Is it proper English? Not in the least, but it is one of the nicest and most heartfelt complements that I’ve ever received from a customer. At the time, it was something I’d never really considered. I had just opened my business and started offering custom handmade greetings for people to give to their loved ones. I wasn’t convinced that what I was doing was particularly special; it was just something that I enjoyed doing. Talking to this particular customer however, made it perfectly clear that there is a distinct difference between something she would buy in Target or a mall and something she would buy from me. The simple fact that my cards aren’t mass produced and can’t be found anywhere else is the difference. When I make a card for a customer or they buy one I’ve listed in my shop, that’s the only one there is. I put time, effort, and love into creating something unique. I didn’t really consider what recipients did with them after they opened them. It certainly never occurred to me that they keep them. It was then that I realized that people were framing my cards. Protecting them, not because of my artwork, but because of the memories evoked from seeing them. The new baby cards, the birthdays, mother’s days and anniversaries…people are holding on to those memories. I was incredibly humbled by the simplicity of her statement and I intend to keep making my cards to help my customers hold those memories close. – See more at: http://www.aluminum-butterfly.com/blog/cards-you-keep-keep#sthash.RrWdoYta.dpuf
I’ll be honest, when I first started creating products and posting them for sale on Etsy, I was terrified of the “Request a Custom Order” button. It seemed like a one way ticket out of my comfort zone. As it turns out…that’s exactly what it is, and here’s why I’ve found I can’t do without it now.
1. My customers’ imaginations are incredible. On days where I feel like I’m recreating the same product over and over again…one customer with a request to do something totally different can instantly turn things around. I’ll admit that sometimes I find myself thinking “you want me to do…what?!?” but even with those requests, once I have a complete concept of what they are looking for, it turns into an awesome project.
2. Custom orders teach me about myself. Each new order is different and forces me to research, experiment, and often times teach myself a new skill. After each order, I can sit back and look at the finished product and appreciate the fact that I can do something new – something I may never have tried if not for a curious customer. They build skills and confidence, two things everyone could use a little of.
3. They inspire new products. After I’ve stumbled across a new technique, skill, or style I will almost always want to do it again. If I try something new for a customer and I enjoy it, I tend to offer other products using what I’ve learned (not exact copies, of course). I have entire product lines based on special requests and I believe that it keeps my products different, interesting, and ever-evolving.
So, I no longer fear the custom order button (heck, I’d give it neon lights if I could). I welcome the challenges, ideas, and chances to become a better artist and business woman.
I’ve often heard the question asked, “Why buy something handmade?” Someone then proceeds to rattle off a list of reasons not to go through the trouble of buying from an artisan. While it’s true that a card bought from Hallmark or a scarf from Walmart may be more convenient and (maybe) cheaper, does half of the message get lost?
Close your eyes and picture the last handmade gift or card you received. Whether it was from an artisan or a child’s art project, there is a significant emotional difference in knowing that something was made, sought out, or purchased just for you. Handmade gifts and sentiments are created, not just for the words they may contain, but to convey the message that the recipient is unique, cherished, and appreciated. Humans are hard-wired to value something that is scarce, rare, or one of a kind. These items have value beyond price tags and create memories that endure. It’s for this simple reason that handmade cards are framed instead of discarded and art is placed prominently in a household. While buying from artisans can support the handmade movement and help us chase our crafty dreams, it (more importantly) gives recipients the sort of experience that can last a lifetime. The fact that a unique gift or greeting can make someone feel special is why so many parents can’t part with their macaroni art.