There is something quite fitting about “handmade” and the holidays. Perhaps it’s because many of the most memorable and meaningful gifts throughout our lives were made by the children in our families. Every parent, grandparent, godparent, aunt, uncle, and cousin has received a pencil-and-pen holder carefully made from a spray-painted tin can, elegantly accessorized with glued-on, shiny gold macaroni shells. The final result may not have been traditionally “pretty,” but it came from your child’s heart and hands.
As adults, most people lose the ability to put their creative energies on the line. They play it safe. They lose their self-expression and, in many ways, lose a better part of themselves.
Not to get too theoretical, but keeping one’s artistic side alive is good for the mind, body, and soul. Perhaps that’s why the achievements of talented and successful artists and artisans evoke so many good feelings among buyers. These are the men and women who didn’t conform. They kept their creative abilities alive and well, and nurtured them to a professional, skillful level.
At the holidays—and year round—the choice of a handmade present carries a lot of weight. The advocacy group HandMade in America, an organization that promotes craftsmanship and educates consumers about the personalization and significance of these unique items, has an inspiring website that stresses the importance of the handmade movement. Among their philosophies is this telling statement: “In a world of mass marketing and throwaways, HandMade in America celebrates the rich tradition of craft. We believe in the power of handmade to transform both individuals and communities, building partnerships and economies that are rooted in the culture that nourishes them.”
Treat your shop’s handmade choices as a way to extend your hand—and your heart—to your store’s base. It’s a two-way street, and your customers will be glad to cross over to meet you.
Pamela Mattei is on a mission to make the world more colorful—“one scarf at a time!” Her brand-new line, the Metamorphosis Collection, creates that “extra something you need to morph your wardrobe from ordinary to extraordinary.” Each scarf, like “Purple Sky,” is a one-of-a-kind handcrafted creation expertly dyed in small batches by a master artisan. (www.DyeSignsByPamela.com)
Part of Dunitz & Company’s Joanie M Collection, these handmade pieces feature Square Fused Glass on an adjustable open cuff. The cuff is wrapped with waxed cotton threads that look like leather. They are available in 12 colors. All are handcrafted in Guatemala for the Fair Trade Federation member company. Wholesale price is $15 each. (www.dunitz.com)
Salusa Glassworks, Inc., decks a tree with originality and uniqueness. The small hummingbird ornaments are $9.50, wholesale. The onion ornaments are $11.50 each, wholesale. (wholesalecrafts.com, artist #22327; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tense Wooden Watches defines itself as “the original handcrafted wooden watch since 1971.” With more than 40 years of timekeeping and superior craftsmanship experience, the company has a proven track record. (www.tensewatch.com)
From Faire Collection, the Ventana Necklace is handcrafted by the collection’s Ecuadorian artisan partners, Nancy and Carlos’s workshop. The Ventana Necklace is made from sustainably harvested Tagua nuts that grow on the Ivory Palm. The renewable natural material has been used by indigenous communities for centuries. Available in three other colors, its wholesale price is $23. (www.shopfaire.com)
5 Hints to Keep in Mind
- When you order or commission handmade items to sell in your story, it is smart to share the story behind these creations. At times, these pieces will cost more than their more widely produced, manufactured alternatives. It is imperative that your customers understand the explanation for the price-point differential
- If you know the details of the biography of the artist who crafted the piece, promote it. The creator’s life story or mission statement just might resonate with your clientele.
- If the items you’ve ordered have a foreign or exotic pedigree, surround the merchandise with postcards or maps or photos of the country’s terrain, landscapes, culture, and populace.
- American Pride goes a long way with many shoppers. If you are investing in home-based American artisans and artists, then make that patriotic point in a display that connotes you’re keeping jobs, revenue, and commerce in the United States.
- What did the selection means to you? Don’t hesitate to include a notecard next to the displayed merchandise sharing what attracted you to bring this finished piece into your store. Your order isn’t just a reflection of the craftsman’s abilities. It’s a glimpse into why it appealed to YOU, and why you thought your customer base would like it, too.