By Terri Alpert, founder and CEO of Uno Alla Volta
Millennials, the largest generation in history, represent 92 million U.S. consumers in their spending prime. They, along with the rest of the country, have moved to purchasing handmade and handcrafted goods. According to Rangeme.com, this tech savvy group is not only socially conscious, they value handmade and locally produced goods that share a history and a heritage. It’s not just about the quality of the good, but the story behind it. They’re inspired by people and the human connection, and they want to see ethical transparency in the products they buy.
Crafted items transcend trendiness, disposability, and empty consumerism. It is a larger concept than commerce itself, as it connects economics to art, culture, tradition, and personal history.
Here are 5 very good reasons why people are returning to the value of artisan products:
The types of artisans we work with at Uno Alla Volta, such as my friends Weronika and Jacek in their buzzing stoneware workshop in Poland, often have degrees in their chosen craft or have undergone long apprenticeships with master craftsmen, possessing years of experience in their chosen field before factoring in the time it takes to create each individual product. All of this experience leads to very high quality products that often become family heirlooms, passed down through the generations. Voting with your dollar and choosing to buy from these passionate entrepreneurs makes a political statement of the value of artisanship and fair labor.
The high quality of craftsmanship is a value proposition in itself. Many artisanal items are surprisingly affordable when compared to mass manufactured goods and their durability means that they will often last far longer. Educated shoppers appreciate the value of handcrafted pieces, the very high degree of skill and training behind each artisan, and encourage consumers to see the person, the quality and the value of uniqueness and durability behind the small difference in price tag. What we appreciate, we value. What we value, we care for and nurture.
Each artisan product is unique. There is nothing exactly like it anywhere else on the planet. Further, buying artisanal products brings the experience of learning an item or craftsman’s story behind the product, where or how it was produced, the history, maybe even the mythology behind a piece that can be shared with family and friends. A true craftsman’s work reflects what goes on in their heart, their head, and their life itself. Through this practice, the return of our souls through collective return to older techniques of creativity, the way in which we as humanity view the past, present, and future of our shared human consciousness will be wholly altered. The journey of a hand-made artisanal product becomes part of your unique journey in life.
Handmade goods have cultural significance in almost every subculture and socio-economic class worldwide. While the upper echelon may delight in the exclusivity of an object, crafting culture permeates the trendy shops of modern-day, millennial Brooklyn, and led the grassroots, ultra-feminist Riot Grrrl movement of the early 1990s. From punk musicians to polished socialites, an appreciation for handcrafted, one-of-a-kind wares is a common thread that connects us to our humanity. This work reminds us that our fingers can do so much more than just operate machines. Many handcrafted items prove the unique creative nature of humanity that is beyond the capability of an automated manufacturing system. It connects us to our cultures, our ancestors, our neighbors, and even strangers from faraway places, just through placing a single object between our palms. There is a chasm of experience and appreciation between “Made in Taiwan” and “Made by Ty and Juan.” We are connected to the artist, and by extension to greater humanity itself.
5. Greater Savings.
In our cold digital culture of missed connections where everything in life is devalued, cheap and replaceable, mechanized products are by their very nature unconnected and disposable, which has an impact on our wallets, on our quality of life and on our planet. Quality handcrafted items are durable heirlooms that need on be purchased once, and appreciated for years. As a connected and cherished part of our lives, artisanal products stay with us longer, thereby using fewer natural resources and not being cast away and wasted. Being a steward of an artisan’s work not only passes connection and beauty from one generation to the next, it is also being a steward for the planet for generations to come.
Terri Alpert is a serial entrepreneur and consumer marketer, with a strong technical bent. She has created two direct-to-consumer companies from the ground up, developing the proprietary technology which runs the businesses as she developed the business models. The founder and CEO of Uno Alla Volta launched her own online business to bring treasures handcrafted one at a time (the meaning of the brand) to her customers.