Monday, January 12, 2009

Wow - 2009 !!!! How did this happen? Remember all the science fiction shows that were set in the future? I think we’re there.

If you only have a moment to read today, please jump down and read the part about the CPSIA!! It’s really important!!

I try to look at January as a transition time. Time to clean up the left over everything from last year and time for a fresh start in so many areas.

Out With the Old --

I still have a few Christmas gifts to get to their rightful recipients. This is not unusual as there are a few family members and close friends that we simply do not catch up to until sometime in January every year. I like to keep the tree up as long as possible but this year, the needles were dropping fast and we definitely took it down a few days ahead of normal. (“Normal” for us, that is.!) I think the Big Guy was actually thrilled. He comes from a family that always put the tree and decorations up like clockwork on the day after Thanksgiving and most of it is packed away by noon on New Year’s Day. I came from a family that put the tree up on Christmas Eve and it stayed up at least until Little Christmas and often into mid-January. I love the holidays and taking it all down seems so depressing. I mean, January and February are not that exciting a season to rush into! I guess I’ll have to take the wreaths off the door and windows this week, too.

In With the New --

Unfortunately, not everything “NEW” is good. The bureaucrats in D.C. have come up with a doozie this time!! The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) has been passed into law and will be enforced beginning February 10, 2009. Excellent intentions with terrible execution!

In an effort to stop dangerous, lead laden imports from falling into America’s smallest citizens’ hands, Congress rushed into this legislation. Attempting to appear proactive, especially in an election year, they passed a broad, general and very ambiguous bill requiring all products geared toward children ages 12 and under, and all products that could conceivably be used by those under 13, to undergo rigorous and expensive testing for hazardous wastes - specifically lead and phthalates. These are normally found in plastics and some paints. Most American-made paints since the late 70s have not contained these ingredients.

Aimed at those cheap, junky imports the law also blankets American manufacturers, both large and small, and the independent craftspeople who manufacture and sell even just one toy, outfit or baby afghan. It also covers “distribution” (not just sales) of all children’s products. All materials are included, even that sweet, soft baby yarn Grandma is crocheting with. As written, donations to the church bazaar or the local hospital are prohibited unless we test that little hat or afghan for these hazards.

None of us wants to create harmful merchandise and hand it to a child and that is not why this law is badly written. The law requires every item to be 3rd-party tested and to carry “certification” of those test results even for those items made from components that are sold for use by children and certified safe by those manufacturers. This will put most of us out of business or at least stop us from producing quality, safe and unique children’s items. I guess that’s why all the kids on “The Jetsons” all wore the same outfits!

The testing is expensive, starting at $40 “per component.” Using one of my, one of a kind, items as an example, let’s say I want to make and sell a baby onesie with a cute fish painted on it. I will go to the store and purchase a plain onesie marketed by Gerber or Carter or a similar company and, presumably, already certified as toxin-free under this new law. I then paint it with American made fabric paints, also each certified by the manufacturer to comply with this law. After taking the onesie home and painting the design on it, I am now the “manufacturer” of that product and must have it tested and certified. I would need to have the onesie itself tested, and if the design used, say 6 colors, each of those colors needs to be individually tested, too. Should I be able to locate that tester that is doing it for as low as $40/test, we are talking seven separate test procedures for a testing charge of $280! Normally, I sell the product for $15. Will you pay almost $300 for a onesie in a newborn size?

I believe this law will be altered and revised to accommodate the good old American craftsman but there is the question of when that will all happen. Congress has never been known for speed! If you are interested in knowing more, simply google “CPSIA” and you’ll come up with a ton of info. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly find a shortage of children’s products available after February 10th!!

Okay, I'll climb down from the soapbox for the moment.

Among the fresh starts I planned has been putting more time into promoting my business and website. I’ve been making all sorts of notes for the last few months concerning marketing approaches, promotionals, etc. Now with this huge roadblock - the new CPSIA -I’m not quite sure what way to go. I’m sure exceptions are coming - eventually - that will allow me to make and sell my products. However, those changes are unlikely to be made before February 10, 2009. In the meantime, I need to focus in other directions. I need to determine which of my adult clothes I can put on the website and determine which household and décor items I want to go that way with also. I believe I need to get some of these on the site before the deadline as Etsy may need to take administrative action to remove the children’s products from the server. I want my site to stay active, so I need to have some “legal” products there.

I want to work on some other areas of my life, too. I've kind of let my attempts at fictional writing slide a bit since this time last year. I want to get back on a stricter schedule of writing. I'll never be Danielle Steele turning out several books a year but I'd love to do at least one in this lifetime!! (My style is closer to Evanovich than Steele !) As always, I want to do better at staying in touch with friends and family - especially the older folks. (Yes, there is a generqation OLDER than ours!) Of course, I want to get more organized and stick with it!!! (Like that'll take!!!)

As for the immediate wants - I'm fixing a turkey dinner tonight so I need to get busy in the kitchen soon. We're traveling later in the week so I also need to get laundry done and ironing so all we have to do is grab from the closet tomorrow night so I can pack. Our original plan was to leave very early Thursday morning but there's a weather system we're watching and may end up driving through the night Wednesday instead, leaving as soon as the Big Guy gets home from work. That makes packing happen a day early! I also need to finish a birthday gift that is traveling with us.

So, I really need to get off this computer -- NOW!!!

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