Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Press Release: The HTA Reaffirms Commitment to Buy Handmade and Local

In celebration of American Craft Week 2010, the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) outreached, in conjunction with bloggers across the country, an open call to all to pledge to buy handmade and local products this upcoming quarter. Throughout the ten day period, HTA promoted their members, and artists in all mediums, by utilizing social media outlets such as facebook and twitter to create a community of energy around the current thrust to buy hand crafted and local goods.

Gnome Family by The Original Tree Swing as
Featured on Sara's Toy Box blog (both HTA Members)

“We are always overwhelmed by the outpouring of support – not just from the artist community – but from individuals and families throughout the country,” stated Jill Chuckas (CT), owner of Crafty Baby and Board member of the HTA. “Once again, we were affirmed that people really do value the products our members create - the love, time, energy and story behind each creation is so very important.”

Over 40 blogs cross posted with the HTA during American Craft Week. All posts were shared on the HTA facebook and twitter pages. In addition, a twitter newspaper was created to highlight the event.

Participating Blogs included:

Thanks to everyone who blogged and everyone who pledged to buy handmade!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why Pledge to Buy Handmade?

This week we’ve been celebrating American Craft Week by sharing the reasons why we do and why we should buy handmade and locally produced goods, and pledging to do so whenever we can. It’s been inspiring to read everyone’s stories and one can really feel the love and care that people are expressing. Sort of one big warm hug for all things hand crafted. That’s a good thing – a very good thing.

This morning, though, a curious post was pointed out to me about why the buy handmade pledge doesn’t work. Needless to say, the title made me stop for a moment. Handmade not work? How can that be? It goes against most of what we, at HTA, have been saying and proclaiming for the last 2 years since the creation of our organization.

So, I read the post – albeit with a bit of trepidation. Turned out, it was a thoughtful expression of some pretty clear, concise points. It took the stance that to pledge buy handmade is a directive and that folks need more than a directive to connect with something and actually change behavior. They need to understand the whys and hows of the initiative. When a directive such as “Buy Handmade” is given, it often just preaches to the choir, so to speak. Those who already engage in this behavior, will say “Yeah, sure, I’ll sign your pledge”, but it doesn’t necessarily change behavior in those that don’t already subscribe to the directive.

The Gilbert Toymaker Kit, circa 1920's, by A.C. Gilbert.

The question then formed, how do we reach out to the unbelievers? Just because something is handmade or locally produced doesn’t necessarily make it a quality product. We need to recognize what makes these products better and why it is better to spend our money on them rather than mass produced items or at the big box stores. In many ways it comes back to American manufacturing. Many, many years ago (at least that’s how it feels), America was known for its manufacturing. Indeed, the US was the center of the industrial revolution and just about everything was made here. This is no longer the case. That is not to say that there are not reputable and incredible overseas manufacturers. There are. But things have certainly changed in our society regarding how and where things are produced.

The pledge to buy handmade could then be seen as an extension of a return to American manufacturing. Some would say that this is an impossible dream. But, every good dream started with an idea. Not every locally produced or hand crafted item will have value to you as a consumer. Not every locally produced or hand crafted item will be something you choose to purchase. But, taking the time to hear the story, to be thoughtful with your purchases and to think before you buy is something everyone can commit to do.

We continue to be faced with uncertain financial times as a nation. Many leaders have said “If you are not part of the solution, than you are part of the problem.” Here is one way to be part of the solution. Time to take a stance--sign the HTA Buy Handmade Pledge!

--By HTA board member Jill Chuckas, owner of Crafty Baby in Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Open Letter on Pending CPSC Actions Against Baby Slings

October 6, 2010

Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Room 502
4330 East-West Highway
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814

An Open Letter on Pending CPSC Actions Against Baby Slings

Dear Mr. Stevenson:

As you know, the Handmade Toy Alliance represents more than just toymakers, but small batch clothing and children's product manufacturers of all kinds. In particular, several of our members make or sell baby slings and work to promote the benefits of babywearing.

We understand that the Commission has been applying increased scrutiny to baby slings in the past few months. We also understand that several manufacturers of baby slings have been investigated and that one well-respected company may be facing a forced recall.

Before the Commission takes any further actions in these investigations, we urge it to consult closely with the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA), which has been working tirelessly to develop ASTM standards for baby slings.

Babywearing is a time-honored practice all around the world. We agree with the BCIA that babywearing is safe and promotes the health and well-being of babies while strengthening the bonds betweens parents and babies. We urge the Commission to carefully consider the BCIA's white paper on the safety and benefits of babywearing, which can be found at, before taking any further actions.

We join the BCIA to ask that: 1) all baby sling recall actions be stopped immediately; 2) the ASTM sling carrier standard should be voted on so that sling carriers may be tested for this safety standard; 3) the CPSC should provide baby sling manufacturers with scientific evidence of a product defect before forcing a recall.

There is a strong network of babywearing safety advocates and volunteer groups, including many HTA members, throughout the nation whose mission is to teach caregivers how to use their baby carriers safely and effectively. Baby carriers are absolutely safe; perhaps even safer than many other baby care devices such as swings, playpens, and car seats. Additionally, ASTM International just sent the baby sling voluntary standard to ballot this very week. This standard is the result of 3 years of hard work by consumer advocates, manufacturers, and members of the CPSC's own staff.

Please, do not rush to judgement on baby slings.

Thank you again for taking the time to read and consider our comments.

Respectfully Submitted,

The Handmade Toy Alliance

A listing of all 548 business members of the Handmade Toy Alliance is available at .


Image: A 2000 US Dollar Coin, featuring Sacagawea carrying her son Jean in a Baby Sling.

More information on this issue, along with sample letters to Congress, can be found on the Babywearing Safety Facebook Page.