The Value Of Handmade

I recently had an interesting experience. Someone liked one of my products, was interested in it, but only wanted to pay me 50% of my price. They said they wanted to support me, but didn’t feel like the product was worth what I was charging. This same person had previously tweeted about the price of another product, publicly saying that his Grandma could make a hat for a few dollars.  

Sadly, this view is not uncommon in the handmade world. But what is new here is that it's the first time a “supporter” of mine has raised a question about my prices and by doing so raising questions of the value of my work.

At first, I was taken aback, truly shocked the way a person thought they could haggle prices or devalue my work. While crochet is known as a craft and many people take it up as a mere hobby, I am more than that. I am an indie fashion designer.

Would you walk up to Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, or Ellie Tahari or ANY other designer and haggle? I doubt it. So then why would a person do that with me? It happens too often I tell you. Asking for a discount is commonplace, but haggling is almost insulting.

The most likely truth is that unlike the big names where the labor, research, and toil are publicly known (and sometimes exaggerated) smaller handmade designers aren’t given the recognition for their work. No one sees the behind the scenes of this one woman show, or the small staffed shop so they make assumptions about how “easy” it is to make something. From ideas, to designs, to photo shoots, it's a process. And that doesn't factor the business & backend of it all.

My creations are made from my original designs. I spend a lot of time researching fibers, working with yarn vendors, and testing what works best for each design. Sometimes this process is quick and smooth and other times it is a laborious task with near no end in sight. I work with other designers in collaborations and to grow the community.

Also, in my particular case: Each item is handmade. Hand. Made. Though the bulk of my items are made by me personally, I also employ another crocheter to help me meet my demands in the busy season. Like so many others, I’m running and building a business and a brand in fashion. Materials, workmanship, branding - it all goes into my pricing formula.

Sure, I know you can go to Walmart and buy a knit beanie for $10 and that’s fine because that’s not what I’m selling. That’s not what I’m creating. That's not a hand made piece of wearable art or a handmade accessory. I create cozy, chic, handmade accessories.

I’ve also recognized that not everyone is going to be my customer and that’s okay. But claiming to be a supporter and then turning around and devaluing the work involved in the business is not support. Maybe my items aren't in your budget and I understand that.

I love those who support me by sharing my posts, projects, or sales on their social media pages. The people who poke in to say, "hey, have you ever thought of this__?", and even my friends who simply stand by and say, "great job!" Not every one of my supporters buys my work but NONE of my true supporters devalue it!

But I also want to impart to you that there are so many ways to support someone, to help them grow their business and their brand and it doesn’t always have to be with a purchase (though ideally those are fabulous). Each bit of support is dear to me, and so important to artisans as a whole. I thank everyone who has supported me in their own way over the years.

Because when you buy, or even consider buying handmade, please remember that someone somewhere sat down and made that. And each time an artisan celebrates a success, celebrate with them because you, their support, helped make that.

For those of you out there supporting  handmade, in any way you can, thank you. For those of you who haven't, why not start now?


Shop Small in 2014


It's that time of year again. Every retailer on the planet is clamoring for your hard earned dollars. Steals and deals abound. Stores open at all hours to serve up holiday shopping splendor. That's all fine and good, hey I won't knock capitalism at it's finest. But I will take this platform and opportunity to encourage you to consider shopping small, handmade and even local this holiday season. here is a list of some artisans, small business and fellow entrepreneurs that I encourage you to check out not just for the holidays but all year round. I have personally shopped from every one of these so these suggestions are based on my own experiences. No one paid to be on this list nor were they notified in advance of the list.

This is just me talking to YOU reminding you to shop small!

First up is Mad Love Shop. I met Angel, the owner of Mad Love Shop at the One Of A Kind Show in Chicago last year. We were both featured artists in the Etsy Pavilion and her booth was across from mine. As soon as she started hanging her screen print creations her work caught my eye. I LOVE wearable art. Angel doesn't use a machine screen printing process. She hand screens prints all of her original designs. Come on! THAT is wearable art at it's finest. I own and enjoy several of her designs at this point including a messenger bag, hoodie, and several tank tops.

During the show and since, Angel and I have also gotten to become great friends. She is such a fabulous woman. I encourage you to check out here work at Mad Love Shop here and on Black Friday you can even us code Thankful for 30% off. Um… hello… THAT is a deal!


My Rain Girl Bags

Next: is Joanna from Rain Girl Designs.  I discovered Joanna's shop on Etsy when I was in search of the perfect iPad case. I wanted someone to create a case that could be a pouch as well. In my mind it would be fabulous of course. When I contacted Joanna, she seemed to understand exactly what I was after and made the ordering process super easy. I was so impressed with the craftsmanship and customer service that I went back for my project totes.  Joanna looked high and low to find the right fabrics to fit my color palette and style. She created these perfect project totes for me. In fact they are so fabulous, i even use them as purses in summer.

Check out Joanna here and see what fabulous accessory she can create for you.


For the sassy fun party & foodie crowd, allow me to introduce you to Dell Cove Spices. Now, discovering Dell Cove was quite a fun thrill. They have everything from BBQ rubs, pop-corn seasonings to drink rim sugars. I mean… they make me drool. I also love following them on Facebook where there is always something cooking or a new recipe to drool over. Someday when I learn to cook, I will probably go broke in their shop. I got a variety of sample packets of the drink rim sugars to include in my gift bags a couple of years ago and they were a HUGE hit. Everyone loved them and you will too.


And last but not least is me. Hats, scarves, wraps and more. Get cozy and warm in hand crochet Cozy Chic Accessories.  Use code MC2014 for 20% off items in my Indie Made shop here . If you are looking for one of a kind or want to see all I have to offer check me out on Etsy as well and use code FR8FREE for free shipping through December 2nd.

Do you know of a fabulous small business or artisan? Share their info below in the comments. Let's band together and support small biz!

The Chelsea Cowl n' Shrug: A Labor of Love

The Chelsea Shrug n' Cowl
The Chelsea Shrug n' Cowl

One of my favorite things to work on is custom orders.  It gives me an opportunity to work closely with a customer to create something special that I know will mean so much to them. Sure, sometimes it's a long and somewhat tedious process. But with good communication it can also be a fun process. And it is always worth the work in the end when I know my customer is happy.

Every once in a while, something really special happens where I am inspired to create a whole new product for my own shop born from that custom order process. That is the magic that inspires me. That is the good stuff as they say.

This new Chelsea Shrug n' Cowl is a product of that process. It is a lightweight shrug with a cowl / snood attached. It can be worn with the cowl flipped back like a hoodie giving the front a straight shrug look, or the cowl can come overhead like a hood. The cowl can drape around the front or overhead. This is one of the most versatile pieces I have ever seen.

The design process was a labor of love on this one.

First was fiber selection. I needed a fiber that would hold shape and structure but not be bulky. It's a shrug not a sweater! The fiber selection took some time because I was marrying two garments that have their own needs in construction. I settled on a great sport weight acrylic yarn that would work well with tighter stitching on the shrug but also work for the loose needs of the cowl.

The shrug was basic to be sure, but I needed a shrug that would carry the weight of the cowl without losing it's shape. The shrug needed to have a collar, but the collar shouldn't "fight" the cowl. The shrug should be able to stand alone, meaning without the cowl. There were a lot of requirements for the body of the shrug.

Once I had the shrug sorted, I moved on to the cowl - which had it's own set of issues.

The cowl itself is a basic lightweight cowl but I altered my design to attach it to the shrug. After some trial and error, I settled on attaching it almost as an add-on as opposed to part of the shrug itself. This allowed me to manipulate the placement of the cowl so that it could also be tossed back as a hood.

I also had to alter the design of my Spring Cowl for this piece so that the wight would not pull at the shrug collar. After lots of trial, failure, trial, mild success, trial and more failure, I finally had that design a-ha moment and changed the stitching but kept the pattern frame.

And voila! I was done.

But now, would my customer like it even half as much as I do is the big question (and the one that gives me knots in my stomach). I set up my photo shoot and then sent my customer the results. And boom! I hit a design home run.

This is why I love my job and am so grateful for these magical encounters. The entire process; concept to completion was just over 8 weeks. The process was long, laborious and fabulous all at once because I am left with a very happy customer and a brand new original design.

Crochet With Purpose: Halos of Hope

It is my great honor to announce the One-4-One program beginning October 1, 2014.  

In partnership with Halos of Hope, every time  a hat is purchased from my store,  I will make a hat for Halos of Hope. To me, Halos of Hope allows me to do something with my business that makes a difference. It's an opportunity to touch someone's life through crochet.

I am blessed that I do not have a close relative or even know someone who has cancer. My grandmother had lung cancer. They removed her lung and that was the end of it. She did not have chemo or lose her hair and the cancer never came back. She went on to live a full life until she passed away ten years ago.  As I type these words I am blown away by that fact.

Not long ago, upon request of a good customer, I sent a free chemo cap to a friend of hers battling cancer and I received this note:

Her note to me changed my life. To know that my creation touched her that way.. well, it was a gift.

I hear stories of woman battling breast cancer and men & woman battling other forms of cancer and it touches my heart. I wanted to do something. I decided to take my love for crochet and turn it into an expression of love for cancer patients. I want them to know someone, even if a stranger, is thinking good thoughts for them. A handmade head cover as they go through the process of battling cancer.  In that spirit I decided to launch my One-4-One program.

You can buy hats here or in my Etsy shop.

If you are a crocheter, I also have posted free hat patterns and am accepting donations of completed hats to go to Halos of Hope. Send your completed hats to:

144 Chemo Caps PO Box 86 Sycamore IL 60178


:::::::::::::  UPDATE:  JANUARY  5, 2015  ::::::::::::::: Thanks to the success since launching this program, today I shipped 60 hats to Halos of Hope. What a wonderful gift to reach 60 chemo patients with love.

:::::::::::::  UPDATE:  MARCH15, 2016:::::::::::::::  Last weekI shipped another 80 hats to Halos of Hope.

The Open Cowl - Box Stitch


One of my most popular patterns is the CJ Fashion Cowl, also known as the Box Stitch open cowl. It is a quick one skein pattern that works up super fast.

I designed this pattern by accident - as I find is often the case with my most popular patterns. I simply missed a stitch in the pattern I was trying to make. And I kept missing that same stitch and before I knew it I was creating something totally new and different from what I had intended. A few tweaks later and bam: I had a new design!

One of my customers sent me this fabulous photo of her creation from this pattern. I love how she added a a flower accent. And that is the beauty of crochet! Even when following a pattern, you can always make it your own.

Buy the pattern here


The Chalet Neck Cozy

The Chalet Neck Cozy
The Chalet Neck Cozy

I love neck cozies but I don't find them in many stores. So, of course, I found that as an opportunity to design & create my own!

Some days I don't want the bulk of a full scarf but I need the warmth. Enter the Chalet Neck Cozy.  They are also ideal for on the slopes. They keep me snuggle up warm but without all the bulk.

This was made with a faux ribbing stitch using chunky Lion Brand Hometown USA 100% Acrylic yarn and is available on my site here.

The pattern will soon be available in my pattern shop on Etsy.