Why I Love Handmade

“Handmade items appeal to trend setters, not trend followers” – Unknown

I know, I am bias… but I love to buy handmade! 

Handmade Bracelet by Creativity is Messy

I started to think the other day about all the reasons I would rather buy a handmade item over something mass-produced.  I was amazed with what I came up with.  I posted the question in a forum and received even more feedback.  I decided to share some of these reasons here in my blog, hoping to inspire others to consider buying handmade as well.

  • When you buy handmade, you are purchasing a unique item, make with love and care from an artisan. 
  • When you purchase something from the mall or a big-box store, you are buying a mass-produced item made by machines in a factory, or even worse, in a sweatshop with unethical work practices. 
  • Handmade items have a personal touch.  A lot of handmade items are OOAK (one-of-a-kind).  Even if the design is reproduced buy the artisan, oftentimes there is still a uniquness to each piece.  
  • Mass-produced items are exactly that… Mass-produced.  You could buy the exact same shirt, or bracelet, or picture, or whatever that a million other people bought that day.
  • Buying handmade supports crafters and artists.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a lot of crafters and artists that are rolling in the dough.  Not everyone can make it big like Martha Stewart.  Most of us do what we do because we LOVE doing it.  Not for the money.  I doubt that the CEOs of Wal-Mart can say they don’t care about the money.  I doubt that the reasons they open hundreds of new stores each year, selling cheaply made, sub-par products, driving away millions of dollars from small business is simply because of their LOVE of buying crap and reselling it to the consumer.
  • Handmade items are often made with quality materials by expert craftsman.  They usually last longer, look newer and better longer!
  • Handmade items can often be custom-made to specifics made by you, the buyer.
  • Handmade items are now easier to buy.  There is no need to wait for the next craft fair!  With sites like Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet and many others, you can buy handmade from the comfort of your own home! 
  • Customer service!  If you ever have an issue with the product that you buy, you deal with the person that made the item… not some person behind a customer service desk or even worse… over the telephone!  You deal with someone who cares because they take pride in their work.  You deal with someone who wants you to love the item as much as they loved making it.
  • I began my post with this quote “Handmade items appeal to trend setters, not trend followers”.  Be a trendsetter!  Be an original!  Don’t settle for cookie-cutter!  Be OOAK!
  • Buying handmade is cool! 

 And lastly…

I actually can’t give enough reasons to buy handmade.  It is something I am extremely passionate about.  My favorite reason is because I love to give unique, one of a kind gifts.  I love giving something to someone and listening to them when they say “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool!”  I hate giving something as a gift and listening to them say “Oh, I’ve seen these” or “I have one just like it” or “(someone else) has one just like it”.  For me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. 

I had a wonderful Aunt by the name of Joyce.  She was one of the most amazing women I have even had the pleasure of knowing.  She was strong, smart, beautiful, talented, independent, creative, stylish… I could go on and on.  I always looked up to her – and still do. 

Joyce was the most amazing gift-giver!  She would get me some of the coolest, most unique items as gifts.  Not everything she gave me was handmade, but most often it was.  I use to look forward to every holiday, just to see what would come in the mail from her.  Even as an adult, I would get giggly with excitement when ever a package from my Aunt Joyce would come.

Unfortunately, my Aunt passed away 6 years ago after battling breast cancer.  In her memory, I have tried to adapt many of her life philosophies, but especially her passion for gift-giving.  I always try to find unique and modern items for gifts.  I always try to find  or make items that no one else has, but that fits the personality of that person.  I love to see the look on people’s faces when they open the gift and “get” how unique that particular item is.  I love seeing that look, because I know exactly how that person is feeling. 

There are so many reasons to buy handmade.  I am sure there are many I left out.  I hope that one of these reasons touches you and inspires you to buy handmade as well.

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My customers are AWESOME!!

I have received some really great feedback from some of my customers recently.  I am so happy that people are enjoying my work!

One in particular: this weekend a gal that purchased one of my necklaces for her mother sent me a note telling me that it nearly brought her mother to tears.  The necklace was part of my “Bird Nest” series, and had a small red cardinal with its nest full of eggs.  Apparently, her grandmother who had passed away 10 years ago, loved cardinals.  She bought the necklace for her mom for Mother’s Day in memory of her grandmother. 

Needless to say, her mom wasn’t the only one who was almost brought to tears!  I love that she shared her story with me. 

I have some pretty amazing customers!

Long Time Bloomie… First Time Runner

Yesterday, I participated in the Lilac Bloomsday Run – a 12km (7.46 mile) race through the downtown streets of Spokane, WA.  This is my 5th year in a row doing the race, however this was my first year “running” (if you’d call what I do running).  My husband, Jeff, who had a heart transplant in 2005, and myself have participated in the last 5 races as a way to celebrate life and organ donation.  My father has also walked with us for all but one year – the year he was recovering from chemo after a bout with throat cancer.  We usually walk, sport some awesome “Donate Life” t-shirts, and talk with people about Jeff’s story. 

I decided that this year was going to be a little different for me.  I set a goal in January to run Bloomsday.  Now when I say run, I mean alternating between a slow jog and a fast walk, but hopefully do more jogging than walking.  I wasn’t going to kid myself.  I knew that I would not be able to run the whole race.  But my goal was to really push myself – because it doesn’t feel like much of a challenge when I walk. 

So after months of jogging at the gym and mentally preparing, this is how the race went…

1st Mile – My goal for the first mile was a brisk walk.  I wanted to get a good warm up before I began jogging, and I knew how congested the first mile can get, so I wanted to take it easy and not risk any injury.  Surprisingly, the first mile wasn’t as packed as I thought it would be, so we ended up alternating between walking and jogging.  It felt good.  Not bad at all.  Yeah, I could do this for another 6-1/2 miles… Yeah…

2nd Mile – Jogged the entire mile, most of which was downhill.  Jeff and my Dad jogged for 3/4 of the mile, but then dropped back to a walk and I went on my way alone.  I kept an eye on them, however.  My husband is 6’6″ and built like a line-backer, so it wasn’t hard to spot them in a crowd.  As the mile progressed they began to get farther and farther away, which worried me slightly.  I’ve never done this by myself….

A small hill at the end of the mile took a little wind out of my sail, but I managed to keep a good pace.  I set a little goal to jog to the first water station which was just a little past the 2 mile marker.

3rd Mile – I managed to make it to the water station.  I slowed to a brisk walk as I downed a paper cup of the best tasting water I had ever experienced in my life.  AHHHHHHH….. I remained walking as I attempted to maneuver my long underwear top out from underneath my t-shirt.  This took longer than anticipated, and I didn’t begin jogging until halfway through mile 3.  I’d like to say that I took advantage of the rest, however taking off my undershirt while continuing forward progress, without flashing 40,000 strangers took more energy than I had to spare…. 

Once I managed my shirt trick, I took a look back and realized I could no longer see Jeff and my Dad.  A little panic set in….

4th Mile – Shortly into mile 4, there was a small, but steep hill, that took me back to a brisk walk.  Once I got past the hill, I began jogging again (which was accompanied by labored breathing).  It didn’t last that long…. I began this “walk up to the next group of people, jog around them” maneuver that carried me to the next water station.  I’m pretty sure they put something in the water because it was the best damn tasting water I have ever experienced.  Even better than the last one….. 

As I enjoyed my water, thoughts of worry about Jeff and my Dad began to surface.  I hope they are both okay.  I always worry about Jeff, due to his heart – but I began worrying about my 63 year old Father, who was just fighting cancer 2 years ago, who jogged the first few miles of the race….  jogged for the first time in… well… EVER…. 

I wished I would have brought my cell phone.

5th Mile – Downhill!  Glorious, glorious downhill!  I began a solid jog down the hill and across the TJ Meenach bridge.  I was feeling good again.  Could this be that “runners high” people are always talking about?  I could keep this up for another…. OH CRAP!!!!  Doomsday hill!!!  I am approaching Doomsday hill!  How could I forget about Doomsday?!?  Why didn’t I walk across the bridge and save a small amount of energy to push my extremely tired ass up the hill?  What was I thinking?!? 

At that point, I think I began to hallucinate.  I remember walking, pushing my strides to as long as my legs would allow… there were birds there – an Eagle and a Buzzard… and a blue dinosaur was there…… and then…. the remainder of Mile 5 was and is a complete blur….

6th Mile – As I began to come out of my Doomsday Hill “fog”, realizing I was still upright, I came to terms with the fact that my legs had gone on strike and would no longer be able to hold a consistent jog.  I walked the majority of mile 6, only jogging as needed to go around other people. 

I continued to worry about the “boys”.

7th Mile – As I walked and began to realize how close to the end I was, I began to build up some more energy.  I continued to “wog”, a term coined by a lady I spoke to before the race (She said she doesn’t walk or jog, but “wogs” the race – a mixture of walking and jogging, alternating of which is only determined on how she feels at the moment).  I didn’t want to push anymore than that because I wanted to finish the last 1/2 mile strong, jogging to the finish line.

.46 of a mile remaining (Yay!) – Once I saw that last mile marker, I began my last “go” at jogging.  I felt good, but I didn’t push it too hard.  I didn’t want to get 100 yards away and collapse from exhaustion, so I tried to contain my excitement and my wanting to sprint to the finish.  (HA, HA!   Sprint!  I crack myself up!)

Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line just ahead, I almost began to cry.  Was it because I was so proud of myself?  Was it because I did more than I ever imagined I could?  Was it because I set a personal best?  Yeah, let’s go with that…  It sure wasn’t because my body was shot and I still had to walk a mile back to the car….

So, I crossed the finish line in 1 hour and 42 minutes.  Not an elite runner by any means.  In fact, I don’t know if I could even classify myself as a runner, but I ran nearly 3/4 of the race – and that is good enough for me.  My Dad finished just under 2 hours – jogging the last mile to ensure he would make his goal.  Jeff was just behind him at 2 hours and 3 minutes.  I didn’t need to worry about any of us, and I am so proud of us all!

Now that I have “ran” a Bloomsday, I no longer feel the need to EVER do it again.  Besides the fact that I am hurting pretty bad today (I feel like I have the hips of an 80 year old woman, and the knees of her 90 year old sister), I really enjoy walking the race with my husband and talking to other people about our story.  I don’t care if it takes me 2 hours or 10 hours… I like being with him and my Dad, and I like crossing that finish line holding his hand.  Sappy, I know…

I can now say that I ran Bloomsday once, but choose to walk it now instead. 

I’m a long time Bloomie, first (and last) time runner!