Friday, February 18, 2011

The Appeal of Handmade

"Handmade" items make people think of "home-grown", skill, and personality, that make the business feel more human and affable.

Story time!!

This last Christmas, I was at a 'white elephant' party where I opened a package with a floppy, knit wool hat and, truth be told, I thought to myself, "Yay? Another hat, and its not even as smooth looking as that other one. Maybe I'll steal it if someone takes this." Someone DID steal it, and I got a $15 Starbucks' gift card out of the pile. Sweet!

Then the girl next to me at some point commented that she had made the hat that day so she could contribute to the white elephant, and suddenly I was trying to pawn that stupid gift card off to the lowest bidder so I could steal her hat back. Finally, with the line of "hey handsome, you look like a sophisticated coffee drinker. Why take a gamble on the pile when you already know what you really want?", I got my chance to steal the hat back!

When I got the hat the first time, I didn't really want another cheap hat that someone picked up at Target for $7. But, when I heard that it was hand-made by a fellow artist, its value sky-rocketed! Compared to the other gifts that people brought (re-wrapped gifts from last year or boxes of chocolates they picked up on the way there), the hat was thoughtful. Granted, upon closer inspection, I found its not the highest quality. Its really floppy and a bit disproportionate, but there's something about it that's endearing.

I think it's also interesting to note that she didn't quite know how to react! :D She was honored that someone would go back for it. Then I explained the above, and that I understood the work that went into it, if not necessarily the craft. She was even more shocked when she found out what I make, and still went out of my way for what she didn't think had much value.

The long story has a purpose though!!

Last week I started trying to get my product photography up and running again and I had the weird realization that I didn't really care for my spiffy, clean, white-background photos that I'd worked so hard to get. They were beautiful and crisp, but they also seemed sterile. The soul and personality I added (accidentally) to the pictures I used to take in the backyard was gone. I think I forgot that I'm selling handmade jewelry, not stuffy, white-collar bling. That's not what I want to market it as! Much like that first impression of the hat, I see my white pictures, and I don't evoke the love and soul that I have for my craft in the photos anymore.

Maybe I'm over thinking it, but I want people to feel at home when they catch that first glimpse.

So, rather than go back outside and get those shots of my front gate in the background, I tried out a fogged-glass desk I have. Not much of a difference, but I think the effect it has is tremendous.

I honestly don't know if I'll stick to the fogged glass look, or if I'll add to it (props?), or do something entirely different, but I think it added a much needed warmth.