Monday, December 3, 2012

Tired of Competing with China

My dearest reader, I deeply apologize for my absence. I have missed communicating with you, but I have been very busy trying to give my small business a shot in the arm. First, a little history...

In early 2009, I opened my business, Chrysalis Jewelry. This was a side business, giving me a way to sell people my creations from my jewelry studio. Creations that had started as a hobby. It stayed a side business until late last year, when I was let go from my full time job due to my illness (which has now been diagnosed as the autoimmune CREST).  At first I was devastated by the loss. But I had a couple of people mention to me this might be an opportunity to focus on my business full time. As a firm believer in God shutting one door to open another, I decided to give it a shot.

I opened an Etsy shop, something I had drug my heals about up to that point. I started to create items to put in my Etsy shop and I began to market all over social media. I threw myself into my small business heart and soul.

I know it takes a lot of time for a small business to become successful. I did not naively think I would become an over night success (although I sure would take it!!). I knew it would be a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

Late last summer a friend approached me about sharing a booth at a craft fair in late September. It was a $25 investment, so I figured it was worth a shot. About the same time I had a friend tell me of another craft fair that was posted on Craigs list. Once again the booth fee was affordable so I figured I would give that a shot as well. It would give people an opportunity to see my hard work first hand. To pick it up and touch it. I felt it would be a good way to get my name out there.

Long story short, I have seven craft fairs under my belt and I am thoroughly frustrated. I have had ONE craft fair I would deem successful. A couple that were okay and I made a small profit after covering booth fees. Others were a complete bust.

The problem I have run into at these "Craft" fairs is they also allow vendors. Now, I'm cool with people coming in and selling Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and Scentsy. What irks me to no end is being placed next to a booth that also sells jewelry that is imported (which has happened). I make my items by hand, which means this takes time. Not only time to make the items, but time to find (source) materials and buy them. This includes shopping around so I can keep my costs down while still buying quality material.

I'm a good capitalist and I'm all for the free market. However, don't take my booth fee for what is billed as a craft fair and then sit me next to someone who is selling jewelry from China. It's not fair to me, it's not fair to the customers who think they are buying handmade crafts and imported jewelry has no business at a craft fair. I had an acquaintance who was in the same boat at the same craft fair a few weeks ago overhear a conversation between a customer and the imported jewelry vendor. When the vendor was questioned if the items were handmade, the vendor said "not really".

Do you want to help the economy? Do you want to see people in your community get back to work? Then you need to start supporting local merchants, artists, and crafters.  This Christmas I have decided all of my gifts are going to be handmade, either by myself or another crafter. Check out the graphic below:

What do you think? I think shopping local (or at least from someone whose products are made in the USA) is well worth it.

Until Tomorrow

PS - Should you want to see my handmade goods, they can be found at here