Thursday, 25 October 2012

The power of a Trade

Money wasn't always the way business was done between people.

It may seem obvious but all too often we only ever think about the money.  What every happened to favours and bartering?  Of helping one another out, or going to your next door neighbour to exhange some excess of butter for much needed sugar?

I've been inspired by ideas such as Trade School and time banking schemes where able bodied people look after an elderly persons garden in exchange for some home-made soup or baking etc.  I like kindness in a community.  It would be great if we could all do it for free and out of love for one another but I guess survival has had to let me think about other possible alternatives.

As a business start-up with no capital to invest it is fair to say we were doomed from the very beginning.  We have had to be creative in ways to get by financially in the daily things in life as well as sharing in the few luxuries that come our way by which we can celebrate.

Facing yet another anniversary and Christmas without gifts for each other or the kids - we began to think of ways to get things for each other that didn't really cost us much.  We even toyed with trying to trade with farmers for milk, bread etc in order to save those extra few pennies.

So, we began to explore trading as a means of spreading the finances a little further and stretch every penny we had for what it was worth.

Thing is - I have been totally blown away by it.  Not only have we been sent/traded some great items but its the messages, thoughtfulness and little extras that just blow you away.

One such example was that of  Farr Out Jewelry Designs on ETSY owned by the wonderful Kristy Farr.

We decided to do a trade:  She liked one of our soaps for a present and we quite fancied a pair of her earrings.  Once we looked at the value and postage etc., it became clear that we were definitely the ones getting a really really good deal and a little apprehensive about the worth of one of our soaps to a pair of earrings I felt I wanted to add a little something extra to the package.  Trouble was that it couldn't go over a certain weight - making the gesture ridiculously expensive.

Having done so I needed to tell Kristy about the extra item in case she was confused about the package upon arrival, or happened to give the little extra as part of the gift, without opening the box.

We communicated a little and all was well.

Until last week....

Last week, a package arrived and Carla was quick to get to the post man to sign for a package (Definitely a first!)  I arrived into the kitchen to see we had been sent this:

Now lets be clear - I was only sending something we were no longer going to sell.  What I got in return were two beautiful sets of earrings.  Carla got very excited as it meant one pair could be for her.

I understand that some people veer away from trading.  They feel that it may devalue your product but here are a few pros to think about.

The cost of anything you trade is only your direct material costs and postage.  This makes any item you buy much cheaper for you than it would if you used cash.  Whilst you do have to factor in time - you are doing something you love as your job and it is just one item of many you might currently be in the process of making.

Secondly, it is a great way of advertising without much cost outlay to yourself.  Kristy included her business card just as we did to her.  Anyone that sees Carla's earrings will get a wonderful story at little cost to Kristy just as we might receive from Kristy herself.  Adding a few business cards to this kind of person is much more likely to have impact as they take pride in the bargains they were able to get through a shop such as yours.

Thirdly, you might get things you really want, things you may want to use as gifts and things you have never even thought of.  Some items we have said yes to when approached about a trade and other items are just not suitable for us at this time - such as baby items, paper, soap and there is quite a lot of jewelry out there at the minute and we certainly can't keep trading for jewelry (there is only one female in this house!)

Fourthly, the feeling you get from a trade is sooo amazingly lovely.  We have met the most wonderful people, been truly blessed by the most amazing generosity from people in trades and have even been inspired to create our own trading team on www.creative-connections.ning.com

If you want to find out more about trading why not look up www.Ourgoods.org or
http://tradeschool.coop/newyork/about

I want to note a few people either for contacting us about trades or agreeing to do trades with us.  We haven't been able to trade with everyone but each shop deserves a shout out and look into!  There is no guarantee that they will want to trade - but I'm sure they are all open to selling their remarkable items and they are all - remarkable people.

Handmade in Keswick

Lu Smith has without knowledge of the above competition matched the loveliness of Kristy.  We did a trade and got the most beautifully wrapped products - I still can't bring myself to open the wrapping!

But get this for thoughtfulness - not only was everything in a protective bag to ensure it remained waterproof but each item was wrapped in brown paper and tied with material and colourful string.  In the package came a note mentioning that each item was packed in such a way that we could open it to have a look but also possible to close it so that it can be a gift without us even having to package the items.

Aside from the trade Lu is a dedicated volunteer on www.creative-connections.ning.com where she volunteers to promote the work of over 200 crafters in Craftfest.  I can't praise her work ethic, commitment and dedication to the cause highly enough.

Lu,  Thank you


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