It's official! I love NBC's Making It, hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Even more official? NBC just announced it's been renewed for a second season and I am so friggin excited! Truthfully though, I don't watch much television. I actually only know of this show because someone I adore is on it. Maybe you've heard of her? AMBER MY GIRLFRIEND @DAMASKLOVE ON INSTAGRAM? Yeah. You've heard of her. I know you have. She's very famous.
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So I'm loving this show and super impressed by how PROFESSIONAL their work looks. Does anyone else get the feeling that if you are looking at something handmade it's going to look like a failed 8th Grade art project? It's horrible of me. I hate that this is the impression I have. As if something that is made on an assembly line in Korea is of more substantial quality than something our neighbors can make.
Who am I even? What's become of me? Feeling ashamed, I decided to take a peek around the interwebs to determine if it's actually possible to buy directly from American makers who are creating legit works of art for your home, body, etc.
I started on Etsy, which everyone knows as an artisan's marketplace. I love Etsy. I really do. But I get really overwhelmed there. There is SO MUCH to look at. It's like a TJ Maxx but online and I can't handle it for very long. Unless I know exactly what I'm going for, I'm probably not going to find anything I like.
I have a really good friend who has an amazing vintage decor shop on Etsy and I kind of consider Etsy to be the best place to find vintage wares, outside of small town thrift stores. Her name is Kim and she runs Lulu and Olive Vintage. I highly recommend you check her out here. She's the kind of person who will spend hours in a single store, looking at every single piece and come home with only a few items. Then she prices so low that I genuinely don't understand how she actually makes any money. Regardless, she's a good soul with an amazing eye for midcentury design, so definitely support her.
Since Etsy can be kind of a challenge, I thought maybe I should check out some sites I'm already on every day. Immediately, I thought about Instagram. How would I find handmade items? Then it clicked. Hashtags! Everyone in the design world uses hashtags to increase their exposure on Instagram. Surely artisans are also using this feature. Sure enough, a quick search for "#handmadeforsale" yielded a ton of results. Mostly jewelry and clothing, but I definitely eyed some cute table linens and art in the mix. This is a great way to see what makers are selling every single day. Once you follow a maker you love, you should start seeing their items for sale in your feed.
You can even get hyper specific with your search queries. Here are some tags I recommend searching:
#nashvilleartist <- swap "Nashville" for your city or region
#southernartist <- swap "southern" for your region (ie; northwest, midwest, east coast, etc)
#shoplocal <- you can add a region or city here, to be even more specific. For instance, I might search "#shoplocalnashville" to find cool stores in my city.
This won't always take you directly to a product you can buy on Instagram, but it should get you the information you need to buy from these makers. For instance, when I searched "americanmakers", I scrolled through the images and found a set of ceramic dishes that made my heart beat a little faster.
Then when I went to the profile, I saw that this is from a company in Los Angeles, Charm Ceramics, that sells handmade ceramics on their website. From there, I was able to easily navigate to their website and subsequently their Etsy shop to find items I could purchase. You can just click the link above from here. But you get the gist.
Now, here's where I show you something new (at least to me) and blow your minds with how easily you can shop from American makers. I've discovered that a website we all use constantly (and maybe are a little disenchanted with) has updated their selling practices to easily allow handmade artisans to reach a broad audience. IT'S AMAZON, you guys.
You can usually tell the mood I'm in by the products I'm including in designs. So if you pay attention, you've probably noticed that my designs have veered away from Amazon products lately. I'll admit that I've been slightly concerned about some of the reviews I've seen and articles I've read about counterfeit items from other countries. The Reply All Podcast actually did a really good story, covering this topic in depth. You can listen to that here. While I've never had an issue with Amazon, other than once receiving a completely smashed ceramic countertop compost bin and only receiving store credit for it because I didn't want to go through the hassle of shipping it back, I am anxious to recommend any product or service that might cause one of my readers to experience distrust. I always check reviews and carefully research every seller to whom I link, but Amazon had started to feel like too much of a gamble. Remember how eBay was once an amazing place to get deals and then slowly it seemed like every product you ordered became more and more of a let-down? Not technically a lie, but definitely not the quality you'd come to expect, right?
Before I start to come off sounding all nationalist, please believe me when I say that I am not. I absolutely buy products from around the world and enjoy that in our modern lives we have access to this giant Silk Road of sorts. It's just that, sometimes, I wish we could more easily just pop over to a general store and pick up some of Anna's hand-sawn cutting boards or Rufus's cherry pie filling. Trust me, this is perhaps the ONLY THING I am nostalgic for in our country's history. I rather enjoy being able to take my friends to whatever restaurant we choose without harassment and am all-too-aware of the luxury I have in my modern family. I just also wish I could buy locally and rest at night knowing that the hardworking artisans in my town didn't have to compete with mega conglomerations that value quantity over quality and view their customers as sales numbers and not people. That's all.
Since I live in our modern real world, and not some deluded Walton's fantasy, I accept that huge online marketplaces are the norm and have even built an entire business around the ability to access anyone's home from my own sofa. This is why I was so delighted to see that Amazon has opened the Handmade Marketplace, making our access to quality crafted goods even easier. It's not perfection but a great step in the right direction.
So here's how you shop the Handmade Marketplace on Amazon to find American makers and support their small businesses.
Follow this link to navigate to the Handmade section. It's not easy to find from the main site, so I recommend that you bookmark it once you've landed there.
Choose a category. This will depend on what you'd like to find, but may I recommend Home & Kitchen?
You can browse by even more specific categories or scroll down to browse the Featured Collections.
Once you've chosen a category or collection, you can scroll down the page and view the Artisan Locations in the right sidebar. If you'd like to find artisans from your own region or state, thereby supporting your local economy, you can choose your own state. Or if you're looking for a specific region's specialty, like Vermont Maple Syrup, you could choose Vermont.
Scroll and buy just like you would on the regular Amazon site. A lot of the items are even Prime Eligible!
I told you it would be easy! To start you off, I've even included some of my favorite Handmade products below. I found some awesome furniture, candles, even light fixtures made right here in the USA!
I hope you find the thing you're looking for. No matter which process you take, I hope this has inspired you to support a local maker or maybe even pick up a craft of your own. We're all so capable when we just try.
Follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest
to see the makers I love most featured in my stories and pins every single day!
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