Sunday, February 27, 2011

Video of Jolie Fays's CPSIA Testomony to the House Commerce Committee

Here is Jolie's main testimony from the February 17th CPSIA hearing in the House Commerce Committee:

Jolie also fielded a number of questions from representatives. In the video below, Jolie responds to Representative Harper about the cost of third party testing, based on quotes she received shortly after the CPSIA was passed in 2008:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mothering Magazine Ceases its Print Publication After 35 Years, in Part Due to CPSIA

We were saddened to learn that Mothering Magazine has ceased it's print publication after 35 years and will now be online only. In a statement, longtime editor Peggy O'Mara wrote:
"Many of our advertisers have been hard hit by the economy. Toy manufacturers have been burdened by the cost of complying with the new regulations of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Many of our sling and baby-carrier advertisers experienced declining sales or went out of business altogether in 2010 as a result of loss of sales due to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls of infant carriers."
This serves as a very unfortunate reminder that the CPSIA has not only affected the small businesses which are burdened by its excessive regulations, but also other small businesses like Mothering which rely on them for support. We wish Mothering the best as it transitions to online-only.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jolie Fay's Testimnony to House Commerce Committeee CPSIA Hearing

Good afternoon, my name is Jolie Fay. I am the owner of Skipping Hippos. I make
children’s ponchos in my home in Portland, Oregon. I am testifying on behalf of the 619 Handmade Toy Alliance members. We are the people knitting hats on the train, we are the mothers in line with you at the store, and we are the people from your church and home towns who have grown up in families that craft. We are your neighbors, your families and your constituents and we need your help to bring common sense changes to the CPSIA.

Our businesses were born from the desire for safe children’s products. We make them
with care and attention, most often from materials purchased from our local craft stores.Our dreams were to build heritage products that will be cherished and remembered, and saved for generations.

Our broad membership experiences the unintended consequences of the CPSIA indifferent ways.

Micro-sized businesses that craft and retail toys and children’s products make up half of our membership. Often, these businesses are family or single owner businesses with no employees who produce and sell products in very small batches. The CPSIA makes no provision for these businesses to be able to operate. People crafting in their homes are expected to third party test the same way as mass market manufacturers. The costs of 3rd party testing for lead and ASTM standards are prohibitive in very small batches, tracking and labeling requirements are too burdensome and these micro-businesses find the law and its requirements too complex to interpret, understand and apply.

HTA Board members Jolie Fay and Randall Hertzler

For example, at the Hollywood Senior Center in Portland, there is a small retail shop. The items in the shop are exclusively made by their members. Handmade trucks and planes are made by retired loggers in their 70’s and 80’s. They are on an incredibly small fixed income and would never be able to afford a single ASTM laboratory test. The workmanship that has developed over a lifetime helps contribute a small, but very substantial supplement to their monthly income. These projects keep them active and give them meaning to each day. These are artisans, but this law makes them criminals.

Another segment of HTA members are small batch businesses, producing multiple items
and selling in boutiques and on line. They also are not able to absorb the testing costs for their products as the CPSIA makes no provision for these entities to continue to be economically viable after absorbing the costs of full CPSIA compliance. Again, they are treated equivalent to mass market manufacturers. Companies, who create only 20 or so products, producing in batches of 10 and 20 units, simply can not absorb the testing costs and still expect to charge a reasonable price for the added expense.

Representing 19% of our membership, a third group hurt by the CPSIA is small specialty toy retailers. These are the “mom and pop” toy stores tucked into towns all across America. The CPSIA removes the ability for them to sell almost all of the safe local products and many international products. Loss of specialty products from Europe, particularly, tilts the children’s products marketplace in favor of mass produced items and removes an opportunity for specialty retailers to differentiate themselves. Without the ability to offer products unique, which sets their store apart from the competition, there is little reason for the existence of the small specialty toy retailers. So the CPSIA limits consumer choice unnecessarily and creates a regulatory barrier to international small batch manufacturers.

The final group is specialty toy importers, representing 2% of our membership. It is a small percentage, but a big component in the culture of specialty toys in America. Within this “melting pot” culture that we live in, these importers provide access to many safe products from our ancestors’ and countries of origin, enriching the value of play and helping the specialty market survive. The CPSIA treats these small scale importers as if they were mass market manufacturers and therefore they suffer alongside USA based small batch manufacturers.

I grew up in Wyoming, where my great grandparents were homesteaders. For generations, my family has made clothes, toys, saddles, and belts for their children. I cherish these items because they are from my family, and they were made with care, just like what I make. Our members are people like me, from all across the country, making safe products that we simply cannot afford to third party test. I am here today because I want my children to understand and learn from our entrepreneurial spirits. Crafting gives them joy, selling it gives them reward.

While the HTA has worked closely with the CPSC – submitting comments on pending
rules, attending CPSC sponsored workshops, regular email and phone contact with CPSC staff - we feel strongly that the current legislation does not grant the CPSC the flexibility to address our members’ needs. Our membership is in need of a legislative fix that only you, in Congress, can give.

Solving the problems of the CPSIA is not only for our members’ immediate financial
relief, but will save generations of future handmade products. For thousands of years, cultures have been studied through their handcrafted toys. In every museum around the world, there are artifacts of handmade toys –connecting the cultures of the past to societies of today. What will our legacy be if the CPSIA destroys our generations’ ability to share in this piece of history?

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. Please note that in my written testimony, I have shared some of our ideas to rectify the unintended consequences of the CPSIA.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

HTA's Jolie Fay to Testify this week in House Commerce Committee

Jolie Fay

Handmade Toy Alliance board member Jolie Fay, owner of Skipping Hippos in Oregon, will testify this Thursday before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in a hearing entitled "A Review of CPSIA and CPSC Resources." Jolie will be representing all of the HTA's over 600 members who are seeking reform of the Consumer Product Safety improvement Act (CPSIA), which unfairly punishes small businesses for the sins of large corporations.

Fellow HTA board member Randall Hertzler, owner of euroSource, LLC, will also attend the hearing. Both He and Jolie are meeting with congressional staff and council to promote the HTA platform before and after the hearing. Follow @eurotoyshop or the #CPSIA hash tag on twitter on Thursday for updates throughout the day.

Once again, we are asking for donations to help offset the cost of travel so that we can continue to lobby congress for reform of the CPSIA. Please visit to donate. Any amount will help!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

HTA's Letter to the CPSC About the Feasibility of a 100ppm Lead Content Limit

On February 16, the CPSC will hold a public hearing on the feasibility of lowering the lead content standard in children's products from 300ppm to 100ppm. We have submitted the following letter as our testimony.

February 10, 2011

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

Re: 100 PPM—Technological Feasibility Public Hearing

Dear Mr. Stevenson:

On behalf of the Handmade Toy Alliance, an alliance now numbering 620 toy stores, toymakers and children's product manufacturers from across the country who want to preserve unique handmade toys, clothes, and children's goods in the USA, we respectfully submit the following comments for consideration during the Commission's hearing on the feasibility of imposing a 100ppm lead content limit on children's products.

To begin with, we would like to refer the Commission to our earlier letter on the subject, dated September 27, 2010. We would like to reiterate that letter's conclusion, which stated:

As small manufacturers, we lack the wherewithal to demand consistent compliance to such a low standard from our component suppliers, many of whom do not specifically manufacture for children's products. We lack the resources to test repeatedly to ensure that any given test's results are actually within a 100ppm limit given the tests' margins of error. And, in an environment where the Commission blurs bright lines, we lack the patience for such a low limit that has no impact on human health but could well jeopardize our family businesses.

After reading the other responses to the Commission's initial requests for comments on the feasibility of a 100ppm standard, we were struck by the near unanimity among manufacturers and trade groups representing manufacturers. Almost all these respondents agreed with us that a 100ppm would be difficult to achieve consistently, would be difficult to measure, would add unnecessary and untenable compliance costs, and would not directly correspond with any health risks associated with lead content in different materials.

Voltaire: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

Now, we are being asked to clarify our position regarding how the feasibility of a 100ppm standard would vary according to the type of material and the extent to which 100ppm-compliant components are “commercially available”.

Unfortunately, none of our members are chemists or materials scientists. Nor do we posses the resources to engage a scientific study of the vast myriad of products our members produce in order to fully answer these questions. The best we can do is describe our businesses and the difficulties we would encounter if we were required to meet a 100ppm lead standard.

For this hearing, the Commission asked, “What factors or considerations should we evaluate in deciding whether a product complying with the limit is 'commercially available?'” Unlike mass market manufacturers, we do not always begin our production with raw materials. We frequently purchase component goods like zippers and buttons from Jo-Ann Fabrics, beads and polyfill from Michael's, and screws and hinges from Home Depot.

These components have not been tested by a CPSC-accredited third party lab and do not indicate their lead content. Nor do the manufacturers of these components make any claim or guarantee regarding the consistency of materials used that would suggest that a hinge or button purchased in June would have the same lead content as the same item purchased in August. Indeed, many of these component parts are sold by distributors such as Dritz Notions or Stanley Hardware and bear no indication of the company which actually manufactured the part in the first place.

So, before the CPSC decides the extent to which 100ppm-compliant components are “commercially available”, we ask that the Commission should first conduct a thorough survey of the lead content of the component parts on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michaels, and Home Depot (or other comparable retailers). We urge the Commission to test a few dozen screws, buttons, zippers, and hinges—and then do the same test again in a month. This would be the best and only way determine the commercial availability of 100ppm-compliant parts for our members.

Unfortunately, we were not able to initiate such a study in the 15 days from when the Commission posted notice of this hearing and the date our comments were due. Nonetheless, the difficulty and expense of conducting such a survey is the exact same difficulty and expense small batch manufacturers will be facing if they would be required to comply with a 100ppm lead content standard.

While we recognize that it would be problematic for larger companies as well, we believe that small batch manufacturers, who have little or no negotiating power with their component suppliers, would be most adversely affected by a 100ppm standard. Much as we'd like to see the development of marketplace of pre-tested component parts, the truth is that, in most cases, this marketplace has so far failed to materialize. The burden of compliance, therefore, remains almost exclusively with the end-product manufacturer. A 100ppm standard would vastly aggravate this burden.

We believe the Commission can and should consider the economic feasibility of a 100ppm standard. And, we believe that any such consideration of the economic impact would logically lead to the conclusion that a 100ppm standard is not, in fact, feasible.

Finally, as discussed in our previous letter, we believe that a 100ppm total lead limit which does not take bioavailability into account is an inappropriate standard for measuring the health risk of a children's product. We have read the comments by consumer groups which reiterate the facts that lead accumulates in a child's body over time and that there is no safe amount of lead exposure. And, while we agree with these assertions, we can not find any logic which would justify a blanket 100ppm limit for all types of materials in all children's products.

It simply does not make sense to us that the lead content in brass, steel, plastic, vinyl, or glass should all be subject to the same limit, since each material behaves differently when exposed to human skin or saliva. Nor does it make sense to us that a baby rattle, puzzle, football, or bicycle should pose the same risks of lead ingestion or that these various products should all be subject to the same 100ppm standard.

We therefore urge the Commission to conclude, as we have, that a 100ppm lead standard is not technologically feasible; that 100ppm compliant component parts are not commercially available, especially for small batch manufacturers; and that a 100ppm standard would not relate to the risk of lead exposure as it varies from one material to another and from one type of product to another.

Our members are personally dedicated to making safe, quality products. We represent centuries of American craftsmanship which has nourished generations of American children.

Please consider the impact of 100ppm on our member businesses. Please do not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

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

Respectfully Submitted,

The Handmade Toy Alliance

A listing of all 620 business members of the Handmade Toy Alliance is available at .