Handmade seems so unpretentious and unassuming in the hands of babies and children. Teething babies chew on sweet little organic dolls with knotted feet and hands. Happy toddlers joyfully shake the wooden rings of natural wood rattles.
Those gorgeous handmade toys your baby plays with are supported by small business people who make toys because they love children and they love the craft.
The Business of Handmade
Yesterday, members of the Handmade Toy Alliance board of directors testified at the U.S. Commerce Sub-committee hearing regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The board has been working with the Sub-committee for months. With requests for specific changes, the Handmade Toy Alliance officially endorsed draft legislation that would bring about changes for small-batch manufacturers, Consumer Product Safety Enhancement Act (CPSEA).
Children’s product manufacturers in the U.S. and Canadian exporters to the U.S. have been wondering for the past 18 months how to comply with the strict testing and labelling requirements of the new law. Understanding the law has been a difficult task for all. For the smallest manufacturers, meeting testing requirements has seemed almost impossible. The Handmade Toy Alliance formed when small business owners came together determined to understand and change the law.
I’ve watched their growth over that time, and these crafters, store owners, and other small business owners have come to understand the system of legislation and regulation—and media. It has been exciting to see them learn how to communicate with rulemakers when the system can seem so overwhelming.
At the heart of this increasingly sophisticated organization are people who do what they do because they care about handmade toys. It’s so simple. They love sock monkeys and felt blocks and play dough. Without their work to push back against this law, to help lawmakers understand how they work every day to preserve toy safety, we might have seen fewer handmade toys available for our children.
For the past month, I’ve spent every Friday writing about the book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule.
For my last dip into the book, I like a section in the “Handmade Holidays” chapter of the Connecting section of the book called “Supporting Handmade.” As my son’s 10th birthday comes up in the next week, I want to emphasize that any time can be a holiday season if your definition of holiday is broad enough.
“The holiday season can be a great time to show support for crafters and artists for the meaningful work they do. . . . Affordable arts and crafts surround us; we just need to look in the right places to find them.”
Her ideas for finding handmade are:
- Local craft fairs
- Art shows sponsored by local colleges
- Online through sites like Etsy
And, I might add, the members of the Handmade Toy Alliance also sell beautiful children’s toys, and they care deeply about the safety of your children.