I have a friend, who told me that she only bought a major brand of jewelry when it was on super sale, not to save money, but because she knew it was going to break eventually anyway. Not because she was rough on her jewelry, but because she knew the craftsmanship wasn't there...after all it was produced in a factory overseas, by workers who were focusing on quantity, not quality.
Why do I bring this up? Because it presents one of the first reasons for buying handmade goods. Let me clarify that just because something is made by human hands, it is not necessarily "handmade" in spirit. When an independent artisan creates a piece, whether is be jewelry, a book, clothing, furniture, and whatever falls between, there is a relationship between artist and creation. Where you have this relationship and the love and care that goes in to a handmade good, you are also getting the pride of quality that goes with it. There are many items that are still created by hand--but in factory settings where that relationship is not allowed to flourish, and where quality suffers/
Buying handmade has become something of a trend lately. People are finally proud to state that they buy handmade goods. But the reasons to buy handmade go far beyond the trends. Most mass-produced goods are made overseas, and their sale largely benefits other countries. By purchasing handmade goods, especially by area artisans, you can easily help benefit your neighbors and local economy. If I have a good show, I will take that money and be able to spend it at the local markets and stores, hopefully helping other local merchants.
I've had people, friends even, tell me that buying handmade is too expensive. However, when you begin to realize that items become disposable because you can not count on mass-produced items to have a decent life, the amount of money wasted quickly adds up. It is almost always better financially to invest in a few quality items than to repeatedly purchase replacements. And while it is true that a local artist is going to demand more per hour than an overseas factory worker, we are now seeing the true cost of the "cheap global production" mentality as job loss and economic depression are now constant companions in the U.S.
However, my favorite reason to buy handmade is simple. I love to buy goods that were created from inspiration, by another person who felt the passion to create. I have never been someone to want what everyone has, and am always on the lookout for the unusual and unique. You will only truly find the unique when you look at small-scale production that only an independent artist or small collective can provide. Unique and mass-produced are oxymorons at heart.
What are your reasons for buying handmade? I would love to hear from you as to why you make the decision to buy the unique and beautiful. Send me your reasons at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's share our passion for the love of handmade.