Thursday, December 18, 2008

Save the Knitimals: Save Handmade!


a very sad beecat by me & his good friend the bird party pillow, by jennyjen42

Dear Loyal Friends, Collectors of Knitimals & Lovers of all things Green...

We're in trouble, and we need your help.
If you haven't heard already, hopefully hearing it here can help put a face to a business under attack.

In August, in reaction to the complete lack of safety standards in the production of children's toys and clothing from large over-seas manufacturers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission created, and President Bush (thanks again, W) passed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act which mandates testing for all products intended for children under 12 years old. It requires all manufacturers of children’s goods to submit their products for testing for lead and phthalates. This is theoretically good. What's not good is the cost of getting things tested. The problem is that the average testing fee runs a few thousand dollars. In the case of artists like myself, who make completely one of a kind items, we would have to submit each and every toy for testing since no two are alike.

That means for every $80 Knitimal I make, only about $20 of which is really "profit" anyway, after the cost of materials, time, production and a percentage of the actual running of the business, i would also need to find anywhere from $200 to over $2,000 PER ITEM; that means EACH knitimal, EACH t-shirt... that's well over the cost of even manufacturing the item, let alone the profit (*prices are the averages of third party testers i've been able to find so far). Naturally you can see what this version of the act would do to the handmade toy & clothing industry. I wouldn't be able to make or sell Knitimals anymore. Or, i'd have to sell them for thousands of dollars, and then no one could afford them. There'd be no more card games or painted blocks, no more onesies or hand drawn t-shirts. There'd, effectively, be no more Greenstarstudio... and well, no more "me" as we know me.

And of course, this isn't JUST about toys... it's about small business. The Small Business Administration defines "small business" as under 500 employees. Most Etsy members, for example, are either sole proprietors or maybe a family or studio of friends working together. According to Etsy:

Many craftspeople on Etsy have told us that they could be put out of business if forced to comply with the proposed legislation. This is the painful irony bound up in the CPSIA.

And of course, its not just about the tens of thousands (and probably more) jobs that will be lost and people who will suddenly be forced to go broke or break the law; it's about consumers who don't get to choose what they buy...
Not EVERYTHING can come from Target. What about the shops and retailers and galleries who make THEIR living selling the handmade... there go those shops. There's more empty store fronts and even more people looking for work. What about the kids who have long been loving their unique and one of a kind possessions? So much for living with art. See, this is serious.

Please be aware that if this act is not reformed, most handmade toys and clothing for children will be illegal beginning in February of next year. That's less than two months from now. Please take a moment to learn about this act and the disastrous effects it will have on the handmade and small business communities.

The U.S. House and Senate passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (the CPSIA), and on August 14, 2008, President Bush signed the Act into law. Further information on the Act is available at the CPSC website and helpful
FAQs
.

NOW.
How can YOU help?


coolmompicks.com has compiled a very helpful listing of all the pertinent info here, including links to petitions, form letter samples, links to congress & more. PLEASE take a moment and do anything you can to help spread the word, whether its forwarding this along, or signing a petition or writing a letter or two. Anything you can do will help.

Thank you for your love and support. Together we CAN save Handmade.
Yes. We. Can.

xoxo, danamarie

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If you're looking for something to do this weekend--- don't forget the Last Minute Maul! School 33, Sunday December 21st, from 10am to 5pm. Grab those fabulous last minute goodies and get out of the mall (maul) madness!

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If you're interested in reading more about the CPSIA...

There are some suggestions & proposals that have been made to help re-direct a well intentioned, but ultimately misguided Act. Below is the unabridged copy from the Handmade Toy Alliance, which i think sums up the problem & the solution, pretty succinctly.

Save the USA from the CPSIA

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So it passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatroy testing will likely drive them out of business.

* A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
* A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
* A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
* And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US.

If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while Kraft and Dole prospered.