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One Jeweler’s New Year’s Resolution Revolution

Jan 6, 2009

by DownToTheWireDesigns

Ever have that feeling like your New Year’s resolution (oh, bathing the cat once a year, swearing off cupcakes, not pressing the snooze button for an hour) pales in comparison to others’ loftier goals? Chuck from DownToTheWireDesigns has an inspiring one to share with all of us. Think big, people!

The biggest challenge for me as a jeweler has nothing to do with metal, or stones, or using the tools of a metalsmith. Rather, it is reconciling my political beliefs with my chosen field. In some ways, jewelry is an unlikely profession for me—not just because (where I come from) the very idea of making jewelry as a career is simply unheard of, but also because my values rebel against the very thing that I do.

I am not a big consumer. In fact, I believe that our consumer-driven society is responsible for many of the world’s most pressing problems.  Yet here I am making my living making jewelry. Handmade jewelry, true, and hopefully not anything that anyone would buy and then consider disposable, to be thrown out as soon as the next fad and fashion sweeps through, but still a luxury item—something that no one honestly needs. I am sometimes bothered by the fact that, to some extent, I need the very consumer society that I reject in order to do what I enjoy and pay my bills in the process. My political values being what they are, I sometimes feel that I should be doing something more meaningful with my life.

It is in this sense that jewelry chose me. I found jewelry entirely by accident—but it was a happy accident because I found out that I was pretty good at it. It is not a stretch to say that it is the thing I am best at doing. It is hardly a perfect match.

But what fun would the world be without fashion? Adornment has been with human beings for tens of thousands of years, with stone and shell beads among the earliest of found human artifacts and metallurgy—mostly for decorative purposes— one of humankind’s earliest technological advancements. I can hardly stop that tide on principle itself. Luckily I have found ways of using my jewelry skills for the greater good.

Several years ago I was approached by a non-profit, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), about transforming their logo into jewelry pieces that they could sell on their website as a fundraiser. I took on the task thinking that it would probably not amount to much. I designed the pieces for free and then sold them to the group at wholesale prices lower than they had been able to find elsewhere. They placed a small initial order and later requested a few additional pieces to send out to the press to promote their big upcoming week of awareness events. One morning I got a phone call—Dr. Phil had just featured one of the necklaces on his show! It was just a short one minute mention, but already their website was buzzing. They held off on placing an order because the show had not yet aired on the West coast and they had no idea how big the overall response might be. By the next morning they had orders for nearly 300 necklaces! When all was said and done, I had made over 600 of the necklaces to meet the demand created by Dr. Phil’s generosity. I made good money for my time and NEDA had made well over $10,000 to fund their programs. It is an ongoing relationship that provides me with work while supporting an organization whose work I strongly believe in. To date, my work has helped them raise many times that initial amount over a few short years.

Beyond that, I have long donated work to charity auctions—usually a necklace and earring set. It is not a lot, but every donation helps. Having attended a number of these auctions in person, it is fun to see the excitement of those attending as they place their bids and watch the items they are hoping to get. For the organizations putting on the auctions, every individual donation adds up big by the end of the night.

I was recently selling at a show when I was approached by a person soliciting auction donations for a group. In all honesty, I was a bit annoyed at first to be asked in this way.  I was busy and this was the only show I do each year—I would have preferred to have been asked in a different setting. But then I considered his dilemma: needing to raise money for an important cause in a tough economy and competing with several other worthy groups in the same situation. I had once dated a woman who was in charge of coordinating one of these auctions for her Public Interest Law group. When they went out to solicit donations, they often found that another group had already canvassed the territory. Businesses were only willing or able to donate so much, so it was a difficult undertaking.

So I reconsidered my thinking, and with a slight change in perspective, I realized that I could easily donate something to one auction a week throughout the year with little hardship to myself. That is 52 donations a year of a necklace and earring set each. The materials cost is minimal, as my biggest expense is my labor—but even that is negligible in the bigger picture. If I invest 1.25 hours in each set (and it would probably be less than that if I include these pieces in my larger workload for the week, with the division of labor reducing the time needed for each piece) that is only 65 hours for the year. But beyond that, the monetary value of these donations is much more than I could ever realistically hope to give as a cash donation. If the average retail price of each donation were $72, the total value of the donations for the year would exceed $3700. While I realize that it is unlikely that each group would get the full $72 value for each set in the auction format, they will make some amount that will be helpful to them both in terms of the money that they raise, and in making their auction a fuller, more exciting event.

What I get out of this is the ability to make the world a slightly better place while doing something I love. I not only get to make jewelry—I get to make a difference.

So this is my New Year’s resolution: I will create pieces to donate to 52 auctions this year. I will donate my time and hopefully do a lot of good in the process. I would love to see other Etsy sellers challenge themselves in similar ways. If you cannot give once a week, how about once every two weeks or once a month? Individually we might not be able to make a big difference, but together the impact could be huge.

 

Are any of your New Year’s resolutions good deeds? Post in the comments below!

171 comments

  • froydis

    froydis said 8 years ago

    what a wonderful article! So inspiring!

  • boulderglassmonkey

    boulderglassmonkey said 8 years ago

    You're a great designer and all around good guy!

  • KathrynRiechert

    KathrynRiechert said 8 years ago

    Great article! I've been toying with a similar idea myself, but geared towards animal groups.

  • loopityloopglam

    loopityloopglam said 8 years ago

    http://canterusa.org/midatlantic/ I donate to help that organization. In November I donated 2 buckles and a bracelet. It's a wonderful feeling using your Craft for Good Deeds.

  • Sinta

    Sinta said 8 years ago

    Beautiful rings :) It's a very good worthy cause you're helping too.

  • herbanelements

    herbanelements said 8 years ago

    a wonderful article on a wonderful! thanks for inspiring me to try to do more.

  • BeadsInTheBelfry

    BeadsInTheBelfry said 8 years ago

    This is so fantastic! It is great to be able to use your talents for the betterment of mankind! I have worked on a few projects of this nature myself (the most recent being Project Night Night - http://www.projectnightnight.org) and I love it. Kudos to you Chuck!

  • perpilili

    perpilili said 8 years ago

    what a wonderful new year's resolution!

  • Pantora

    Pantora said 8 years ago

    i'd love to make a difference! check out my shop soon enough, i have things to think about, this was really inspiring

  • lunaticart

    lunaticart said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, thanks for creating beautiful pieces for beautiful causes; it would be nice to have a list of the organizations we could donate to.... I really loved your article, so inspiring, so "downtotheheart".

  • chiquisdesigns

    chiquisdesigns said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the very inspirational story!!

  • LaireMarie

    LaireMarie said 8 years ago

    What a great way to share your talent for a good cause...

  • daisylouise

    daisylouise said 8 years ago

    This is great, Chuck! I think an important way to give for those of us who were lucky enough to go to a great art school is to donate art to our alma mater's auctions. I went to Montserrat College of Art and they hold a yearly art auction with all procedes going to scholarships- it's a great way to help younger artists along. http://www.montserrat.edu/giving/art-auction.php

  • forestforest

    forestforest said 8 years ago

    I donate my work to charities each year (holiday 2008 I gave 20 necklaces to my local soroptomists) -- your approach is just so thoughtful & brilliant! thanks for being here & sharing your wonderful-ness :)

  • strawberrykisses

    strawberrykisses said 8 years ago

    How inspiring!

  • SnuggleHerd

    SnuggleHerd said 8 years ago

    Great work, Chuck! Your jewelry is beautiful, & your actions even more so! I donated to 2 charity auctions this past Christmas, & plan to do more of it in the future. You are inspiring!

  • SkyDreams

    SkyDreams said 8 years ago

    The best article ever! What a great idea and how inspiring! DownToTheWireDesigns! I love you!~

  • cindydolezal

    cindydolezal said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the challenge. I think I'll take you up on it. I'm thinking once a month to start.

  • SeaFindDesigns

    SeaFindDesigns said 8 years ago

    Way to go dude! I donate my designs to Autism Research and The American Cancer Society all year round as well..... My daughter Emma donates ALL of her funds to St. Jude! It ends up being about how good you feel about YOURSELF, plus it's easy and we enjoy it! Good for you!

  • wontonlove

    wontonlove said 8 years ago

    Love it! You are fab and so inspiring :)

  • AnnikaNF

    AnnikaNF said 8 years ago

    Great pledge! if you need an auction for one of your weeks, my organization the Oratorio Society of NY has an annual auction (next one, April 30, 2009) to raise funds for our classical music programming in NYC. See our website for more information - http://www.oratoriosocietyofny.org/Auction.html - or contact me through Etsy!

  • bcyrjewelry

    bcyrjewelry said 8 years ago

    wow! amazing chuck!!

  • JesseDanger

    JesseDanger said 8 years ago

    Very inspirational!

  • hadleyhutton

    hadleyhutton said 8 years ago

    I loved your article. Thanks for sharing.

  • PrettyinPosies

    PrettyinPosies said 8 years ago

    Bravo! You are truly inspiring...congrats on the article and so glad Etsy shared it with us all.

  • KnitzAndFeltz

    KnitzAndFeltz said 8 years ago

    DownToTheWireDesigns... Very,Very Cool!

  • laralewis

    laralewis said 8 years ago

    i'm relatively new to etsy, but i started donating all proceeds from the sale of this bracelet to honeybee colony collapse disorder research: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=19207834 it was such a good feeling giving them that money, and knowing it was going to good use! i love this article, it has certainly inspired me to do much, much, more. thanks for sharing!

  • lisahopkins

    lisahopkins said 8 years ago

    Such an inspiring article!

  • ThePeachTree

    ThePeachTree said 8 years ago

    awesome :)

  • Northernista

    Northernista said 8 years ago

    Very inspiring, thank you!

  • AdaRosman

    AdaRosman said 8 years ago

    what a wonderful article!!!!

  • nanouke

    nanouke said 8 years ago

    Thank you for this! You made me think. I like it when that happens. I wish you all the luck and love for your business and life, since I do believe in Karma, and I guess the Universe has some good surprises reserved for you.

  • wartpiggydesigns

    wartpiggydesigns said 8 years ago

    Fantastic idea!

  • leavesofglass

    leavesofglass said 8 years ago

    well done, chuck, and very eloquently put!

  • wirequeen

    wirequeen said 8 years ago

    I donate at least 12 pieces per year to organizations that I like. This is built into my annual business plan. You're right it is a good feeling ang you have helped an orgaization to move forward. Thanks for encouraging others to do the same. Michelle

  • lizroca

    lizroca said 8 years ago

    What a wonderful idea.

  • workingforpeanuts

    workingforpeanuts said 8 years ago

    Thanks for inspiring me, Chuck! You're a good writer in addition to your design talent.

  • djamesdesigns

    djamesdesigns said 8 years ago

    Bravo! So well said Chuck. This is something I've struggled to come to terms with myself. What a wonderful opportunity for you to work with NEDA. Maybe that will one day open the path for you to do more design work to raise social awareness for other organizations! The thought of being able to utilize your passion thereby advancing social awareness and serving the great good, well, now that's what I'd call the prosperity of abundance. Thank you for sharing. I love your idea about donating your work to charitable organizations. You got me thinking... and that's a good thing (sometimes) :) Namaste, Denise

  • clevergirl

    clevergirl said 8 years ago

    Beautifully written Chuck, and a beautiful idea... A lot of comments here have been about the different wonderful organizations and causes etsy artisans support-it makes me joyful to see so much love and such a wide range of causes... My causes are all in house, can't wait for all of our "domestic" issues (juvenile diabetes, various cancers, ADD/ADHD, arthritis, and asperger's/Autism/PDD) are cured or managed effectively so I can spread the love, as every penny goes to managing and progressing in those fields, in our home- and I will definitely keep your "52" concept in mind! Reminds me of the book on my nightstand "52 Projects".... Yay everyone for making a difference!

  • tangerinetreehouse

    tangerinetreehouse said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing Chuck! I have struggled with being a jewelry maker while also being somewhat anti-consumer. Yours is an excellent model for finding a happy middle ground!

  • ElinThomas

    ElinThomas said 8 years ago

    They say 'lead by example' - you're doing it! :)

  • sheenajewellery

    sheenajewellery said 8 years ago

    Fantastic story and very inspiring indeed. I always want to donate more to organizations I am interested in but can't afford too much. Donations of my work would be much easier to handle. Thanks for sharing!

  • piperewan

    piperewan said 8 years ago

    that is really good to hear! i have donated many items (and some percentage of sales during particular events) over the years to local charities (this one is my favourite: http://pearmentor.org they teach art to homeless and transitional youth). donating my work is a doable and meaningful way for me to contribute to these organizations that do so much for my community. i hope that your article encourages others who may not have tons of cash to donate that they can contribute in a meaningful way.

  • beachhouseblues

    beachhouseblues said 8 years ago

    I think it's really important to give back. I've been donating my services as a photographer for many years. At the beginning, each year I would choose a charity that seemed like it could use my services. For the past few years I've worked with Boston based Community Servings. http://www.servings.org/index.cfm They deliver meals to each day to people with AIDS and other life threatening illnesses. In todays tight economy these non profits really need a bit of help.

  • jessitaylor

    jessitaylor said 8 years ago

    go, chuck! what an awesome goal - thanks for the inspiration!

  • imakecutestuff

    imakecutestuff said 8 years ago

    Wow! How's that for some inspiration and motivation!? Thank you so much for sharing...you are awesome :)

  • sudlow

    sudlow said 8 years ago

    wonderful idea! also, looking at this through a business standpoint, you can often get these companies to write you a receipt (often after the sale), which you can use as a tax writeoff

  • AEBDesign

    AEBDesign said 8 years ago

    This is something that I struggle with myself. I don't like the rampant consumerism that consumes our society, but rely on it to keep my business going. I think that you've got a great idea there. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • discomedusa

    discomedusa said 8 years ago

    chuck, you are simply the *best*!

  • MooreMagnets

    MooreMagnets said 8 years ago

    What a wonderful article! I have always enjoyed the charitable things that I am able to participate in as an artist. I donate to lots of schools, but my favorite organization that I donate to is the Lions Club - since I wear glasses I understand the expense involved. My brother is also a diabetic and the Lions do a lot to help that group. I figure that if one of my items can help someone in need it is worth more to me than them!

  • esdesigns

    esdesigns said 8 years ago

    I've done a few of those- not 52 though! Interesting thoughts on consumerism. When someone buys a piece of your jewelry it's not a mass produced item that someone will just wear for one season, so that alone makes a difference.

  • PeculiarForest

    PeculiarForest said 8 years ago

    awesome article and very inspiring

  • FluteTeacher

    FluteTeacher said 8 years ago

    This is a good challenge. It's certainly got me thinking.

  • Floweredsky

    Floweredsky said 8 years ago

    really inspiring story . I have donated couple of jewelry to some of the non-profit organizations this year also. However, they were just randomly done. To make a plan such as yours is such a great idea. Good job "downtothewiredesigns". I hope you realize that you have inspired and motivated so many of us (including myself) with your beautifully written article.

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 8 years ago

    Wow! Thanks everybody for the great response! What a wonderful outpouring of support. I appreciate it! I also want to say that I will be needing groups to donate to, so if you have any good ones, please feel free to share. Provide a link if you can.

  • christinececelia

    christinececelia said 8 years ago

    What a fantastic man you are!!! its good to know that there are still so many wonderful people out there- way to go! :D

  • AnvilArtshop

    AnvilArtshop said 8 years ago

    I'm a fan of Chuck's work, and of his principles as well... Have donated designs to the MS Society in the past, it's well past time to do so again. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • donnasserendipity

    donnasserendipity said 8 years ago

    Oh Chuck, you're a good soul! Very inspiring. Thank you. Donna

  • misscourageous

    misscourageous said 8 years ago

    now I just want to give Chuck a big hug!!! I was already planning on donating to a silent auction this week. I think it's a great way to help the community as well, the people at the auction are helping the cause but also getting something that is handmade and made locally. Let's all do our part to help change the world :)

  • redyellowandblueink

    redyellowandblueink said 8 years ago

    I can relate to Chucks politics on consumerism and what it means to be a part of it. It is good insight to see how Chuck-DownToTheWire-has approached this dilemma. It is a struggle, in my shop I feel that if I am putting something out there I want to make sure I give back as well. Partial proceeds from very sale in my shop goes to one of three organizations that are important to me. Inspiring and insightful article.

  • timesandchimes

    timesandchimes said 8 years ago

    Thank goodness for warm-hearted humans. All of us should strive to do all we can to make our world a better place.

  • dwhitecreations

    dwhitecreations said 8 years ago

    I also battle (a little) with excessiveness, waste, disposable mentality, etc. This is such a great and encouraging article.

  • robinmbird

    robinmbird said 8 years ago

    Yes, it's a very inspiring article and I'm in agreement that giving more is easier than we think until we do it. I wanted to address your comments about living in a consumer driven society. I agree that that is the case but by creating original, handmade art, you are inspiring others to reach within their own being to create from their center. Every time that person picks up one of your beautiful bracelets or other jewelry and adorns her or himself with a bit of your creation, there is that little reminder that if you can create, she/he can create! Inspiration lies within our work, itself.

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 8 years ago

    robinmbird and esdesigns-- you both make a valid point. Certainly selling handmade goods is different from selling mass-produced goods. But I do also know a lot of people who are dedicating their whole lives to helping others in bigger ways-- teachers, lawyers, social workers, etc. Part of me has always questioned whether I should be doing more. I think that this, for me, gets me over that hump and makes me feel like I am doing something more than just making nice jewelry. There's nothing wrong with making nice jewelry-- I just want to have my cake and eat it too!

  • appletreejewelry

    appletreejewelry said 8 years ago

    Nice!!

  • PinkWaterFairy

    PinkWaterFairy said 8 years ago

    Wow, inspiring article, thank you :)

  • jewelrybyallison

    jewelrybyallison said 8 years ago

    I loved this article, thanks so much!

  • threepeats

    threepeats said 8 years ago

    Art is a matter of conscience. It never surprises me when artists want to and do give back. This new year, I think everyone feels an extra urge to help because there are so many more people who need it!

  • edithandlulu

    edithandlulu said 8 years ago

    Chuck says, "I am sometimes bothered by the fact that, to some extent, I need the very consumer society that I reject in order to do what I enjoy and pay my bills in the process." Me too.

  • Experimetal

    Experimetal said 8 years ago

    Chuck you are amazing and have a good old soul :) I love ya, vt

  • worksandfinds

    worksandfinds said 8 years ago

    Today I visited your Flickr. You are great guy.

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 8 years ago

    Great article, Chuck! You've always been a jeweler I looked up to on Etsy! Best of luck with your 2009 goals :D

  • LushPunk

    LushPunk said 8 years ago

    Wow - that is just so awesome.

  • BunnySafariPottery

    BunnySafariPottery said 8 years ago

    Way to pay it forward! Good on you!

  • LunasaDesigns

    LunasaDesigns said 8 years ago

    You always have the best ideas Chuck! You were the first jeweler I ever "spoke" to on Etsy. Your giving and encouraging spirit has amazed me from the beginning! I donate a few times a year to different organizations that are near and dear to my heart. Mostly camps for terminally ill children (cancer and CF) because I've known quite a few in my lifetime and know how important these activities are to their health. Let me know if you run out of places to donate... I'll give you my little list. :)

  • aliciahanson

    aliciahanson said 8 years ago

    Good job

  • sherrytruitt

    sherrytruitt said 8 years ago

    I'm so glad to have found this story. I have that similar pull myself, and it seem so have many others. For 3 years I have been donating part of the profit from my hunger bracelets to Doctors without Borders. It changes my outlook on everything.

  • realisationcreations

    realisationcreations said 8 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant Chuck! Inspiring!

  • cloudery

    cloudery said 8 years ago

    This is a very inspiring piece — thank you. For those of you who might have missed it, the Storque recently published another article on Craftivism, and what crafters can do to make a difference (through craft, or destash): http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/good-projects-3137/ That Cloudery is featured in the above article is nicely coincidental for me, having now read this one about DTTWD. I have run cMaille, a chain maille jewelry shop (cMaille.etsy.com), for over a year, and it was based on that success that I felt compelled to give back however I could; thus I began a new shop for my drawings that is dedicated to donating to First Book, a non-profit that gives brand new books to under-privileged children — children that have never had the chance to own their own books (http://www.firstbook.org). Every drawing I sell donates 2 or more books, and I've been able to donate 98 books since October 2008. My "resolution" was to be able to at least match that pace this year, and hopefully exceed it. Now, reading about DTTWD's craftivism with jewelry, I feel inspired to find ways to give back with my jewelry as well. Cheers.

  • KabiDesigns

    KabiDesigns said 8 years ago

    Thank you for the article is Great! and Beautiful Creations

  • shamila

    shamila said 8 years ago

    Hi Chuck, You continue to amaze me. I employ the same values as you do about designing and contributing to social causes that inspire and move me. And yes while jewelry as such is not a dire necessity as a yummy bowl of noodles would be. To combine philanthropy and design is really satisfying. To infiltrate our world with little tokens of beauty and passion is important. I like how you can take all the thoughts in my head and articulate them in such a logical manner. Thanks for always being such a great inspiration Chuck!

  • berdandbee

    berdandbee said 8 years ago

    I wrestle with this exact issue! Thank you Chuck and Thank you Etsy for this article! You really are an inspiration. Meg & Bryan

  • galleryzooart

    galleryzooart said 8 years ago

    Excellent article, Chuck! It is so inspiring to read about ways we can support our communities as artists in ways "outside the box". I use my art to support global conservation efforts, and it is great to be able to still assist in this goal (albeit in a different capacity) even after leaving my former day job. Kudos!

  • meganstelzer

    meganstelzer said 8 years ago

    You're on!! I am also a jeweler and I completely agree with you on the subject of consumerism. Ideally, I'd like to see more people wear unique, handmade pieces instead of something 30,000 other people own. I think jewelry is kind of like food - the better it is, the more satisfying it will be and the less you will eat/wear of it. Happy New Year!

  • SilverleafShinyStuff

    SilverleafShinyStuff said 8 years ago

    Everything I make on my little knitted hedgehogs goes to hedgehog rescues, to help with the treatment and rehabilitation of sick and injured hoggies. Each hoggie takes 45 minutes to an hour to make (usually while watching TV) and every one I sell allows me to donate the £5.60 retail price to a good cause. I'd love to do more though - maybe donating some jewellery for an auction or prize draw is the way to go.

  • Knight27

    Knight27 said 8 years ago

    This is a great idea, very ambitious! I always donate when I've been approached but you are really going above and beyond. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • WingsDove

    WingsDove said 8 years ago

    I understand and agree with your statement, "I am not a big consumer. In fact, I believe that our consumer-driven society is responsible for many of the world’s most pressing problems. Yet here I am making my living making jewelry." I've often had similar thoughts and feelings about my own selling on Etsy conflicting with my beliefs about our consumer society. Yet I would rather create than work for someone else in a not-creative way. As a member of EFA (Etsy for Animals), I assuage my conscience by making contributions to animal charities whenever possible. You are AWARE, which is more than many in this consumer society.

  • idreamicanfly

    idreamicanfly said 8 years ago

    How fantastic! I donated 10 pairs of earrings to the Nie Nie auction last year. And I remember thinking how they raised more money than I could have hoped to give myself. I shall look into donating more pieces to my favorite local charities this year.

  • barbaragilesjewelry

    barbaragilesjewelry said 8 years ago

    Although I have been donating pieces to several organizations, I never thught of it in this way. In fact, I guess I just donated when approached. Thank you for giving me a new perspective and I believe I will be more proactive!

  • badcatjewelry

    badcatjewelry said 8 years ago

    I have donated pieces and I always give a percentage to a specific charity. There are so many on Etsy who do this and I love hearing about it.

  • studiorickrack

    studiorickrack said 8 years ago

    I couldn't have said it better myself. Great job and thank you for sharing, very inspirational!

  • TheSeed

    TheSeed said 8 years ago

    I've been doing my part to help the honeybees too, by eating a lot of that honey ice cream by Haagen Dazs :) But seriously, I've always been nervous about donating artwork because I get that "what if no one bids on it" feeling so I always end up donating picture framing (my other business). But maybe I should throw caution to the wind!

  • izzyandbuds

    izzyandbuds said 8 years ago

    How refreshing and thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. We also have struggled with finding the balance in this consumer society (especially at Christmas); donating our products to charitable fundraiser events are always appreciated by these organizations...and the lucky recipient! One of the many hats I wear is that of a craft market coordinator for the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Twice yearly I volunteer my time as the solo organizer of this market showcasing fifteen local crafters and artisans, where 100% of the table fees are donated to the Foundation. Your article has inspired me to think about how I can manage craft donations to raise even more funds for such a worthy cause! -Koko

  • GetSilvered

    GetSilvered said 8 years ago

    This is an inspiring story and a great commitment Chuck. Although not technically a charity, this does help others, so I'd like to give them a bit of exposure here: I've used the money from several of my sales to finance micro loans via http://www.kiva.org The beauty of this is that the loans are repaid over time so that money can then be "recycled" to finance other worthy borrowers.

  • xmittens

    xmittens said 8 years ago

    Great perspective on how to integrate personal values into business. Thanks for the article!

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 8 years ago

    TheSeed-- You should definitely not worry about someone buying your work just for the frame. Your work is great! The items in the silent auction portions of charity fundraisers always get bids. For the most part, the people bidding will get a deal because the items do not always go for the listed price. As an artist, this can be a blow to the ego, but you just need to remind yourself that these groups are doing good things with the money and that every little bit helps. And you are not so much donating an item worth X dollars but rather your time and energy. The groups are always happy to put your name and contact information on display with the item so you are advertising both your work and your support of the cause.

  • nfall2rt

    nfall2rt said 8 years ago

    What a heartwarming story! That is truly a meaningful New Years resolution, and what are they for really but to attempt to better yourself as a person. Truly humbling.

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 8 years ago

    GetSilvered-- I love the micro loan concept! Thanks for mentioning it!

  • msbelle

    msbelle said 8 years ago

    Quite inspiring, indeed. Thanks for such a great article. And thanks to Chuck, for being such a wonderful 'consumer', artist and person.

  • sycamorestreetpress

    sycamorestreetpress said 8 years ago

    great article. i understand where you are coming from. feeling the same way, we decided to donate 50% of the procedds from our 2009 calendar to Ahope for children, which benefits 2 orphanages in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for children who are HIV+ or have AIDS, as well as a community outreach program. I was able to raise much more funds this way than I would have been able to afford to donate on my own, and I felt good being able to use my skills for such a great cause. you've inspired me to try and come up with ways to continue giving all year.

  • bijougirldesigns

    bijougirldesigns said 8 years ago

    Fantastic article - and very inspiring! I was taught as a child to give, but it was not in my nature until I made it habit. Sometimes I forget, though, that I have more to give than just my money. I can give my talent, my product, and my time. Thank you for the encouragement and helping me add something worthwhile to my New Years resolutions.

  • esmeraldadesigns

    esmeraldadesigns said 8 years ago

    Awesome article- it's so dang clever to set a goal for donations and making it part of your yearly production. I support animal rescue, especially senior animals and donate 20% of the proceeds of the sale of the anima piece http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=12140399 to a local rescue organization. This organization is entirely non-for profit and they managed to rescue and place more than 50 senior dogs last year. yay!! I also donate entire pieces to the workers/volounteers in a few local animal shelters.

  • DownToTheWireDesigns

    DownToTheWireDesigns said 8 years ago

    In Seattle there is a group of jewelers who collect donated jewelry-- often second hand-- then clean it up and repair it and then donate it to a homeless women's group as part of the clothes they are given to wear while going to job interviews so that they look professional. There are so many little ways to make a big difference.

  • esmeraldadesigns

    esmeraldadesigns said 8 years ago

    That's so true, many brooks make a river. It's about reinstating self esteem - shelters/safe homes for battered and abused women are awesome places to consider for donations of clothing and jewelry.

  • jemjess

    jemjess said 8 years ago

    This is absolutely inspiring! I have been feeling the same way for quite awhile and I am so happy to have come across your article. I am truly inspired and motivated and can not wait to begin dying more silk scarves for a good cause. Thank you!

  • thirdfloor

    thirdfloor said 8 years ago

    Very inspiring article! The Fashion, Design and Lifestyle Team here on Etsy decided to donate 10% of the sales price for some of their items towards micro loans on Kiva. So far, we have been able to make loans to two other businesses and hope to do more. As business owners, we wanted to do something to help other business owners around the world. Any items tagged "fdlkiva" contribute towards this great cause.

  • beeczarcardsandgifts

    beeczarcardsandgifts said 8 years ago

    How truly wonderful this is to do for others. I have done very similar things to raise awareness and funds for charity through major card and art sales as well as fund raising play readings. The latter which has helped raise thousands by showcasing my art as a writer and a performer. It is such a worthwhile goal and extremely rewarding to see the results pay off to help others. I'm so glad to see you continue to do and give of your talent and your time to worthiest of goals. You do make a difference with each effort you put forth. I'm honored to know you. Congrats.

  • mamabetsy

    mamabetsy said 8 years ago

    That is FANTASTIC. I have often struggled with the whole issue of making jewelry and not doing something good for the world. I am inspired!

  • gibscot

    gibscot said 8 years ago

    I am sooooo glad that this article has been so enthusiastically received. For the past 6 years I've been donating handmade items to a few causes I believe strongly about. It's a lot of work too. Usually I work for two or three months before the auction dinners, making 40 or 50 table favors (hand painted Christmas ornaments, key chains and the like) plus several larger ticket auction items. Sometimes it is dispiriting as the auctioneers will sometimes let the items go for less than what I paid for the materials and I wonder to myself why I didn't just write them a check, but other times it is very rewarding...so I keep doing it. I know in my gut that in the long run, it's worth the effort.

  • molecularmuse

    molecularmuse said 8 years ago

    Great idea! I completely identify with the dilemma and the solution!

  • HidingPlaceBeadery

    HidingPlaceBeadery said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this with us, and inspiring so many to give of themselves for others! A great idea!

  • envejewelry

    envejewelry said 8 years ago

    A truly inspiring resolution and call to action! I'm a huge supporter of giving back to the community in some meaningful way. I actually started donating 10% of my profits to charity last year when I started my jewelry business and am continuing to do so. I've decided to choose a new charity every year, but that way, by the end of one year, I'll have accumulated enough to make as big of a donation as I can. I'm also helping my husband raise money for charity right now by holding a raffle for 3 shopping sprees to my shop! Please stop by and check it out! http://envedesigns.blogspot.com (click on raffle for charity). Your support would be priceless! Thank you for writing this article!

  • wearthou

    wearthou said 8 years ago

    This is a great challenge to put out there and what great timing for a New Year's resolution. I made several donations in the past and felt really good about being able to help in a small way. For eg, for the month of Feb, part proceeds were donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Chuck, this is made even better by approaching those who do need your help. Thanks for sharing this! I'll get right on it!!

  • laurabrownart

    laurabrownart said 8 years ago

    i think this might be a common conflict for artisans. it feels like a luxury to do something one loves. it seems wrong to flood the market with things that are not necessary for daily living. i like what you have come up with to make a difference.

  • mylavaliere

    mylavaliere said 8 years ago

    great article, i am so impressed! your resolution has inspired me to be more creative with donation opportunities. its great to see how many people in the etsy community give back! my husbands wedding band is much cooler now:)

  • SCJJewelryDesign

    SCJJewelryDesign said 8 years ago

    Marvelous inspirational article. Thanks for sharing and making me think about how I can use my hobby to help others.

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 8 years ago

    I have been donating 10% from the sale of every Arabella Art-Accessory rabbit bag in my shop since I began selling on etsy. I have very strong ethics and opinions on animal treatment in society and I support a few particular charities and organisations - namely rabbit rescues in the UK and USA, against animal testing organisations and animal welfare and compassion organisations. I believe that they make a difference and I know that my funds also make a difference. I have also just donated one of my Arabella bags to be used in a fund raising raffle - sure to be very popular! (To be announced on my blog www.dragonhouseofyuen.blogspot.com very shortly) I have been giving to animal charities for years and now with my art on etsy I can reach a wider audience - of ethically minded people and people becoming ethically minded. It is a win win situation for all. Thanks go to my etsy team - Etsy For Animals (efa) search teamefa to see other generous minded people

  • beadid

    beadid said 8 years ago

    What an amazing and inspiring article!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    Nice works!

  • wrapitup

    wrapitup said 8 years ago

    WOW! I LOVED this article!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • CultureAllure

    CultureAllure said 8 years ago

    How did you get an article?

  • littleredbear

    littleredbear said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the inspirational story!

  • BlackStar

    BlackStar said 8 years ago

    What a wonderful resolution! And an inspirational article! I'm always looking for ideas and this thread has some great ones. There are so many opportunities out there, you just have to have your eyes open. When we adopted our cat, I read on their site that they were having a fund raiser. I went back and donated jewelry for their auction. Happy 2009 everyone~

  • smazzle

    smazzle said 8 years ago

    Excellent point. I don't think people realize that they can help without writing a check or ladling soup -- A friend of mine told us all if he raised $500 for the Lupus Foundation, he would cut his hair into a mullet. He raised $700, and sported a kick-butt mullet and handlebar mustache for a week! (Photos here: http://volunteer-boston.blogspot.com/2008/05/how-you-can-help-with-mullet.html) My cousin organized a group of friends and family across the country to make quilt squares, which she then assembled into a full quilt for a grandmother who had lost everything in a tornado. Again, using her skills and a small amount of money, she was able to truly make a difference. (Photos here: http://volunteer-boston.blogspot.com/2008/06/quilting-for-cause-midwestern-tornadoes.html) I myself have donated a sock monkey or two, but am looking to expand it, perhaps even donating a portion of every sale to a non-profit such as Monkey Helpers (http://www.monkeyhelpers.org/) or On Your Feet Project, which promotes volunteerism (http://oyfp.org/BOS). Keep up the great work, and we can all make a difference!

  • Rosewire

    Rosewire said 8 years ago

    I ususally dont make resolutions but this really is an inspiration!

  • reflectedfire

    reflectedfire said 8 years ago

    Your inspection of your values relative to your craft set my wheels turning. I have also donated on a regular basis at the craft shows I have attended and to organizations like the Red Cross. You have moved me to really think out this process and organize my donations with a goal while still keeping the donations to the people I have donated to last year. Phew your article made me think more...and that's great. Thanks!

  • disCARDS

    disCARDS said 8 years ago

    Wow - this inspires and impresses me. As someone who straddles both worlds (my day job is in fundraising for a non-profit) I am really excited about the whole concept of "craftivism" and the relationships between artists, crafters and charity communities... I donate my work here and there, but my donations have been sporadic and somewhat unfocused. I really admire your goal of one donation a week! And... as someone who works for a non-profit, I have to admit I'm interested in making my agency one that you consider for a donation. Our annual fundraiser (which includes live and silent auctions) is in the spring. Please convo me if you'd like more info!

  • kahliya

    kahliya said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much Chuck for sharing such inspiring thoughts and ideas!I must admit that I have similar dilemmas concerning my work,though I am slowly learning that there are so many different ways to give and contribute,the main issue I guess is simply the WILL to do so..after which the 'sky is the limit'.. Having said that,I do agree with Robinmbird about inspiring creativity through your own,I would like to add that creating authentic soul-derived,hand made Beauty in itself should not be underestimated as it is crucially needed in reconnecting people to their souls especially in times like these.. An Aid that is definitely not less important than those of 'Teacher`s,lawyers and social workers..' not to mention each handcrafter that 'goes out there' helps change the existing monopoly of mass production,contributing in modifying our global value system! Thank you again for raising the subject,I am also so happy to see so many sharing the concern and their sollutions!Such positivity is a blessing to start the New Year with! Happy New Year to all! GodBless Mia

  • alusciousthing

    alusciousthing said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for the inspiration,I too have felt a bit mixed about bringing more stuff to a crowded consumer buffet,but your story has made me consider how I might use my work to fund raise,and has increased my resolve to spend less on my material fetishes(beads,lace,flowers,etc)and instead create for greater causes.

  • BluCille

    BluCille said 8 years ago

    Wow those are pretty neat. My mom had a piece of Native American jewelry since I was a little girl that looked just like the ring in the first set of photos.

  • isabellaslittleshop

    isabellaslittleshop said 8 years ago

    It's a blessing to be able to give back. It must be an extraordinary experience to be able to share your work in this way. I, too, have struggled with transitioning what I do into making a difference. Truly inspiring! Mahalo for sharing.

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy said 8 years ago

    Very inspiring! Really gets me thinking.

  • ElizaHoneyShed

    ElizaHoneyShed said 8 years ago

    This is so inspiring and uplifting and has motivated me to sit down and take a good look at what I can do to make a difference as well (fundraisers, donations, percentage of profits). And from the looks of it, you've motivated and energized many.

  • CutieDynamite

    CutieDynamite said 8 years ago

    How inspiring! Keep up the great work!

  • luxebaublesboutique

    luxebaublesboutique said 8 years ago

    I liked the idea of scheduled giving. I work with a lot of events including silent auction fundraisers and always considered donating something I made myself, but folded and contributed something else. This has made me appreciate my work a little more.

  • Paytonology

    Paytonology said 8 years ago

    What a nice article. It's so inspiring to know how much people give back. I know how fortunate I am to spend my time doing something I love so much. I try to give back as much as possible. Recently, I set up an agreement with a local hospital to come take precious metal clay fingerprints of children and babies who pass away while in hospital. I put the names and the dates taken on the back, fire and polish them and return them to the parents/caregivers. It becomes a permanent "piece" of that person, to be touched, worn, carried, and cherished forever. It is such a gift to me to be able to do something so small for people in so much pain. The cost of the clay and my time really seems like nothing when you consider the price they have paid... I am proud of us as a group. I believe when you are so personally tied to your living and lifestyle, you maybe understand more what it means to give and receive. Mary D

  • cmicher

    cmicher said 8 years ago

    Your article inspires me and I feel very identified because I've been working as a jewelry distributor. Of course, ours is kinda mass produced, so that's why I haven't showed it here. And this activity makes me feel so appart from my personal values. I don't think I can change things much arround, since the business is my father's, but I've been starting some crafting that I hope to show soon here, on Etsy. Prayers of support are coming from my household in Mexico to your workshop. Claudia.

  • SecretLentil

    SecretLentil said 8 years ago

    Ahh! I'm not surprised at all to find you being so thoughtful and generous, Chuck. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • mariposaluna

    mariposaluna said 8 years ago

    Very inspiring! Love every bit of what you make and that you donate to charity.

  • mvegan5

    mvegan5 said 8 years ago

    So great!!! ;0) You might like to join us in Etsy for Charity, http://etsyforcharity.etsy.com ;) I founded and lead EFA, Etsy for Animals: Artists Helping Animals, full of Etsyians who love and help animals, 10% or more of my sales go to help the EFA charity of the month, and I donate items to charity shops and auctions as well, I resolve to continue to help the animals with my creations and through my commitment to veganism too. Kudos to all who help those in need, both human and animal!

  • midnightrabbits

    midnightrabbits said 8 years ago

    Fabulous, inspirational story. Very well written. I too donate to charities that are acceptable to my vegan life. EtsyforAnimals had a wonderful year raising funds for various animal charities through their shop, and I was pleased to be part of it.

  • dorijenn

    dorijenn said 8 years ago

    Very inspiring! Such a wonderful and selfless goal and resolution!! Way to go, Chuck!

  • customcreative

    customcreative said 8 years ago

    What a wonderful article and a great idea!!!

  • colleencyca

    colleencyca said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the fresh perspective and motivation! I also make jewellery and have suffered the same crisis of conscience. As I set up my etsy shop and expand my focus I'll find a similar way to contribute.

  • RMariaDesigns

    RMariaDesigns said 8 years ago

    Chuck, If only one out of ten etsy sellers followed your example this world would be a MUCH better place! i'm looking forward to your shop reopening so that I can help support you and your 52 new causes by ordering some of your creations to share with my friends and family. Cheers to you and yours from Charleston, South Carolina!

  • beckarahn

    beckarahn said 8 years ago

    I work for a non-profit art center by day. No matter how much of a "bargain" it is for the winner of a silent auction piece, you are right that every dollar makes a huge difference. Just an extra $25 in my budget could mean a whole group of kids from the local elementary school can come and make finger puppets or felted wool beads after school one day. Sometimes a little bit is all it takes.

  • cityzenjane

    cityzenjane said 8 years ago

    Something to consider - politically - alienation is a product of life as currently organized. Creating, and supporting yourself through creation - is an unalienated life. Supporting creative people - some recreating with items that would otherwise go into landfill assists in creating a sustainable economy...Working from home - not traveling to work (at work often meant to stimulate unsustainable meaningless consumption.. ) all contributes to a more sustainable way of life. There are many ways to look at it... defeating alienation in our daily lives, makes us less likely to engage in MINDLESS consumption... I think it's just not black and white... Nice work and great piece!

  • riskodesign

    riskodesign said 8 years ago

    I loved the article! Your experiences are a great example of how giving can be much more rewarding than receiving. Which it is in fact.

  • CancerStinks

    CancerStinks said 8 years ago

    There many things I have learned since my youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, one of the most important leasons is that it always feels better to give than to receive. Making things & giving them to people that have helped me along my journey gives me a sense of pride. And the more I give back, the more I receive, emotionally and spiritually. Bringing awareness to a cure for childhood cancer is also a bonus. Everyone needs a worthy cause to support. Your article is very inspirational.

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 8 years ago

    Just an update on the donation of my Arabella Art-Accessory Rabbit Bag Blue Star White Star. The Buckeye House Rabbit Society are now selling tickets for their Spring Raffle and she is the grand prize! Tickets cost only $1. All monies raised will help their rescued rabbits waiting for their forever homes. Please read more on my blog here - http://dragonhouseofyuen.blogspot.com/ great to see so many people giving, and considering giving!

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 8 years ago

    Direct link to Buckeye here - http://ohare.org/gifts-raffle.htm (but cute photos of Arabella and Wesley my 2 rescues on my blog!)

  • ElisabethSpace

    ElisabethSpace said 8 years ago

    Chuck, this is a beautiful, inspiring article. Thanks for the healthy, helpful reminder. :)

  • princesslotta

    princesslotta said 8 years ago

    Thankyou Chuck - a timely reminder of our social responsibilities - and an inspiration to pif in a different way. I volunteer my time but I am finding it hard with two young children and commitments that come with family life... this is another way to give back. Lotta

  • AuntTiff

    AuntTiff said 8 years ago

    That is excellent! I am very glad you wrote this article. Very inspirational. I wish you continued success, love and light in the New Year!

  • shellydaly

    shellydaly said 8 years ago

    I have often thought about this same dilemma. Thank you for articulating the challenge and offering your thoughtful solution. The NDEA anecdote just goes to show you that through giving you often get more than you give, in more ways than one.

  • WildKittens

    WildKittens said 8 years ago

    How wonderful to craft for a good cause. I'm thinking of donating some work to the National Trust for Scotland (http://www.nts.org.uk) myself this year, a not-for-profit conservation organisation, as I believe strongly in protecting and living in harmony with the world we live in.

  • Kittysartandstuff

    Kittysartandstuff said 8 years ago

    How Great!! What a wonderful way to start the new year. I also have my charity (The Carnivore Preservation Trust) but I don't think the big cats would be too excited to wear my jewelry, but now I have a challenge to find more ways to help. thank you for all you do

  • lailakitt

    lailakitt said 8 years ago

    This is an amazing idea. And it's stunningly simple, anyone could do it. And you're right, the more of us that do so, the bigger impact we could make. Now I just need to do some research and figure out how to find and get in touch with these auctions.

  • Duffydesigns

    Duffydesigns said 8 years ago

    I do a lot of giving for charities I believe in because I can't afford to give as much money as I would like. It's satisfying to do that.

  • twistedlolly

    twistedlolly said 8 years ago

    Well done Chuck! I too give to two Charities a year, as I dont get much time to create, but might raise it to 4- not a patch on 52 mind !

  • tfakler

    tfakler said 8 years ago

    You are truly an inspiration. You have helped me with your knowledge and I am thankful. You are very giving of your talent.

  • surflovepeace11

    surflovepeace11 said 8 years ago

    what a great resolution! thats very inspiring! i'm hosting an art show benefit for a three year old with leukemia In NJ in april, if you have any interest in donating for the silent auction we are having at the show please contact me! we'd love to showcase a piece of yours, we are collaborating all types and sorts of art for the show! hope your year is going well! aloha! kerry

  • birdrock

    birdrock said 8 years ago

    This is an simple idea to execute, anyone could do it. And you're right, the more of us that do so, the bigger impact we could make.

  • BLSkerk

    BLSkerk said 8 years ago

    So inspiring. I am just getting ready to embark on helping a Non-Profit by donating kits of my Miss Tiara dog and cat bracelet, back pack and purse charm or key ring designs for kids or the kid in us to make. I am busy too so a bit apprehensive. Your work of making a real jewelry item with molds and all makes what I want to help with look like a cinch! I like your charity too as I have had several family members suffer through eating disorders and well, I like my cookies too!

  • Spillbe

    Spillbe said 8 years ago

    I am not a seller on Etsy but spend most of my spare time browsing through the wonderful sites and looking at all the fantastic creations from all the different artists on here. I have purchased some items from a few different sellers and when I asked if they would be willing to donate to a charity event that I am a volunteer on they responded with a quick yes! I just wanted to say how heart warming it was to read this article and see all your positive responses! Thank you all!

  • DillaStudio

    DillaStudio said 8 years ago

    I recently got diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and found out that helping others makes me happy. I had made a few beaded jewelry sets for PTK honor society fundraiser in my college, and got a really nice response and raised more funds than I would have ever hoped for! Trying to recreate that good feeling of accomplishment, I recently donated 7 pieces to a fundraiser for a music band, and plan to make pieces to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). They saved my life, and they do amazing work. They already have someone who makes jewelry for them, but I plan to have a line of jewelry in my store that will donate a percentage of the sales to the AFSP. It's my little way of saying thank you for saving my life, and keep up the good work! while at the same time getting a good feeling all around knowing that people that are in the same pain I was at my weakest moment can and will get help.

  • Furiousdreams

    Furiousdreams said 5 years ago

    Great article and exciting jewelry. This past year several local charities found my shop via Etsy and I've been happy to donate prints to causes that I support. It's often hard for a visual artist to offer as much as you've pledged, but I applaud your goal!

  • zomcfee

    Zo from Zosloft said 5 years ago

    Thinking big is wonderful if you have the capacity to fill big orders. My wholesale business was booming ten years ago but I hit a wall with not having the money to fill bigger orders. After a couple of wholesale orders to stores like Macy's and Nordstrom's I became discouraged with the task of just filling these orders. My business up until then was largely payment on delivery to small high end boutiques. I had wonderful customers, many of whom I enjoyed as friends. With the larger department stores I was expected to meet demands of twelve dozen of the exact same thing for less money and a 90 day waiting to get paid. An order that costs $3,000 dollars in materials alone to fill and can tie up all your capital and resources for three months wasn't going to help my business. Unfortunately that's where success can head. I decided it wasn't for me. Like Chuck from DownToTheWireDesigns I've also had an issue with my political views contradicting my working in fashion. I hated being asked by my customers for a "new line" every three months, as if the world really needs this. I am glad that he has been able to find a way to make a living. Like him my field chose me. Unlike Chuck I can at least find a purposeful need for producing unique but practical and well made items. We all need clothes and good clothing that isn't the result of exploiting workers in an industry infamous for this is a task in itself to accomplish. Thinking big is fine but getting there in an ethical manner is an accomplishment that is difficult in clothing. I've compromised by thinking small and starting over with Etsy as my shop venue. I like DillaStudio said, found helping others made me happy. It helped take my mind off my own problems. It also gave me a start to getting back on my feet after losing everything for the second or third time in my life. I was orphaned at eleven and not only lost my parents but all that parents keep together when possible for a child, family, home, schools and neighborhood were all things that I repeatedly had to accept being gone as my foster parents moved to accommodate their own family's needs. I was a paycheck and little more. Being on your own at such a young age has it's advantages too. I learned to fend for myself and to go ahead and do what I needed like make my own hat when I couldn't afford any. I never set out to design clothing. I worked in a fabric store in trade for fabric at one point and was surrounded by people whose only desire was to be a successful designer. I was accomplishing just that without even trying while they were trying so hard and getting nowhere. I found that there were some good reasons for my success. 1. I was designing a "wearable" article. So much fashion is literally unwearable. While we may love a designer like Issey Miyake and his wonderful use of pleats or adore the fashion illustrations of Erte wearing some of these designs let alone owning and caring for such is impractical at best. Have you ever tried to iron a pleated skirt on your own?! So many of the designers I've met make just this, clothes that simply are not to be worn except perhaps as a performance art piece. 2. Since I made my first 1,000 hats by hand, literally sewing each hat with a needle and thread, cutting each one, one at a time because all I could afford to start with was fabric for one hat, I wanted to continue to make things on a small level. I prefer a machine any day over a needle and thread but knowing that at least I was working my way out of homelessness and poverty while standing in line for food stamps gave me a sense of well-being despite the humiliation of having to ask for help on such a basic level. I've learned since in business that it is better to fill what orders you have and do so competently and in a timely manner than to not be able to meet any order. There is nothing that will kill consumer confidence in your store faster than not being able to deliver. So thinking small is not bad at all and a good start for many. 3. Take what life throws at you and love it. I would never have thought to design my own hats or clothes but "necessity is the mother of invention". I like that necessity is perceived as a woman in this truism as women do make ends meet so often with not enough. I could not buy the most basic clothing but I could find it in what others throw out. In fact if it wasn't for having to wear another persons cast off belongings I don't think I would have ever receive the compliments that are part of my daily life. A pair of men's XXL drawstring pants someone paid $150 for at the Gap only to never wear ended up being the item of the year for me. By pulling in the drawstrings to an absurd degree I suddenly had a pair of what I call my parachute pants. I could never produce them for a reasonable cost. I don't even worry about size or section if and when I go into a store, I have everything in my closet from a little girl's size 6 to a man's XXXL becuase I have had to use what I find. I also would never have attempted to make my first hat. When I fell in love with a hat that was priced for $179 at a high end department store I made one instead. The first hat I sold was also the first hat I made and it sold right off the top of my head on a San Francisco bus while I was busy sewing another. Go with it, even if you feel too busy to you can find time on the bus on your way to work to pursue what may seem a dream only to find dreams come true. 4. I have no budget for search ads or anything at the moment. I recently had surgery on my neck and couldn't even write my name afterwards let alone hold a pen. I have had to start again, again. This is life at it's best for most in the world. I decided that giving away a few hat's might get my stuff out there and it did. I got my first Etsy order from a woman in New Jersey, (thank you) days after a woman in Connecticut won my first freebie on a sight that does just that. How much better can it get?I'm also looking to donate more of my hats to fundraising events for some of the local public schools. It's also a way for me to give something back to some who have helped me when I needed help. 5. Don't hesitate to try to make a request, you might be onto your next great item. My son asked me to make a "headpiece", I guess you'd call it for a club he liked to go to dance at once a week. I have so little to give him financially. It made me so happy to have him ask for something only I could do and I did. Each of us has a unique way of looking at things and of making things. Things are slow still but I'm using this time to work on my store, get models for photo's and put together my packaging and labeling. Like my hats, right now I'm making my labels one at a time. having to learn to write again drawing has been therapy. I haven't decided on a particular design yet for a label and what I had hoped to use as my shop name was not what I expected so I'm having to work with what I got, which I would say is number 6 on my list of why i will succeed. Having done so before makes it easier to do so once more. Don't get discouraged by life's set backs. These are the very circumstances that may lead to the inspiration for what's to come next. Zo from zosloft.

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