Vol 8, Num 12 :: 2009.06.05 — 2009.06.19
In hard economic times, women have always been resourceful; stories abound of extraordinary women, mothers and grandmothers creatively making things stretch during war years. As belts are tightened in 2009, however, a new generation of women is combining traditional talents like sewing, cooking, card- or jewelry-making, gardening and knitting with networking skills to benefit their families in practical ways and start businesses from home.
The average corporate Joe may not realize it, but in homes all over the world, the 1950s housewife is making a comeback in a small but thriving cottage industry. Crocheting granny squares and knitting beanies is officially big business for small businesses, baking delicious healthy dinners from scratch is hot, and handmade gifts are chic and are creeping into an online store near you.
Ironically, in a movement that promotes back-to-basics skills, support networks among women are sprouting all over the world thanks to the use of technology. Women are moving online to blog or twitter life-experiences, to bond and network on Facebook or MySpace, and to create an online Etsy or MadeIt business around handmade products to supplement their family income.
The emerging woman is loyal, hard-working, creative and resourceful. A problem-solver, she’s willing to take risks in small business enterprises, she believes in supporting local businesses and reducing the eco-footprint of her purchases, buying locally and supporting other small businesses. Most importantly, she takes great pleasure in having a creative outlet; creating something handmade and aesthetically pleasing is a source of delight for her.
These women are compassionate and caring and they believe that every small act of goodwill changes the world. They believe in getting stuck in, in giving, supporting, in creating, in communicating, in effective action. Here in Australia, the recent Victorian Bushfire appeal had crafty bloggers with Etsy shops selling handmade items to raise money for people who had lost everything in the fire, as well as donating homemade blankets, fabrics, quilts or quilting squares.
Entrepreneurial bloggers like Amanda Blake-Soule; Pip Lincolne; and designers Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meng and Melissa Rannels are publishing books with titles like The Creative Family, Meet Me At Mike’s and Sew Subversive, books stuffed full of “back to basics” creative projects that online readers are gobbling up. Viral marketing campaigns have nothing on these women who command loyalty because it springs out of real relationships that have been nurtured and developed over time through blogging and then have taken on flesh in the real world.
Not content with sitting quietly in a corner, women are philosophizing, analyzing and planning their next crafty project while performing the most mundane tasks. There is nothing that they won’t try, nothing that is beneath them and they refuse to be confined by the labels and boxes that life and other people try to put them into. Ever practical, always learning from each other, instead of asking, “Can I?” they are asking “Why can’t I?” They are not afraid to step out and try something new.