Thursday, May 31, 2012


A great way to connect with others in the Etsy community is by joining teams.  I recently became a member of Artists Helping Hands.  The team captain, Elise, envisioned a group of compassionate artists uniting to help those in need through creativity.  Each month, an organization is chosen by the team to benefit from the members' efforts.  Handmade items are donated to the cause.  Collaborative projects are made and auctioned; the proceeds given to that month's charity.  Artists Helping Hands is a new venture and has completed its first project with Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas, Texas. The inaugural undertaking is outlined here by Trey of 2 Horse Weaving.  

The second project for Artists Helping Hands is donating handmade beads to The Beads of Courage Program.  Our team captain also requested beads for collaborative necklaces that are being created for auction.   I am honored to be one of several team members who is assembling necklaces. All proceeds from the public sale will benefit this wonderful program.  The color theme is a happy combination of blue, pink, and purple, designed by many loving hands for this specific purpose.  I cannot wait to see how it all blends together.

Collaborative Necklace Donations

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Little Ways to Make A Small Business More Socially Responsible

Boxes and packaging that are in good condition can be reused.  Remove any previous labels and color over extra markings with a heavy black marker before shipping.

Save your scraps! Can they be upcycled or donated? 

Increase Efficiency
Combine tasks such as picking up supplies, meeting with clients, and shipping packages into one trip to reduce the amount of driving.  Make errands more environmentally friendly (and fun) by walking or biking if possible.

Do you believe in shopping locally? Buy supplies from nearby stores.  Prefer giving your support to other small businesses owners? Research independent suppliers for your business needs.  Do any companies share a common belief or endorse causes that are important to you? Purchase from them.  (I like ordering from Rio Grande Jewelry Making Supplies  because of their approach to renewable energy and great customer service.)

Serving as a teacher or guide to another person is rewarding for both parties.  If the business is very small, and without extra funds, working with a high school or college student as an intern could be a good choice.  You will streamline your process.  The trainee will benefit from your business knowledge and particular areas of expertise.  Positive support from an adult role model makes a huge impact on young lives.

Give your time outside of work to a cause that you believe in.  Not only will it make you feel good, you will gain new skills.  Skills that could be applied to your small business. 

Spread the Wealth
Donate a portion of your sales to a favorite charity.  Do what you can.  Even if it is a small percentage, you are making a difference.  If the funds are too tight, spread the word.  Tell others about the organizations that you want to support.  Serve as a humanitarian.  Be an example through your actions.

Get inspired.  Take a look at  5 socially conscious startups




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Authenticity Part 2: The Handmade Movement

Last week's thoughts on Authenticity motivated me to do more research.  I began to ask myself questions:  When exactly did the Handmade / DIY Movement begin? What started it? Is it as big as I perceive it to be?

The Do-It-Yourself mentality has been going strong for some time.  This article from the National Building Museum illustrates how both the surge in home ownership between 1890 and 1930, and a multitude of new products with step-by-step instructions in the 1950s and 1960s,  transformed hobbyists into handymen and handywomen.   Amidst the enthusiasm of DIY Home Improvement, This Old House was first broadcast in 1979.  It's popularity continues today.

This Old House is a favorite show of mine.  Watching the team progress through the home remodel is fascinating.  The crew completes each step thoroughly.  No mediocrity here.  Everything is built to last.  Local craftsmen are commissioned to fashion ironwork for balconies, repane original windows, and replace vintage trim with historically accurate pieces.  This teamwork keeps the house authentic.

I return again to authenticity and our desire for it as consumers.  We do not want the same exact thing as everyone else.  We do not want all of our purchases to be manufactured  in China.  We do not want cheaply made.  We do not want unsafe.  We do not want pesticides in our vegetables and meat that is burdened with antibiotics.  Fortunately, these opinions are prevalent.  We are doing something about it.  We are getting smarter about purchases.  We are growing our own food and supporting CSAs.  We are making. We are recycling.  We are upcycling.  We are crafting.   

Our search for the genuine, unique, or quirky has been made much more accessible by the internet.  Online marketplaces such as Etsy allow the buyer not only to purchase handmade and vintage items, but also to communicate with the creator / seller.  Artists have the opportunity through Etsy for their work to be put in front of a global audience, to make a living without the necessity of a brick and mortar shop.  Artisans are taking their own passion for authenticity, individuality, and durability, and becoming social entrepreneurs

I may not be an expert yet like Norm Abram on This Old House, but I am learning.  I am acquiring many new skills along the way.  I am making.  If something that I create with my own hands is liked enough that a person wanted to give it as a token of friendship, love, or appreciation, that is all I need to feel rewarded.