I've been giving quite a bit of thought lately to my 'brand' and what I'm trying to offer my customers at The Hipster Housewife. Why shop with us? Why shop handmade at all? Well, as the title would imply, for The Handmade Experience. Obvs.
Long before I set up shop on Esty I was a huge fan of the site, and did most of my 'special' shopping there. My entire wedding was painstakingly handmade by yours truly, and supplemented with Etsy purchases when I couldn't make something on my own. I love to put some random query into the search box (vintage industrial storage box was my latest) and dig through the seemingly endless offerings. There is something really special about the whole process, from the search to the moment the pretty package arrives in the mail. Its personal in a decidedly impersonal world.
The handmade experience is a promise. It offers both exclusivity and connection. You purchase something one of a kind, something that is uniquely yours, and through that purchase are supporting not only an individual artisan, but an entire community of makers, crafters, and artists. It feels authentic in a way few commercial transactions ever do. When was the last time Target shot you an email to make sure your new pants fit just right? The last time your favorite 'upscale' jewlery store made a necklace to your specifications (and didn't cost a months rent)? It just doesn't happen in today's retail market. There is no attention to detail, to craftsmanship, not the way one person working in their studio can give. Whether it's a big chain or a small store, they are not personally invested in their products and clients the way someone making their goods by hand is.
When I buy handmade there are always a few certain 'somethings' that jump out at me, and I, in turn, strive to offer those things to my customers. That's the promise. Buying handmade means buying one of a kind. Even when a product is made more than once, it's virtually impossible to recreate something the same exact way the first one was made. I love owning pieces no one else has. We like to own exclusive things. Most of the high end (and therefore exclusive) things in today's world are so absurdly expensive I could never afford to own them. Handmade offers me the couture experience without the couture price tag. There is also the expectation of quality. You see, I frickin' love making things, and I know most etsy shop owners feel the same way about what they do. We are passionate about the things we sell, and therefore aren't going to sell junk! Nothing I create I wouldn't display in my own home (in fact, if it's not made to order, it's hanging on my walls right now!), use at my own wedding, or gift my friends and family with. So, you get unique, you get quality, but you can have those things without having a good buying experience. I know, because I've bought beautiful, lovely, unique things on etsy and have still walked away with a bad taste in my mouth.
Customer service is by far the most difficult part of owning your own handmade business. I stress myself out like crazy making sure I make my customers happy! But I do it because I know that's the make or break piece when it comes to he handmade experience. There is nothing worse than trusting someone to make this awesome-unique-thing for your wedding (or home, baby, grandma, you get the idea) and having them not answer your questions, take longer than promised, and not ship on time. Of course, you have to remember you're usually working with one person, who is doing the best they can (hopefully) and sometimes things run behind schedule. But there is never any excuse for poor customer service. It drives me crazy!! I'm always available to answer questions, and I pride myself on answering emails and convos within a few hours - if not a few minutes! My iPhone is always on and always by my side (I suppose that's a topic for another blog post entirely). And I have had some amazing chats with people via etsy's convo system! I've talked about God, motherhood, and the joy of getting married. So yeah, it's personal for me, and I want it to be personal for you too. Behind every etsy storefront is a real person, with a real life, usually working from home in the thick of it. That is special. That makes the whole thing special.
The Hipster Housewife is just me. I put love and prayers into every piece I make. I wrap all of my shipments like presents, include extra goodies (plus a sprinkle of glitter for good measure) and pretty ribbons, because I want you to be excited when you open that package. Making these things is a joy for me, I want your experience, from purchasing to hanging on the wall, to be a joy for you as well. It's why I do it. I create because I love to, because I believe that's what God made me to do. I sell my creations because I want to share that love, to share his glory, and to make people happy! It's simple, really.
I'm interested in why you shop (or don't shop) handmade. What part of the experience is most important to you? Have you had any extra special (or extra awful) experiences? What could the seller have done differently? I'm really just trying to pick your brains here people! Help a housewife out!
P.S. I know I haven't been posting as much as of late, and I really do have a good excuse for that, but I can't tell anyone yet because it's a big surprise. I've had time to do some thinking, not just about my brand and where I'm trying to take this thing, but also about my life and where I'm trying to take that thing. What does the future look like for the hipster housewife, husband, and three adorable hipster babies? What's next? God is doing big things in our household. He's opening our eyes to things we've remained adamantly blind to, binding up old wounds, and setting our feet on a new path. We are so excited to see where it will lead.
"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed."