Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rejoicing in the Handmade

I have to admit, I've been on a bit of a spending spree recently. It started with a treat to myself, then it went to needing to find a replacement pattern for a project that didn't work out, and then I ended up buying a few pattern books and a CD online. Then, an impromptu trip into the nearest shopping mall with a friend from work. A bunch of work for my credit card, and me holding the bill. Sigh. Luckily, I showed some restraint, and I'm not too much out of pocket, but I hate these unplanned purchases. It's a sure way for me to get myself into trouble, which I can't afford.

I do, however, try to support other handicrafters when I'm spending, or at least support my community. I have a trip planned to a local nursery soon to buy some tomato plants, and maybe a couple of cucumber plants. I also try to buy a pattern or two every so often to support knitters and crocheters trying to make a living from their art. It's still money, but I think it's toward a good cause, and I still get the things I want at a fair price. Not cheap. Fair.

Over the years, I have been a big support of Etsy and their sellers. I used to have an Etsy shop a while back, and can appreciate all the work that goes into having an online shop. It's not just a matter of taking a few photos, posting them online and then sitting back and waiting for the orders to roll in. It's about taking great, attractive, professional-looking photos, posting them in a timely fashion, writing a good description, and then driving the traffic to your site by whatever means possible, be it by blogging, purchasing advertising space, making business cards, going to markets and fairs, or networking, networking, networking. And you do that daily, non-stop, especially if you want this to be your livelihood.

One Etsy shop I frequent is Gudonya (pronounced "good-on-ya"), a seller who specializes in handmade vegan soaps, bath and beauty products. They use only top-shelf oils and ingredients, including fragrances and essential oils. I have been a great fan of their Whipped Clean Soap, which now comes in smaller sizes, which means I can try out lots of different sizes at a great price. A couple of strokes across the plastic jar with a bath puff, and you get a thick, luxurious foam that smells wonderful. And, they fill the jars right up to the neck, so they last and last. I can't say I buy it regularly, but when I feel like treating myself, it's a great go-to. Not only that, they also ship to Canada at a decent rate. Bonus!

My recent splurge included two 4 oz jars of Whipped Clean in Spa Fusion (ginger and melon) and Oh So Delicious (apple, grapefruit and oh, lots of other lovely fragrances) and a large 8 oz jar of Citrus Blast (need I say more?). I've already got a jar open for use in the shower.

I've also been on the lookout for a good deodorant, since I've decided to stop using antiperspirant (my current stuff has been irritating my skin a lot, and it's just not natural to not sweat), and I decided to try Gudonya's Super-Duper Stinky No More Vegetable Protein Deodorant Stick. Is that a good name or what? I test-drove it yesterday, and it was great! No irritation, and no funky smells. I think we may have a winner.

I'm so glad to support these small businesses, specializing in handmade goods, especially since I'd love to be in their shoes one day. I figure that, if more people supported them, then it becomes more possible for me to become one of them, simply because the awareness of these small businesses is there. It's not likely they'll ever beat out the big box stores, but they may be able to carve out a big enough niche to make such a business profitable, at least in the the medium term.

And so, I can dream, while helping out my fellow crafters - and smell good while I do! And my credit card? Well... it could be doing worse things than that!

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