Saturday, December 13, 2008


Have you heard about the wonderful legislation passed to ensure our kids toys are lead and phthalate free? Did you know that the law ended up being worded in such a way that, unless amendments are made, it will be illegal for me to sell my hand-made clothing come February 10? I truly didn't believe it, at first--and to be honest, I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around it. I'm still researching, but what I've found so far seems to imply that in an effort to protect our children (which I am ALL for), a law was passed that will impact not only me, but THOUSANDS of other small businesses.

I've copied this from the Etsy site, because it gives a very general idea of what I'm looking at--and writing just isn't one of my "things." If you are interested in more information, leave a comment and I'll be happy to share with you.

The following is an open letter regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This Act, which will go into effect on February 10th, 2009, puts forth much more stringent safety measures for products intended for children under the age of 12.

Under the very important auspices of child safety, the Act may have grave unintended consequences: fewer choices for families who are looking for handcrafted alternatives. Many Etsy artists and craftspeople have expressed fears that they won't be able stay in business due to the burdensome cost of testing and certification pursuant to the proposed legislation.

As a venue for handcrafted and vintage items from small entrepreneurs, Etsy has invited the Ombudsman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to join us in a webchat in our Virtual Lab. Etsy would very much appreciate the opportunity to provide a forum for discussing the concerns of artisans who make toys and children's products as well as their customers who support handmade products.

We urge members of the Etsy community and anyone concerned with both child safety and conscientious consumption to contact their governmental representatives; ask them to consider how the Act will impact independent craftspeople.

The office of the CPSC ombudsman: 888-531-9070.
Visit the Handmade Toy Alliance for information about writing your representatives.

Over 200,000 artists, crafters and vintage collectors sell their items on Many of these artisans make toys and other items for children. Made with love, care, the human touch and—often—all-natural materials, these items bring the consumer marketplace back to a personal level where customers can chat with toy makers and even create custom items for specific needs. Etsy members are part of a larger movement that seeks to creatively provide people across the globe with alternatives to mass-produced goods.

Many Etsy sellers are work-at-home-moms and dads. Among them are crafters with the skill and heart to preserve traditions of toy-making or to innovate their own methods of making children's items with a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) hands-on philosophy. You can meet an Etsy toy maker and seller by watching this five minute video portrait (all of our videos are published under open Creative Commons, so please feel free to repost). Amber Dusick, aka and Los Angeles-based toy-maker/work-at-home-mama, is an artist who would be impacted by this proposed legislation if it is enacted. Amber uses sustainably harvested woods, non-toxic paints and beeswax along with her wood-burning tool to create simple, natural wooden toys. Her imagery is reminiscent of a child's crayon drawing come to life in wood.

Amber, like other Etsy toy makers and sellers, is fearful that as a sole proprietor she will not be able to afford the stricter regulations of the Act; the cost of testing and certification is likely beyond her means. She told Etsy, “I'd be more than happy to have each of my toys tested, if it wasn't so cost prohibitive. It is the COST involved in testing that will shut us down, it isn't that anyone refuses to have their work tested."

The Small Business Administration defines "small business" as under 500 employees. Most of our Etsy members are either sole proprietors or maybe a family or studio of friends working together. Many craftspeople on Etsy have told us that they could be put out of business if forced to comply with the proposed legislation. This is the painful irony bound up in the CPSIA.

Etsy wanted to reach out with this open letter to see what can be done to ensure that small businesses and micro enterprises are being taken into account with this legislation. Our members would like to better understand how the CPSIA took into account these smaller businesses operating with fewer resources for testing and compliance. We believe Etsy artisans are pro-testing and pro-safety; the problem is the prohibitive certification costs relative to their small businesses' incomes. Our community is concerned that this legislature disregards small businesses in its attempts to regulate large corporate entities.

The U.S. House and Senate passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (the CPSIA), and on August 14, 2008, President Bush signed the Act into law. Further information on the Act is available at the CPSC website at and helpful FAQs are located


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