www.etsy.co.uk A fast growing online market place for handmade and vintage products. There are often options for customisation. This website puts you in touch with artisans and vendors, in one convenient and easy to use website.
www.notonthehighstreet.co.uk Very similar to Etsy, its a fab website for finding gifts that are a little different! Not your average, boring, gift from a high-street shop.
www.littlemajilis.com "Shop from makers and merchants from the Middle East" This one is specifically for those of us living in the middle east. It can be hard to get things delivered here in Dubai, but this website is a gem! All the vendors are based in the middle east, offer home deliveries or pick ups locally. Try signing up for their newsletter for wonderful ideas and new finds!
Many artists and small businesses are making the most of social media platforms to advertise their products and encourage word of mouth. I personally use Instagram a lot. Try searching Instagram or Twitter for hashtags such as #handmade #gift #crafts along with the name of your town or city and the product you are looking for. For example, when posting pictures of my crochet items I will often use #crochet #crochetaddict #gifts #heirloon #crochetblankets #baby #Christmas to get attention.
Local markets and stalls are a fab way to find handmade gifts. As well as being able to meet your vendor in person, you can look at and touch the products for yourself. Seeing it in person can sometimes help you make your decision!
Here in Dubai we have markets like ARTE and RIPE which feature local people showing their creations and locally made products.
Artists and crafters sometimes produce a blogging diary of their makes too. Reading them is a great way to get to know them and their passion. They will share their new finds and trials on there too. they will always love to hear your feedback, so please comment on them. This helps them to improve, change or reinforce their ideas.
Try having a glance through local bloggers too as they often write reviews for products they have tried. Dubai based blog Sassy Mama Dubai often do this, as well as Mum Of Boys and Life With Baby Kicks. Check out Sassy Mama Dubai's list of Where to get things made in Dubai or Gifts for Newbie Mummies.
Top Tips to Keep in Mind when buying Handmade
- Time - Some things are made to order so you need to order in advance with plenty of time for the item to be made. If you have left it to the last minute, don't fret, some vendors keep a stock of their homemade wares.
- Cost - Don't assume that having something handmade will cost more than buying it in a shop. For example, when doing some research today I found MASS PRODUCED crochet blankets in big named stores online that cost the same as my HANDMADE ones. I have bought speciality camel milk soaps here in Dubai for a similar price to well known upmarket brands you find in the supermarkets. Equally though, having something handmade can cost more, and rightly so! Instead of paying for a brand name, you are paying for quality, love, care and individuality!
- Customisation - If you see something you like but want it in another colour, a different size, or want to personalise it by adding a name on it, just ask the maker!
- Gift Cards/Coupons/Vouchers - If you can not decide for yourself what you think your loved one might like, why not ask for a voucher from the artisan? I have done this before for a baby shower gift. This was especially successful as the customer wanted to wait until they knew the sex of the baby to order a gift and the mum could choose the exact pattern and colours herself.
(I suppose I should cheekily take the opportunity to plug my own little home based business while im here... I make Handmade crochet items to order, blankets, cuddly baby loveys, hats, toys, bunting... you name it. At the moment, they are just available in Dubai. Here's my Facebook page if you want to take a peek.)