Monday, December 29, 2008
Bonus - I have been offering all of my Twitter followers 20% off their purchase until 1/1/09 and now I'm extending the offer to my blog readers! Enter code TWEET at checkout to receive your discount!
Posted by SweetDreamsDesigns at 8:31 AM
Yesterday, I called and checked in with a couple of my friends and everyone was doing the same thing.....packing up Christmas. What a sad day! I absolutely HATE putting Christmas decorations away - a sign that the season is over....ugh.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Courtesy of: www.boutiquecafe.com
The sky is falling! Yes, I feel a like an overly dramatic Chicken Little. And I wish it were true considering recent congressional legislation is about to crush the life out of the handmade clothing and toy industry. I’m talking about H.R. 4040, the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) signed into law August 14, 2008, and the ramifications it will have when it goes into effect February 10, 2009 (now being popularly referred to as National Bankruptcy Day).
Make no mistake. CPSIA was necessary in principle and has noble intentions, keeping our children safe and holding companies accountable for importing toxic toys. We all demand safety for our children and this is the intent of CPSIA; specifically to ensure safe levels of lead and phthalates in all products manufactured for children under the age of 12. Unfortunately this legislation lacks common sense, is ambiguous and fails to take into account the handmade industry.
What you see is not what you get with CPSIA. There is no distinction between big, small, or even micro one-person businesses. Whether it’s a large-scale manufacturer importing apparel to be sold in big box stores, or a work-at-home mom (WAHM) selling customs on ebay, the legislation applies the same to all.
Unit testing will be required on finished products, regardless if the components are natural materials or if you have documentation from a vendor stating that buttons, for example, are certified lead-free. As it stands, H.R. 4040 fails to recognize that textile products are inherently lead-free. Why then is an organic cotton shirt being tested for lead exactly?
Unit testing is extremely cost prohibitive to small business, but worse, it is unnecessary. In fact, it is completely redundant if the components that comprise the whole have already been tested and due diligence can prove they meet the guidelines.
To put a real dollar amount to testing one of my products, I solicited a lab quote. I was told it was $75 to test for lead per garment component and each substrate. Coated or painted items such as buttons are $100. So my Little Red Riding Hood Shirt, a 100% cotton knit shirt with an appliqué made from 7 cotton fabrics and 2 buttons eyes would cost $625 to test for lead. Flammability testing is also required and is either $50 for a certificate per component stating it meets weight code or $100 for actual testing. So add another $400-$800 for a grand total of $1,025-$1425. in testing costs for a shirt that retails for $40. If the shirt is offered in another colorway, the same testing is required despite the fact that the same fabrics are used throughout.
Small manufacturers have no way of absorbing the price of such redundancy. And all manufacturers will be required to test a finished component/item from each batch. Easy to do in mass production—simply pull one sample from a lot of thousands. But how does one comply when your “batches” are made-to-order batches of one? SKUs will also be required for each product with a permanent label on the item itself.
CPSIA will be retroactive and takes a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach with extremely hefty fines for violators. As written, any product used by children 12 and under (such as toys, footwear, carpets, clothing, bedding, luggage, lamps, toys, books, magazines, baseball cards, consumer electronics, school supplies, office supplies, jewelry, housewares, sports equipment and so on) without the newly required certification would be deemed hazardous, whether the item poses an actual threat or not. So on February 10, 2009, any unsold merchandise (in big box stores, the corner boutique, your fabric stash, Good Will donations, etc.) will be deemed “hazardous goods” and illegal to sell unless 3rd party testing proves otherwise. By the way, there are only 14 said labs currently in the United States.
Think you won’t be affected? I hope not, but the sad truth is that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) will be. Do you make children’s clothing, toys, jewelry, hair bows, accessories, furniture, artwork or anything else “intended for use by children age 12 and under”? Are you a retailer of children’s goods? Do you resell used children’s clothing or toys on ebay? Do you participate or shop at craft fairs? Do you donate used children’s items to needy organizations? Do you belong to a church that has rummage sales as a fundraiser? Does your child play sports and get their uniforms from a local screen print shop? Are you a consumer shopping for alternatives to mass-produced toys? If so, this law takes away that freedom.
Surely this legislation can be amended by incorporating some common sense and still make it possible to ensure our children’s safety without further hurting the US economy. According to the 2002 Economic Census (the last survey of its type), small U.S. clothing manufacturers (with fewer than 20 employees) contribute over $900 million dollars [consider: nearly $1 billion dollars] annually to the economy and comprise 68% of total apparel manufacturing in the U.S. This is clearly a vital and contributing asset to our economy. Multiply this fallout exponentially when you take into account the myriad other manufacturers, retailers and businesses that will be hurt or ultimately driven out of business.
So, why should you support amending this legislation?
Because the CPSIA isn’t fair and will not function as written. It inadvertently punishes American industries unrelated to toys and will ultimately result in fewer alternatives to mass produced merchandise made in China. The concept that small producers should be subject to the same rigorous standards but with lesser regulation (and common sense) has already been fought for and sustained in the food industry, which is why your local farmers market still exists. Now this same idea needs to be applied to children’s products.
What can you do?
1) Email or call the CPSIA - the office of the CPSC ombudsman 888-531-9070.http://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/newleg.aspxComments on Component Parts Testing accepted through January 30, 2009.mailto:Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov.
2) Email or snail mail your representatives.http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=12274476
3) Call your representatives. For their contact information just enter your zip code.http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/dbq/officials/
4) Make your voice heard by voting on this issue. The top 3 in each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia
5) Sign the petition.http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/economicimpactsofCPSIA/index.html
6) Spread the word! Write about this on your blog. Tell others about this issue and encourage them to do the same.
7) Join others in fighting this cause.Facebook groupTwitter searchhttp://cpsia-central.ning.com/notes/Notes_Home
Join the etsy community in the virtual chat with CPSIA Small Business Ombudsmen or send a handmade children’s item that will become “hazardous goods” as of 2/9/09 to Bobby Rush, founder of H.R. 4040.http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/handmade-childrens-items-unintended-consequences-consumer-pr-3056/Etsy Thread
9) Read more about this legislation and its ramifications:Fashion Incubator
Handmade Toy Alliance
National Bankruptcy Day
5 Minutes for Mom
Cool Mom Picks
The Smart Mama
Apparel and Footwear.org
Safety and Compliance
Freshly Baked Blog
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So, to lighten things up a little, I have decided to share with you some Christmas photos from my home! Every year, I have good intentions to go all out with my Christmas decorating, but somehow it just never ends up happening! I do really love my dining room table though...
Monday, December 15, 2008
Five Steps You Can Take To Save Natural And Handmade Companies
The word is out: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act has cast such a wide net that many small businesses and natural toy companies are threatened with financial ruin by testing requirements that need to be overhauled if they are to be applied to them at all. Livelihoods, work-at-home arrangements, and the availability of handmade and natural products for our children are at stake. Here are five things you can do today to help force Congress to address the mess they've made before the law goes into effect on February 10, 2009.
1. Familiarize yourself with needed reforms. The Handmade Toy Alliance has proposed the following reforms to the CPSIA:
Exempt toys made or imported in quantities under 5,000 per year by companies making or importing less than 50,000 total items per year, as well as toys made entirely in the U.S. and other countries with a strong safety regimen of their own (Canada, EU), and pair this with mandatory registration by companies and random auditing with stiff penalties (the way the EU does it).
Assume that natural materials (wood, wool, silk, bamboo, cotton, and uncoated textiles) and food-grade materials (wood finishes made from beeswax and certain oils) are lead- and phthalate-free, and don't require them to be tested.
Allow manufacturers to accept third-party test results for raw materials, and require company testing of products based on manufacturing levels rather than specific time frames.
Don't require batch labeling for small runs of products not made from molded plastic, and don't require manufacturing dates to be a part of any labeling, as small batch toys are costly to label in this way.You can read their full proposal on the Handmade Toy Alliance's website.
2. Tell your local news outlets that this is a local story. Look up Etsy sellers in your city or town, then call your local TV station or newspaper, ask for a business reporter, and tell them that you could help them identify at least X number of sole proprietors in your community who are about to be driven out of business if the law isn't changed. If you have a locally-owned toy store that carries natural toys, mention this too - they'd be a great interview for the same story. Local news desks are overworked and understaffed; if you can connect the dots on a timely topic you will probably see a story.
3. Make some phone calls. Phone calls are better than form letters, and if you get the person on the phone you might actually get some useful information you can share with others through the grapevine.
Here are four calls you should make:
Call your current U.S. Representative. Republicans and Democrats claim to care about nurturing small businesses, but new testing requirements encompass product areas highly unlikely to pose a risk for newly-banned chemicals. The new law needs to clearly articulate feasible and logical standards for small businesses and companies that already meet international (EU) standards.Tell them how you feel about what will happen to many of the SAHM, small businesses, and natural companies that are already doing their due diligence to ensure product safety. Find out if they've been voted out or are still in for the next session; if they'll be replaced, ask by whom and if you can contact them at the same number. You can find out who yours is and how to contact them here.
Call Nancy Nord. She's the acting head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and she needs to hear from you. To reach her, call 301-504-7923 and ask for her; if she's busy, leave a brief, polite, but firm message.
Call the CPSC ombudsman's office. The number is 888-531-9070.
Call your Senator. Tell them you aren't pleased with the way the House wrote this bill or the fact that the Senate passed it in its current form, and that it is in dire need of reform before it sinks small businesses under exorbitant testing costs for products that are made using natural materials. You can locate contact information for your Senator here. If they're being replaced, ask them how to get in touch with their successor.
4. Join the conversation. Find Twitterers discussing the matter by searching for the #CPSIA hashtag. Browse new blog posts about the CPSIA and point others to them by giving them a bump on whatever social sharing or bookmarking software you use. (Links for giving a bump to this article are at the foot of this post - if you like this info, help spread it around!)
5. Sign some petitions. We believe that petitions are among the least effective steps you can take - the less effort it takes to make your voice heard, the less seriously your effort is taken by those you hope to impact; and signature rates inevitably underrepresent the number of concerned citizens, often vastly so - but it can't hurt, so here's one petition and here's another.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
If this worked, it would be awesome. Read below copied and pasted from a forum on Etsy:
OK, this is just a pipe dream, but what if we all took some handmade
children's item and mailed it to the office of, say, Rep. Bobby Rush (chair of
the committee on Energy and Commerce). Each item would have a label that said:On
Feb. 10, 2009 this item will turn into a[really big font]HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE[end
really big font]Don't let this happen, modify CPSIA now!Just think if he had to
step over all these cute handmade things staring him in the face!
Here is the address of his Washington office (this is from his official
website so I presume he intends it to be public knowledge):
Rep. Bobby Rush
2416 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Let's make sure we don't put "Hazardous Substance" on the outside of the
box, or else they'll have to call in the bomb squad or something.Suggested text
for enclosed letter:
On Feb. 10, 2009 this item will turn into a[really big font]HAZARDOUS
SUBSTANCE[end really big font]Don't let this happen!I am a crafter [or artisan;
I don't want to reopen that debate] who makes and sells one of a kind items for
children. It is financially and physically impossible for me to do all the lead
testing that the CPSIA requires. Since all my products will legally be
classified as "hazardous substances" on Feb. 10, 2009, I am sending one as a
gift to you. How else am I going to get rid of it, if it will be a felony to
sell it? Hopefully you can find something to do with it before Feb. 10 too, so
that you don't have to call in the hazmat team to take it away.Of course, Rep.
Rush, if your committee would reconsider the interpretation of the CPSIA, I
might not have to go out of business...
Read more here:
Etsy :: CPSIA Protest Idea
Posted by SweetDreamsDesigns at 6:01 AM
Sorry for not writing in a while - my time has been consumed with getting out Christmas orders, Spring preorders and figuring out what the heck I'm going to do when Sweet Dreams Designs is shut down because of the CPSIA. Read below to figure out what the heck I'm talking about - and if you are in a children's manufacturing industry - be afraid....be very afraid.
National Bankruptcy Day. Will the CPSIA effect you?
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