Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Etsy Shop Prep

Sorry to those following along for the long pause in blogging.  I have been unemployed for a few months now looking for a job--no, still haven't found one--but, I do have a plan.  I decided to give my Etsy shop another go! 

I actually had opened one quite awhile ago and had a few things listed, but my job and life took up too much of my attention to really get things going properly.  Now that some of that is out of the way, I've been working on getting things set up.  I also talked my mom and sister into trying a few of their items too, so there'll be a bit more variety.

So, what's taking so long?  Well, mainly the CPSIA details.  The federal government has added a few new huge regulations for those making children's toys and products which complicate the berjeebers out of it all.  (I know, I've been watching videos and reading documents until my eyes want to bleed from all the legal talk!)  It also can make things very expensive unless you very carefully choose your toy components because everything has to meet the new lead and phthalate level requirements, as well as, the safety standards.  That means expensive third party testing.

There are many things like fabric, thread, Velcro, wood, pearls, etc. that are exempted from testing because they've already proven that there's no lead (and not being plastic, obviously no phthalates) in them.  BIG sigh of relief there!  But things like plastic safety eyes, buttons, rhinestones, zippers, snaps, etc. all still need testing.  Fortunately, for small batch makers like myself, we can use the General Conformity Certificate (GCC) of the component's company.  Unfortunately, many manufacturers are simply avoiding testing by saying that their products aren't made specifically for 12 years or younger and so they won't test according to CPSIA requirements.  This makes it a bit frustrating when you want to use something like say a plastic button or maybe a cool vintage glass button on a doll or something as simple as a sew-on snap.  I think the least expensive lab I saw was charging around $45 for one particular lead level test.  Add to that lead in surface coatings (such as paint on a wooden block) or phthalate totals (such as certain plastic parts) and you can see how costs start to rise.  And, this is for each item.  So, if you start seeing these items missing from handmade toys, don't be surprised.  (Although, I know there are many handcrafters who are just ignoring it all.)

My solution is to separate my handcrafted creations into categories for children (3 to 12 years old) and the "adults" (older than 12 years).  I will continue to make my heirloom and art dolls and creatures for those who are old enough to not put their buttons in their mouths, but I will also make "child safe" versions without untested items.  So, for example, a doll dress might have Velcro or wooden or mother-of-pearl buttons for closures for the child's version while the heirloom version might have sew-on snaps and resin buttons instead.  Animal type creatures will have felt or embroidered eyes instead of my usual button eyes (although I do embroider many of the heirloom/art faces too).  So, for now, there will simply be some items not available in a child's version.  As I get testing documentation in place, I can add these components to my child versions.

Don't worry, I have some lovely dolls and toys in the works for children---they'll never miss the rhinestones!  For now though, I've revamped my shop look, designed labels and cards, drawn up new patterns and gathered my old ones, picked out fabrics and begun cutting away.  Now, I'm just waiting for my CPSIA regulated woven labels and contact cards to arrive.

So, if you buy handmade toys (and I certainly hope you do), support those crafters who have gone to all the effort to meet the requirements of CPSIA---it really is a huge effort.

I hope you'll come visit my shop once I get some of my creations in there for you to see!

And now, I have a skirt to finally make...
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