When I do shows, customers often ask if my work is available online. It’s nice to think about browsing through online stores (and I spend a lot of time doing it, more than I would perhaps like to admit), but I have a really hard time buying online. Maybe I’m just not used to ordering things and having them magically appear, and that in time I will grow to love and accept this new mode of consumerism…. Or is it that, for me anyway, the best part about shopping is the actual experience of it all? My in person shopping choices have always felt more authentic to me than those that arrived via online shopping, so there’s something to the actual experience that provides added dimension over click and ship, and I really believe it has to do with a feeling of connectedness: that something is actually taking place, before my eyes, and I am a part of it.
I enjoy the feeling of connection that comes from buying local, knowing that the money I spend at a small, independent business will go on to circulate throughout the community, but the connection runs deeper to the actual feeling of BEING physically present in the shop, in that moment. The purchase becomes a historical document, of who I was, on that date and time.
Being someone who works with fabric, I need to see the thread count, to see the finish on the fabric, to feel it against my skin and enjoy the tactile nature that only a garment can provide. I want to be able to see the construction, the craftsmanship, to see how it moves. That is the true euphoria of shopping, to see a garment and really fall in love with it, to see it on and within moments have it in my hands and know that I *really* do love it, that it is worthy of my hard earned dollars and limited closet space.
Online shopping to me feels like dating, where we’re told it’s ok to be picky and hold out for the perfect “one”, but we need to constantly guard against heartache (not to mention countless returns), so we begin to lower our expectations to lessen the blow of disappointment. It’s like being set up: we kinda know what we’re getting, but until we see it before us, we can’t really be sure how we feel about things. Boutique shopping feels like falling head over heels and eloping, where we have made the best possible choice because we saw all the options (and tried them all on) and with a quick swipe of a credit card, we’re off to live happily ever after.
I don’t want to entirely discount the value of online shopping, it definitely has it’s time and place: when you know *exactly* what you’re looking for, and have limited time or the item isn’t available in stores, but I’ve never had the same thrill opening a box. I prefer to do my browsing with a browser, but for the actual spend, it’s a different story. I love the hunting, the gathering, the spontaneity of trying something totally for fun and the joy of discovery that it actually really works. Why should we deny ourselves the thrill of discovery, surely we deserve it at least once in a while?
For me, I find if I know the company, I still feel satisfied buying online (as my repeat orders to Element Botanicals and Daub and Design will attest) but I already feel a connection and know what I’m getting, whereas with something new (or that I need to try on) I find I want to buy it in person because I know for every item in a designer’s online shop, there’s at least one more hiding out someplace in their market booth. So while I eagerly look forward to my next package arriving from Element Botanicals, I am even more excited to see her in person at First Pick because I know I’ll discover something new. And the same holds true for all our other designers. This is the wonder of handmade, the thing that elevates purchasing handmade from mere buying to something special: the
sense of connection, the notion of finding something unique and getting the designer’s take on their own designs.
I hope that each customer coming through the door at First Pick will feel that they are part of something greater than just buying stuff, and that they will discover new brands and head home feeling educated about their purchases. As a show organizer, I want to play match maker and introduce the public to new local designers that they may never otherwise come across, so each line at the show has been carefully selected for craftsmanship, materials and design, something that can only truly be appreciated in person. I want to make it as quick and easy as shopping online, but in a boutique setting, where everything is handmade. As a designer, I can’t wait to show you the new work I’ve been putting heart and soul into, and tell you about each item because to me it’s not just something to wear, it’s something I’ve made just for you.