24.1.13


I had someone leave a feedback on the etsy shop that I felt was a bit weird so I thought I would use my blog as an opportunity to make a few things clear and hopefully it will help customers and other makers.

I hope that those out there who buy handmade - buy it for a reason, they buy it because they are helping a small business, they appreciate the time and energy that went into the items they buy, rather than buying mass produced work.

I have had comments about the fact that our prices for our work is either too low or too high (there are items we make that I havn't raised the prices for 10 years) 
for those who think it's too high, or more recently who just think a bag is solely a few dollars of material should understand that when you buy a piece from us you can't judge it by just how much materials cost - there's more than just the materials that is factored into the price. the fabric I use I screen print on, I don't buy it already with the image on it.  either my mom or I will sew it up and if it's a bag most of the leather for the day bags or the waxed totes get their edges dyed and waxed, each strip is cut from a larger hide, we don't buy the straps pre-cut.  once the straps are attached I print out your shipping labels and than the item gets packaged, there's also cost factored in to the price of the bag - the envelope, the paper that wraps up the work, the stickers the business cards etc. as well as the time factored into packaging the orders and getting it to the post office - before an item gets on the shelves, there's planning and designing, drawing of images and doing prototypes to get the right proportions and shapes and there's photographing of the bag and time spent on photoshop and getting it posted online.  the price of the bag is not just the material it's all the above.

if you think the price may seem a bit too low, we made a conscious decision to not do wholesale because we wanted our wonderful customers to benefit.  when I decided long a go to spend more time on production and less time on my art work I wanted to make interesting designed goods for people to afford and enjoy, I didn't want to make it precious and unattainable.

we work tireless hours (my mom sometimes comes in on the weekends) all because we love what we do and we are dedicated to our customers, I am answering emails 7 days a week and sometimes till the wee hours of the night, those of you who email know that.  when you order an item I email you to tell you thank you and that I got it and when it goes out I send you an email too.  I answer your emails when your item is lost, I do everything I can to make you happy -  its disapointing  to have someone disregard all the effort.  all that I said above is why people buy handmade, because there's a real person behind the screen who truly cares about your business and appreciates your support.

73 comments:

  1. Well said. Just remember no matter how hard you work and nice you are you will always have people who are ignorant or jealous or have other reasons to post weird comments. It seems just a human thing. Unfortunate. Bottom line, look at the overwhelming positive comments you get. You are doing everything extremely well. Love your designs.

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  2. well said, Arouna ... it is disappointing when people can't understand or appreciate what's involved in producing quality handmade items.
    keep up the great work :)

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  3. Dear Bookhou at Home,

    I think your products are great, your prices are reasonable and your blog and shop are an inspiration for a lot of people. I am now following you for a couple of years and your blog and products are inspiring!
    I am now starting up my own business (stationary) and one day I hope my business looks like yours!

    So I just want to say ... don't mind those people ... after all they don't have to buy your products if they think it is too expensive... luckely all those other people think otherwise :)

    Prien

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  4. Hi Arounna,

    I do think some people don't quite 'get it' with handmade. Your work is consistently beautiful, of an exceptionally high standard, unique, and very fairly priced. And I must mention your awesome customer service. It's the best.

    Don't take that feedback to heart.

    Diana x

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  5. Oh my, are there really people out there that don't understand the effort and love you put in your work? Unbelievable! Keep up your lovely work and keep your head up high, your work is beautiful, delicate and pure! And worth every dollar!

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  6. Beautifully and very graciously said! Too often 'handmade' is undervalued. In my opinion, 'handmade' means unique, lovingly made and should command a premium, not a discount.

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  7. I appreciate well-thought and handmade items. Thank you for writing and sharing this with your readers. If anyone has a problem with pricing, they aren't obliged to purchase anything, anyway.

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  8. It's such a shame that there are people out there who really have not thought through the process - in my experience most people buying handmade do get the fact that a lot is involved and that designers/makers actually make extremely small margins on their lovingly crafted goods. Good for you for having your say about it.

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  9. Thanks for you words, you speak right out of my heart. I love your blog and work and have it as an aim for my future to have such a consistent style in my work to.
    Most of the time I think I sell my things much to cheap, because after all the things you mentioned, not all my hours of work are really concluded in the prices, so I really need the appreciation of it, to let me go on.
    Greetings from Germany Martina

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  10. first off I think that it is a small miracle how you and your beautiful helpers turn pieces of natural material, linen, hemp, cotton, leather, metal, ink, thread..... in a process that is wonderful to behold into objects that are desirable, gorgeous and useful. I think that anyone who doesn't appreciate that just well hasn't seen the light. I don't know if you are aware of Alan Watts, philospher who wrote about spiritual materialism. He wrote that true appreciation for the tactile beauty and form of high-quality material objects, of handmade things, is very different from the materialism of acquiring things but not really valuing them. These things according to him are of little or on true value.
    The bookhou items that I use everyday in my home, office and that I carry with me everyday make me happy and that is worth so much to me.

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  11. Hi Arounna,

    Good thing that you wrote this post!
    I just started my own little webshop and I struggle with the pricing.
    But it is so true that lots of people do'nt realize all the work there is done before an item is 'finished'.


    Anne-Marie
    littleredhome.blogspot.com

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  12. this is a wonderful post. simple and to the point. i completely agree that it is a shame some people disregard our efforts. i've even had a retailer suggest i outsource so i can make in bulk and lower the prices.
    i have yet to add one of your pieces to my wardrobe. but one day i will make room in my budget to do so. you will never hear me complain about your prices as your work is so unique and exquisite. it is worth saving up for.

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  13. Arrouna~
    now that you have taken the time to blog
    and express yourself,
    i hope that this "weird" comment
    will be discarded from your thoughts.
    thank you for taking the time to write and educate.
    the quality of your work is apparent.
    the materials are lovely.
    your designs are one of a kind.
    thank you for being a woman of integrity and industry.

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  14. Arounna, good on you for disclosing all of this. There is just so much involved in producing unique and independent products and design. Don't despair with the bad comments or feedback, or those who are blatantly copying your work. Keep making and producing ...you will stand above the rest. I have been copied and criticised too many times and this is why I have changed my path. But I really admire your stance and confidence.

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  15. Wow, how has no one else commented yet? Anyway I will, I am lol! It's a shame that you had to explain but there you go! I'm a maker and going through similar things. I admire and are inspired by your work, thanks for sharing :)
    Pippa

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  16. Hi there,

    I first want to say that I love your work and I am one of those who think hand made items are worth investing in.
    I help to run a small business in that designs and creates the most beautiful 100% hand made furniture. Next month our shop is closing down because there are not enough people who are willing to pay for our wonderful products. Over the years it broke my heart when people would scoff at the prices, not understanding everything that goes into running a small business, and producing goods by hand. I completely understand and relate to your statement, and I want people to know that IT IS worth investing in hand made!!
    The way I see it, buying hand made means investing in something so beautiful-a community, a quality product, people who work hard everyday to bring beauty into the world!
    Keep on truckin' girl, you do amazing work and there are many people who understand and appreciate it!!

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  17. I am thrilled with the bag I purchased from you and all of the little personal touches in the labelling, wrapping, packaging and so on made a BIG difference. It was more than I hoped for. So thank you Arounna! Be encouraged!

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  18. Everything you guys make is a work of art and therefore underpriced. I was at our two-story Container Store a few months ago and couldn't find anything as beautiful as your storage boxes. The closest items in terms of size were USD $40-$50 and mass-produced. My daughter agrees that they don't hold a candle to your storage boxes…and you know how brutally honest kids are. Your nest pillow gets plenty of use (bordering on abuse sometimes since my son can be a little rough on things) and still looks like new.

    It is an honor to have your handmade treasures in our home.

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  19. Thank you for this post. I buy handmade for all the reasons you stated. I have also bought your items 3 times in the past (2 calendars and a clutch) and was amazed by the beautiful pieces that I received in the mail. The emails you sent before and during the process of the delivery reassured me as a client, because it made me feel like I was important. Thank you!

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  20. well said and worth sharing. not everyone will "get" the value of handmade goods and that's OK. the people who get it, REALLY get it!

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  21. I guess if someone does not want to buy handmade he/she shouldn't visit etsy or your shop or other small businesses of handmade. They should buy from big stores which either have them cheap because they import from countries that support cheap labour, even child labour and exploitation or they should buy from big stores that have their items over priced even when they are machine made.AriadnefromGreece!

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  22. well said and worth sharing. not everyone "gets" the value of handmade goods and art and that's OK. the people who get it REALLY get it!

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  23. Firstly, I am sorry that this has happened to you.
    I think the glut, the absolute overload, of factory-made, poorly made, but CHEAP stuff that is available has totally numbed some people.
    Keep up the great work!

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  24. My husband has an Etsy shop as well, and I know how disheartening it can be when you run into a thoughtless/grasping person. I also know how hard it is to let the negative go when you work so hard, but remember there thousands of appreciative people for every one cranky person looking for scapegoat. Take heart! You are following your bliss and it shows and we love the work you do!

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  25. You put a great deal into your art. I find It is so worth it - each piece brings me pleasure. It is that much more enjoyable having indie made in the house. I find I just keep coming back for more and more. It is a lifestyle. By supporting our indies, we may just be on the brink of starting something really good for the next generation. Thank you for providing the hand-made beautiful products you do. And, I now once your new studio space is up, there will be even more. Keep it coming Arounna. Your supporters are with you and here to stay.

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  26. Wonderful necessary words, Arounna. Some have no idea the work involved in each item. I also love your explanation of why you try to keep your products priced affordably. Great post.

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  27. I find your work extremely beautiful and prices more than reasonable.

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  28. Sigh. People who don't do "handmade" just don't get it. Mittens at Walmart for $1.99? The skein of yarn I last used to knit mittens itself cost about $15.00. Never mind my hours of work. I am soon to retire and am toying with the idea of opening an etsy shop to sell hooked rugs, knitted items and hand woven baskets, but the price factor holds me back. At least in my case I would be getting "extra" money, not trying to make an honest living as you are. Thanks for the thought post. I'm going to save it in case I do open that shop so I can point my first "your prices are too high" customer to it.

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  29. Beautifully said, Arounna. I think the majority of your customers understand. Many of them are creative people. But it's good to explain to those who don't.

    I loved seeing Geninne's recent video of you screen printing. It really gave a sense of that part of the process. Someday, you should do a video of the 'life' of one of your products from conception to completion (sped up). It would be interesting to watch and educational for many I'm sure. There is so much 'you' in everything you make. We are lucky. xx

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  30. arounna,

    thank you for this post. you have put as much detail into this post as you do in every product you make and i can attest to that time and time again,

    appreciatively,
    melissa

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  31. Hard to add anything to what you've written here, Arounna. You said it all. You've inspired me to express my own thoughts on my blog today. What you've said has been resonnating online today, lots of makers of things think the same. Thanks for bringing it to the light, even though after such a weird feedback on Etsy.
    xoxo

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  32. Arounna, I can only imagine how disheartening it is to receive negative feedback when you put so much into your shop. I have enjoyed the items I have bought from your shop because they are unique and beautiful, and I appreciate the work and artistry that has gone into them. Thank you for making your items attainable. When I visited your shop last spring and spoke with you, I left so inspired. Thank you!
    ~Heather @ RestlessOasis.blogspot.com

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  33. It is so unfortunate that you had to write this post, but I'm glad you did. :) Some people don't understand that being an artist and creating something from nothing takes work. Yes, it is WORK. As an artist, I love what I do, but it is a FULL TIME job. Not only are we creating our work (Time and effort are involved as well as the costs of materials...) what about the promoting, the social media, the advertising..It all adds up. I think more and more people are realizing that handmade is wonderful and appreciate the fact that blood, sweat and tears are involved ;) but for those who don't, maybe your blog will help shed some light on the matter!

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  34. Everything I've bought from you, Arounna, has been so beautiful and meticulously made and such thought and care has obviously gone in to every detail, including the packaging! I got a package of seconds tea towels from your shop the other day and I didn't know what to do with the packaging because it was so beautiful and I wanted to keep it intact! But I'd already excitedly ripped it open :)

    All to say that your repeat customers and admirers of your work so appreciate all that you do. I'm sorry that some people don't understand what 'handmade' really means.

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  35. Please know how valued your craftsmanship, art and dedication are and how lucky I, for one, feel for being able to interact with a seller who makes such quality goods that I desire to buy. There is no question about the amount of research you have put in on sourcing your materials and setting your prices. I bought that wonderful small triangle day bag for my daughter who is rarely separated from it and took it to college with her in southern Ohio. I envision helping to spread your work to the far corners so that others are aware of what you have to offer. The little peeks you give us into your daily life of production and your thoughts on how to balance it all are truly inspiring. Please keep doing what you are doing!

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  36. I just popped over from Ressurection Fern..I just want you to know that I buy handmade for JUST the reasons you outline here..I imagine the time that each piece of work requires to have the beautiful end result. I admire your strength and your fortitude in continuing to do what you love despite the obvious difficulties that it poses. Your work is AMAZING..I really dont know how you can put a dollar amount into art that is so lovingly created....I will ALWAYS support artists like you..Stay strong!

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  37. This is a great post. I agree wholly. Not only do I sell on Etsy, but I am a full time professional seamstress who gets the "stink eye" weekly from clients who don't think that their incredibly time-intensive projects should be priced as they are (p.s. my rates are super affordable). I'd love to share this post on my blog if that is okay with you, for the benefit of others who are in the same situation.

    Thanks,

    Margaret

    Senjivastudio.com

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  38. I've had some of these comments on my embroidery work too, at fairs. People whisper (mostly in front of me) to each other how awefully expensive it is. And then they go buy a badly made, cheap purse.

    I'm just so happy to read this blogpost and I absolutely agree! Thank you.

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  39. Great post!

    Your bags are beautiful!

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  40. I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the handcrafted and beautiful quality of all you make.

    You're artisans - and it's so obvious that every thing you craft is made with care, love and respect for your customers.

    Don't listen to the naysayers- read all the great comments instead!



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  41. For every one person who doesn't quite "get it" (and feels the need to comment), know that there are so many more of us who deeply appreciate what you do, on many different levels. You are a great role model for many.

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  42. Unfortunately, most people don't really understand all the time and effort that goes into a small business. Some people only comment negative things, which in my experience are about things that are out of my control. As an etsy shop owner, I have encountered this as well. I have decided to make my life a "no negativity zone" and ignore such comments, and offer no response. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I just feel that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Unfortunately our society encourages people to voice their every thought.

    You make beautiful items, while raising happy and creative children, and maintaining great relationships with your family. We should all be so successful. Don't let the occasional comment take away from what you know to be true.

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  43. The comment was insensitive and weird, indeed.
    Materials aren't everything in handmade, they're just a springboard for creativity and craftsmanship and only a small part of the finished objects, and designing and making are so much more than a mere "handmade touch".
    Your products seem very fairly priced to me, especially keeping in mind international p&p costs, as well as the packaging and customer service you provide; they are very well made, with quality materials, and a joy to look at and to use. I cherish everything I have bought from you, and look forward to continuing to witness the success of Bookhou.

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  44. Thanks for posting this. You are completely right. I love everything I've bought from you and I know it's made with care and love and time. You are an artist. :)

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  45. Brilliantly written. I found your story via the lovely Jan @ Poppytalk -- she has always been a huge supporter of artisans. Thank you both for shedding light on the value of craftsmanship. Cheers!

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  46. I love the comment Margie made re materialism. As I read your post I imagined that a person who might consider your very fairly priced pieces "expensive" most probably enjoys spending weekends in shopping malls.

    Also, I think your list of what goes into producing your products might be conservative, you also have the long process involved in sourcing and purchasing quality raw materials - very time consuming.

    I hope you can continue to stay small yet I wish you big rewards, you and your family deserve it. x

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  47. Well said, I recently had a similar situation in which a friend requested a custom ring and when it came time to pay the agreed to cost, she stated she only "expected" to pay what amounted to the cost of the material, not for the time and effort I put into measuring, cutting, soldering, forming, sizing and hand finishing the ring and not to mention communicating with her about her custom made jewelry. It's really sad to know that there are those out there who refer to a piece of handmade art as noting more than the materials it's made of. Thank you for wonderfully pointing out that it's so much more than that.

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  48. The person who made the weird comment? Definitely not an "it-getter"!

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  49. Here via Poppytalk - I wasn't familiar with your shop before.

    I just took a look at your bags and they are BEAUTIFUL! And, I think, extremely fairly priced :)

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  50. Well said! I think sometimes people, perhaps those who don't create things themselves, have a tendency to underrate the time and energy that goes into creating. In todays disposable fashion world I think handmade is so so important.

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  51. Pricing handmade objects is always such a tricky issue... I think it's difficult for people who don't make things to truly appreciate all the work and care that can go into the beautiful work that you do. We've been accustomed to getting things for cheap for so long. But happily many people are starting to understand the bigger costs (environmental/human rights/loss of craftsmanship) of all those inexpensive, disposable goods and choosing to support artists/artisans instead.

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    Replies
    1. Very well put, Nicole ! Totally agreeing with you, and all commenters here today. ox

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  52. Dear Arounna,

    I enjoy and appreciate the two bags I have purchased from you.

    What a sad world if we do not hold in esteem our craftspeople.

    I linked to this post from my own blog because I think it is important for makers and purchasers to read.

    Thank you and much abundance to you and your family.

    Maribeth

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  53. Some people just think everything is easy and automatic, and that we, as makers, must have a tiny factory that churns products out. Isn't that how Target does it?
    I hope that those people read your well-written post and get a little bit of a better insight into what actually goes into a handmade product. Thanks for posting.

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  54. Dear, sweet Arounna - I am so sad that someone chose to denigrate your exquisite craftsmanship. I, too, have experienced, more than once the same kind of thing. It is unfortunate that in this time of our history "handmade" has more than one meaning. One points toward the Human behind the object, and all that this work entails. The other points to the "loving hands at home" (derogatory) items which, though often lovingly made, lack the true craftsmanship that one sees in each and every aspect of your pieces. Those that sell their pieces too cheaply also create a problem, in that they don't value themselves or the work they do, and all that is truly contained in that work, and allow the public to devalue them and their work, as well.
    I remember reading a comment not too long ago on Geninne's blog about high pricing when she featured her lovely bracelets. The truth was born forth when a later check of her Big Cartel shop showed that each and every piece had been snapped up in record time!
    I love all the pieces I have purchased from you, and am actually in the process of deciding which of two pieces for which I long I am going to purchase next! Know that the naysayers have no real power, unless you give it to them. And your gifts are too precious to be given to anyone who doesn't "get it".
    The saying "Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter" applies here a thousand and more fold.
    xoxo

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  55. Beautifully said. I have a small shop/studio where I create and sell my jewelry. Each piece is created by hand, sanded and polished. I also create fine arts and prints that I press manually old school. I'm so incredibly pleased when someone stops in and is so receptive and "gets it". I couldn't care less if they purchase – I just love the fact that they appreciate my efforts. Then there are those who pop in and obviously equate handmade with less expensive – and unfortunately that's their biggest priority. Their loss, right? Your work is gorgeous! I'm so happy I found your blog through Poppytalk. I'll be checking in often. Thanks.

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  56. I bought two bags from you. One for me and another for my best friend. While these are purchases, I truly see them as gifts. I refer to them as the bag you made for us.

    I think your prices are fair. I appreciate now knowing that you made a decision not to do wholesale to keep cost low. I never thought of that before so I appreciate the education.

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  57. Beautifully and very graciously said!

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  58. SO perfectly said!!! YAY for handmade and the people who do it!

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  59. Arounna, thank you for saying this so well! You guys are great.

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  60. Arounna and John,

    look at all the comments here and know your work is truly appreciated and loved by so many people all over the world. We choose to buy your products out of all the other choices out there in the marketplace precisely because they are handmade. We can see your hand in the work - your artwork in the designs, and your craftmanship in the construction of your products.
    We can't see the long, long hours you work on all aspects of your business, your sweat and grind, but we can well understand and appreciate that it exists because you are a successful small business and that doesn't just happen without those things.

    Thank-you for your dedication to your work, for sharing your creative talents and putting them into products that we can use in our homes and receive much pleasure and practical use from. Your work inspires, as does the way you live your lives totally immersed in family and the creative world. That truly is your gift to us.
    My very best to you both. XX

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  61. Arounna, I just read your post and wanted to comment on the lovely apron I received last week, and to comment on how beautiful it is and how much I appreciate the packaging and the little note enclosed. Everything I have ordered from your shop has been wonderfully received into my home. I make and sell a few things myself, and really appreciate when I order something from someone else and it is beyond wonderful! I wish you continued success in both your family and your creative business life, and look forward to treating myself to many more of your products.
    Beth

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  62. Well said. I think every once in a while, folks need a little reminder of what they are buying and why. Buying handmade is a choice, having something special is a luxury. Complaining when the cost of your water bill goes up, sure. But there is a choice between paying a fair price for something very well handmade and paying an unethically low price for something that is mass-manufactured overseas by whom exactly you could never know. No one needs 10 purses, but we've been made to think we do. Insofar that we have forgotten the value of saving to purchase something or forgoing one thing to afford another. I make somewhere near $15k a year (yes, you read correctly). I make the choice to purchase things secondhand. I buy food items in bulk and pack my lunch for work. I ride my bike and walk places. When I want to buy something new, I usually buy handmade and I save for it, a few bucks at a time. So when people complain about the cost of handmade... I think to myself, you fool, you can afford it, you just don't want to because you've forgotten why you were buying handmade in the first place.

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  63. All of your work is more than worthy, as well as lovely. We miss having your work in the shop all the time because of the integrity you put in to it, and because it is a functional piece of artwork that also has a lovely story behind it.

    Where is the lovely story behind exploited labor, toxic substances, animal abuse, and landfill cheap?

    I find it a bit shocking that more folks do not realize the hidden costs of some of the goods they purchase. Cheap is, well, cheap. But that all comes at a great expense to someone. More is not better. Better quality is better. And, with that the knowledge about how it is made, what it is made from, and who made it.

    You will never convince everyone, but look how many here are :)

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  64. As a handmade seller myself I really hope that you don't listen to the minority who don't get it, but rather to the rest of us who do, who love your work and see and appreciate all the steps involved :-)
    I remember when I ordered from Bookhou being really impressed with the care and quality of the parcel I received - and emailling to say just that! Susie

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  65. I think that there will always be a portion of people who can't see the beauty in a wonderful thing, and what you are doing IS a wonderful thing. I am a student and at this point in my life I don't have a lot of extra spending money, and I love that I can afford your products (they are still a splurge for me). I have been using the same bag nearly daily for over a year and it is just beginning to show wear. A seriously good value for around $70. Thank you for everything you do, don't let the haters get you down.

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