I’ve always been partial to things with a history; creations made with love and careful thought. The very act of applying prudence and fortitude to a piece of handiwork is what makes something mundane and everyday, exceptional. Extraordinary.
Which is why I’m drawn to antique shops and artisan stores. Not the pretentious hipster trendy pop-ups, but the ones that have been around for years, generations even; where the craft lives and breathes and has been lovingly and proudly passed on from parent to child.
Of course these kinds of stores aren’t as easy to come by in Bergen (and when I do, their products sadly tend to cost way more than I am able to spend, which is why you’ll find me supporting local thrift shops and flea markets instead).
So when I’m not spending my weekends looking for a pre-loved item at the local market, I’m online searching for its new but handmade equivalent. And while online stores simply cannot compare, there are some really good new ones — teeny-tiny ones — that promise the same storyline. From start-ups founded upon a worthy cause to your simple concept stores plying their quality trade. They’re soulful and refreshing, and knowing they were made by hand makes the purchase feel all the more special. It’s like starting a new chapter on behalf of its creator, and helping to keep the story alive for someone else to value and behold in another time (so if you think about it, rather than being the receiving end of the story, you’re starting a new one!).
Etsy and Folksy are perhaps good examples of these (though, I confess, you’ll need to dig deep and invest some time to find the really good and quality ones because a lot of them tend to copy off of each other!). Here, artists roll-in on their online caravans and pitch their digital tents to proudly ply their wares. Entrepreneurs who have found their voice in this vast void of fast and cheap consumerism. Perpetrators of the slow goods movement aimed at simplicity and minimalism, and are often a dear friend and staunch protector of the environment. When I find such a store, amongst the sea of options, its often love at first sight (especially when they don’t break the bank!).
Moscow-based woodworks shop WoodenCaterpillar, for example, has tugged at my soon-to-be-mama heartstrings for their beautifully handcrafted baby toys. In an effort to reduce our plastic consumption (and overall consumption, really), we have decided to support small wood and cloth toymakers instead of the big, big toy corporations (except for Lego of course, because we’re Lego kids and will always be Lego kids even though they require step-by-step assembly nowadays instead of the free-for-all-create-what-you-want pedagogy). These fun wooden creations may be a little bit more expensive, but knowing that we’ve opted to buy something that wouldn’t take 400 years to decompose if it somehow found itself in the world’s water sources, is comforting.
For those who are interested in the items featured in this article, you need only hop over to Etsy. I haven’t been paid by these little businesses to write this post, but I simply adore their thoughtfully ordinary creations, so I thought I’d share their stories with you.