Why We Should All Shop Handmade In 2022
As the holiday season of 2022 is fast approaching, our minds begin to think “what am I going to get my mother-in-law?”, “what did I get for my grandfather last year?”, “I wonder how many scarves my niece has from Target these days,” and so begins the stress of finding something unique, special, and memorable (or even two out of those three) for everyone on your shopping list.
Allow us to introduce you, or perhaps offer a remindful nudge back, to shopping items that are made by hand, from a person, who’s been creating things her whole life, and who just wants to put a smile on someone’s face.
There are a lot of reasons so shop handmade during the holiday season but we’ve put together a list of 11 reasons why we like to shop handmade all year round starting with what, some may think, is the most obvious and ending with some that might surprise you.
1. Higher Quality
Many of us know that handmade is better quality. The more care that goes into making something, the higher quality it’s going to be. The materials used are higher quality and more time is spent checking each and every detail to make sure the item is “just right”. An artist doesn’t just make 100 of something, box it up, and send it out. She makes something then inspects it 1-3 more times to make sure it’s just the way she wants it. She will ask herself, “Is the color right? Are the edges smooth? Does everything move as it should? Is this something I would use or wear myself? Is this my best work? Am I proud of this?” Manufacturers might do this on one out of a hundred pieces, artists do this on every… single… one. Do you think there’s that much thought that goes into a décor piece you buy from a mass-produced brand?
2. Stands The Test Of Time
Following up with handmade items being better quality, this also means that they will last longer and stand the test of time. When something is handcrafted with so much care, it isn’t the same as having the trendiest thing from a Target endcap or the most popular listing on Amazon that will lose its glitter and intrigue after one season. Handmade décor is far more likely to become a family heirloom, getting passed down for generations, or re-gifted instead of being donated or thrown in the bin after it served its temporary purpose.
3. More Originality Makes The Gift Receiver Feel More Special
We all know those gifts we receive and think, “I wonder how many other people are getting this exact same thing” (but not in a good way). That feeling of knowing the person who gave it to you picked it out from a thousand exact replicas of the same thing and, while we appreciate the thought, it quickly gets organized into a tucked away place until they forget they gave it to you and you can donate it to someone else or exchange it for something else. But what about those gifts that make you speechless the moment you see them? Those gifts that you’ve never seen before but speaks to your heart as soon as you lay eyes on it? Do you not feel 100x more special yourself? Do you not feel like the person who gave it to you really cares about you and thinks you’re so much more worth it to find something unique and one of a kind just like they think you are? THAT is the feeling shopping handmade will feel like when your friend or loved one pulls back the wrapping this holiday season, the feeling of knowing someone really knows and cares about their interests and their uniqueness, down to the last detail.
4. You Get Connections, Not Just Things
Have you ever had a personal conversation with the actual maker of something sold at Target, Wayfair, or even Pottery Barn? You may get to chat with the sales clerk and tell her why you’re buying this faux authentic vase for your mother-in-law because it reminds you of a trip to Arizona you took one time but even though she may smile and relate somehow, it’s not the same as purchasing from the artist themselves. When an artist or maker creates something, they’re connected with it just as much as you are when you decide to buy it, maybe even more. The two of you are already connected to one another before you even finish the transaction and you will always share something in common, even if you don’t agree on anything else. Shopping handmade gives you more than just another “thing” to have in your house, closet, or gift bag; it gives you a connection to another human being which is priceless… and very much needed in this day and age.
5. You Know It Came From A Human Being, Not A Machine
Carrying on from making connections, you know that when you buy handmade, you know what you bought came from an actual human being, not a machine. Someone with a heart and soul that lights up when they are creating and you can feel that light every time you look at it or use it. You can feel their passion and the warmth that went into what you bought from them and it will feel so much better than knowing what you bought came from a cold manufacturing building.
6. There's A Story Behind It
Not only are handmade things made with passion, there is a story behind them as well, and it didn’t just begin with trend analysis, shopper surveys, and product development. The story begins when the artist was a little girl playing with her first watercolor paint set or building her first birdhouse out of wood and glue. It continues as she takes her first class and her skill grows from intuition to known techniques and ends with a trip to the pumpkin patch which inspires the piece you hold in your hand. Which story would you rather hear?
7. It Takes Us Back To Simpler Times & Limits Consumerism
Consumerism has been around for a long time. The term became regularly used in the United States in the 1920s but the idea that human beings were considered “consumers” took shape even before World War I according to BBC.com. If you watch movies or read books about times long ago, when people’s days were so full of doing daily things just to survive, there was a respected simplicity to their nature. People didn’t have time to go out and look for random things to buy or trade for because they were too busy raising their own children (at home, not sending them to school), growing, preparing, and preserving their own food, building and maintaining their own homes, making their own clothes, and defending themselves from invading groups or tribes. The idea of “back to the basics” sometimes gets lost on the generations of today and going back to shopping from someone who makes something themselves just feels so much more organically authentic than buying some new and trendy plastic thing from a big brand. And it doesn’t just stop when you’ve made the purchase, someone will see what you bought every day and it will continue to remind you of those simpler times and maybe even get you to stop and take a moment to slow down yourself.
8. You Know The Money Goes Towards Someone's Family
Do you even know where money goes when you buy something from a big brand store? 40-50% goes to the big brand itself (paying for their building lease, utilities, and small hourly wages to their employees, if they have any) and 50-60% goes to the manufacturer. Of the 50-60% that goes to the manufacturer, about 10% is profit, the rest goes to pay for the machinery it took to make the item itself, keep the lights on, pay for materials, and then a small hourly wage goes to the employees it took to make it (if there are any!) Now, if this is a common household item that is more necessity than thoughtful gift, it makes perfect sense.
When you’re shopping for a gift though, and you buy handmade, you know the money is going to someone’s family and it will pay for groceries, clothing, and a roof over their head in exchange for this beautiful thing they created.
(*Big brand marketplaces charge sellers anywhere from 8-15% per transaction plus additional credit card and other fees; Made By Her only takes 7% per transaction including credit card fees, because we believe the artist should make the highest margin on their handmade products.)
9. Less Harmful Ingredients
Manufacturers put all kinds of ingredients in their products in order to make them at a lower cost and most of the time, they’re really not good for you. Wouldn’t you rather have a more organic product that you know isn’t filled with chemicals? Shop handmade.
10. Creates Less Waste
Manufacturing equals mass production. Mass production means it’s highly unlikely that 100% of the products made will get used, meaning they will sit around, collecting dust, until they are eventually thrown away. When you shop handmade, you know the artist has made this ONE piece, just for you. Yes, they may have a few items leftover (maybe!), but it took far less energy and materials to make those leftovers than a big manufacturer with thousands of extra products lying around.
11. Raises Economic Activity
Last, but certainly not least, especially in the economic climate we find ourselves in right now with some saying we’re going into a recession… shopping handmade from a local artist or maker, whether it’s in your own state or simply your own country, stimulates the economy by raising economic activity and the odds are far greater that the money will be re-invested back into that same economy as well. Whether you believe we are going into a recession or not, that’s not our department, it’s still good to know your money is going to someone nearby to better improve the local businesses, communities, and people.
We hope you’ll come visit the Made By Her Marketplace this holiday season, support woman-owned businesses, and shop from truly experienced female artists and artisans because each one has their own unique craft to share with you and your loved ones, both now and to come.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Made By Her!
Founder, Made By Her