Here’s a sassy question to ask a furniture maker: Why even bother with making things by hand when it’s faster and cheaper to mass produce what you make in foreign factories?
After said maker carefully removes your foot from your mouth for you (don’t worry - they’ve been solving problems with their hands for quite a while), he or she will likely take a second to gather their thoughts and explain:
I get it - we’re a society of instant gratification. Most of the people reading this can get just about anything we could possibly want on-demand - movies, clothes, groceries, coffee, furniture - you name it. Is there anything you will ever need that you can’t purchase either in a store that's less than a 30 minute drive from home or online with free one- or two-day shipping?
Our culture is entitled to convenience, and we’re blissfully unaware of what that convenience is costing ourselves and our planet. We no longer appreciate the things that are thoughtfully and carefully created over time, we have lost the value of hard work, and we’re exhausting our planet’s natural resources to keep up with our demand to have more things immediately. It won’t be long before our factories can produce more goods than our planet has resources for. The mindless consumption of goods and the endless cycle of buying and throwing away will have to stop at some point. Will it be a conscious decision or something we’re forced to do when our planet can no longer supply our demand?
Fortunately, there is an alternative model that can both improve our lives and heal the planet. It’s a human-centered model - not in a selfish sense, but more focused on creating for each other, helping each other, and sharing with each other. Watching out for our fellow humans becomes more important than our own immediate gratification. The focus is on only creating what is loved and needed rather than things that we’re told we want. This model is embodied in the hand makers of the world who create intentional, sustainable, and lasting products.
How exactly do handmade goods benefit your life? Here are 3 ways:
Handmade is the creative expression of love. Each handmade product is carefully conceived and created by the maker. Making a product by hand is a labor of love. Often, these products are commissioned as gifts of love, and hopefully the receiver of the gift falls in love with the item and the love continues. Love is present at every point along a handmade product’s lifetime. When you feel the world needs a bit more love, how about sharing the gift of handmade?
Handmade brings us together. Think about who your dollar benefits when you buy yet another quickly and cheaply mass produced product off the shelf. Is it a CEO, a board of directors, or a bunch of shareholders? When you buy handmade, your dollars support an artist, their dreams, and their family. Each purchase you make has a direct impact on a person’s livelihood. That support creates a connection between you and the maker that lasts, and it’s a connection you would never experience when purchasing a mass produced product. No one could survive this world without the support of others, and buying handmade reminds us of that fact.
Handmade is alchemy. The creation of something that didn’t exist before is a kind of magic. What’s amazing about creativity is that each creation leads to another and another like a viral outbreak that creates an even bigger impact. Every handmade product has creativity at it’s core. With their daily creations, makers can spark ideas and discoveries that might even change the world. When people make their own products the world is more connected through creative, inspiring alchemy.
Handmade is without a doubt still relevant today in spite of mass production and delivery on demand. It expresses love, brings us together, and leads to new creations like no other form of production. Although it does not make sense to hand make everything, more and more are embracing the shift from on-demand consumption. The makers of the world and their biggest fans are leading us towards a more conscious, loving, sustainable, and intentional existence.
What other ways do you see handmade making this world a better place? Let me know in the comments below.