I grew up working retail. Not just like some of my friends, working counter jobs for beer money while they went to school, but full-on retail work. I planned to work in book stores, maybe even run my own, for the rest of my life. My first… let me count… fourteen years of my work experience? Fifteen? Were spent working in bookstores. So for all those years, I worked every Black Friday. Every weekend after Thanksgiving. I was lucky I lived in the same city as my dad, or I would have never seen him between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was lucky to even get a day off those five or six weeks! But at least I wasn’t alone, I did have a variety of co-workers.
So now I run my own business – granted, not a book store – and as the only employee, all the business I do at the heaviest shopping time of the year… it’s all on me. If people find me, or if I make myself found, if I do craft shows, if I do more advertising, it’s all on me.
Every business email or blog post I see right now is about how to run an effective Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday (BF/SBS/CM) sale. How to market it. How to send out email blasts, do blog posts, put it on social media, buy Facebook and Instagram ads, because people are lining up out there to give you their money and you should put everything on sale, offer free shipping, free gifts, incentives, everything. I probably delete five messages a day from Amazon and ThinkGeek and Paradise Fibers telling me what they’re going to sell me for cheap on BF/SBS/CM. I get it. There’s a market.
But here’s the thing. I’m not a reseller. I’m not importing cheap things and marking them up to sell them and make a profit. I’m a Maker. With the exception of maybe one thing, my tape measures, I make everything I sell. I make it by hand. Hours and hours are spent in the studio, bending, reaching, hunched over, fingers moving, magic happening in my hand as I take water and earth and then fire and things appear. How is it even ethical to discount that? Because I feel discounting handmade work, well, discounts it. Makes it less important. Not just makes it cheaper, but cheapens it.
I don’t want the quick sale. I don’t want the person looking for the one-time bargain. I want a relationship with you. I want to know that you’re buying this mug for your cousin who just lost both her parents, because the mug reminds you of one her mother had when you were growing up. I want to know that you’re buying this butter dish for your daughter’s first home. I want to know that you’re buying this yarn to make something for your best friend’s baby, the baby she’s been trying to have for two years. I want to be the person you come back to on that baby’s first birthday, to buy more yarn to make another special gift. I want you to be able to reach out to me and talk about getting something in a different color, or by a specific date, or in a particular fragrance. I want a back-and-forth with you. I don’t want to make the mug someone buys as a gag gift at a deep discount that once opened, gets put into the back of the cupboard never to be seen again… I want to make that mug you go to when you wake up sad, and need a friend to have your morning coffee with.
So what are you going to get if you shop with me over BF/SBS/CM? What’s in it for you? What’s the hook with which I will snag you? What you’ll get is a quality, quirky product made with mindfulness and love. What’s in it for you is that by paying full price for an item that took between five and fifteen hours to make, is that you ensure that if you want another one in a year, that I’ve been able to pay myself a living wage and so I’m still open and haven’t had to close and go flip burgers at McDonald’s. What’s the hook that I’ll use to catch you? You want something made slowly, made consciously, made well. You want to know where what you’re buying is coming from, you want to know who made it, you want to know that even if I make a similar one it’ll never be exactly like what I made for you. That’s what I give you.
If you want a bargain, if you want something cheap to buy next weekend, I’m not your girl. But if you want something hand-crafted with joy and spirit, something that you can feel the power of handmade in when you touch it, then you have come to the right place, and I’m so happy we’ve found each other. Let’s talk about what I can make for your heart and soul.