One and write a story about it
7. Photograph the Whee One
8. Edit images to get at least five good ones for posting
9. Post story and images to Etsy
10. Contact my consignment shops (three of them) and see if they would like the Whee One in their shop
11. Design the “hang tag” containing the story of the animal and my contact information
12. Print and cut the “hang tag”
13. Tie the “hang tag” on the Whee One with a coordinating ribbon
14. If shipping to a store, create and print an inventory sheet
15. If shipping directly to a customer, hand-write a thank you note on stationery I have designed and printed; make a fleece stuffed “thank you heart”; add business card and put all in a plastic Ziploc
16. If shipping directly to a customer, wrap Whee One in tissue paper and package in either a padded envelope or box; print a label for envelope/box
17. If shipping to a shop, inventory all and gently wrap in a plastic bag and pack in box; print label
18. Drive to the Post Office or FedEx to ship; secure delivery confirmation/tracking number
19. Send a follow up email to the customer or shop to notify of shipment and provide the tracking number to track package so they know when to expect it
20. Start all over again. :)

That is for one Whee One. I also have lines of Liten Venns (Norwegian for Small Friend), plush pillows, knit hats and baby bibs. When I have time I also have administrative duties – general paperwork, filing, etc.; keeping track of the budget and finances; frequent trips to local fabric store to purchase fabric and supplies; ordering supplies online; stocking supplies in my studio and organizing studio. And then, of course, there is time spent marketing - online promotions as well as snail mail brochures, flyers, business cards ~~ and the occasional craft fairs.

So if a handmade item seems expensive ~ well, chances are it is not. Chances are it is a bargain.

It is one of a kind – no other like it. Made with loving hands and attention to detail. It is a little piece of someone’s heart…


  1. I looked through your etsy shop! Your Wee ones are so cute! I agree that working for yourself is really demanding, but also a lot of fun!

  2. Hi Cindi!
    I couldn't agree more! People don't realize that handmade, or even made in America is a dying art. I think the problem is that there has been this stigma for years in peoples heads around the holidays called the "inexpensive, handmade gift" idea. "You can save money if you make your holiday gifts by hand!" The people that said that really have no idea what goes into "handmade" or as I like to say "handcrafted" items. Oh well, we handcrafters will just have to support each other!

  3. I totally agree with you and I think more people are starting to realize the value of handmade items. Found you on the etsy forum. Please visit my blog, I try post information helpful to etsy sellers:

  4. I completely agree... when I was selling handmade malas - I kept being asked - why do they cost so much?? It got old quickly.

    Cute creatures by the way... love them ♥

  5. very well written, as I say, I always put a little piece of me into my work, therefore the title of my blog "a little piece of B..."

  6. Hand made is so much better than something from walmart

    I can't afford handmade all the time, but I certainly understand why it's more expensive

    great post