I've been doing a lot of thinking about why handmade jewellery is so special. There are many reasons (some listed below), but the one that resonates most with me is the thought that every mark, every detail, every curve of my designs was created by human hands. Hands belonging to an artist with dreams, love and gratitude for the opportunity to be creating that piece for you. And hands that, through every piece they create, transfer that unique beauty, from the artist to wearer. And so they are hands that create a connection. A connection to a story far bigger than the creation you hold in your hands. Connection - what a thing in the time we find ourselves in as a Global citizenry! And here, on our little island of the United Kingdom, with the recent news of our second national lockdown, we realise that human connections are more complicated and restricted than ever before in living memory...There has never been a better time to support Handmade.
Here are my top 5 reasons to support small businesses and to buy handmade this festive season
1) Get exactly what you want! - Most handmade businesses offer bespoke services which means you can get exactly what you want! And there is simply nothing more special than a personalised gift. At Anne-Michelle Jewellery, all my pieces are individually handcrafted and fully customisable. I also offer a bespoke design service: if you can dream it, I can bring it to life!
2) Buying handmade is good for the environment - Most handmade products are manufactured in small-scale, craft studios or homes and don't require any industrial processes or large-scale production facilities. They also allow for artists and artisans to have more control over their supply chain and production and thus to make more responsible, sustainable and socially aware choices in relation to where they source their materials and how they treat the hands who help make their creations: responsible labour practices and environmental sustainability throughout the supply chain is a duty that we must acknowledge and do our part to help achieve: we are one set of hands, but together, once connected, we can make a difference!
3) Support your local economy – when you buy, handmade, sustainable, local produce from your local artists and artisans you promote the health of your local economy. The more money they make, they more money they can spend locally and boost other parts of the local economy. It is a win-win scenario and results in richness for the local economy; a richness that occurs both through the sharing of wealth, and through the sharing of ideas and skills.
4) Connect - build meaningful relationships with the artists, designers and craftspeople who make the items you are spending your hard-earned money on. Get to know the faces and the stories behind the brands you support. In Africa, there is an isiXhosa idiom (the home language and mother tongue of Nelson Mandela) most people know by the short form “uBuntu”(I am, because you are). The full idiom is “umntu ngumntu ngabantu” it means: people are people through other people. John Donne expressed a similar sentiment when he wrote: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” However you wish to think of it, we are a social animal and we thrive on our connections to others. Connect now, even while practising social distancing: Ubuntu! I am because you are!
5) Feel good about your purchase - I have spent over 17 years nurturing and growing my business in line with my own ethics. I pride myself in knowing my supply chain, and making every effort keep my business practices ethical and sustainable at all times. When you buy an Anne-Michelle creation, you can be sure that you are supporting a small business with heart at its core.
My Christmas wish is that we as consumers recognise the power that we hold in our hands with every purchase we make and that, in recognising this power, we become conscious consumers. I hope this little thought-piece finds a connection to your heart, and, in so doing, helps to build the connections with others as you shop handmade this Christmas with Anne-Michelle Jewellery and other handmade artisans and artists. Give with heart this festive season - buy handmade.