Living Graciously, Artfully, Frugally.

Consciously taking notice of the gifts each day places in our path.

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” R. W. Emerson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Buying American and Affording It?

This one had me hesitating to hit publish...
here goes...
My dear blog friends,
I am coming to you today with
a dilemma, wrapped in a quandary and mired in difficulty.
Making a living and buying American.
The movement to buy American is a wonderful and noble movement.
I try to join in whenever it is possible.
I want to purchase handmade and homegrown,
create things from recycled or vintage items.
It all sounds so perfect.
Taking a deep breath here...
I am not revealing this for sympathy, just stating facts, 
because you all have saved my sanity in so many ways over the past several years.

Yes, please, buy American, buy local, buy handmade whenever possible.
there is a little roadblock in this way of life at Frippery Farmhouse.
Being one of the "new poor" for the past several years, 
(or nouveau pauvre if I want it to sound bit prettier) 
 selling handmade and vintage at a price that covers my costs and
 also gives me a bit of profit just is not working.

We have been living below the poverty line, income wise, since my hubs was downsized 3 years ago.
(The week my daughter graduated from high school and 
 our oldest finished his sophomore year in college.)
I have tried taking up the slack by finding traditional work
 but I can't even get a part time Christmas job at Hobby Lobby!
No one seems to want to hire women over 50 
when there are so many young people desperate for a job as well.
I have cobbled together a business doing events and craft shows and vintage fairs 
as well as one big temp job each spring.
Not looking for pity...
We are one of many who thought retirement was just around the corner when the rug was pulled out 
and our lifestyle came crashing down.
We were never really wealthy but enjoyed a quite comfortable middle class life.
Each little purchase did not have to be agonized over.
Things have changed.
My husband has given up looking for any job after applying daily to multitudes of positions. 
In the end he chose to start his own business.
 He has utilized his years of experience.
That apparently doesn't count for much today to employers.
Again, the age thing.
He is one of many long term unemployed men who have given up 
on the type of traditional job they held for 30+ years.
We are poorer but I think in many ways happier.
His business actually helps others remain in business and 
save money while reducing their carbon footprint.
He feels good about it.

That said, he is seeing some success in the form of a bit of income
from his new business that may allow us to keep Frippery Farmhouse.
Almost afraid to say that out loud for superstitious reasons.
Really that is all we have been striving for through this.
It just takes time to start all over again.
We could sell the house and call it quits but first we would need to do some updating,
 which again, is not in the budget.
We carry on, inspired by all of your fabulous make overs and do it yourself projects.
Bloggers have saved me.
Many times the urge to rant and rage or just go to bed and let it all fall down around us
has come over me.
But no.
I plow on.
If you can do it so can I

Which is why I want your opinion on the original topic.
I have crafted and thrifted my way to a small success in my little business.
However, it isn't enough.
I used to do this for fun, now I am doing it to live.
It seems everyone else is feeling the pinch as well.
I cannot sell my handmade pieces for the price I would need to make a profit.
Thrifting takes time as well, plus storage space and a reliable vehicle to haul it all.
Plus space fees and show fees and yadayada...

I have tried selling jewelry at home parties for a large MLM company as well.
I could make some decent money doing that.
The jewelry was lovely.
I felt guilty at the prices.
Like forcing people to buy something they don't need and 
shouldn't spend the money on because you are holding them captive at their friend's house.
Peer pressure sales.
Just couldn't do it anymore.
Many people are in my position and they just cannot afford those treats.
They also cannot afford the price of quality hand made items.
They really are a luxury for most of us.
Like buying a piece of art.
Parts and materials and the time involved in making a piece of jewelry or craft item
yourself also bring the cost up quite high.
I loved to shop Etsy and craft fairs and small indy businesses.
I like making my own pieces for sale.
I just cannot do that at this point and I know I am not alone.
There is a market for those pieces but what about the rest of us?

Out of this puzzle comes an answer.
An answer for me at least.
Women love trendy fashion and they also want to treat themselves 
and others to a little bit of pretty now and then.
Out of my Nouveau Pauvre circumstance I have decided to begin selling a line of
affordable fluff and frugal finery.
I am purchasing only from suppliers in the USA and accessories designed in the USA 
but they are manufactured elsewhere.
It is part of life these days.
The MLM company I worked for was based in Chicago but all the jewelry came from China.
I have also researched jewelry parts, again 95% imported.
Until something changes this is the reality.
Target, Walmart, Macy's ...Michaels, Hobby Lobby.... the same...

I am going to give this a try.
All of my accessories will be priced at $15.
A little luxury at a reasonable price.
The choice of pieces is made by me.
I have tried this out now at several local ladies night vendor events to much success.
I may expand to Facebook and maybe a website.

Do you have a better answer to the Catch 22 of wanting to
 buy American, to keep business local, and the fact that you just can't afford it?
Frugality doesn't have to be austere.
Without something pretty every once in a while what is the point?
A moral dilemma without an easy answer.

I am an American business, so does that count?
Hope I don't sound too jaded here.
This is the way of the world as I see it at this point.

You have been my safe place to go when things get rough
and for that I thank you more than I can express.
Just wanted to let you know that as well.

Yours in a quagmire, P.

PS I will still be crafting and thrifting and painting too. Those are passions I will not give up on.
This is just a little something extra.
Pin It!


trash talk said...

I just had this convo with Jenn. There isn't enough room here for my IMHO, so I'll be sending you an e-mail Sunday. In the meantime, I hear what you're laying down.

JunqueMagnet said...

Because I want you to be tired of me saying this in all social media... You are awesome. You are brilliant. You are a talent. Your path is your own to forge. The all American thing IS hard. I think we should feel good about our efforts to be cognizant of the choice. We do offer things made in UsA to the extent we are able. We care about it and try to be as supportive as possible. Be proud of that and do what you need to do. You rock. You always rock!

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

I'm a Canadian who would love to buy local and eat organic, etc. But for the past 26 years of children and single parenthood and low salary, I've not been able to. I just do the best I can with the money I have.

Good luck with your money making ventures. I know it's so difficult to find work over 50.

Emom said...

I understand completely.....we too were downsized....getting by with less is our new normal....I am in the process of making all the Christmas gifts this year. All the while, worrying that everyone will be disappointed.... AND yes, bloggers, you especially have kept me sane too......smiles

Tami Von Zalez said...

I hear ya - just hoping the trend of not hiring the 50 plusers will turn when there are no experienced youngsters to fill the gaps ...

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

Pam -
I totally know where you are coming from. I've always had to think about every purchase...but knew I could cover my expenses each month if I was careful. I believed things would get better as long as I worked hard and created the best product. After starting over several times...for reasons not my own....I focused again 12 years ago on a new corporate career - giving it my all to the point of missing out on nice every day pleasures. I was just working all the time and hoping to create security for myself. I was laid off two years ago and this time have not been able to find the good job and the only reason could be my age. For I have talent and experience. So now I hodge podge together my living...I work part time at Pier 1 as you know. Working at a job far below what I can do. And I REALLY struggle financially. But I also have a much more balanced life. I notice how pretty the day is rather than hurrying into the office to be there from 9am till midnight or later. I feel more in control of my time. Now....I just need to figure out how to make more money in this new way of life...oh...yes....and health insurance would really be beneficial. I think you just need to do what you need to do. It is hard to make money as a crafter or artist because such cheap things can be bought from overseas. But I don't see any changing that. That is just the way things are. They are been going that way for a very long time and it's not going to change. Try to buy what you can local and don't feel bad when you have to buy from imports to keep your company profitable.

DearHelenHartman said...

Such a familiar story, Hubby downsized and no work for 2 years. I was blessed with a lot of work for that time but it has fallen off to almost nothing. Hubby started a business and it is doing well and I work there (I hear ya on how hard it is to get a job as a woman of a certain age). The buying American ideal is just that. The ideal, but not the reality. Even something made elsewhere can give Americans work and help the economy. Do what you have to do.

zandra said...

I hear you to Pam. I too, try to buy American whenever I can but it is challenging. I'm so glad that there are a few of die cut companies that are making dies in the USA, now. Definitely, keep yourself afloat and keep on creating.
Hugz, Z

DogsMom said...

I could have written this post.
Husband unemployed for 3 years and doing whatever he could to bring in some money - including mowing other people's lawns and cleaning gutters.
We helped more than one friend who did lose their home. Running his own business did not pan out for us and I wish your husband and you all the success in the world! As others have said, I also pray the hiring process again allows those who are mature but also ripe with experience an opportunity in the marketplace.
I love the idea of buying locally sourced items and materials. It is a very tough road, and large corporations find it difficult to do. All any one of us can do is the best we are able and I know you have that covered. That you produce a quality product and keep prices reasonable is amazing.

Keep smiling and dreaming.