Celebrating #10yearsofcraft : Washable Menstrual Pads!
Bear with me here. It’s not the pads themselves that we’re celebrating (although they are great!), it’s the fact we make them available. When I feel pressure from increased competition in the handmade marketplace, I think to myself “well, no one would ever carry washable menstrual pads.” When we first opened the doors ten years ago, there was no other place in the city to find the goods we were carrying. If you wanted handmade, locally-made gifts, you came here. Now I joke that you can’t throw a handmade bar of soap without hitting a store selling locally made artisan goods. Even stores whose focus isn’t gift retail are making room for handmade goods:
“We’re a tire store but we also have a selection of locally made bath and body care.”
“We primarily serve pickled vegetables but we also have a fine array of locally made jewelry”
And don’t get me wrong here - I absolutely believe that an expanding marketplace is a fantastic thing. It allows our vendors a better shot at making a living doing what they love and it gets more consumers excited about choosing handmade over mass produced goods. It is most definitely a win. And selling some of the same brands and goods as a dozen other stores just means that we have to work harder and smarter than ever before to stand out and I genuinely do love a challenge. It’s the same type of challenge our vendors face - there’s not just one soap maker, greeting card designer, or scarf knitter, there are dozens locally and thousands across the country. Our vendors are challenged everyday to make their own products stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace and we’re all better business owners for it.
From time to time we experience the same lows that our vendors feel, like why I am still doing this, there’s like a million people that do this better than me, etc. And in our case, because in retail years a decade is a lifetime, I, like many of our long time crafters ask: are we a dinosaur? are we irrelevant? It’s sometimes tough to stay motivated and confident in your place in the world. So when I do go into doubt mode, I really do think about those darn washable menstrual pads. Why? Because in a weird way, they represent the something that’s different about our business.
So when I’m struck with a worry that our place in the world in shrinking, I think about those conversations and products and what they mean about our business. We’re not afraid to present alternatives, to bring something to the marketplace that may be off-putting at first, that may require a conversation. We’re not afraid to take risks, to make jokes, to offer a handmade product assortment that often features fun, irreverent takes on life. I’m pretty sure we’re the only handmade store that has an adult section. Are the beautifully letterpressed and hilariously dirty cards there for everyone? Certainly not. But they are definitely something that sets us apart.
Of course we have gorgeous, heirloom quality, locally made gifts. But a lot of places do. I don’t know exactly what keeps folks coming back to our shop year after year, but I feel like our particular slant on the handmade marketplace has something to do with it. It makes me rest assured of our place in the world. I’m genuinely proud of what we’ve built here, what makes us a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. We have good intentions and we like to have a good time and thankfully our customers share that sensibility.