Yesterday, I found myself on How About Orange (via Modish). The blog is loaded with crafty tutorials (as well as time-wasters, rants, cool indie finds and more), and it got me thinking: why buy indie when I can make things myself?

I’ve had my eye on pretty much everything at Mi-Spa for a while now, and the web is loaded with soap, lotion and beauty-care products tutorials, ingredients are cheap, and I’m a pretty crafty person. So, though I much prefer to work with words and wire, decided to go for it.

The goal: some kind of body butter. I already had a jar of kokum butter that I’d bought from Mountain Rose Herbs because it was on sale (and because I love them). I had some almond oil in the medicine cabinet, some essential oils by my bed.

The recipe recommended using a double boiler, but I figured the microwave would work as well and would save me some effort. I moved everything into the kitchen. The project kept growing. I had to chisel the kokum butter out of the jar and into my little plastic container. It took forever to melt in the microwave, then spilled all over when I tried to whip in the almond oil (I did this with a fork, in the tiny container, to save myself from having to wash a stack of dishes), and on and on.

By the end of the project, I had a big mess on the counter, which I tried to mop up with my arms and legs so as not to waste my creation (didn’t work, though my new, slick kitchen did end up smelling good), and was really no closer to a home-spa than I’d been before I started.

I’m sure with patience and trial and error, I could get this right. I could. But why do it myself when I can buy indie? The result is a better product in a cute package, and I get to spend my creative energy in my own direction while supporting someone else in their passion. Sounds good to me.


Range of Etsy Sellers, originally uploaded by maile&justin.

Artikalnyc hat, Rosy dark chocolate orange fudge, Gudonya solid perfume, Katsai short sleeve tunic, AshleyG print, Fossa Designs (me) Earrings

Yesterday, the writers of the Elsewheres Blog posted the outline of their discussion for last night’s Design*Sponge meetup for female independent designers. Their topic was pricing, and they said something that caught my eye.

Lastly, remember that context is important. Be wary of putting your products into any milieu that doesn’t set the bar as high you would. Customers, buyers, and journalists will all make judgments about your brand based on the company it keeps. If you’re an indie fashion designer, does appearing on the same web page (or store shelf) as homemade fudge send the right message about your products, your business, or your brand?

Granted, they have a bias, being an online shop themselves, but this sounds a lot like Etsy, yes? And I love etsy. I sell there, and I find it to be a wonderful and supportive collection of people. In fact, the Indie community in general–from the many indie blogs, to flickr groups, to craft fairs–is something I love. If I have to distance myself from that in order to increase my prices, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

And yet we all want to sell the things we create. Do you buy from Etsy? Sell? What’s the solution?

DSC00614, originally uploaded by Faded Photograph.

I can see the manifold paths that led me to this point, to the insertion of this unattainable mug into my mind, to my obsession with finding it.

It started with a delicious visit, probably two years ago, to Cha Ya, a vegan/Japanese restaurant in Berkeley. They served their tea in mugs without handles, with sides thick enough to insulate the beverage/protect my hands, kinda like these.

But I already had a mug: a tall, fine box-store mug with a handle. I dutifully carried it each day–to and from the coffee shop, or to and from my kitchen–and then, finally, it broke. Cracked. Under the extreme temperatures and pressures of my tea-drinking habit. Or maybe the mug’s low quality cracked it.

The handle-less mug in mind, and looking for durability, I replaced it with a stainless steel travel mug. A huge one. I loved it. It did not requite. Lesson learned: mass-produced goods have no love to give.

Which leaves me here, and now very happy. I found, on etsy, a wonderful potter who is making me a custom mug. Tall. Strong. No handle. $10. Should be ready in a week or two. I’ll post a picture when it comes.

Update, here it is:

Custom Mug