Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Certain Death for Pampered Cheeks and many other small businesses

I have put off blogging about this. I'm so frustrated and concerned and confused that mostly I don't know where to begin. I'm sure I won't speak clearly or concisely enough about this subject to help you understand the seriousness of it or motivate you to contact your congressman, but I will try.

On August 14, 2008 Congress passed a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This new law covers any product intended for use by children under 12 years old. The purpose of the act is to prevent lead and phthalates in children's products. Read more here.

Sounds good. I mean, we sure went through a lot of stress over all the toy recalls. It was scary to think that (mainly china-made) toys were full of lead that could cause brain damage and learning delays in our children. Finding and weeding out these toys were a hassle. Stores suffered as they had to reduce their inventory.

Here is why the new law is bad. It went into effect in November. There was little or no warning. I didn't know about the law until after the fact. I have until February 10th to comply with the law. What does it mean to comply with the law? Certainly I would NOT sell diapers that I thought contained lead!!

The law requires that each product be tested by an independent third party lab. Every different style of diaper would need to be tested. Every different fabric combination that I want to sell. I make hundreds of diapers, and every one is different!! This is impossible. The tests will run at a minimum of $400 each, up to thousands of dollars. I can't afford to test even just ONE style of diaper and then reasonably expect to sell that diaper with no other choices available to customers. It goes against how I have built my business. But even $400 to test one diaper is not financially feasable...I just don't make that much money. If I did test one diaper, and could reasonably expect to sell enough to cover my costs, I WOULD certainly have to pass the costs on to the customer.

Every other diaper maker is going to do the same.
Every other toy/children's product/apparel/book/etc maker is going to do the same.
The law applies to everyone.
It applies to grandpa who makes little wooden toys to sell at craft fairs.
It applies to the small business owner who sells locally.
It applies to the small business owner who sells on the internet.
It applies to etsy, ebay, hyena cart, etc.
It applies to discovery toys, usborne books, pampered chef, tupperware, etc.
It applies to fisher price, mattel, and other big companies too.
It applies to everyone who sells any product for use by children under 12 years old.

Here is another frustrating fact: all the fabrics that I buy either made in the U.S. or imported have ALREADY UNDERGONE these lead tests. Unfortunately, I STILL have to test my finished product. It is SO UNFAIR. It is so much socialism/communist CRAP that I can't stand it. I have yards and yards and yards of fabric in my sewing room. I cannot sew and sell all the diapers before February 10th.

The fine is $100,000 and jail time for EACH violation of the new law.

How many stores have rows and rows of inventory that have not been tested AND properly labeled? Boxes of inventory stuffed into warehouses?

What will happen to our economy when all the small business infrastructure begins to collapse and prices raise? What will happen when stores clearance out their children's products the week before Feb. 10th? How many toys, etc, will go into landfills?

What were our lawmakers thinking? Or were they?

Here's what you can do (copy and paste from a group I am on).

There is a subcommittee hearing on
this on Wednesday, Dec. 10. If you are from the states of IL, NC, GA, IN,
MA, VA, NY, CO, TX, AR, OR, LA, MI, FL, TX, KY, MS, CA, PA, NE, or TN, you
have representatives from your state on the subcommittee, and these will be
the people who will be able to make a difference. You can see the committee
members here:
http://energycommer ce.house. gov/index. php?option= com_frontpage& Itemid=81(click
on members tab). I truly believe that we can make a difference if we
let our reps know this is important to our businesses. Thanks for reading-

Dear Friends of Earnest Efforts -

We are writing to inform you of action taken by Congress to pass the
HR4040 or the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) created by the
CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Commission). We are pleased that Congress
passed a bill to protect our children from toys containing lead
and phthalates and addressing other safety issues, however, parts of this
bill will directly effect all small handmade toy makers and store owners in
a way that could put many of us, who make child safety and the environment
our top priority, out of business.

The CPSIA rules now require that all toys be tested, including natural
handmade toys, and at a cost of $4000.00 per toy. This cost would put us
out of business. We would also be required to label each toy with a
permanent batch label. This is another cost that could force us out of

We are asking everyone to act quickly by contacting the CPSC and your
congress person or senator. Tell them that you are concerned that the CPSIA
will have a detrimental effect on small business owners and ask that they
provide third party testing at no charge for small toy makers and remove
requirements for batch labeling.

Dan Marshall from Peapods Natural Toys in St. Paul has created a website
where we can go to read the rules of the CPSIA, a proposal to improve the
CPSIA and a sample letter you can send to your congress person or senator.
The website is www.handmadetoyalli ance.org. This act goes into effect on 12
February 2009, so we ask you to please act quickly to protect our handmade
toys. The following are the regulations that directly effect handmade toy
makers and threaten to put us out of business.

* Third party testing charges of $4000.00 per toy.
* Batch labeling each individual toy on the toy itself.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we sincerely
appreciate your help.

Please, please, please pass the word. It means so much to me, my family, and to your own.

If this law stands, I will have no choice but to discontinue sewing diapers for sell. I won't even have a decent market to sell off all my fabric inventory. :'( This was so unexpected.

The good news is I've already started digitizing my patterns for sale. So I guess you'll have to learn how to sew your own!


  1. wow. just wow.

    what does this mean for tutu's, sewn dolls, diapers, etc... did they not think of this? I will be contacting my representatives as I live in one of the states, and I will be forwarding this info to all I know. yet another instance of the government trying to help us, but hurting us instead. perhaps you could post this on the tok board and any other ivillage boards that have mommy makers on them? thanks for the heads up!

  2. From my understanding, we don't have a rep to contact here in MN? Is there someone we can contact? Or is it up to people in the states listed to contact their reps?

  3. oh my word this is so terrible. I will definatly write to my state rep and pray that this gets fixed quickly.

  4. Sheesh, leave it to the government. :/

  5. I had heard that this was coming down the line, but had no idea about the February deadline or the $100,000. fines. Eeeek.. I wonder how they honestly seriously expect to enforce it.
    Thankfully, I have been unloading my fabric on Etsy, but I'm left with hundreds of yards that are off the bolt/washed. Definitely more than can be sewn and sold before Feb.
    Very very frustrating. Is there nothing that we can do here in MN??

  6. How completely FRUSTRATING! This is awful awful news for any American. I really hope this doesn't go through!

  7. Don't know if it'll make a difference, but I just signed this petition. I found the link in the Etsy forums.