Sunday, December 9, 2012

Made in the USA

"Made in USA" seems to be the mantra of the day. More and more people feel that the only way to improve our country's economy is by having more jobs here. However, there has to be an incentive for people to make goods here. And that stimulus is people preferring to buy products from America. When you buy American-made products, you encourage producers to hire more people, and that improves the economy. Sounds simple doesn't it?

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask what "Made in USA" really means? To understand this better let me tell you a little bit about my experience. I started Zahoomi with the intention of helping local sellers. My goal was to connect buyers with sellers located close by, and thus help improve the local economy by keeping the money within the community. Zahoomi was (and is) set up to show stores closest to you first. It was my way of making sure the local sellers got exposure to buyers rather than being lost in the sea of sellers from all over the USA or the world.

After spending time to find my bearings, I decided to go back to my original vision and restrict Zahoomi to US sellers only. That decision made, I was all ready to join the "Made in the USA" bandwagon, when I decided to do some research to educate myself as to what it really meant. 

U.S. federal law defines when a product can be advertised as "Made in USA":
For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be "all or virtually all" made in the U.S. The term "United States," as referred to in the Enforcement Policy Statement, includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and possessions.

That web page goes on to give many examples of what can and cannot be labeled as made in the USA. If clothing is made in the USA with material from the USA, then it is made in the USA. If a gold ring is made in the USA from imported gold, it is still not made in the USA. If the majority parts are imported then you can say "Made in USA with imported parts". And falsely advertising that a product is "Made in USA" can be grounds for massive fines!

However, in dealing with lots of sellers on Zahoomi, I knew that many of them worked hard and produced products that may not be called "Made in USA" using the FTC’s definition. An artisan from California who spent hours making the bracelet might have beads made overseas. Does this lessen the effort put into making this product? Although the bracelet was not strictly made in the USA, did this kind of work not generate jobs for people in the US?  

I was in a dilemma. On the one hand I did not want to get into trouble for falsely advertising products as made in the USA when they technically did not qualify for this label. On the other hand, I wanted to support all those who worked hard to produce beautiful products in the USA. After a lot of thought and countless days trying to figure out how to say "(Almost) Made in USA", I decided to simply ask people to shop American and support the American dream. 

All products on Zahoomi are made by hard working people right here in the USA. The products are not imported from other countries. However, if people do not buy these products, there is no incentive to continue to make them. The decision of these sellers to continue working and making these products depend on your decision to buy them. They may not all qualify for the Made in USA label but I am sure you will agree that buying these products is the best impetus for continued job sustenance/creation. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

5 Online Jewelry Shopping Tips

As someone that not only sells jewelry online, I love to support the handmade market with my own purchases. Well, it's not like I am out to save the economy one purchase at a time but I definitely love finding beautiful, unique and quality jewelry for comparable if not BETTER prices than I would find at my local department store. I like knowing that someone's heart and talent went into creating the item rather than something that was mass-produced most likely in another country and very possibly in an exploitative environment.

So how does one go about shopping for accessories online? I think there are a few rules of thumb that will help insure you are getting something you will be glad you invested in. Below are a few of my personal favorites:

1. I try to always buy US Made when it comes to accessories. I'd say 95% of my accessories purchases have been from home grown artists from the US. There are so many talented and creative people here in our own backyard, I rarely can justify buying anywhere else. I definitely feel better knowing I am helping to support our own domestic artists and economy by doing so. (Did you know Zahoomi has made a new commitment to offer only US made items in their online marketplace?)

2. I make sure that contact information is readily available. I've actually made impulse buys and didn't check to see if the seller's contact information is made easily available to it's customers. It's a red flag if any company or seller doesn't make communication with them a priority. Almost every time I've bought without checking this first, I've regretted it. k

3. Ask questions. Sellers are, for the most part, ready and willing to answer any questions. If I'm not sure about something from the pictures I ask. The answers are always (so far) prompt, informative and courteous. Communicating with the seller may help to fill in details you don't see covered in the picture or description. 

4. Lastly, Use the imagination. I sometimes forget what a valuable tool this is when shopping online. Pictures are very helpful but they are still flat compared to real life. I've found when I remember to use my imagination it adds a whole new facet to shopping for accessories and clothes online. I've made great purchases of items that I was about to pass buy when I remembered to take a minute to really envision it with one of my outfits. One of my favorite scenarios is jeans and a V-neck T-shirt. I imagine the bracelet or necklace or earrings being worn with this simple yet timeless combo. It's a great canvas to determine the "WOW" factor of a piece that otherwise I would've passed right by. 

5. Shop by color. I love this feature. Zahoomi added it awhile back and a few other sites use it as well. Shopping for jewelry online can be really overwhelming! There are a million amazing artists out there with a gajillion amazing pieces to offer! Shopping by color brings it into focus a bit, narrowing all of the info into bite size portions. I like that.

So those are the ways in which I find my way through the infinite number of choices that are before us in this new age of online marketing. Because of this new frontier we can support our economy, support local artists, find great deals on unique items that not everyone will have because we all shop at the same store and we can avoid the crowds and stress of the mall, the store and the parking lot. Sounds like a win/win situation to me!

Do you have any tricks to shopping online? What do you avoid? What attracts you? Please share your experiences and join me in the Jewelry Journey!


Reprinted with permission from:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Important change to Zahoomi!

Hope you are all having a great holiday season so far!
From Dec 1 2012, Zahoomi will only be featuring products from the USA. We arrived at this decision as we wished to show the talent from here and make it easier for buyers to support the people and jobs here.  In order to qualify to open a store here products listed must have at least >85% of the labor from the USA. 

We do not use the term "Made in the USA" as the FTC definition of this criteria states that  "a product advertised as Made in USA be "all or virtually all" made in the U.S". We understand that although you made the entire bracelet, the beads you bought could actually be from China. Hence we came up with our own criteria for our site. 

We hope you will understand our reasoning and support our vision. The American Dream as stated by  James Truslow Adams was that "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. We are glad to provide an opportunity for all; even if we help one of you with your American Dream, we would consider Zahoomi a success.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Paper or Plastic?

You've finished and sold your latest masterpiece and now it's time to pack it up and ship it off to your eagerly awaiting customer. You want it to be secure but you also want it to say something about your product and that you care about your creation and your customer. Fortunately there are so many ways to send off your treasures safely AND with your own touch of flair. I'll outline a couple of great ideas and hopefully, you will add some of your own to the comments below as well!

Bags: So many choices! Try for a great selection of organza, satin and velvet bags. They come in many sizes and so can be used for almost anything. Paper bags can be adorable. You can write on them, stamp them, paint them, glitter them, add bows and ribbons...the possibilities are endless! Then of course there is plastic and cellophane, but personally, I prefer using the more eco-friendly packaging options of organza and paper. 

Stickers: Adding a "Thank You" sticker to your packaging somewhere always brings a smile to your customer's face. I've found a really great selection at very reasonable prices on They come in a myriad of styles and colors and most are fully customizable! You can even add your website address to many of them. 

Tissue Paper: Wrapping up your bagged item in a swath of fluffy, pretty tissue paper gives your customers that "opening a present" feeling and who doesn't love that?!? Cost effective and colorful, it's a great way to make your packaging pretty and fun.

 Since I cannot personally smile and warmly thank many of my customers face to face, it's important to me to convey to them warmth and gratitude for their purchase and to let them know they are indeed appreciated and special to me. It's the small things that make the big differences.

What are your favorite ways to let your customers know you appreciate them and their business?  Please share them with the Zahoomi community, we'd love to hear your tips and tricks as we all grow together!

On with the adventure!   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Buy Handmade Part 2

Why Buy Handmade Part 2
The selection in the hand crafted scene has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. People are
beginning to realize the many advantages of buying from local and national artisans. My first thought when I heard the word "handmade" used to be of my Grandmother’s crocheted toilet paper covers that collected dust in the bathroom, God bless her. Today, "handmade" means SO much more to me and covers so many items and choices. If it can be made by hand, you can almost bet your Christmas fudge on it that you can find it online in a handmade marketplace like Zahoomi. 

In celebration and support of our wonderful artisans, I've listed some of my favorite reasons to buy hand crafted this season (Please add a few of your own to the comments too!) I hope it motivates everyone to consider buying handmade this year when they're thinking of all the gifts they need to buy. It's a win win situation! 

  • Your purchase helps to keep a growing and wonderful industry alive insuring that every year, even more beautiful, unique and quality items are available next year.
  • Hand crafted items don’t usually add to our environmental issues. They are environmentally friendly because they don’t depend on large factories, illegal labor, machines that produce and use tons of pollutants and harsh chemicals. There is a minimum of plastic packaging that will need to be disposed of in most cases as well.  
  • You know you are, in most cases, supporting someone in our own backyard and not an over worked, underpaid and sometimes abused laborer in a factory in another country.
  • Handcrafted items do not usually carry a huge markup. Most likely you will be receiving an amazing, unique item at a comparable if not hugely competitive price of something “similar”, but not as special, from your local department store.
  • Your great taste will be evident to all and you may discover the next hot designer!
  • No hunting for a parking place, fighting the crowds, dealing with overworked sales staff, and high prices for mass produced something you’re not even sure your gift receiver will even like.
  • There’s a slim to none chance that someone else picked the same exact gift.
  • There are many items and ways to add a custom and personal requests to your hand crafted item. You can request certain colors, a name to be added or some other special touch when ordering without paying an exorbitant price.
  • You will have direct contact with the maker. You can’t say that with factory produced products!
  • Hand crafted items create a connection that a mass produced item just can’t. Hand crafted items are made one at a time with care and love and imagination. This magical quality translates itself to us and makes it truly special. Isn’t this what we are really looking for when we shop for gifts for our loved ones?

Personally, I love the look someone gets on their face when they open a gift from me and discover something they know right away was not only chosen with love and care but was made with the same love and care. It’s just an entirely different feeling than watching them open yet another useless kitchen item, or set of hand towels from the huge housewares outlet in town or myriad of other mass-produced products that get gifted and yes, more than I want to know, regifted.
I haven't looked forward to Christmas shopping since I was a kid, if anything, I’ve dreaded it every year.  This year I am looking forward to doing most of my shopping from the comfort of my home, perusing the thousands of beautiful offerings of our local artisans and choosing some very special gifts for my friends and family and having them delivered right to my door! (And truthfully, I hope I receive a few of these wonderful gifts myself!! My secret plan is to keep buying handmade until it catches on with all my friends and then I can guarantee I will find some under my own tree with MY name on them! Yippee!!)
Do you plan to buy handcrafted items this year? How have your ideas of the word “handmade” changed over the last few years? What is your favorite hand crafted item to buy as a gift? What benefits do you enjoy buy when shopping your local and national artisans at fairs and online?
We love hearing your input! Thank you for shopping handmade!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Seller spotlight + New giveaway

Our spotlight today is on Wendy Cummins, owner of Friday Creek Farms. Wendy and Bill specialize in goat milk soap made in the Pacific Northwest. We were curious as to how they got into this business and got to talking with Wendy. 

Tell me a bit about yourself.

We are Bill and Wendy Cummins, owners of Friday Creek Farm in Burlington, WA.  We began raising goats about 11 years ago.  Our herd is mostly Boer and Boer cross goats but we do have a few Nubian dairy goats.  We keep the Nubians for those times when we have bottle kids to feed but we were ending up with a lot of excess milk.

What made you start this business?

We began looking for something that we could make with the extra milk and possibly sell, without having to jump through too many regulatory hoops.  We knew milk and cheese sales were out but we soon met a woman who was making soap with her extra goat milk.  So, about 8 years ago, we started making goat milk soap.

Check out the complete seller spotlight and giveaway here

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thanks from Zahoomi!

Thank you all for supporting Zahoomi and being with us from the beginning. As a token of our appreciation, I am giving out $5 Starbucks card* for those shopping on Zahoomi. To take advantage of this offer, just purchase your favorite handmade item and you will receive the e-card by mail! Go ahead and enjoy!

* Limited time offer