Do you prefer buying accessories at your local town fair? Or maybe your favorite bakeshop is the one in the neighborhood that’s been around for decades. You’re not alone in this movement. Today, more and more people are switching to handmade products than mass-produced goods.
The Problem with Mass Production
It was during the Industrial Revolution when the world truly saw a massive change in the way products were made and delivered to meet consumer needs. Thanks to pulleys, printers, and special machinery, huge demands were met instantly.
Cities seemed to have been overnight as materials for skyscrapers were pushed put out faster than men can build them. Soon enough, these were followed by cars produced in factories that employed hundreds of people. And with the introduction of electricity and assembly lines, things only got more efficient.
The most celebrated example of mass production was Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company during the 1910 and 1920s. In 1914 for instance, a total of 248,000 Model T’s were sold. The company also paved the way for other milestones in the industry, such as increased wages for employees, as well as the 8-hour workday.
All of this created a chain of events that would lead to the popularization of mass production, not only in the United States, but around the world. Unfortunately, many of the items that used to be rare were suddenly in good supply. Some economists have argued that this was one of the factors that contributed to the Great Depression.
While mass production has helped people avail of many commodities for less, its social, environmental, and long-term impacts cannot be overlooked. That’s why recently, people have been advocating for local handmade industries that reflect the artisanal values of decades past.
10 Good Reasons Why Handmade Is Best
1. Products offer better quality.
As mass production is geared towards profit (i.e. the ability to produce more in half the time to meet demands), products made from it are usually hurried, made of the cheapest materials, or both.
Handmade in contrast, is created individually. Thus, the craftsman has more time to dwell on details, customization, and other loving touches that ultimately affect the end product.
For instance, most people would agree that while they enjoy the occasional coffee from retail chains, they will always prefer their own homemade brews.
2. It can be customized.
Colossal factories producing anything from shoes, clothes, to food, follow set procedures to ensure quotas are met and demands are fulfilled. That’s why customization is out of the question.
That’s why the elite always pay premium for bespoke items. As craftsmen take very limited orders, they can focus on each person’s preferences – from the colors, to the raw materials.
3. Items are unique.
As handmade products are created in small shops, sometimes even in homes, you can bet that you’re truly getting a one-of-a-kind item. Remember: craftsmen typically limit orders so they can focus on each client request.
Even if the seller specializes on only one type of product (e.g. bags, jewelry, baskets), your personal wishes (e.g. color, type of beads, or pattern) can be granted. NO two products are ever the same.
4. You support local communities.
Looking to give back to your community? Then buy from your neighborhood craftsmen. Instead of throwing your money to huge companies (that typically outsource parts of their manufacturing process to cut costs), spend it on small local businesses within your city or country. By being a regular customer to local artisans, you put money back in their pockets, which in turn are spent within the community.
5. You help keep traditions alive.
Nowadays, machines can do just about anything – whether it’s producing donuts or dyeing fabrics. It’s so easy to purchase a mass-produced scarf for less than $10 off the shelves of a huge retail company. But the stitching and texture just isn’t the same.
Compare that with the laborious task of weaving colorful scarves in a traditional loom. While that may obviously cost more than a run-of-the-mill item, it will amaze you with its fine detail and luxurious feel. Weaving – like many of today’s traditions – is a dying art. Buying products made from these customs will keep it from eventually being relegated to museums.
6. It is sustainable.
Sustainability can be difficult to define. But in essence, it means maintaining change in a balanced environment, where there is no exploitation of resources, and development and/or investments are in keeping with common ideals for the good of the earth and its people.
In general, it’s easier for businesses specializing in handmade items to aim for sustainability because their main goal is to provide superior products – not to exploit profit. While production may be slower and smaller, it will definitely pay off long-term when people see the positive effects it has on the environment, the job market, as well as to its consumers.
7. It is environmentally-friendly.
Large factories and manufacturing structures are known to cause plenty of trouble to its surroundings.
Not only do they take up more space; they’re also known to produce more carbon emissions and/or toxic wastes. They utilize more energy as well. A good number have been notorious for using cheap or synthetic raw materials, which in general, cannot be good for the environment.
Smaller, local craftsmen on the other hand, have better control over their facilities, resources, and energy consumption. As production is restricted, they can make improved decisions because their main concern was never on maximizing profit – but rather to create the best products for their patrons.
8. It celebrates creativity.
Big companies that manufacture goods on massive scales can’t afford to be creative because it will cost them more time, effort, and cut into their potential profits. It’s no wonder they produce items that don’t vary much from one another. These typically end up being forgotten in landfills or at the back of closets.
Buying handmade products celebrates the individual’s imagination and journey into their craft. When big businesses refuse to put in the extra hours into making an item special, your local artisan is glad to be making that sacrifice, simply because it’s part of their original design. And they’re not one to scrimp out on creativity!
9. Handmade is the new trend.
This is one bandwagon you can jump in without guilt. As more people become aware of the ecological and cultural impacts of mass production, they are shifting their preferences to locally-produced artisanal products.
The age of mom-and-pop stores is alive again! Nowadays, it’s not difficult to find small shops that boast a variety of handmade items: from fine cheeses, beer, to clothes, perfumes, soaps, and more. The young crowd is jumping into the trend by putting up their own small-scale businesses, doing collaborations, or investing in the handmade industry.
10. You become part of someone’s story.
It’s not easy to live by your craft. That’s why most folks resign themselves to keeping their talents as hobbies. When you buy handmade items, you don’t just buy premium customized products that are sustainable – you’re also buying a piece of their life story, their passion.
Whether it’s a pretty journal or a jar of jelly, these people have set into the world to offer their talents as a means to support themselves. Pay attention to their unique struggles painted on their artworks, sewn on every hem, or baked onto each delightful pastry. Don’t be afraid to talk to them! Listen to their story of hard work, persistence, and patience.
That’s why handmade products ‘feel’ different than mass-produced goods. They’re warmer, more authentic and personal. You can’t replicate the time and effort that went into creating a single handiwork.
When you purchase from your local artisans, you’re also giving them the chance of turning their passions into reality.