Handmade is the new black

My column, “Handmade is the new black,” ran in USA Today this morning. Though mostly about the rise of the craft economy, it relates, broadly to some themes in 168 Hours.

First, in this moonlighting economy, with technology platforms that lower the transaction costs of bringing together buyers and sellers, it is more possible to augment a family budget than it has often been in the past. Much of the frugality literature talks about using time to save money; I tend to think it’s just as possible to use time to make more money (indeed, it’s possible to make a lot more than you can save). Craft platforms like Etsy enable this.

And second, Americans increasingly want to do creative work. One tale in this column is from Alina Hayes, a potter, who used to be in medical billing. The problem, she told me in an interview, is that she was quite good at medical billing! That made it hard to quit her job. But medical billing didn’t make her happy, so eventually she did decide to move on, figuring that working 40 hours a week at a job that doesn’t fulfill you is, more or less, wasted time. Now she spends her working hours throwing ceramic cafe au lait cups and vases and bowls on a wheel in her garage and she is much happier.

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