Many handicrafters use natural, even entirely indigenous, materials while others may prefer modern, non-traditional materials, and even upcycle industrial materials. The individual artisanship of a handicrafted item is the paramount criterion; those made by mass production or machines are not handicraft goods.
These activities were called crafts because originally many of them were professions under the guild system. Adolescents were apprenticed to a master craftsman, and refined their skills over a period of years in exchange for low wages. By the time their training was complete, they were well equipped to set up in trade for themselves, earning their living with the skill that could be traded directly within the community, often for goods and services.
Even though e-commerce is growing, Dickerson says, the vast majority of retail sales still happen offline. So, Etsy partnered with the Williams-Sonoma retail chain West Elm.
"Let’s say I’m a buyer and I’m looking for a wedding gown. One gown is $78 because it’s from a factory in China, but the woman has a cute little name, like Joanie Sews, and so you think it’s a person. And the other gown is $600 because it really is one woman trying to make this thing for you for your wedding," Winchell says. "Which one are you going to buy? So it sets up unfair competition between factories and homemakers."
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