Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Down but not Out

I've had lots of questions, so I'll try to answer them a little. I'm confused, too, so hang in there. :)

First off, in MN our congressmen are not on the subcommittee. But we can contact our congressman to ask how this affects us (small-business owners). Mitch suggested calling and asking rather than just sounding off (which is what *I* would do, LOL). Do they realize how this affects small manufacturers? If an amendment is presented to Congress, then our congressmen and women would know our thoughts and would (hopefully) vote accordingly. I didn't study hard enough in government class, obviously.

Secondly, this is ALREADY a law. Now we just have to lobby to have it amended or overturned. But otherwise it's already a done deal. How did they pass this one under our noses like that??

Next, this is for my dad: Hi Dad! Congressman Rick Boucher is on the subcommittee. The hearing scheduled for today was canceled, but hopefully it will be rescheduled soon. I know you know him. Even *I* know him. :) [A side note: I met him when I was in high school.] The most important request we have regarding the CPSIA is that small manufacturers (making less than $1 million/year) be excluded from the act in some way. At the very least, if the manufacturers are operating within the United States and using components that have already been tested, they should be excluded.

Another part I did not mention are the new flammability requirements. I haven't even STARTED to read these. I do know that under the requirements some fabrics are excluded. But if I wanted to put something like sherpa or cotton velour on the outside of a diaper it MUST be tested. These types of diapers are wildly popular. *Cry* Again, I think that there must be some exclusions made for small manufacturers. Or it would be cool if I could say on my site somewhere, "Not intended for use without a protective cover." This would be helpful because polyester fabrics, smooth fabrics (like cotton wovens), wool fabrics, and acrylics are excluded from the flammability tests (I think).

Not out, yet. But I don't know where it leaves me. While talking with Mitch yesterday we discussed the whole scope of industries this impacts. I mentioned the Build-A-Bear Workshop. How can a company like that survive? The end product obviously can't be tested. So is the workshop only selling "components" then a service to help you put the bear together? In that case, as a custom diaper manufacturer, can't I sell the components (fabric, snaps, thread, etc) that have passed testing regulations, then as a service sew them together? Especially since 90% of my customers go through this whole selection process anyways. Someone did say to me yesterday that if a customer sends me their own fabric then the end product would not fall under the requirement (obviously) since I am selling my service, not a product. In that case, then, would the customer have to send me ALL fabric parts of the diaper, snaps, and thread? Even so, it is a possibility and something I've been mulling over.

It still doesn't help me solve the problems of fabric inventory I have here. I'm hoping that most of the fabrics that I have lots of (yards and yards of each color of cotton velour, for example) have certificates that I can obtain from the manufacturer. According to the Federal Trade Association (FTA) rules for listing fabric content on a label, if you have a garment made from a remnant, or purchase a remnant fabric from a store, it does not have to have the content labeled exactly. You would say something like "cotton/poly blend". Diapers are specifically excluded from any labeling at all. Could some similar exclusion be made for the remnants in my inventory that were bought domestically IN a fabric store?

How does the CPS hope to even regulate this? I can get manufacturer certificates for fabrics I buy through coops (most of these fabrics have been imported). But how do I get certificates for fabrics I buy at Joann's? What about on ebay/etsy? Do they reasonably hope to regulate this traffic, or are they saying, "If you make a product for sale, you can not buy from unknown sources (ebay, garage sales, etc)." Again, someone just WASN'T thinking.

Mitch told me I should just sell all my diapers as "used." I'm pretty sure that's not legal, but again how are they going to regulate it? This is all so frustrating!


  1. You may be on to something with having two separate sales: materials and the service of assembling them. Hmm... I'll have to think that through since my items are all custom made too.

    As for Mitch's last remark, I was under the impression that this affected used as well. For example, Goodwill can't legally sell a clothing/textile for children that does not have a permanent label attached stating that it meets all requirements. I think this would also affect garage sales. You can't sell a used crib/stroller/etc unless you have the certificate that it came with. I could be wrong though(I HOPE so!!).
    If used is fine, then maybe we could just wash each item after we are done sewing it. Then, technically it's not new/unused. Your customers would probably appreciate if their dipes came washed once. One less step for them in the washing process involved in preparing a dipe for use.

  2. Posted 12/17/08 at your request!

    Dear Congressman Boucher,

    Although I applaud the intent of the recent CPSIA legislation, I am concerned that many cottage industries and small businesses in the United States may not be able to survive and meet the additional expenses required by the current testing criteria. At a time when huge bailouts are the talk of the day, let's not forget the "Little Person" trying to earn and/or supplement a meager income while struggling against already overwhelming odds to remain solvent. These people are not asking for a hand-out, so please look for ways to accomplish the intent of the law without putting the "Doers" into the "Killed by Legislation" category.

    I am aware of your consistent efforts over the years to augment economic development and to encourage small business growth. I trust you will make every effort to use your committee position and safeguard the gains you have made in those areas.

    Your friend and constituent,
    Jim Sutphin

  3. I'm with your husband- call and ask. Show them what you wrote here. I wonder if you are reading into this right? I can't imagine them doing anything that would wipe out so many businesses. I would be so sorry to see pampered cheeks go. I have always loved your diapers. You helped me so much when my dd was born.

    Just make the call, and if all else fails, I will buy some fabric and patterns... promise.