I was born into a family that embraced the handmade lifestyle. My dad has been a builder for over 35 years, I grew up in a home that my mom and dad built together from the ground up. Looking around the house I knew that every wall, every door, every special detail was installed and crafted with attention to detail and love. My parents took time, researching and carefully thinking out every element of the house. They knew it was the home that they would raise their children in and one day welcome grandchildren to.
My mom, who stayed at home to raise us, is a woman who oozes creativity. I’m sure that subconsciously the reason I named my blog Sew Creative is because I grew up regularly hearing people say to my mom “You are so creative!” After spending an hour or two with my mom you know that she has some serious strength in the right side of her brain. She sews, creates art, cooks, bakes, creates stories and is musically gifted. You can see how creative she is when she plays with her grandchildren. The imaginary worlds she creates are fabulous. If I only had half of her creativity.
Every Christmas we have always given and received gifts that are a mix of handmade and store bought. When someone hand makes an item you know that it is made with attention to detail and care. Someone has taken time away from family, friends and loved ones to make that item and hopefully it’s because they are passionate about what they do.
I recently discovered Rickshaw Bagworks, a San Francisco-based bag company. Inspired by the creative energy of the city, urban cycling and an intense desire to make great products, Rickshaw was brought to life because the owner and staff are passionate about creating great bags. Perfect for the urban commuter, many Rickshaw bags are customizable so you can express your personality through the color and fabric of your bag. Rickshaw also uses revolutionary fabric made out of recycled beverage bottles for many of their products.
I watched a video about the company and was inspired by their excitement over the products that they are creating, the attention that they spend on detail and design and how hands on and passionate the staff are. I also love that they have no barrier between the factory and the front door and encourage their customers to come in, take a tour and witness bags being made. That proves to me that Rickshaw is proud of the product they are creating and have nothing to hide.
I have a great respect for companies that make their products in North American and employ people in their local economy to work for them. I’ve watched enough episodes of Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den to to know that that when companies keep production local it’s because they want to do something good for their local economy since production can almost always be done less expensively overseas. Creating your product in North America also lessens the products environmental footprint which is something that I love to support.
Having created and sold my own handmade products for years on Etsy I feel a deep connection to companies that fit within the urban crafter and maker movement. It feels good to make and sell something that you are passionate about. Just watch the passion that these Rickshaw employees convey.
Mark Dwight the founder of Rickshaw Bagworks wrote an article for Inc. about how he was inspired to create a sustainable design while attending a TED Conference in 2005. In one of my favorite paragraphs from the article he wrote:
Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Once you embrace the fact that sustainable business practices save money, simplify operations, and build brand equity, you will continually seek new ways to embrace them. At the same time, you will be making things better for the environment and for future generations. After all, sustainable business is just good business.
If more businesses could realize this and follow these practices I believe that the world would be a better place.
I encourage all of you all to hunt down these rare businesses that are making a difference in the cities, states and countries that we live in and support them.
Tell me… what are some of your favorite North American companies that you love to support? Do you consider yourself a member of the handmade movement?