Sunday, January 11, 2009

CPSIA isn't the only problem. Apathy is as well. Do something.

“Your outfit is absolutely adorable!” I heard a woman say behind me and my daughter replied with, “Thank you! My Mommy has a clothing business!” and I sighed. Sighing is not my usual reaction when I get a compliment for my work. The woman and her sister were very polite and had no idea that they had just brought to surface so many terrible feelings with their compliments, “You made her outfit? It's amazing! You really have talent and I've never seen anything so adorable.” They didn't have kids but talked about how they almost wished their biological clocks started ticking simply to shop for my line of clothes. I was completely flattered but almost muted because of the recent decision to close up my Immature Couture shop. When they asked where I sold my clothes I didn't have the energy to explain what was going on so I simply said “Online.” thanked them and went back to grocery shopping with the kids.

I want nothing more than to know that the toys my children play with are safe and will not cause them any harm. I understand the urgency to protect the children of this country from high levels of lead and stop the ridiculous recalls. What I do not understand is why these new regulations were passed with such carelessness that it requires testing for products that have virtually NO risk of lead contamination! Products like clothing, blankets, wooden toys and books! The CPSIA is essentially causing many small businesses that make products for children under the age of twelve to close up shop because of their haste in passing regulations that have an insane amount of loopholes. Congress decided that a problem caused by ridiculous and irresponsible mass-market toymakers should be solved with a solution that sucks in various other industries that are completely unrelated to toys!

Later on when the kids and I were checking out the two women approached me and asked for my business card because they wanted to tell their friends about my clothing line. I smiled and tried to explain to them as plainly as possible that as of February 10th I would be officially closing up shop because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act . Shockingly they were outraged that they hadn't heard of it. That they felt their rights as consumers were being taken away. That the deadline is so close and there isn't a media outrage over it. That more small businesses are being shut down and allowing the big companies to triumph. We exchanged information, I gave them my card and they said they would be writing whoever they needed to and be in contact with me. They weren't business owners who are effected by this nor were they parents but they were as equally outraged as most of us that have to close our shops.

The apathy that I have seen from the general public and even those that own small businesses and are not effected by the new regulations have saddened me until I spoke with these two women. They were absolutely right! This does not just hurt my business. This hurts everyone no matter if they have children or not. No matter if they have a business selling products to children under twelve or selling something that, thankfully for them, does not have to be burdened with the CPSIA. Why don't more people care?

I loaded up the kids, put my groceries in the trunk and at that moment it finally hit me. Something I started as a side business for extra cash in hand and as a creative outlet was taken from me. Just when my business started to take off it was ripped from my hands, discarded and no real explanation for it. I sell clothes. Not jewelry. Not toys. Not anything that has been manufactured overseas or injected with lead. I design, cut, iron, serge, stitch and package every item of clothing myself. To comply with these regulations each product I made would have to be tested which means each indicidual component of the garment would have to be tested for lead. A 15$ onesie now costs 400$ to make simply because of the testing fees! I put sleepless nights into marketing plans, helping Etsy teams and writing blogs to help the handmade market. There is no reason for so many of us to be swept out of the way because some major corporations wanted to cut their overhead costs and put MY children in danger. I stood there and cried in the parking lot. There is no reason why so many handmade artists look away at the pain so many of us are going through simply because they are not in the same boat.

Do something. The children in this country need to be protected but by regulations that target only the products that can cause potential harm. If you don't do it for yourself and your business, or your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friend's kids then do it for the sake of what's right and stop being silent and a doormat in our society.

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