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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CPSIA and Me - Part I


What are Mothering Rocks? Why do I care about the CPSIA? What is the meaning of life? I will discuss several of these ideas in this blog post, if not all of them. You see, my life revolves around my darling daughter. When she was a baby, I left my alcoholic ex-husband to forge a new life for ourselves. Instead of going back to work in the software industry, where I had previously been employed, I decided to start my own business and work from home. I had grand dreams and envisioned cuddling, breastfeeding, playing, and changing diapers by day, and making jewelry by night. A mini-revolution of sorts.

The jewelry I designed was baby friendly, eco-friendly, and of course, gorgeous to look at and wear. I invented the loop-style nursing necklace, as a way to engage babies while nursing. Babies by nature are curious, and often pull, pinch, grab anything and everything within reach. So the Little Gems Mothering Rocks nursing necklaces are a way for moms to wear beautiful jewelry (and feel human again) while providing something safe and soothing for baby to explore. Soon, business was booming, and while I was a preschool teacher by day with my kiddo by my side, I spent my lunch break checking email, finishing up orders, packaging orders, and often walking to the post office.

As my business grew, my production processes also expanded to handle the capacity. I began buying in bulk, embarked on expensive advertising campaigns, and of course, investing everything I was making to continue to grow my business. As an environmentalist (yes, I'm old school and have considered myself an environmentalist since the 1980's), I ensured that my gems, silver, and components were all baby safe and eco-friendly. No weird dyes or chemicals used in my hand-made production.

Several years later, in 2007 the price of oil hits new highs. I noticed a huge drop in my sales volume. But I can hang tough, after all, I can roll with the punches. Soon however, it became clear that business was still falling dramatically. By the time the country finally admitted that we were in a recession, I had gotten a second job to make ends meet. But I wasn't going to give up. Not me.

Then the CPSIA was enacted, with all of the fanfare of a royal proclamation. The idea behind the CPSIA I do support; it is supposed to ensure that our country's children are safe from lead and pthalates. However, the way it was written was so restricting while ambiguous... it is over-arching and basically groups small home businesses of hand-crafting artisans with huge monoliths like Mattel. We all must test all products for children under 12, in the same manner. The economies of scale for the big manufacturers ensures they will be able to survive with these testing procedures. However, the expensive testing, tracking, and labeling requirements of the CPSIA is putting hundreds (heck let's face it, thousands ) of small businesses out of business. In an economic climate that mirrors in some ways the Great Depression, this is no time to cut jobs, especially when the reason is because of a poorly written law.

Sigh. Catch your breath while I catch mine. Part II will be written soon and continue this sad tale.

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