When You Buy Handmade, You’re Buying the Love and Care and The Goodness That Comes With It.
We were too poor back then. And I couldn’t afford to buy my wife a sewing machine. But she was so determined to get started as a fashion designer that she wouldn’t let anything get in the way. She got her thread, needles, and Kamdar cloth, and without a sewing machine, she started sewing anyway.
She had a 9-5 job, and even though she came home tired most days, somehow being tired from her 9-5 made her even more determined. She laboured day and night to make a top. But without a machine, she progressed like a snail. It took thousands of stitches to make a top. Up, down, up, down, she moves as she made stitch after stitch. She pricks her finger every once in a while, stopping just long enough to make sure she doesn’t get any blood on the cloth. Every time I walked past, I felt a little part of me died. All that hand-numbing, eye-straining effort because I didn’t have the money to buy her a sewing machine. I admired her for her tenacity, and that made me feel even worse. It took her two whole weeks to make a single top. Two whole weeks of weeknights and weekends toiling away at the seams. And then Tasha proclaimed, “It’s done!”
It wasn’t the most beautiful top if I was honest. You could see the imperfections. The ever slightly left and right jaggedness of the seams – thanks to it being hand-sewn, rather than machine-sewn. But despite all the imperfections, it was the most precious of tops.
We celebrated. That was the point in Tasha’s life when she became a fashion designer. Months later we had the opportunity to join a flea market at Pasar Seni and as I was standing there, my heart broke again and again, as person after person looked at her hand-sewn top that was priced at RM35, inspected it and asked for a discount.
Two whole weeks of toiling away on a handmade top and people were asking for a discount? Granted, they had no idea of the amount of blood and sweat, and deliberate determination it took to complete that one top. Then finally, near the end of the day, a different kind of person came along.
Listening to Tasha talk about her top, she understood that it was handmade, and so she bought it without asking for a discount. That was the moment when Tasha became an entrepreneur.
I wish she hadn’t sold it though. That top was priceless. All we have now are the memories of the struggle, rather than a memento we could frame on the walls. But we were broke, so that was that. But this experience forever changed my perception of handmade goods and the people who make them.
When you buy something handmade, you’re not only buying an item, you’re buying the love and the care that was put into making it, and all the goodness that comes with it. A loaf of fresh bread made with love tastes and nourishes us more. An earring made with care gives you more joy as you wear it, and you share the story of the artisan who made it.
When smol potatoes make something, be it muffins or earrings, it’s not just to make money – it’s to create happiness and joy, both for themselves and for you. Which brings me to Hillary and Christina.
We met Hillary last week, and she looked and sounded like Tasha. They both wore the same glasses too. And she said all the same things that Tasha would say. Like, “I can’t stare at the computer all day, so I bake and I make kombucha.”
A creative soul with a 9-5 job, she uses her spare time to make and to bake. Just look at all these delicious goodies she made!
On the same day that we met Hillary, we also dropped by to collect earrings from Christina. Tasha didn’t know we were going to collect earrings, she mentioned how beautiful it was on a Facebook post, and for the first time in our 11 years together, I got the hint. So I ordered a pair of super cute earrings and surprised Tasha.
Hillary, Christina, is post is an ode to makers like you. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful, more bearable place. We just want to say that we appreciate you.
When you buy something handmade, you’re not only buying an item, you’re buying the love and the care that was put into making it, and all the goodness that comes with it.
Share this post with an artisan that you love and enjoy the product of their passion.
If you’d like to get your own bottle of kombucha or choco-orange brioche, look for Hillary here: smolpotato.com/author/home2plate/
And for your own pair of handcrafted earrings, look for Christina here: smolpotato.com/author/hello-amelia/