So what type of customer are you? And are you ready to buy handmade? I ask because mega-sellers such as Amazon have distorted our shopperly expectations like fairground mirrors. I have loads of cool customers who love the personality of handmade items yet I’ve met some, er, shouty customers who think I’m a machine that spaffs out bags like a human cannon. So which category of customer do you fall into? Take this quiz to find out (and choose mostly a, b or c).
1) You buy a new bag to lug about your books, snacks and gadgetry. Do you:
a) Not even think about approaching the shop’s till until you’ve turned the lining to inspect the stitching along the underside of the zip (with a magnifying glass);
b) Guess the stitching is OK because, well, it’s being sold in an actual, proper, real shop isn’t it?;
c) Stitching? What stitching?
2) You order handmade sky pockets in a fabric you love. You can’t wait to use them. Do you:
b) Start twitching after a week even though the maker said it would take a fortnight to be made;
c) Leave a sweary, punctuation-free, no-star review on the maker’s Facebook page when it’s not delivered free, by drone, the next morning.
3) You want indoor bunting for a house party this autumn. Do you:
a) Imagine colourways while measuring room widths before wailing about your dream bunting being the high street equivalent of rocking horse shit;
b) Hopefully approach the random giant cages in Aldi only to buy the same bunting as everyone else who shops there;
c) Google the term ‘indoor bunting’.
4) The back of your car looks like a skip has vomited kids’/ pets’ toys through the window. Do you:
a) Grab a sketch book and design storage that will contain the chaos and stop you feeling as if you’re driving a bin lorry:
b) Rummage for a plastic bag, chuck the aforementioned tat into it and sling it all in the boot;
c) Accept that until the kids/ pets leave home you’ll be rooting for books/ balls under the front seat during every bloody journey you undertake.
a) Take plenty of cash and pick up lots of cool pieces that holler your sense of style;
b) Buy a couple of small gifts for family because you can’t stand leaving with nothing;
c) Bawl at a stall holder, “But I could make that!” before attempting to construct a deeply compartmentalised handbag with no sewing machine, stitching experience or fabric.
6) You want to surprise a friend with a gift to offset the lunacy of her misogynist boss. Do you:
b) Scroll through the ubiquitous ‘gifts for women’ categories of various websites until you give up and buy yet another ‘live, laugh, love’ motif;
c) Panic buy flowers in Asda on the way to meet her.
a) Poke yourself with needle-based rage that no-one has designed a handy travel pouch for your work (and scare your fellow passengers);
b) Keep your knitting in your handbag and scatter tampons across the floor of the bus every time you pull on your wool;
c) Publicly announce that you will never, ever, EVER knit in public again.
8) You’re asked to carry a bag in such a shouty fabric that it will make passers-by shield their eyes. Do you:
b) Agree to carry it but only if you can walk through alleyways where you won’t be spotted by TMZ;
c) Fake a stroke and declare your carrying arm dead from the shoulder down.
a) Scour t’web for makers who have more flair than a trawler capsizing in the North Sea;
b) Love what makers create but wonder how many pounds you can knock off the price by shopping at Amazon;
c) Dance around a burning effigy of handcrafters while wrapping your credit card in a bright red bow and gifting it to the CEO of Tesco.
10) You’ve looked everywhere for a bag that has exactly the right number of pockets. Do you:
b) Roam every shop in the city and buy the bag closest to what you want (even if the colour and size is wrong);
c) Give up and buy a lifetime’s worth of pocketed dungarees.
You chose mainly As.
My God! You are a creature of such style and class that you make Amal Clooney look like Stig of the Dump. You’re happy to stand out from the crowd, you know your own mind and want it writ large across a slouch bag. Even better, you’re happy to wait for such riches because you understand that handmade items take time to make. You are a paragon of handmade virtue and can rest assured that most handcrafters would happily dry hump your leg as a result. You’re were born ready to buy handmade!
You chose mainly Bs:
OK, so you’re partial to the high street. I know, I know, it’s convenient and you can nip into Starbucks while you’re there (I’ll have a caramel macchiato, thanks. And a poppy seed muffin). But don’t be so determined to buy in Top Shop until you’ve checked out the work of independent makers. No really. Put down that tote that came with a shipping container of a thousand others, think about what you really want and ask someone skilled to make it for you. You’re totally ready to buy handmade, only you didn’t realise it until right now. No need to thank me. None at all.
If you chose mainly Cs
First, Google ‘handmade’ will you? You’ve given me the chills. Then back away from Primark and its promise to pay YOU to take away a bag. They’ve been made by exhausted children in Asian sweat shops when what you really need is an item made by a perky maker in a delightfully fragrant sewing shed. Shopping isn’t all about saving money . It’s also about treating yourself (and your conscience) to something which makes you do a little hop of happiness every time you see it. Oscar Wilde wrote about “a man who knows price of everything but the value of nothing”. Don’t be that man, kraken lover. Value whatever you buy next. With a bit of practice you’ll soon be ready to buy handcrafted. The struggle is real!