There is so much to say about the misguided Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that I have not known where to begin though it has not been out of my mind for a single moment. I have thought about it, brainstormed over it, wrung my hands over it, gotten angry, and yes, even cried about it (I plead pregnant on the last one).
In a nutshell, the CPSIA is a set of new consumer safety regulations that affects all items for children ages 12 and under, including clothing and accessories, books, games, toys, etc., and requires expensive third-party testing for both lead and pthalates of all such items for sale. The extensive testing that is required for items that are known to be lead-free (fabric and thread, for example) is too expensive for independent handcrafters such as me to be able to afford. This testing is mandatory beginning February 10. In August, the rules change again and destructive testing
must be done on each item by certified labs. The fines for violating this new law is $100,000 and possible jail time.
What does this mean for - for example - me? It means my business is wiped out. I can't possibly afford the testing on each "batch" of items I handcraft. It means no more fleece animal ear hats, no more tie dye tees, no handsewn twirly dresses, no more plush bunnies. It means I am stuck with hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars worth of fabrics, clothing blanks, dyes, notions, and supplies. It means my pre-paid advertising, my business cards, my hang tags and sew-in labels are all worthless, it means I have mailers and labels and tissue I will never be able to use. It means I'm out of my source of income at a time the economy stinks and I have a baby on the way.
What does this mean for you? If you create for children as I do, it means all of the above. If you like to buy children's handmade items (as I also do), if you like to shop etsy or eBay or your local craft fair or holiday bazaar, it means you are out of luck. No baby quilts, no handknit sweaters, no cuddly teddies, no floaty tutus, no clever tee shirts. It means more business for Target and Walmart, whose suppliers can afford the required testing.
Yet, handcrafters are not going gentle into this goodnight. The CPSIA is widely considered to be poorly written and in need of exceptions or an overhaul to avoid the unintended consequences I have set out above. Join me and hundreds of other children's boutique designers as we promote awareness of all that could be lost should the CPSIA go forward as written. Search "Boutique Felony" on ebay January 27 through February 3 for items created by our loving hands, and have a chance to buy them before they are "banned hazardous products". If you create, come join the Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=46891817335.