I am in the middle of taking an e-course for small craft businesses (specifically online shops) which is bringing up a lot of questions for me. Good questions, but questions & some doubts nonetheless. I am absolutely fascinated, intrigued, slightly obsessed with thinking about why people purchase the things they do. What is it that drives people to spend their well earned money on something handmade or not? What is it that drives me?
So early on in the course I learned that as a maker my products should provide value for the customer. As a customer, you typically buy products because there’s something in it for you. Maybe that “it” is purely functional. The product solves a problem for you and so you buy it.
So this got me thinking, specifically about my products. What problems do my items solve? What function do they serve? Initially I began to feel a bit down as I thought about what I created. I started doubting the value that I brought to my customers and potential customers. Were my products really something anyone needed? Was I being selfish and creating products that were flooding the market with more “stuff” no one really needs? I mean really, who needs another pillow cover! Who needs a handprinted mug that says “happy, lovely” on it? And who am I kidding…wooden eggs that are handstamped with the words “live, simply”, who needs them?? Quite frankly, I DO! I really do.
As I think about the purchases (specifically from independant makers) that I’ve made this past year I have a definite reason for having bought them. It wasn’t that I necessarily needed these items. In fact, I don’t think I needed any of them, at least not in the basic sense of the word. So what was the value that these items provided?
Each of these items made me very HAPPY! Every single item can still, even a year later in some cases, make me smile every single time I pass them by. I absolutely adore them! Some items, like the handmade journal I purchased recently, does have a specific function besides just being so darn lovely. Yet, I have written in it only two times. However, I keep it out when I am creating as a source of inspiration. These items each occupy a special place in my home. My home & my family mean everything to me. So you bet that the things I choose to buy will serve to make our home & time spent here more lovely! They make my house a HOME, truly!
SO IS THEIR VALUE IN CREATING ITEMS WHOSE MAIN FUNCTION MAY ONLY BE TO MAKE THE RECEIVER BLISSFULLY HAPPY EVEN LONG AFTER THAT INITIAL PURCHASE? IS THAT REALLY ENOUGH? IF YOU ASK ME I SAY YES with a capital Y! Can I get an amen! :)
FYI-It’s American Craft Week – a week dedicated to celebrating the “the countless ways handmade objects enrich our daily lives and contribute to our national aesthetic and economy.” How will you support handmade this week?