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Why Shop Handmade this Holiday Season?

Veronica Salazar

What a better day to begin this blog post then no other than Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving, the Holiday before Christmas that in my opinion, is often forgotten. Actually, it IS forgotten. Why is it that we go from Halloween to Christmas and in Retail, this is the norm. Public retailers, all race to be the first ones on the block, so to speak, with getting the "must haves" of the holiday season out before anyone else can. You feel the sense of being force fed a season of gifting that is, according to my calendar, after Thanksgiving. So why are retailers doing this you ask? Well, there are a lot of factors that come into play when retailers across the nation set forth on embarking the Christmas Holiday with all negligence to the one Holiday that is Thanksgiving. But the one that often comes most to my mind most Raking in the cash, depreciating the value of the mass produced goods to hurry and get out the door, and then, oops, didn't sell so marking them down again. It's the cold hard cash-ola that makes the banks go ching and your bank account go ding...dong...gone. But back to me, since I am no consumer reporter professional. Just experienced in the buying habits and quick to set Christmas holiday mindset set forth by retailers all over the globe.

Many of you may be wondering where I have been? Maybe, you actually haven't because your life has been consumed in the Christmas cheer that commenced on October 1st, insert smirk emoji here, that you haven't thought about Ronnie M. Well, as a maker, it can sometimes become hard to post and create at the same time. Making of course for one is creating unique items for one of the biggest season's around, yup you got it, Christmas. But no matter what has kept me away, or negligent for that matter to writing another blog post, what has mattered is that I have been creating new products to get ready for your gifting needs. This season, it is so quick for us to log on Cyber Monday and pay little to nothing for that one high priced item that in all actuality, is selling for nearly nothing at all. Handmade is nothing true to the steep discounts that major retailers can offer their customers because handmade is unique. It is such an influential market that I am proud to be a part of. It is small but mighty. Items are unique, and special, you can see the intricacy of the art because it was actually made with the two hands of the artist that you are shaking as you walk away with one of their creations in hand. To gift that unique item to that person who can appreciate handmade and "support small" versus mainstream, overabundant, perishable, big box retailer "stuff" is priceless.

This Season, I attended one of the largest handmade markets to the So Cal area, The Mom Made Market in Orange County. Entering this market, I was nervous first of all because I had never participated in this particular market and I was leery about what to feel or how to prepare for it. I have been away from posting to the blog because my two little Mexican hands were making...some nights all night, some days all day, some hours long hours to prepare for what was "to come". I was overly prepared for a huge market and not having much demographical study before entering it honestly, was frightening. Who would my buyer be? What is "she" shopping for and why Ronnie M? I prepared, I attended and enjoyed the experience of being able to share my line of handmade jewelry with others. I met new clients, I met clients that have purchased Ronnie M in the past, and some, that Ronnie M was just not for them. Perhaps one of the most positive outcomes of this experience was being able to get feedback from the client that is a Mom like me and truly understand "her" spending habits.

The other thing that I noticed most, is that the Handmade market isn't as big as I think it SHOULD be. I stood there with my entire line of long nights, pricked fingers from needles, sore thumb from macrame all night and hunched back from poor posture because I was making into the long hours of the night and not everyone wanted to buy. I kind of low key got discouraged. My little line of passion and hard work wasn't for everyone, I swallowed my grief and stood confident and truly realized that I had to share my feelings today on handmade. But this is where I segue into the whys. Why buy this season and give Handmade? I am never one to pressure, as a matter of fact, working retail for over 14 years of my life has definitely shown me how to sell and how NOT to sell. But myself, as well as many other thousands of makers, do this because of the passion that we have for the product that we produce. Every single item that is created is created with a purpose. A unique purpose that the maker can connect to. I know, I am getting really deep here and please do not think I am high, or a space cadet and I am not trying to get all weird and emo on you right now. I am being honest, I am sharing my thoughts, feelings and sharing why it is important to support small. Back to the deep moment. When a maker sits down to create, all matters are set aside. Finances, family, friends, kids, external factors, the sounds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the background, or loud sounds of city cars driving by the loft of perhaps that struggling painter. Everything is set aside to create, to concentrate on beauty and manifesting something unique and special. Something of meaning and something in hopes for someone to gift it to someone else this Holiday Season. Making is hard, it is not easy at all. Which leads me to the price point of handmade that will sometimes absolutely drive the consumer away. Especially the consumer who likes the 70% off deal and additional 20% off if you have a "rewards" card. Handmade is pricey. It can be up to the ally with the Fred Seigel client versus the Target client. Both are more affluent in spending, consider the quality of product and are very privy to external factors as well such as their buying environment. However, you will get a much different price point in both stores. You have a higher price point at FS because it is unique lines that you cannot find elsewhere, similar to handmade. With handmade, all things are considered. Supplies, TIME, design, creation, the manifestation of the creation, packaging, marketing, TIME, layout, TIME and final production are all made by one person. Did I mention Time? I know, you probably never thought that way about my line of bracelets and that is okay, maybe now you will.
The Holiday's have become so diluted, so exhausting and as Americans, to the point of "just get it over with", kinda like lazy sex when you just want to get to bed. Yes, I said that lazy sex, sorry I am a little dirty at times so get used to it.
Why lose faith in the season? Why fall short of what matters most, why give the gift that every other American and other countries around the world that celebrate Christmas give? Give unique, give that maker a chance to make someone light up the way that Christmas should be. Give unique and handmade products to those that you hold closest to know that only THEY will have that one product that NO ONE else will have.
I am a maker, I am a Mom, I have bills and obligations just like every other person. But the one thing that keeps me fueled isn't the money or a number of zeros I have in my bank account, it's my passion. The passion to make and create one-of-a-kind pieces that everyone can enjoy.

I will leave you with this. The last sentence I swear. When you are thinking about what to give, read this again and shop local boutiques and makers and you will see that handmade is the way to go this Holiday Season. I am thankful today, Thanksgiving, for all of you, all of your input and all of your support. Share your comments below so that I know that these Blog posts are getting somewhere! I love to write them and love your comments, even more, so share what your thoughts are and I will do my best to respond.
Happy Thanksgiving and remember to give small this year, give handmade and most of all, here comes my elevator spiel...give RONNIE M.

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