Supporting Handmade

Long Sleeve Blue T-Shirt from KimmchiLong Sleeve Blue T-Shirt from Kimmchi

I make handmade jewelry. I want you to buy my handmade jewelry, even though I know you can buy jewelry at Target, Clairs, Afterthoughts and a host of other stores. I want you to buy mine because it’s mine. It’s often one of a kind, and it’s always handmade by me, right here in good ole Franklin, Tennessee by a little girl from Hill City, Minnesota.

What I make is a little more expensive than what you might find in stores, because it’s not mass-produced. I am a one-woman shop: I think up the designs, order the materials and wrap the wire, string the beads, crimp the metal, into the finished product. I do work with my uncle, he provides me with all of my glass pieces. He’s also a maker and takes great pride is his work.

The ironic thing in all of this? In the past, I haven’t bought a lot of handmade items simply because I could get mass-produced products more cheaply from chain stores. It wasn’t that I didn’t see the value in handmade, it was that I didn’t understand I could afford it.

I’ve been on a simplification quest lately. I have a lot of stuff. Most of it isn’t very high quality. It’s not hard for me to decide that I would rather give it away to Goodwill than continue to have it in my house. There is no value in it. In my budget-conscious way, I was accumulating things because I thought I wanted or needed them, rather than because they were amazing, valuable pieces that would enrich my life and that would last.

As I’ve simplified, there have been things that I wanted or needed to buy. I’ve been making a conscious effort to buy higher quality items, willing to spend a little bit more to make sure my dollars are expressing my values. Today, I am wearing the shirt pictured above, a shirt I bought while listening to its maker at The Maker’s Summit earlier this month. I love it. It’s a little more than I would normally spend on a shirt, but it’s beautiful, comfortable, and was hand printed. Also, it’s printed on American Apparel, whose business practices (not to mention their clothes) are in line with values I want to support.

I’m making a conscious effort to support smaller, local artisans with my money. Not because I’m rich or have a lot of expendable income– don’t get me wrong, I don’t– but because I want the purchases I make and the stuff I have to support and encourage other artists, people like me, who are just trying to do what they love and make enough money to live.

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