How to buy creatively for her (sponsored post) July 30, 2019 14:14

Tips

It’s not true that creative people are all scatty. Some of us are amazing planners, and look out months ahead for big events like birthdays, holidays, festivals and the big events that need a bit of effort put in. But if you’re a creative person and you like to make gifts for other people, you can, from time to time, find that you’ve set the bar a bit too high and you’ve got to plan a full-on production schedule to keep up.

I’ve written a lot of posts about the pleasure you can get from making gifts for people, and it is incredibly satisfying. But it’s also incredibly important that your creative pass-times don’t become a chore, or just another thing on the list of things to do. I run a creative business built around making, and yet it’s certainly not unheard-of that I don’t get time to make personalised gifts for the people I love. So what to do? Well, most importantly – don’t spoil your relationship with crafting by beating yourself up about it. My favourite alternative to making a gift is to buy creatively, and there are plenty of great on-line marketplaces where makers sell direct.  Here are my five reasons to use your spending power to buy from another creative.

 A piece with a story to stays with you for longer

If it’s personalised it’s less likely to end up in landfill. Sounds harsh I know, but it’s true. Something personalised is so much more likely to be kept for a long time, and ultimately stay out of landfill. My husband is amazingly good at gifts, and particularly jewellery. Over the years he has bought me some incredible necklaces. I love jewellery but my four favourite necklaces that I wear year after year are all from him.

The first is a pair of tiny handmade gold scissors that open and close, as a nod to the only rule of Craft Club (don’t use fabric scissors on anything except fabric!).

The second is a vintage silver chain made in the 60’s, which he bought at an auction from the descendants of the original maker. It was thrilling to bid, and to be part of the story of such a wonderful item, but he goes to auctions for his work and not everyone is confident in the auction environment.

The third is a handmade necklace with clusters of coloured stones that he bought secretly at a craft fair we visited together. It’s not pricey but it’s my favourite colours which he carefully checked, and I’ve had it nearly a decade as result.

The last is a just a little E, hung on a chain. It was bought for when my son was born, but it reminds me of the intensely emotional time when our family had a new human in it. I have owned and discarded many pieces of jewellery, but these four will never go, and as the number of special ones goes up, the number of throwaway jewellery I buy goes down because they seem a little empty compared to when I wear things with such history to them.

Your pounds support individual makers and small businesses.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using your spending power to support another creative maker. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can do for our blossoming craft industry. And every time you buy from an independent small business, there is a human being doing a little whoop, not only because of the income but also because someone else likes what they do. Let me just reassure you, it’s exhilarating when someone buys something you’ve put your heart and soul into creating, workshops included!

 If you can buy direct from a maker at a stall or market, brilliant, but online is just as good. When I shop online, the seller information is a crucial factor in deciding who to buy from. I read them avidly and I love it when there’s a picture of the person who made the gift, or the story of how they and their business got started. I can’t tell you how excited I am when I get an item in the post that has been made from start to end by someone just for me, it’s so exciting!

You know it wasn’t made in a sweatshop

 My last purchase from Not on the High Street was a gorgeous bag made by a woman with a studio in East London. I know she’s sourced her materials carefully because she’s written about it, and she makes each item by hand. There’s even a picture of her at her sewing machine. So when the #whomademyclothes campaign comes round, I can wear that bag with pride. It feels particularly good to be part of that movement. So I really do encourage you to read up and find out who and how your item was made. You can choose to use your spending power to support smaller ethical businesses and the more we do this, the more bigger businesses will see that we want transparency about manufacturing methods. No-one wants to unwittingly be damaging the planet and exploiting other people, but as ethical buying continues to rise in profile, ignorance isn’t really an excuse any more.

Practise makes perfect

 Handmade is great, but if your own skills aren’t quite there and you want to gift something really stunning, hand over to someone who’s spent a career honing their skills. Pinterest can make it look really easy to turn out fabulous crafted items but often those Pins are made for looking at rather than actually emulating! The amount of times I’ve tested Pins out and discovered that there is a world of technical detail, trial and error, and just great dexterity and skill needed to get that high finish. It takes practise to make it look effortless, so if you choose to buy from someone has put the hours in learning their craft it will show in quality of the gift.

So if you’re looking for a gift for her that’s handmade and filled with creativity, don’t limit your options to just the things you can make. Try somewhere like Not On the High Street where you can support small businesses, be a thoughtful consumer and give something that will stand the test of time. There’s a time and a place for making everything by hand, and it’s not every time!

 Have you ever received a stunning handmade gift? Or is there a handmade item you’d love to receive?

(This post was sponsored by Not on the High Street)