Last year, I wrote a post about the importance of supporting small businesses during the holidays. I was thrilled by the response it got, and by how many of you spread the word by using the banners I designed on your blogs and websites. So I decided to whip up some new buttons and banners for 2012, and to reiterate my thoughts on the awesomeness of making the choice to do at least some of our holiday shopping with small and independent companies. For those of you who remember last year's post, I'm probably going to repeat myself, because my opinions haven't changed. But I figure it's a good thing to repeat. It's hard to not feel charmed by the huge sales and low price tags of big box stores, and a little reminder of why small can be better never hurts.
In 2000, I set up a hand-me-down sewing machine on a cardboard box and worked 16-18 hour days, 7 days a week, with the goal of starting my own clothing line. I had a degree in theatre, and aside from working at a boutique for a year right out of college, had absolutely no business experience. I was clueless but determined. I learned bookkeeping and accounting, marketing, networking, taxes, and all of the other important elements that go into owning your own company. It was admittedly much harder than I thought it would be, but I stuck with it, and my dream to create Mountains of the Moon Eco-Fashion eventually became a reality.
Things have changed immensely since I first became a small business owner, in ways that have proved both helpful and challenging. On the plus side, things like social networking now allow us to reach much wider audiences for little to no cost. The DIY movement has also taught small business owners to do many of the things ourselves that had to be outsourced in the past. On the challenging side, the economy took a major hit, making it more difficult for everyone - especially small entrepreneurs - to make a living. And as I mentioned above, more and more big chain stores have popped up who are able to sell mass-produced merchandise to the public that is often made overseas for very cheap (marketed via glossy, luring advertisements), creating difficult "competition" for us little guys.
In last year's post, I talked about how the one thing that hasn't changed for me since I started my company is the determination to succeed in a career doing what I love, and this continues to hold true. A couple of years ago, I added my art and greeting card shop to mix, along with this blog. And although I've had plenty of bumps in the road and numerous wake-up calls, I'm beyond grateful for where I am. I'm somehow able to find ways to sustain myself, and I've learned so much more than I ever knew possible. And times like this past weekend, where I had record breaking sales in my shops thanks to the support of incredible people (like you!), remind me of why I do this. I still work longer hours than most of my friends, and I still consistently worry about paying the bills, but I wouldn't change my career for anything in the world.
I am proud to be a small business owner and equally as proud of my fellow small business owners. I like to think that we really make a difference with what we do. I am also proud of all the people who make the choice to support small companies. I'm pretty confident that I can speak for everyone who works as an independent designer, artist or entrepeuner when I say that we appreciate you more than can be expressed in words. Truly. If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't exist. The end.
During the holiday season, when we're all shopping more than usual, the decision to support small businesses is more crucial than ever. I'll be real with you guys - I'm not saying that we're not allowed to go to the mall or order goods from big stores online without feeling guilty. Even if you buy one gift from an independent shop this season, you're making a positive impact. (And major kudos to those who buy all of their gifts that way!) Small businesses return more of each dollar into the local economy and provide more new jobs than large chain stores, so every purchase counts. And when we shop handmade and local, we get to give unique gifts made with love, and we also get higher quality products and more personalized customer service. Because small and local companies create much less waste and use many less fossil fuels by choosing not to produce merchandise overseas, we're also helping out the earth. Win-win! But best of all, when we shop small businesses, we are supporting creativity, fostering community, and encouraging talent, which truly does make our world a more beautiful place.
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If you've gotten this far, I hope you'll join me in supporting small businesses for the holidays again this year and encouraging others to do the same. The buttons banners (above and below) were designed to show support for and spread the word about the importance of shopping handmade, local, and indie. I decided to make a variety of different sizes and styles (including some inspired by my holiday cards, plus a couple of my favorites from last year). Please feel free to use them on your websites, blogs, facebook pages, etc. Just right click on an image to copy and paste, or copy the code below it to insert into your html. (A link back to www.bubbyandbean.com or this post is appreciated, but not required.) And then be sure to leave a comment on this post with the link to your blog, website or page that is displaying the banner/button so others can visit you!
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Thank you for listening to me repeat my (perhaps overly passionate) views on this topic again this year, thank you for supporting small businesses, and thank you for being wonderful readers. Happy Holidays!