Saturday, May 7, 2011

China vs Etsy

Cafe near China Factory 
First I want to say that I love and support Handmade, but there is a balance, I also support factory made in the US and Overseas, because we aren't all artists and we all need work.

Lately, I've been thinking about this China factory issue. I know that Etsy sellers and other indie artists on sites like Artfire and Zibbet are upset that as soon as they post a new design on their site, a China factory is copying it and ready to ship to the US. As a former product designer that worked in China factories, I'd like to give you a more global look at what is happening to you and to others like us.

I don't deny that it's a crime that can't be stopped, that other countries are copying  our designs to retail in the US at a fraction of what it takes us to produce. But is it the fault of the Chinese or any of the other countries, like Vietnam and India, who also produce for our purchasing pleasure? Not really. We ourselves are to blame. Our need to have, have, have and at the lowest cost possible is what drives this. 

Product would not be made overseas if we as a nation were not buying it. Our US companies are driving the overseas factory to watch our seller sites and copy merchandise. The Chinese have no idea what will sell here, they are directed by Americans as to what to copy. Believe me, it is true. 

The Chinese citizens are for the most part kind, hard working, and very talented people. I have been to a lot of countries for work and never have I enjoyed the people more. Like us, there are a few bad eggs, but for the most part it is a wonderful country, very different than ours, but wonderful.

There is another aspect that I would like you to consider. Like my own story, design jobs are getting harder and harder to find. There isn't a need for product designers anymore when designs are readily lifted off the internet for free. Why would a company need to pay a staff of designers? Some do as they boast in house design, many smaller firms don't care in this economy, so many of my design colleagues are out of work or finding new careers like selling craft as an indie. 

There are so may sides to the geodesic dome of life. We should all consider what is on the side we can't see.

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