I was thinking about why I liked to buy things that are handmade (or make them myself), and it really boiled down to this: I want more people to have the opportunity to live the way that I live (thanks to my loyal customers).
Now before you get up in arms and start shouting that you aren't interested in living in poverty with frozen pipes, and plywood walls, and eating beans every day (we don't do this, by the way), I don't mean live the life that I live. I mean that when people work for themselves, when they can work out of their homes, their lives are enriched.
Speaking for myself only, my life has been enriched since I started working for myself.
+I have more free time (no commute, no preparations, no lunch "break" wasting my time away from home).
+I am able to be pay myself to take care of my son (which is essentially what you are doing when you eschew daycare, preschool, babysitters and nannies).
+My son is spared from being carted around to the caregiver (s), which means less rushed, grumpy transitions times, and more time to play and relax, plus a more secure attachment that I will be there to meet his needs.
+I am able to take care of my home better ("able to" does not always translate into "will" for those of us that are on the messy side).
+Just recently, I have even given up my van (after living in it for 6 months or so). I now rely on the bus, neighbors, and the occasional taxi or rental car. That saves me money in more ways than one, but I'll do a whole post on that later.
+I can work when it's convenient for me. When my son was a toddler, I mostly worked with tools at night, because he didn't want to be left alone. Now I can work with tools at half an hour stretches at various times throughout the day. I also bring my hand sanding with me everywhere so I can work at the playground or the laundromat or outside while Caleb is playing.
+I get the satisfaction of making beautiful, functional toys. After working in an office shuffling paper for 5 years or so, it is immensely satisfying to work and have a finished product.
+I am able to structure my business around my beliefs and ideals. I only use natural products, and I make nice toys that kids will enjoy and will last and finally when they are trashed, they will rot and go back into the earth instead of sitting around in a landfill for however long it takes for plastic to decay.
+Working from home is much less wasteful and more productive, which means you can do more in less time, with less money, which gives you more time for living.
+I never have to come home from work raving about how stupid my bosses are (I just rave about myself!), or how terrible corporate stores are (my brother works at Borders-he does a lot of raving).
+If I'm sick, I take the day off or work in spurts. I recover faster, because I am able to give my body time. I'm also exposed to less sickness not being in an office.
+Working for yourself encourages honesty, excellence, and diligence.
I have so many more options now that I am not losing five full days to work. That 40 hours each week? Well really it ends up being at least 50 with the commute and the prep (and that miserable half an hour stuck on to the front of your day-it used to be 9-5, but now it's 8:30-5) and maybe there is overtime. Plus once you get home, you are so drained, all you really want to do is put something in the microwave and sit in front of the tv. Now that I don't have to deal with that. I've taken to learning new things! I sew dolls, I crochet, I felt, I learn new woodworking techniques, I cook from scratch, I read long, deep books about history and philosophy and economics and science.
By purchasing things that are handmade, I'm contributing to a better life for someone. And yes, it can be more expensive (it can also be cheaper), but that also encourages you to buy less (good thing).
To be honest, I hardly buy anything besides groceries and supplies for my shop and occasionally clothes from the thrift store, but when I do, I try to always think could I get that on etsy? Could I help someone else stay home with her kids? Could I help support quality, REAL customer service, and individuality?
Why do you buy handmade?