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   Attention, hipsters who proclaim they have quit corporate jobs to enter "artisan economy" of "hyper-local" businesses selling "handmade" goods: you didn't invent that. "It's as old as selling eggs on the farmhouse porch. And it doesn't work"

14 Dec 2012 10:50 PM   |   10585 clicks   |   The Atlantic
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diaphoresis     
obvious tag went to communal colony

14 Dec 2012 10:51 PM
Omahawg     
what?

I sell my sperm over the internet as a "wrinkle reducing facial cream"

is that wrong? and, if it is, do I ever want to be right?

14 Dec 2012 10:53 PM
trivial use of my dark powers     

diaphoresis: obvious tag went to communal colony


It tripped over a pile of PBR empties and broke its neck.

14 Dec 2012 10:53 PM
Outrageous Muff     
You mean artisanal pickles isn't a solid business model?

14 Dec 2012 10:54 PM
Indubitably     
Says the corporatocracy.

14 Dec 2012 10:55 PM
netcentric     
Hipsters.....you didn't build that

14 Dec 2012 10:55 PM
Seasons I'v Withered     
When I was a kid my mom gathered eggs -- with me

14 Dec 2012 10:58 PM
Indubitably     
I build mind, not label, jackhat.

14 Dec 2012 10:58 PM
skinink     
I sell a skinny jeans remover.

14 Dec 2012 11:00 PM
Fuggin Bizzy     

Omahawg: what?

I sell my sperm over the internet as a "wrinkle reducing facial cream"

is that wrong? and, if it is, do I ever want to be right?


I came



here to make some sort of weak sexual joke...but I see that's been covered. I'll show myself out.

/Grabs hat off rack, whistles lightly.

14 Dec 2012 11:02 PM
Fuggin Bizzy     

Outrageous Muff: You mean artisanal pickles isn't a solid business model?


No. Anal pickles...possibly.

/Okay, really leaving now.

14 Dec 2012 11:03 PM
murdoch's_weeners     
I agree with the article's perspective, but not its (and subby's) contempt. Subby is right - this isn't new. I think it started with the Yangist movement in China many thousands of years ago. Which means there's been pushback against urban culture pretty much since urban culture became a Thing. And there's always been good reason for it: people see themselves and everyone around them pouring all their energy into Stuff, the possession of which necessitates the need for more Stuff, and everyone's trying to learn the rules of an increasingly complicated culture.

The desire to get away from that a little bit, to step back and try to take control of it somehow, plays out in different ways. Some people don't just quit their day jobs; they form whole communities with economies as self-contained as they can make them. Other people just try to back off a little - try to create something that feels authentic.

I know it's a little marxist to say that separating the laborer from the product of her labor is dangerous, but at the very least, I think it opens the doors to lack of fulfillment. I feel bad for someone whose attempt to do something that makes them feel more authentic backfires on them... I don't get the contempt here.

/not a hipster
//likes money and Stuff

14 Dec 2012 11:04 PM
Indubitably     

Fuggin Bizzy: Outrageous Muff: You mean artisanal pickles isn't a solid business model?

No. Anal pickles...possibly.

/Okay, really leaving now.


Run away?

14 Dec 2012 11:04 PM
StoPPeRmobile     

Indubitably: Says the corporatocracy.


Watch your tongue peasant.

14 Dec 2012 11:05 PM
cotb     
The article talks about the perils of trying a small business, but what happens when there's a cultural shift and there's a hipster critical economic mass (read: a market appears) as opposed to plain old "unhip" business? Seems like the artisanal thing is a niche market different from the roadside fruit stand. Also the difficulty of "scaling up" may not apply when someone just wants to make a living rather than fulfilling a dream of an organic rosemary/provence pickle for every citizen.

14 Dec 2012 11:06 PM
Wizzin     
Still better than being a mindless drone for the shareholders.

14 Dec 2012 11:07 PM
Indubitably     

StoPPeRmobile: Indubitably: Says the corporatocracy.

Watch your tongue peasant.


Careful.

There might be a king under yer heel, friend, for you've yet to find,

14 Dec 2012 11:07 PM
Vectron     
Article says entrepeneurs are not always successful. Thanks Romero.

We can't all have relatives in the movie business or publishing. Or even in admissions at Harvard. But we does the best we can to build a life we like.

14 Dec 2012 11:11 PM
DB     

murdoch's_weeners: I agree with the article's perspective, but not its (and subby's) contempt. Subby is right - this isn't new. I think it started with the Yangist movement in China many thousands of years ago. Which means there's been pushback against urban culture pretty much since urban culture became a Thing. And there's always been good reason for it: people see themselves and everyone around them pouring all their energy into Stuff, the possession of which necessitates the need for more Stuff, and everyone's trying to learn the rules of an increasingly complicated culture.


"A career? I've thought about this quite a bit sir and I would have to say considering what's waiting out there for me, I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I don't want to do that. My father's in the army. He wants me to join, but I can't work for that corporation, so what I've been doing lately is kick-boxing, which is a new sport..."

14 Dec 2012 11:12 PM
thisispete     
I'm no hipster, but I can admire their efforts in trying to start a business. Who wouldn't want to be their own boss? And if they fail, chalk it up to experience.

14 Dec 2012 11:12 PM
stirfrybry     
barter will be the weapon to defeat the NWO

14 Dec 2012 11:13 PM
fisker    [TotalFark]  
do you guys hate hipsters?

14 Dec 2012 11:13 PM
Indubitably     

fisker: do you guys hate hipsters?


There is no such thing,

14 Dec 2012 11:15 PM
doglover    [TotalFark]  

cotb: Also the difficulty of "scaling up" may not apply when someone just wants to make a living


This is a big thing. Not everyone starts a business to grow it into a corporation.

Some people want a return to the family business. They're sick of Coca-Cola style homogenization and mass production.

Personally, I like small places better than big chains. 9/10 they're better in some ways. 10/10 they're better in all ways.

But corporations make the most money because that's what they're designed to do. A soda jerk with a fountain at the drugstore was an artist. He could whip up anything you could dream up and make it good. A junior bartender. A god among kids. But that requires a lot more money and upkeep than a mere machine with five flavors. Hence the machines are now making the drinks. But any given Tuesday, you'd rather have the jerk whip up your drink from a fully stocked fountain. It's just not as profitable.

14 Dec 2012 11:16 PM
Omahawg     

Fuggin Bizzy: Omahawg: what?

I sell my sperm over the internet as a "wrinkle reducing facial cream"

is that wrong? and, if it is, do I ever want to be right?

I came



here to make some sort of weak sexual joke...but I see that's been covered. I'll show myself out.

/Grabs hat off rack, whistles lightly.


come on, man, do you know how hard it is to hit that funnel day after day to get every last drop into those little bottles?

sometimes I feel like a milk cow

/works hard for the money. so, so hard for the money.

14 Dec 2012 11:20 PM
Ishidan     
Well, let's review. To successfully start a one-person shop you need a few things.

1. Capital. What, you think those jam jars, raw fruit, pectin, and a working kitchen just come out of nowhere?
2. A clue about how to make your product-in QUANTITY. Let's say you're a minimum wage kinda person. Even then, 8 hours a day at $7.50 an hour, that's $60 a day. Sound easy, you can beat that? Fine...except that's every day. Five days a week, $300. Now, that's what you have to PROFIT when you sell, not your gross. What you selling there, $10 bottles of homemade jam? Sell thirty on farmer's market day, you're in the hole for the costs it took you to make them, plus whatever it cost you to get the vendor stall, transport your goods, etc. How many you planning to make, there...fifty, sixty? How many pounds of fruit does that take? How many hours to make your product?
3. A clue about business accounting. Expect to spend a lot of time crunching numbers, or come tax time, the IRS is going to be on your ass.
4. Time. So, you are going to make your product, sell your product, do your own accounting, and...
Say, did I mention there's no paid time off? You don't produce or don't sell, you get NOTHING. You thought you had problems before?

14 Dec 2012 11:22 PM
Ronin_S     
This article is basically the banker in the story of the Mexican fisherman:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15 - 20 years."

"But what then?" Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!"

"Millions - then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Call me crazy, but maybe some people are just looking for fulfillment in something besides Steve Jobs level success in selling millions of the next big widget while running themselves into the ground. Is it really something worth sneering at?

14 Dec 2012 11:23 PM
drjekel_mrhyde     
I make hand-made douchebags

14 Dec 2012 11:25 PM
superdude72     
Well duh.

I thought it was understood: Quitting your office job to live on a farm and produce artisanal cheese is something you do *after* you've made your first $20 million. Those "goat farmers" on Amazing Race? I'm assuming one of them is a retired investment banker or corporate lawyer.

14 Dec 2012 11:25 PM
Cyclometh    [TotalFark]  
As someone who just left the "rat-race" to run his own small business from home, I'm getting a kick...

14 Dec 2012 11:27 PM
WhippingBoy     
I used to sell hand-crafted artisan merchandise. Then a few people started buying them and it became too mainstream so I had to quit.

14 Dec 2012 11:29 PM
MrEricSir     
BREAKING NEWSFLASH: Most new businesses fail within two years.

14 Dec 2012 11:30 PM
StoPPeRmobile     

Indubitably: StoPPeRmobile: Indubitably: Says the corporatocracy.

Watch your tongue peasant.

Careful.

There might be a king under yer heel, friend, for you've yet to find,


An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.
-the P man

/farking Romans, why do I spend so much time learning of you.

14 Dec 2012 11:30 PM
superdude72     

superdude72: Well duh.

I thought it was understood: Quitting your office job to live on a farm and produce artisanal cheese is something you do *after* you've made your first $20 million. Those "goat farmers" on Amazing Race? I'm assuming one of them is a retired investment banker or corporate lawyer.


Sorry--I should have just looked it up instead of assuming. One of them is an advertising creative director, the other is a former VP at Martha Stewart Omnimedia. They also had another TV deal.

14 Dec 2012 11:30 PM
danielscissorhands    [TotalFark]  
media1.policymic.comView Full Size

14 Dec 2012 11:32 PM
berniex     
The article keeps mentioning Etsy.

How is Etsy micro-anything ?
You're selling your hand-made craft to the WHOLE WORLD.

14 Dec 2012 11:41 PM
It's Me Bender     
Vectron:
We can't all have relatives in the movie business or publishing. Or even in admissions at Harvard. But we does the best we can to build a life we like.

I knew there was a reason I had you favorited.

14 Dec 2012 11:44 PM
doglover    [TotalFark]  

Ishidan: Well, let's review. To successfully start a one-person shop you need a few things.

1. Capital. What, you think those jam jars, raw fruit, pectin, and a working kitchen just come out of nowhere?
2. A clue about how to make your product-in QUANTITY. Let's say you're a minimum wage kinda person. Even then, 8 hours a day at $7.50 an hour, that's $60 a day. Sound easy, you can beat that? Fine...except that's every day. Five days a week, $300. Now, that's what you have to PROFIT when you sell, not your gross. What you selling there, $10 bottles of homemade jam? Sell thirty on farmer's market day, you're in the hole for the costs it took you to make them, plus whatever it cost you to get the vendor stall, transport your goods, etc. How many you planning to make, there...fifty, sixty? How many pounds of fruit does that take? How many hours to make your product?
3. A clue about business accounting. Expect to spend a lot of time crunching numbers, or come tax time, the IRS is going to be on your ass.
4. Time. So, you are going to make your product, sell your product, do your own accounting, and...
Say, did I mention there's no paid time off? You don't produce or don't sell, you get NOTHING. You thought you had problems before?


But if I run my own business, I don't have to deal with people like you.

That's worth at least a million dollars a year in stress reduction. So, actually I'm ahead of the game.

14 Dec 2012 11:44 PM
Greywar     
Welp...im sort of one of the ones the article is describing....except I didnt quit my day job. My wife is a stay at home mom, and we're doing dye sublimation. Mostly metal prints..which have turned out pretty amazing. We sell them for a decent profit. Now we're looking at adding iphone covers, and putting something up on etsy.

Is it profitable? Nope not yet, nor am I relying on it to be. Its bringing in money, but the initial capital outlay was rather large for the heat press and dye sublimation printer. So I've got my day job, and my wifes pretty happy bringing cash in. And we're making some pretty awesome stuff.

I will probably work on the website some this weekend.

We're not going to get rich....we might break even, and make a little. Its also not exactly a handcraft. But what it is is...an experience. Self esteem, and fun. Mostly its just fun.

14 Dec 2012 11:47 PM
Avatox     
OK, in the middle of a depression I started a biz, and at year 2 looking at a profit. No, I didn't guess the next big thing or reinvent the wheel, I just decided that if others could make a lot of $$$ by doing what others hated to do, I could make $$ doing the same! And #1 was NOT SELLING a "home made" or other BS product. The American dream - (selling of oneself for hard labor for some pittance of pay) is alive and well.

But- selling some home art school crap? I don't see it.

/want's to sell a new product I am willing to provide for $$
//OHH!! I like slashies!

14 Dec 2012 11:48 PM
StoPPeRmobile     

Ronin_S: Call me crazy, but maybe some people are just looking for fulfillment in something besides Steve Jobs level success in selling millions of the next big widget while running themselves into the ground. Is it really something worth sneering at?


But those are barbarians. The enemy of the republic.

14 Dec 2012 11:49 PM
Ishidan     

doglover:
But if I run my own business, I don't have to deal with people like you.

That's worth at least a million dollars a year in stress reduction. So, actually I'm ahead of the game.


If.

14 Dec 2012 11:55 PM
Anonymous Bosch    [TotalFark]  

Ronin_S: This article is basically the banker in the story of the Mexican fisherman:


Came here to post the short version of this, which is: I assume "it doesn't work" means "you'll never be a billionaire this way."

14 Dec 2012 11:56 PM
netcentric     
Just remember....you didn't build that. Someone else did before you even thought it would be hip to do it.

14 Dec 2012 11:58 PM
Bacontastesgood     
Portlandia:She's making jewelry now!

When people ask me about starting a business, I always try to get them to do a quick spreadsheet for it - I'll even send a template to them and sit down and help. Plus a one-page business plan. Real simple, not some formal 20 page thing you would show an investor. Just answer the basic quesitons - how much money will this make and take?

So few people will spend a freakin hour to do the above, and so every call I get for advice after that I say "did you do the spreadsheet?" "Well, not yet...". These are college educated folks too.

I also tell them to visit their local SCORE chapter but that seems hopeless since it's 10x more work than the above.

15 Dec 2012 12:00 AM
Gawdzila     

Ronin_S: This article is basically the banker in the story of the Mexican fisherman


Uh, not really.
The problem with your little parable is that in your story, the Mexican fisherman can actually support his family by fishing a few hours a day. But crocheting scarves and sweaters, or making home-made jam is probably barely going to make enough money to pay for your groceries, much less your rent, or the car you drive your kids to school with, or your family's health insurance.

15 Dec 2012 12:05 AM
Stibium     

murdoch's_weeners: I know it's a little marxist to say that separating the laborer from the product of her labor is dangerous, but at the very least, I think it opens the doors to lack of fulfillment.


It's very much Marxist, but that's not to say that Marx was wrong, especially considering the very dehumanizing labor practices in his day. I think that ultimately the hyper-capitalist/Taylorist model we use today is just as dehumanizing when taken as a whole.

I feel pretty strongly for it enough to have a goal of self-sustinence. I feel consumerism is a blight and sin against the soul of humanity, so I don't like to participate in it. I feel a LOT of societal ills comes from it, but I'm not going to judge either because there are lots of good things it has brought to us. Ultimately my life's goal is to have a work-life balance to where both my job and my hobbies can provide a decent living for me and my significant other. My life is not in my professional work, but in how I express my talents, especially as an inventor, handyman, machinist, and gunsmith.

/Yes, I'm a communist.
//No, I will not see the conditions necessary to convert to a communist economy in my lifetime, but it is a noble goal that doesn't necessarily preclude dignity and freedom.
///I'd much rather build you a gun than take it, so I'm not all bad, fellow Americans.

15 Dec 2012 12:08 AM
Gawdzila     

Anonymous Bosch: Ronin_S: This article is basically the banker in the story of the Mexican fisherman:

Came here to post the short version of this, which is: I assume "it doesn't work" means "you'll never be a billionaire this way."


No, that's not what the article said. What it said is that evaluations of people who are actually doing microenterprise have shown that the vast majority fail to meet the financial goals or the balance between home/work life that the people themselves were expecting, not simply that they are less profitable than standard business models.

15 Dec 2012 12:10 AM
mongbiohazard     
Couple problems subs... a lot of those folks DO make money. They may not end up raking in the obscene spoils that working for a Wall Street investment bank does, but so what? That isn't the only definition of success.

Another thing, even if only around 40% of those small businesses ever become profitable, that doesn't mean the other 60% just gave up and went back to being wage slaves. Many of those people will undoubtedly take their lessons learned and try again until they succeed. Considering that, 40% doesn't sound like too bad an average, really. Around half of all small businesses fail in general - and the odds are stacked against first-time entrepreneurs in particular - so this isn't out of line with most small businesses, and nobody is suggesting people stop creating those. Capitalism DOESN'T MEAN GUARANTEED SUCCESS. Lots of people seem to forget that there is inherent risk in entrepreneurship. It isn't risk you stub your toe, it's risk any one particular company just doesn't work. There's nothing unusual about that.

The Planet Money folks have done stories on these artisan small business types, and found it to be a pretty good formula. This is the age of specialization. Being a super-specialist, as these folks are, is actually a pretty good strategy.

15 Dec 2012 12:10 AM
MadAzza     

doglover: Ishidan: Well, let's review. To successfully start a one-person shop you need a few things.

1. Capital. What, you think those jam jars, raw fruit, pectin, and a working kitchen just come out of nowhere?
2. A clue about how to make your product-in QUANTITY. Let's say you're a minimum wage kinda person. Even then, 8 hours a day at $7.50 an hour, that's $60 a day. Sound easy, you can beat that? Fine...except that's every day. Five days a week, $300. Now, that's what you have to PROFIT when you sell, not your gross. What you selling there, $10 bottles of homemade jam? Sell thirty on farmer's market day, you're in the hole for the costs it took you to make them, plus whatever it cost you to get the vendor stall, transport your goods, etc. How many you planning to make, there...fifty, sixty? How many pounds of fruit does that take? How many hours to make your product?
3. A clue about business accounting. Expect to spend a lot of time crunching numbers, or come tax time, the IRS is going to be on your ass.
4. Time. So, you are going to make your product, sell your product, do your own accounting, and...
Say, did I mention there's no paid time off? You don't produce or don't sell, you get NOTHING. You thought you had problems before?

But if I run my own business, I don't have to deal with people like you.

That's worth at least a million dollars a year in stress reduction. So, actually I'm ahead of the game.


People with good business sense?

Actually, listening to them can help you succeed, therefore reducing your stress. But most Americans refuse to embrace the humility that can help them succeed. (And by success, I don't mean great financial wealth - I means subsistence with enough left to have and enjoy some free time.)

15 Dec 2012 12:23 AM
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