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 Beware of the Un-crafty Crafter

Your purchase may not be as “homemade” as it seems.

By Cait DeStefano

September through November is a crafter’s paradise. Craft fairs are many and a great way to turn your hobby into a business.  Just beware, not all crafters are actually as crafty as them appear to be. 

I design, assemble, and sell handmade custom jewelry. I am often asked when contacting craft fair organizers, ‘Do you sell Jewelry?’ as it seems more and more jewelry vendors are appearing at each craft fair.  Why is this happening you may ask? Jewelry can be purchased wholesale online for as little as 90 cents and is often advertised as custom handmade jewelry at fairs. I cannot make one earring at such a low cost let alone a pair of earrings.  A well-known wholesale website sells a multi strand brown seed bead necklace and matching earrings for $1.90. A similar necklace cost me approximately $6 in materials to make and which I sold for $25. When NJ State sales tax is deducted and assorted business expenses including materials and the pretty gift bag that all my products come in, it leaves me little room for profit. Yet, I have to keep my costs low to compete with craft vendors who buy online necklaces and sell them for $16 with a free pair of earrings.

Being an artisan means we put a lot of time into our work and that time is rarely reflected in the price of the product we sell. So, how does one tell the difference between homemade jewelry and wholesale purchased products? Simply ask the seller, they should know their product inside and out, including what metal used, is it plated or solid, and can they make changes to the item? When I participate in craft fairs I bring all my supplies with me and limited selection of stones and gems. I have changed clasped bracelets to stretch bracelets because an older woman is unable to open the clasp, and have added length or shortened bracelets to accommodate wrist size. My goal is to make the customer happy with their purchase and make the piece as unique as the person purchasing the product. That is why I stand by my product and provide a 1 year guarantee with purchases.

 As a business woman I try to see where I can cut costs. If needed, the first thing to be cut would be the gift bag every purchase comes in. Yet, I feel that every customer should feel that they just gave a present to themselves.  Do I jeopardize my product and order oversees? Then how can I guarantee the metal I am purchasing is truly sterling silver and not just plated? Even worse what do I say to the customer who has an iron allergy when they ask if the jewelry is iron free? All these issues factor into decisions I make that effect costs to produce, prices for the customer, and quality of the product I sell.

 I ask you the consumer to be cautious of who you are buying from and what you are purchasing.  The government is cracking down on craft vendors and may require stickers to be placed on all items sold to state the origin of the product. Until this law is passed you will just have faith that the vendor will be truthful in their sales practices.

 Cait DeStefano, started Cait’s Classic Designs in August 2010 but has been gifting her crafts to friends and family for years. Cait resides in Mickleton with her husband and two young boys. She works full time as a research analyst, programming database syntax that she learned while acquiring her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Delaware.

 Cait’s pieces are for sale at She also takes appointments for custom designs for bridal parties and other special occasions. She can be contacted at or 609-502-0741.


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