Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Public Service Announcement for people who make, buy, or even like handmade children's products!

One of my goals for the New Year is to continue to grow my handmade children's clothing business. I plan to focus on the marketing side and narrow down my product offerings (put my MBA to work!) and to see what I can do. However... the passing of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that goes into effect on February 10th is possibly changing this possibility for myself and thousands of others who make and sell children's products.

The quick and dirty version -
  • All products (toys, clothes, hair bows, bibs, anything!) intended for children under 12 must go through third party testing to ensure no lead or phthalates are present.
  • While large manufactures can handle this, the required third part testing is more costly than the profit that small handmade items can make.
  • The law was developed in response to the mass product recalls in 2007 (especially from imported items from China).
  • The CPSC supposedly tried to include a small business exemption which congress rejected.
  • Many businesses know nothing of this - you have to be active in industry organizations or forums on Etsy or EBay - the government is not knocking on the door or sending letters out to all (or any) small businesses.
  • As it is now - it can be enforced with huge fines and up to 5 year imprisonment. I'm not risking that - though you'll see that some small businesses will keep going, out of ignorance or just denial that it applies to them. However, they will - as it stands now - be breaking the law
  • Even retail and thrift shops may be required to throw out all untested items after February 10th.

I obviously support the idea of keeping harmful chemicals out of our kids clothes and toys! But, I'd like to think that the fabrics I buy for making children's clothes are already free of this - let's require the manufacturers of fabric to abide by this law (which most do - they just don't have the certificate to prove it). I can't afford to test each of my finished products. For one bow-maker, she was quoted a price of several hundred dollars to test a headband that sells for $4.00. The law does not allow "component testing" by the suppliers. The END PRODUCT manufacturer is supposed to have the product tested.

So - my plan for now is to keep fine-tuning my skills, maybe take a sewing class?, create more things for my own kids, continue to write to the appropriate people and keep active in the forums that are up to speed with all the new requirements. If you know someone like me - a mom who makes and sells items for kids - touch base with them. Make sure they know about it. They can search on Etsy forums, or just google it and find a bunch of information. It's real - and whether intended or not - is going to have a huge impact on many small businesses. Here are a few more links with good info if anyone is interested:

http://thedomesticdiva.wordpress.com/2008/12/21/cpsia-what-childrens-clothing-designers-and-manufacturers-need-to-know/

http://cpsia-central.ning.com/forum

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5963341

6 comments:

Michelle Smiles said...

For so many reasons, I find this legislation maddening and ridiculous.

Terri Anne said...

Melany, this makes me so sad... I hope they can fix this loophole in the law before it goes into effect.

I would love to get a Guatemala flag t-shirt if you are still making them.

-Terri (FTC Mom to Madalynn)

Aimee said...

Oh No!! Does this mean we can't buy from you anymore??? What a shame and devastating impact to our economy (as if we could take anymore)!

Michelle Smiles said...

They are talking about some concessions but not enough:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lead7-2009jan07,0,6917858.story

Michelle Smiles said...

Clarifications:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09086.html

MelanyTN said...

Hey guys - thanks for all the comments! I think at this point I am feeling more positive and think the CPSIA is getting noticed and will surely be revised in a way that I can keep going. I may have to change some things (I already use mostly 100% cotton... but maybe that will have to be a total commitment, etc.). So - don't stop buying from me or visiting my site yet. ;) THanks for your support!