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Hope for all us small manufacturers

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just received a copy of this letter from BreeAnne from Tiny Revolutionary and it is great to hear that we are being considered.


Also received this email from Congressman Earl Blumenauer today:
Dear Mrs. Frost,

Thank you for your letter regarding the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the recently enacted Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. I am a strong supporter of that law, which ensures that children's products do not contain dangerous amounts of lead.

Under the Act, all products aimed at children 12 and under must be tested for lead and phthalates, beginning February 10th. Recognizing that this testing may place a heavy burden on smaller retailers, I'm very pleased that the Commission is taking a critical look at the manner these requirements will be implemented. I am also pleased that Congress will be reviewing these requirements early this year to ensure they are implemented as efficiently and fairly as possible.

Again, thank you for expressing your concerns and I look forward to the implementation of a law that protects children and preserves economic opportunity.

Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress


CPSIA law takes effect Feb. 10th. Retailers take inventory of all your current stock!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Got this information directly from the horse's mouth, Nychelle Fleming, spokesperson for the CPSC. As a retailer and reseller of new children products everything you have in stock before Feb. 10th 2009 does not need to have certification or be tested for lead. This is also true for resellers of used children products. What we do need to do as resellers is to make sure that we don't accidently resell products that contain lead. This means carefully screening all your instock products for metal and paints. Things like cribs, jewelry for kids, snaps, zippers etc should be verified because if you do inadvertendly sell something with lead and you get caught the fine is heafty.
You can rent a scanner that tests for lead if you have a ton of products you are concerned about.
Or you can just throw away those items. But, things like cotton t-shirts or books you can continue to resell and there is no deadline for getting these products off your shelves.
Resellers are responsible for making sure the products they put on their shelves after Feb. 10th do have certification so keep your records.
Manufacturers have to test and certify anything they sell after Feb. 10th. They must test all products for lead and toys, sleepwear, childcare items (bedding, bibs, burp cloths) for lead and phthalates.

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Always get your quote in writing

Monday, January 05, 2009

While I am ranting away I learned a valuable lesson this last week. Always ask for a quote in writing because you may be on a very different page than the contractor you are working with. Also, contracts are very good to have as well. A signed contract from a previous contractor saved me a couple of thousand dollars when he did not fulfill his end of the contract.

I got my quote over the phone. Big mistake. Big misunderstanding. He said he charged $20 an hour and I am like wow cheap but he did come with a reference.

I wanted him to move the cat tree on the left up a little, add a little to my css, add in a couple of boxes at the bottom of the page so I can put in specials. Nothing major. In my mind I am thinking 2 to 3 hours tops. He tells me I should convert from tables to divs and I say sure. He says to pull out the javascript and I say sure. Both seem very minor. Then I ask for a quote and he says he figures around twenty but if he goes over he will let me know.

I am thinking twenty DOLLARS and also thinking "Wow, that is really really cheap but if he can do all that in one hour more power to him. I think, he is probably quoting low and will probably end up calling me"....never ever imagining that someone would turn this into a twenty HOUR project. My whole website store took less than that. I could have taught myself CSS in that amount of time.

I get a bill for $400 and a page that looks like crap in ie6, with a style sheet not attached to the xml...just a lot of buggy stuff and because I was thinking $20 and once I get the basic layout I will beautify it into what I really want I get an ugly assed looking page too (my fault...he did say he wasn't an image guy). A contractor that can take a 3 hour project and turn it into a 20 hour one (actually 40 cause he said he spent 40 hours and was cutting me a deal and I could throw in some clothing to make it even!) ....well it can happen so get your quote in writing.

I do not think this contractor was cheating me. I honestly think he took 40 hours of his time to work on tweaking my front page. I do not think him a bad person. He just worked in a very different way than I do. I should have been suspicious when I got a long paragraph about how my facebook logo wasn't showing up and the reasons why and how it might be fixed and I am like dude, don't worry about that, it will show up once you are on my server. I think this contractor was overly diligent and slow as molasses because he was probably teaching himself along the way. Hence the cheap $20 an hour price tag.

IF I had gotten a quote in writing from him I would have realized that he intended to take 20 hours to tweak my front page and all the pain that followed could have been avoided. My bad. Lesson learned.

I just spent 5 hours learning some CSS and redid my page.

Here was our starting point:

Here is what I got from the contractor:
Really ugly in explorer 6 as is most everything

Here is my redo:

And now I know some CSS. :)

Extremism defines the US...my rant

It is everywhere. Good vs Evil. Either you are on the good side or the bad side. Stories, books, movies. If you are evil you are quite evil. So evil you deserve to die and the good are good because they take out the evil. It is a necessity. This is what we are teaching our children. This is what my daughter is learning. So, I have taken to telling her stories where the grossly evil are actually not so bad, in fact can turn out to be your best friend if given the opportunity.
Our politics are a shining example and on the polar ends of both camps sit very frightening closed minded people. People who judge others. People who write in to websites they take offense to only to offend back, to kill, to take down...all the while feeling justified somehow. People who write into sites that sell baby clothing to rant on and on.
Today I see it in our laws. Ever since I started babywit I have been begging for phthalate free goods. I have requested from all my vendors. In my own shop I use what is supposed to be (as much as possible) free of things like lead and phthalates. Overseas for quite awhile it has been illegal to make children's goods with these poisons in them. The US lagged far, far behind in any sort of legislation to protect our children. Finally, after a few deaths, a few scares they come up with an act. An act so extreme that it will dismember the entire sector of manufacturers that make children's goods. Handmade toys, locally sewn clothing and on and on. What is it with the US? All I see happening is for phthalates to be removed from products and then a huge plastic makin' companies to come along with something equally horrible ....I mean it is plastic afterall....that does just as much harm to our environment and our children...am I just a downer or what?
I am all for testing but sound testing that makes sense and doesn't wipe out an entire sector from existence... one sector that is actually using or trying to use materials that leave a lighter footprint on our earth.
That was my ten minute rant and sorry it doesn't make much sense at all. Lots of coffee and irritation.

Please help keep small manufactures like Baby Wit in business!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Read this article in the LA times about what is going down:

As most of you know I own a children's clothing business, and as of February 10, myself and thousands of others in the children's industry will be deeply affected financially or will be out of business. Remember the outcry last holiday season over lead in imported toys? In order to combat such safety issues, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has passed legislation called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The law sets stringent guidelines for children's products containing lead and phthalates (a chemical used in some vinyl products). It is supposed to go into effect February 10th, 2009, and after that date any product intended for children ages 12 and under must meet these guidelines, and have a certificate of compliance from a CPSC-accredited laboratory. This includes not just toys, but clothing, jewelry, blankets, sheets, books, bibs, strollers, carriers, and anything else that a child under 12 might come in contact with. Sounds great, right?

In theory, maybe. But in actuality the law is so far reaching that it may succeed in turning the economy upside down. For starters, the CPSIA requires end unit testing on every product intended for use by children under 12. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to do this testing, regardless of how small the business. That means that manufacturers (like myself ) will have to pay to get every different product they offer tested. These tests have to be done at a CSPC accredited lab, and cost tens of thousands of dollars. For example if you offer 3 different types of dresses. Each dress contains 2 different fabrics, as well as buttons, and thread, so that's potentially $600 to test one dress. But if you have 3 or more styles, that's $1800. And when you get a new bolt of fabric, you need to start all over again.
At present, there are no exemptions for small businesses and "micro" manufacturers and most handcraft artisans. There is no exception for quantities made, where the garments/products are made or anything else. Nor is there an exception for unadorned fabric components, unfinished wood components, materials which, by their nature, are free of lead and phthalates.

Also, the Act takes a "guilty until proven innocent" approach, which would treat a handmade, unfinished wooden toy that doesn't meet the certification deadline of 2/10/09 as a "banned hazardous substance" which would be illegal to distribute in this country. Each infraction carries a $100,000 felony charge. This legislation is also retroactive for any pre-existing inventory as of February 10th, 2009. This means that everything on the shelves in those big (or small) stores will also be "banned, hazardous substances" - contraband.
Larger corporations that can afford testing will incur thousands, maybe millions of dollars in fees, and this expense will be handed down to the consumer, probably making the prices for children's products go through the roof.
This also means that after that date, even selling your kids old things on eBay or Craigslist will be illegal. Charities will not be able to accept donations without a certificate of compliance either. February 10, 2009 is being dubbed "National Bankruptcy Day" by many people in the apparel and toy industry. If this legislation is not amended, it will affect everyone from port workers to parents looking for legal products. Billions of dollars worth of children's products will have to be destroyed because they can't be legally sold, and this will cause major environmental problems.
While I am all for higher safety standards and keeping our kids safe, this law is so overreaching as to put thousands on manufacturers of children's products out of business -hurting our economy and causing even more loan defaults. Though this legislation was well-intentioned, it cannot be allowed to stand as is.
Please help us defend the American dream and our entrepreneurial spirit! This law affects every stay at home mom trying to help put food on the table and every grandmother knitting blankets for the local craft fair. It makes the thousands of us who have found a niche in the burgeoning children's market have to make a tough decision - continue to produce items illegally and possible incur a $100,000 fine, pay the enormous fees and raise costs of goods sold, or close up shop!

Please help us!
Contact your Congressperson by clicking HERE.
It only takes 30 seconds!
If you have an extra minute send a hard copy of the letter as well!

To sign the online petition click HERE.

Read more about it here at www.nationalbankruptcyday.com

Please copy and paste this on your blogs, we need all the help we can get!

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The intention behind it is wonderful and great. Make sure our kids our safe. Protect them from products which inflict harm. As a mom of an infant you know I am all about keeping my children safe. I am tired of worrying that his plastic ducky or teething toys may contain something that hurts him. I am tired of finding out that my daughter's toys have been painted with lead paint.

But, this act is written in such a way that it will put every small manufacturer of products for children out of business. What it says is that you have to get every single end product tested for lead & phthalates. There are no exceptions. If you make an organic cotton dress and dye it each style and each colorway must be tested. Tests start around $600. To test an abbrievated line might run close to 20k. I would no longer be able to offer 40,000+ combinations of images on tees. Can you imagine getting that tested?

With this law coming I had prepared by seeking out (hard to find!) a manufacturer that produced phthalate free transfers. We started purchasing them in October of 2008. We were the first to purchase them from this manufacturer as they had just cleared them. We do not print with plastisol but print all our shirts with water-based inks...the oasis line from Wilflex....although we are looking into the Rutland inks as these seem to be a bit easier to manage and we hate doing discharge. Stinky.

Our fabrics are sustainable, our thread is cotton, we hand-dye our products using a low-impact dye and we make everything here in Portland, OR. But, we are not excluded from this forced testing. Guess who the idiot was that signed this act into being?

As a small manufacturer I don't mind getting all my products tested but shouldn't it be done at a component level? Does it make sense for me to get my various styles tested if they all use the same fabrics, zippers, elastic, snaps and dyes? What a waste of $! If everything I use passes certification wouldn't it make sense to assume that the end product is free of these harmful chemicals? What is logical about asking small struggling businesses to bear the cost of making sure our society is safe? If every end product is tested can you imagine there even being enough labs to do the testing? Can you imagine how they are going to enforce this act?!

But, Rebecca came up with a brilliant solution to all of this. If this act does not get amended in March so that we can continue to make and sell our products we are changing the name of our site to Midgetwit.com. I hope that url isn't taken yet.

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