You dont need me to tell you that we are smack bang in the middle of a really awful economic slump, created dare I say, as a result of the buy now, pay later culture we have come to know but not necessarily love. Couple this with the discard that and buy the next model attitude, its no wonder were in the mess we are.
What happened to the time when we saw something that we really wanted or needed and then knew that it would take X amount of weeks or even months to save up for it? Then, wasnt it a sweet moment when we could go along and make our long awaited purchase? Furthermore didnt we value such an item all the more because we were only too aware of the effort in acquiring it?
There is nothing wrong in having to wait for something, surely we now realise that in most cases, instant gratification is just that instant and the pleasurable after effect is very short-lived.
I would like to suggest that by altering our attitude to the way we purchase and what we purchase, we will not only help our economy but we will actually be providing ourselves with a more meaningful, sustainable and happier existence.
I speak specifically about handmade products and services.
Today the media is full to bursting, of programmes and articles dedicated to the tangible achievements of the past, where experts extol the virtues of craftsmen and craftsmanship. They talk about the detail, the design, the skill, the workmanship and the fact that many of these items are still in working use, literally hundreds of years later.
It may be surprising to learn that there is still, to this day a thriving handmaking and craft industry in Britain today worth an estimated, £3bn per annum to the UK economy* and if common sense has any part to play in our future then this figure will rise exponentially.
* (Creative and Cultural Skills Report 2008).
In buying handcrafted products and services we are not only making a considered purchase, we are making a connection with another human being or collection of human beings, who have taken it upon themselves to learn particular skills, coupled with their life experiences, to produce the most beautiful, useful and desirable things, that will not only make a statement and command attention in our home, but which will also become treasured possessions and heirlooms of the future, that have meaning far beyond their aesthetic or functional value. Our homes will truly become ours when we fill them with individually crafted interiors that reflect who we are as people rather than the generic profile of some large chain store. While we will be secure in the knowledge that we are not only spending our ever more hard-earned cash really well but that we will be genuinely contributing to our economy by supporting our craftsmen and women.
And while we not only have the economy but the environment to consider, we will be much closer to having a positive effect in this direction as well, if we purchase products and services that have been created with an almost instinctive awareness of sustainability because handcrafted items are more often than not produced from renewable or recycled resources.
So my message would be buy it once but buy it well and keep your local craftsmen and women going. But dont think for a minute that I am talking about turning your house into a living museum, as an homage to purely traditional/heritage crafts; There is some really cutting edge, contemporary stuff out there as well, it just happens to have been beautifully crafted by hand and will almost certainly outlast its machine-stamped counterpart by years if not generations. If thats not value for money I dont know what is!
Founder of Made by Hands of Britain