Thursday, January 8, 2009

CPSIA - Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

Small businesses have had a tough time lately.  2008 wasn't so terrific for a lot of small companies and the last thing small business owners need, namely those of us that are work at home moms that are designing and making products for children, is the long arm of the government breathing down our necks.  I'm talking about the CPSIA - the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act that was signed into law in August 2008. 

While the act was created to address the unacceptable and dangerous levels of lead that was showing up in children's products (mainly imports), no one in our government seemed to realize how it would affect small businesses, designers and crafters.  It's one thing to demand testing and certification by large multi-million dollar manufacturers of products that use materials that could contain lead.  It is a completely different one to demand small, very small businesses such as many WAHM companies, like mine, Comfy Cozy,inc., to spend thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars we don't have, to have our products tested and certified or we can't sell them.  Many of thesse products don't even use materials that could possibly include lead, but that doesn't matter. 

For my pillowcases, I know there isn't lead in the inks we use.  If the manufacturer of the ink has already had the ink tested, why do I have to do it again?  It's not like the screen printing process will magically (or chemically) create lead in the designs.  One thing that gets me is that waaay back in 1994 when I came up with this crazy idea to create glow in the dark pillowcases, I wanted to be able to assure my customers that they were safe for kids.  So, I had them tested for flammability and durability.  Mind you that the company I had do the testing told me that I didn't HAVE to do this testing.  It wasn't required by law and that it was expensive.  None of that mattered, I wanted my customers to know that their kids safety mattered to Comfy Cozy,inc. 

Under the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, ANY company that produces products that are made for children under the edge of 12 must comply.   The first deadline is February 10 - yikes!  This will effect hundreds of WAHMS and small business owners.  Many of the cute, adorable, original products that consumers like may be ripped off shelves, web sites will shut down and we'll be forced to sit around all day watching General Hospital and eating bon bons!  OK, we all needed a little levity here!  

During a time when products MADE IN USA should be shouted from the roof tops, when those of us that are using domestic materials and domestic labor should be heralded for even trying to compete with imports, we are staring down the barrel of a gun being aimed at us by our own government.  Don't get me wrong, I'm the mom of 2 young boys, I have 16 nieces and nephews and countless friends with children - I'm all for safety, rules and regulations.  But forcing small American companies to pay for the sins of large foreign companies that really don't care about the well being of my children or yours, doesn't seem like the best solution.

So, please forward this post to your friends, family and all the WAHMS you know.  If you love the cool items you can find on Etsy, contact your senators and congressmen.  Ask them if they read the legislation and understand what it's effects will be.  Maybe they'll earmark some of that trillion bucks for us to pay for the testing and certification!  For details on the CPSIA, please click here.  

I know this was a long post and I thank you for reading it:)


Kandas - Custom Furniture Consultant said...

Peggy, that was beautifully written. I for one, do not want to eat any bon bons. I have work to do!

Stitchen said...

Even as WAHMz I think we should always have children's safety in mind. I will be researching how this will effect my business,
D's Stitcheree. I don't necessarly make items for children but I do embroider a lot of children's items. I can not afford to have those items tested. I agree with you Peggy. If the items we use were tested before hand, why would we have to have them tested again. Thanks so much for bringing this to all our attention.