My love for craftsmanship goes deep. Firstly, I see it as a way for validating our consumeristic society. And let’s face it, the buying and selling of something, be it a product or service is the thread that keeps our way of life functioning. EVERYONE depends on it. Including you and I.
The problem with consumerism is greed and, a lack of respect for the creation of a thing or, the person who creates it. When the artisan element is taken out of a product it becomes a mass-produced “(noth)thing”, it is cheapened in both the cost to purchase it and the value of the human artisan skill to make it, the maker becomes less valued, as does the thing ( that’s my opinion 😉)
The number of times people have come in to my shop and said “these are gorgeous but are too expensive”, I literally hold back the tears, feeling for the highly skilled artisan who took hours to make that item.
Recently, I walked into a large (NOT expensive) department store near where I work. And it stirred in me mixed emotions, the first was “wow this is gorgeous”, then at a closer inspection my heart sank and I felt despair. What looked artisan and handmade was a mass produced copy of something that I sold at the Fair Trade Hub. The item was a basket, it looked the same, but it was not the same. It was not a social design product! To me these products were the antithesis of everything that is good, fair and beautiful.
When an item is mass produced or even worse, a 100% machine made product (and that’s what’s happening); it is basically made from start to finish by a machine or mechanical device. The only winner in this standard consumerism model is the CEO and the retailer who can gain huge profit margins.
The handcrafted method is a lot more labour intensive and generally much more expensive to make. But that expense and my terrible profit margins are 110% worth it. Because these products have a value, a positive ripple effect, where the consumption of something turns into a “social designing” mechanism. It preserves culture, values art, respects the environment and it creates a more equitable world. I will never be rich, but I know that I belong to a prosumer movement that makes the world and my self-worth much richer.
My business is called “Aware…the social design project”. Yeap, It’s a mouth full and, a tad cumbersome as a business name. But I LOVE IT!!!! :D. It is a daily reminder for me and, I hope others, that there is such a thing as good consumerism. That there are products that can improve the social design of our world. Be it eco, locally made, handmade or fair trade.
As I sit in my shop and watch the mind boggling amount of trolleys of stuff coming out of the department store. It leaves me thinking:
"How did we get to this point of stuff only having a value because it’s cheap, on sale or it’s a bargain. Is it fair that a business mass produces things to look like artisan products? Cultural appropriation shouldn't just about clothing and accessories, it is baskets and other handcrafted items."
Don’t you think?
Would those trolleys be so full if these customers asked – "Does this item have a soul? Or, is this more than just a thing?"
How I wish I could reach these people with the message:
”Buy less, buy well and make it last” (as per the British designer Vivienne Westwood)….. and if we also buy things with soul - then together, we can change the world!".
On a positive note; there are many pro-sumers out there (ie you) - people who get that consumerism can have a positive and life changing effect on an individual and societal level.
Lots of Love,
#tohetherwecan #Awarenessiskey #Prosumersarethesocialdesigners