I often talk on Facebook and Twitter about the importance of supporting small independent designers, but one thing that has never really come up is why?
Customer Service and Quality
Handmade offers a vibrant and unique alternative to mass produced and imported manufactured products that are made with the mentality of producing something as cheap and quick as possible. When you buy from independent businesses, you aren't just buying a product. You're buying something of quality, made with the highest degree of care and passion, complete with a unique touch and a personalised service that high street stores can't match. "There's an air of exclusivity that you just can't get with something off a production line, but more importantly, you're helping to cultivate a do-it-yourself ethic that's more important now than it ever has been in a culture of Primarks and Walmarts who are driven by profit and not a love of art", says Sarah from Sugar and Vice.
|Hello Sailor Brooch by Sugar and Vice|
Handmade items also have longevity - designers have pride in what they have created and want their customers to be able to enjoy it as much as possible, for as long as possible. This means incredible attention to detail in not only creating the item, but sourcing all the products, doing numerous quality checks and personally responding to any issues that may crop up.
With the purchase of any Little Miss Delicious design there is effectively a lifetime guarantee - I have customers that email me about products they purchased years earlier being affected by wear and tear problems, and I always offer to fix or replace the item as I would never want someone to not be able to enjoy their purchase, regardless of when it was made. Most companies that sell mass produced items cannot offer this kind of service, and would see it more as already having the money from the customer so not needing to do any further work, but for most handmade businesses the customer will always come first.
|I spend hours sculpting each LMD item to make sure every detail is as perfect as possible.|
Where Your Money is Going
Every time you place an order with an indie designer, you are helping support someone directly - your money goes towards helping passionate and dedicated individual people do something they love for a living, and not multinational companies, where the factory employees doing the majority of the work are paid minimum wage or less. Charlotte Thomson sums this up perfectly - "supporting handmade is important because you know where your money is going, you know it is making a huge difference to one person's life and allowing them to pursue their passion. A handmade gift is more unique and ethical than something bought from a faceless chain-store and spreads so much happiness."
|Illustration by Charlotte Thomson|
If you think of your favourite indie designers, I can guarantee most of them will just be taking just enough money to get by from their business, and putting the rest of the money straight back into it. Most designers don't start small businesses with a view of making as much money as possible. They're started because people are passionate about what they make/design, and because they want to share their creations with others, so every decision is made with their customers in mind, rather than lining their own pockets.
Little Miss Delicious customer Harley Walters also shares this view - "I'd rather put my money into an indie business than a huge company who are only out to line their own fatcat pockets, while the staff are paid a slave wage and expected to work the same. I know that everything I buy from you is sourced, created and quality checked by you. The money I pay is going to someone who deserves it; for all the hard work, long hours and no days off. I'd rather pay more for hand crafted, quality UK products than mass-made, sweat shop imports."
|Rings by Little Miss Delicious|
Unique and Personal Products
While a designer may make a number of a certain product, handmade means each one will be slightly different, and as they're still produced on a smaller scale it'll leave people asking 'Where can I get one?'. An LMD regular Becci Slayers says "I like having something unique. There's nothing worse than finding a piece of jewellery or clothing you love, then see someone else wearing it at the same time! With hand made items, even if the creative genius behind it has made several, they will all be that tiny bit different and one of a kind. You get something more than that though, you get a product that was loved as much by its creator as you love it and that's something that's hard to put a price on."
Many independent designers also offer made to order and customisable services so you can get something truly unique. Since you're usually talking directly to the person making it, you can work with them to create something special and personal on a level that can't be matched by high street stores and off the rack designs.
|Lydia in a handmade wedding dresss by BooBoo Kitty Couture|
Aislinn from BooBoo Kitty Couture is the perfect example of this, and highlights the importance of buying handmade for one of the most important times you'll want a dress as unique and personal as possible - your wedding day. "Choosing a handmade dress for your big day means; the dress will be truly yours, there will not be another one like it. You have full control of the design of the dress, you can work with me, the designer and dressmaker to create your dream dress. Many brides feel intimidated by fancy bridal shops, you do not need to feel intimidated when you come and visit me in my studio for a consultation. I don’t care or judge you if you have bright green hair or are covered in tattoos. Everyone is welcome, I treat you like the individual you are."
Most importantly though, it just feels GOOD to support handmade! Tamsyn from VelvetVolcano believes when you buy something that's been made by one person's hands and has been a labour of love, "not only are you likely to be putting a huge smile on the receivers face, but the maker/crafter too" and I couldn't agree more!
|Fruit Salad Cocktail Set by VelvetVolcano|
I've been running Little Miss Delicious for nearly 5 years now, but I still smile and blush like crazy every time I get an email or notification letting me know a customer is happy with their purchase. I don't run LMD for myself - I run it for you guys. I run it because I love seeing people smile when they see my designs, and I'm still blown away every time someone posts a picture of their LMD collection!
And as a final note, the things I personally love about buying handmade is that you aren't supporting sweatshop style factories, but instead independent designers and sellers with passion and commitment for what they do, that put time into their products in order to offer a friendlier alternative to cheap made in China products.The items made in China will not be the same sort of quality of materials, and will be made by people not getting what they deserve for the hours they work in questionable conditions, funding a company rather than the people that actually make the item. You're funding people that spend days, weeks and sometimes even months coming up with original ideas and designs to create a brand, rather than factories and stores that actually hire people to scour the internet for ideas to steal from others in order to make a profit.
|The Little Miss Delicious painting work space|
While handmade may not be for everyone, and there will always be people that prefer to pay less for similar but lesser products, I hope this blog post offers a little explanation behind the handmade ethos, and makes you cherish your purchases from independent designers that little bit more.
Why do you choose handmade?
Why do you choose handmade?