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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008

While I'm thinking about it - after discussing with some in-laws tonight - I thought I would post my information and business decisions based on this act.

First let me say that, of course, this would only impact the children's bracelets that I sell, not my adult jewelry line. Legislation or not, since I made my first design in 2003 I have been completely unwilling to ever endanger a child by using sub-standard materials. My designs consist of professional series stainless steel (coated with nylon) stringing wire, .925 Sterling silver crimps, clasps and beads, glass beads, Swarovski crystal beads and culinary-grade lead-free pewter end rings for ultimate durability. (This was until legislation was passed. Children's bracelets should now have a much more expensive soildered .925 sterling silver end ring at a significant cost increase to both me and my client.)
I do not use plastic beads or any type of painted/lead beads on ANY of my jewelry. EVER. They're not good for you, your skin and to be quite frank, they look like crap!

Unfortunately this does not exempt me from submitting my product for testing and having it certified as "safe". Moreso, because I use Swarovski crystal, which is a name brand leaded crystal, it generates a lot more confusion and liability. (To educate my readers, the lead in a leaded crystal is locked in the matrix of the crystal - as opposed to being a paint or coating - and is not dangerous to wear and/or ingest. So low is the crystal lead content that up to 1 gram of crystal can be used in children's jewelry designs and still fall within the new extremely low legal tolerances for lead.) To further illustrate this, let me say that you will ingest more DEAD INSECT body cells by licking an envelope or inhale more microscopic FECES particles in a public bathroom than you will be exposed to particles of lead from a Swarovski crystal.

I have considered several options. I can submit my jewelry for testing at an estimated cost of $1,000 per design and become certified. I can conduct my own less-sensitive lead testing at a cost of about $50 but be liable for fines and prison time should an unacceptable amount of lead ever be found in any children's jewelry I have made. Or I can do what most of the other small business owners are doing and not sell children's jewelry.

The latter is my final decision. Right now the interest in buying children's jewelry is low but the demand for adult jewelry seems to be never-ending and this recent legislation is the final nail in the coffin. Moreso, the teensy tiny profit I would make on one piece of jewelry (thanks to ever-climbing sterling prices) is not worth the risk of financial ruin or worse - being taken away from my precious son to serve prison time - because one supplier sold me beads that erroneously contained lead one part per million over the legal limit.

As of Monday January 12 the State of Texas was made aware that I am not going to be selling children's jewelry and as of now, ALL production of children's jewelry has ceased, putting me well within the February 10th compliance date and sparing me from any future legal trouble. This is not an invitation to rush-order jewelry. I will not make it. Please don't ask for baby jewelry as a shower gift. I will not give it. I'm sorry but this also means I will not do repairs on any jewelry that is or will be worn by children. I will be selling off some smaller sized beads except for ones I am keeping for myself should I ever have a daughter. (While I can't SELL the jewelry, it is not illegal for me or you to make your own items for your own child to wear. The beads are safe but no one can afford the testing to prove it to Uncle Sam at this time.) This year I will only be selling adult earrings, necklaces, bracelets & jewelry sets unless that becomes a pain in the butt, too! At which time I will be grateful that no one gets lead poisioning or exposure to phthalates from graphic design. :)

I must admit that this legislation has created an opportunity for me to exit one boring business facet (OMGosh, silver, clear & white bracelets are the MOST HORRIBLY DULL DESIGNS EVER!) and allows me to enter a new realm that I have been struggling to find time to launch for nearly a year. Ironically a shipment of brand new product, to accompany this new work, is already en-route and I'm not looking back for a second! For me this is the silver lining of an otherwise ridiculous rain cloud which is going to force some of my favorite bargain events, like Baby Daze and garage sales, to become black-market, underground activities. Did you know that if you haven't had every snap on that Gymboree onesie from two years ago tested you can't legally re-sell it anywhere? At least not until Gymboree pays to have all the old snaps tested but honestly, do you see that happening? All I see is the potential for landfills to get really, really full.

And there is one last thing I want to add, for my personal friends and family. This legislation has the ability to really ruin some of our mommy fun - like eBay and Etsy - which means that if you're not crafty, creative or otherwise resourceful it could begin to create some new and difficult challenges. The last thing us moms need is more items for our self-critical eyes to focus on. I see the world through a rare set of rose colored glasses. I see a potential for problems when the less-creative (and bad sewers like myself) loose their Etsy suppliers while the more-creative continue to crank out cool stuff, widening the gap that so recently seemed like it could have been eliminated. But I also see the potential for us to help each other. I am not a baby jewelry seller so I can (legally) show anyone who asks how to use crimping pliers and crimp beads to make your own jewelry. I do not - and never did nor will - sell felt play food so I can show anyone who asks how to make those safe and delightful toys. My next blog project is to post the information about my craft/vinyl cutter, since it's a frequent request, so you too can do what I do. I would like to invite all my friends who find themselves in my same situation - or who discover they're the lucky owner of any craft or skill knowledge - to share what they know with anyone who asks. This legislation is going to kill a lot of small businesses. Let's make sure these crafts survive long enough for Washington to fix this mess. And for anyone too shy to ask, please don't be, it's really the most flattering complement. For anyone who is certain we won't answer honestly, you might have judged us too harshly. What can asking hurt? For anyone who thinks they don't have a creative bone in their body, I have a secret: 99% of what we call "creativity" is really clever construction, copying or crafty combining. Take some materials you want to work with, put them together how you want, with a bit of your own flair, and watch people insist you're creative. ;)

1 comment:

Alisha said...

Oh no...I just might die if Hailey doesn't have a bracelet to match every outfit this summer....ahhh! :)