As you probably know, I am the founder and CEO of the Indie Beauty Network (IBN), which offers coaching, mentoring and services like products liability insurance for handmade entrepreneurs. Since I founded the organization in 2000, I have watched your options for quality handmade products expand from items you would only come across now and then, to products you can buy in spas and boutiques worldwide, in places like your local Whole Foods Market and, of course, online.
IBN has over 900 members in nearly all 50 states and Canada, and each one is proud to offer you not only great products, but also other things that make it appealing to do business with them. Here are my own personal top 10 reasons to buy handmade:
1. It's fun
There is no better reason to shop — unless of course you're buying toilet paper. When you want something special for yourself or a friend, shopping for it is half of the experience. Handmade entrepreneurs are interesting. Do business with the ones who deliver a unique and fun shopping experience.
2. Customer service
Handmade entrepreneurs are especially excited about engaging with their customers. This is one reason why their FaceBook Pages are generally so full of life. They enjoy meeting their customers. Yes, they want the sale; they want to make money. But they also want to know and serve you as a human being. Can't think of a better reason to choose handmade than that.
3. Customization options
While not every single handmade entrepreneur can customize for single retail customers, many will. All you have to do is ask. And if one person cannot accommodate you, it's a small world and you'll frequently be referred to someone who can. It's about helping you get what you want. Handmade entrepreneurs care about stuff like that.
4. It fits your lifestyle
If you like Big Box, go for it. But if your personality is more about style and less about cookie cutter, handmade businesses and the products they make are right up your alley.
I know, you can write the FTC and take to Twitter to vent when a conglomerate does you wrong. And it might get you somewhere. But when you have a valid issue with a product from a handmade business, the chances increase that you'll get a prompt reply, and one that will make you feel good about choosing to support a small business.
And I don't just mean from the specific business you choose to buy from. I mean, the world! Twenty years ago, you had to search hard and long to find a handmade entrepreneur who took her business seriously. Today, they are everywhere, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ideologies. Take your pick. It's a handmade buyer's market!
I cannot tell you how many times I have watched people buy products from Indies in part because they are impressed and inspired by their stories.
“I started my business after a divorce.”
“I launched after my husband lost his job.”
“I quit corporate America because it was stealing my soul.” (That would be part of my story)
Doing business with courageous people helps you become more courageous. And that's a very big deal.
8. It's the way of the future
If you are a forward looking person who is excited about solving the world's economic problems business by business, on a micro scale (and therefore, a macro scale when you add it all up), then buying handmade is a great way to be a part of the solution.
9. Support your local community
Yes, I know, you can buy handmade online. But you can also find local handmade entrepreneurs right in your own back yard and support their businesses wherever they sell. Is it more convenient for you to buy online? Then use their shopping cart? Would you rather save the shipping and get a chance to visit their booth at the local farmer's market or a holiday show? Then do that. So many options, so many ways to support your community.
10. The Handmade Holiday Gift Guide
Last but not least, it's a great excuse to enjoy IBN's 2012 Handmade Holiday Gift Guide. Yes, we want you to buy stuff, but we also want you to enjoy perusing an original publication with ideas and articles to inspire your life. You can enjoy it, whether or not you buy anything.
Oh look. Here it is now! Click on “Expand” to open the publication. Enjoy!