COTTAGE INDUSTRIES FOR Mommies WHO WANNA STAY HOME WITH THE BABY
by Anita Sands firstname.lastname@example.org
In this era of Amazon role models ---lantern-jawed, Armani-suited, liberated woman clubbing their way upward thru glass ceilings ---we sometimes forget that there are biological, historical, scientific, philosophic, economic and moral justifications for women staying home and working in home-based businesses. The weavers of Africa,Guatemala, India. The Laundresses of ancient times all rocked cradles between the chores.
Although the kind of enterprise a woman can do at home by herself won't add digits to the Gross National Product, and may not even come to the attention of the IRS, if she can revel in her creativity, help her husband out with extra cash or, if she's alone, support herself and the kids, she'll be proud as Rockefeller.
Political philosophers have long observed that woman is not unlike the third world. She is often exploited, underpaid, used and abandoned by the first world, (man,) and encouraged to give away her precious, irreplaceable, temporal resources for below-market sums and is invariably tempted by her own careless, tropical nature into bypassing manufacturing capitalism entirely.
Woman's femininity leads her to take the typical third world route, exploiting and mining natural resources, the chief product of which is the infant, even though this is to her own, economic detriment. That this is so is certain as, these days, fewer than half the fathers in the USA actually support their children. To quote Yoko Ono, who said it in a song lyric, "women are the niggers of the world."
Such a reductio ad absurdum is neither exaggeration nor whimsy. The third world is a perfect metaphor for women so perhaps we should study the works of the great thinkers on the 3rd world dilemmas of rurality, isolation, lack of a GNP and the dangers of colonization by the primary powers so that we ladies may be inspired to handle our victimization issues with spunk.
All the descriptions of the 3rd world predicament, all the arguments, all the pro's and con's of third worlders investing themselves in alternative economic solutions have actually been mapped out on paper by the two greatest economic theorists of our age, Karl Marx and Mahatma Gandhi, although they were not talking about women when they mapped them. They were talking strictly about the first world/third world face-off.
We'll never know whether, if Karl and Mahatma had ever met, they would have found a way to reconcile their views. Gandhi felt that the third world should not abandon its unique, rural nature, but should search for ways to capitalize on its 'backward' aspects and use its village commune closeness as well as shrewd, peasant talents to defend against invasion by the first world and perhaps, later, very carefully, enter into a mutually beneficial commercial dialogue ---involving the manufacture and exportation of native arts and crafts to first world cities.
Gandhi invented a system of home-based businesses which he called cottage industries. The compound in which he lived, Sevagram, was completely self-sufficient, not needing purchased fabric, food or even salt. Peasants knew how to get salt off beaches! The real deal, the kind we pay 3$ for with fawncy names. They made every cooking pot out of clay, wove their fabric out of cotton thread they spun, grew their rice, milked their goats and made yogurt if they hadn't refrigeration and thusly sent the English Empire to bloody Hell.
Gandhi took glee in the fact that self-sufficiency reduced India's dependence upon the first world (in our equation, that would be men,) and prevented his undeveloped country from being manipulated, colonized or 'taken into hock' by the first world banks and governments and the colonizers' costly manufactured products. Gandhi saw that if India produced its own cotton fabric and it was of good enough quality, its uneducated and isolated weavers might even find their way into the world marketplace. And he was right. Subsequently, the third world of the entire planet has been able to eke out a fine living with hand-made artisanry, food and decor it exports to the stylish capitals.
Of the two men, Marx was the greater realist. Marx predicted that an abrasive dialectic between labor and management, a kind of 'class war', would eventually obliterate cottage industries. He suggested that the factories of monopoly capitalism had a wicked way of wiping out independent manufactories. You weave a blanket in a week, charge l00$. ACRYLIC blankets are 7$ at WALMART. Nowadays, unless you're a superb artist, small retailer artisans fail to give Walmart a run for its money, yet these days we often see small businesses and artists survive because they draw people through the INTERNET. Maybe not a million a day like WALMART but enough.
The ugliness of factory-produced 'art' makes the buying public appreciate real, hand-crafted items even more. Beauty and uniqueness will always find their place in the world. There's hope for rural, folksy arts and crafts as a cottage industry. This is hopeful as Science tells us that woman, endowed with the job of child-rearing by her anatomy and sensibilities, is destined to spend more time in the home than the man and frequently enjoys it that way. Psychologists suggest that for the emotional health of her offspring, it is a destiny she should not fight. From time to time, kindly burps come from monopoly capitalism and child-leave pay and day care facilities appear for a brief moment, but they are generally uneconomic for lower tier workers and abandonment of an infant is traumatic for sensitive mothers. And the worker-friendly burp is fragile and disappears quickly, anyway.
In the last decade, it has been argued in the Supreme Court that paid pregnancy leave and job security should be federally legislated for women. Present law does not support the woman who needs maternity leave and wants to be sure her job will wait for her because, as opponents of such legislation pointed out, small businesses would stop hiring females if there were protracted 'sick leaves' to contend with. Until both law and daycare catch up with reality it would seem that the woman who wants babies might investigate the time-honored institution of the home-based business.
And is kuchen und kinder so bad? At home in her 'office,' a woman can do the laundry, iron while she watches t.v., make meals from scratch, do other home-spiffing family-feeding chores, garden, as well as take care of children and not pay costly homemaker surrogates for this pleasant, creative work. Plus, all the above can be done between bouts of desk work, using housework as restorative exercise. Such activity will end up pleasing the husband because it not only makes the quality of life richer, the house prettier, keeps his babies happier, his wife thinner and more content, but will also put a great deal of money in their bank account.
Literature supports the home-based business. Classics like Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary showed the dangers besetting the woman with too much free time on her hands. Craig's Wife, Mildred Pierce and The Pumpkin Eater are further examples of housewives who fell prey to different kinds of female dementia which could have been prevented by a small, manageable home business. After all, busy hands are NOT the devil's workshop!
E. Schumacher, (Small is Beautiful, his book, get it at ABES USED for a buck...) states that more competent conservation and superior end-products result from single worker situations. Small growers, artisans, healers, writers and cooks can simultaneously be mothers and wives. There are distinct advantages to putting the office in the home. Babies are happier. There is dual use of rent, useful at tax time. There is a diminished need for costly licenses. There is the possibility for barter. Free advertising can be obtained by putting signs in front of the house. Then, there is the woman's ability to work on production between client visits so that she fills two, separate employee functions enabling her to undercut the price of competitors which will give her volume.
Woman can feel proud of the tradition of home-based businesses. As Sigmund Freud said, 'our biological drives are our destiny,' and I'd trust Sigmund who, himself, had a home-based business.
So let's examine a few wild ideas that might encourage female factory workers to stand away from their looms, white collar data entry clerks to toss over their computers, women everywhere to return joyously and profitably to their homes and their families.
IDEAS FOR MOONLIGHTING HOBBIES YOU CAN TURN INTO FUN & $$
1. Make a decor item, wholesale it to Decorators Row. California artist Rosemary Cotnoir creates Decorative floor cloths, raw cotton duck painted both sides with oil base white paint, then colored with acrylic paints, then varnished both sides w. diluted polyurethane. A 3-x 5 brings $400-600 each. I used to make Velvet tie dye fabric, quilt it, make it into big puffy, splashy design yet posh, soft cocktail party jackets with Oriental frog closures. Lined in taffeta.
2. SHABBY CHIC FURNITURE. Pick up all old furniture in alleys, or at garage sales. Buy dollar pieces, especially old white enameled furniture at garage sales, thrift stores and use the SHABBY CHIC look. You partly sand, until it looks 'summer cottage antiquey' & sell it at posh swap meets. Redwood plank furniture gets stained bright colors with clear vibrant dye paint.It won't kill you and the baby to haul the stuff to the SWAP MEET on weekends! Make it into a picnic!
3. Find 50 artists to share rent on an Artisanry Shop/gallery. Find a big old house zoned for biz district. Several artists share space in each room. Big Tourist attraction week-ends. Kitchen serves great food. BAZAAR SABADO did it in Mexico City. A thousand artisans, and everyone got rich. Google them.
4. YUMMIE KARMA If you're zoned for business, not just residential, open a Tea Room, sandwich shop, waffle-atorium in your living room. Combine food with a gallery. Sell artisanry, plants, antiques, decor,duds, books, art. You might give psychic readings, or tea leaf readings. Some women who have done this, combine it with a beauty shop, ladies massage therapy or healthfood store.
5. Start a communal Food Co-Op, sell wholesale groceries, etc. OUT OF YOUR GARAGE!
6. BIG GARDEN? If you're big on gardening,Grow high cash crops, stringbeans, strawberries, melons, designer lettuce, arugula, rent a house way in the burbs, like at farthest edge where you can get a quarter acre for 995$ like I do. Sell vegies/fruits in the FARMERS MARKETs and every city has one a day.
7. GEMS OF THE SEA for MERMAIDS. If you love seashells, lapidary, geologics, crystals, buy a drill, visit a 'fixings' wholesaler and make jewelry or mount shell/ geologic specimens on wooden blocks. Approach the big gift catalogues about getting your line. Read MERCANTILISM
8. SWEET ON FRUIT? Make preserves. Get your neighbors to make them. Make pies out of local farm fruit. Take to an upscale gourmet cafe in the city one day a week. Great for rural areas. My pal created HERITAGE FOODS out of her kitchen, does all the Farmer's markets in WLA on weekends, her jam is 8$ a small jar. She gets antique linen tableclothes, napkins off EBAY for real cheap, sells to posh LA folks for megabucks.
9. COOK FROM A BOOK - Teach yourself to cook New Age alternative healthfood dishes that Yuppies want and will pay for. Make tofu/tempeh/ vegie meatloaf Healthfood sandwiches for local cafe, or carry it to high rise offices in a basket, sell from 9 a.m. - noon daily. Learn all these wild wheat-free, spelt or kamut grain, hypo-allergenic cooking or Macrobiotic 'specialty' recipes, teach at the local 'Learning Annex'. Teach private cooking classes, cater parties, supply bakeries, cafes, diners .Create an ONLINE 'country cooking' newsletter and put on the Internet. Charge 5$ a month for users to download recipes. Do catering. Have old clients get their fresh cookies, pies from you. Home deliver.
10: DOG WALKING, BIG in the city of NYC where nobody has a yard., You walk people's dogs, or baby sit them all day. Doormen go up to the apt, get the pooch, bring him down. CAT VACATIONS are lucrative. Cuz nobody can find a house sitter for their felines. Gals who do this wear their baby on their back, papoose style and meet men by the thousand who think they're glam. I believe big stars have done films where they played dogwalkers. Find that movie at IMDB to inspire you.
11. HOUSE PAINTING- Painters make 17$ an hour. A PORTABLE BABY PEN gives you chance to move around town. Faux finishes earn you twice that amt. Don't do oil paints if babies are around!
12. Create a RECYCLER newspaper, free classified ads to all, sell paper for l$. PAID ads by merchants. Make a Million$ lst yr.
13. With Help of the PTA, plus some local University Literature teachers as well as a Farmer in your area, create a SUMMER RENAISSANCE FAIRE. Six week ends, you invite artisans, theatres, food, actors, games to camp on a meadow, build an Elizabethan tent village and attract tourists from the city.
14. GRANDMA MOSES? Learn to OIL-Paint easy, NAIVE painting like Rousseau or easy impressionism. You can sell canvases for 200$ & up sitting on the sidewalk outside super market on Sundays or at Swap Meets. Get cafes to exhibit them with your EMAIL addie on the bottom on tag, next to price. Just check out paintings of the naives, Grandma Moses, Henri Rousseau. Matisse is simple to copy.
15. JOURNALISTIC? Write articles. Submit to mags. 500$-5k each. Writer's Digest tells you how. Use a computer. No longer any need to research them at library. GOOGLE!
16 CREATE THE SWAP MEET YOUR TOWN NEEDS! Haggle down some good Rent for a parking lot at local schoolyard on Sat/Sundays, create a swap meet for artisans, collectors, jewelers, food booths, fortunetellers. Put ads around town "Swap Meet forming call this Number". Charge exhibitors 20$ each booth. Public pays $3.00 , kids .75c to come in. You can make thousands, more if you open drink beer, lemonade, coke and fruit juice booths yourself.
17. Get on the Information Highway. Get a used computer, Do what I do. Post articles that draw attention so you attract clients for your …whatever. Learn to FTP. (how you load a website.) I know a guy who gets lapidary stones, makes jewelry. He gets ten k for a necklace made of CALIFORNIA JADE. They find it in rivers, in the ocean. MY ADULT HIGH SCHOOL has a jewelery making class. 15$ semester.
18. Start a special interest group like 'POET'S and Novelist'sCircle.' Then, create a Literary Agency with stationery, and peddle the works to NYC Publishers for thousand dollar fees. HOLLYWOOD BOUND page has articles on producing, hustling screenplays.
19. Take computer class at adult High Schl, 15$ a semester, then teach kids or other adults. Buy used PCs to sell to kids who study with you. SELL them to your students. GIVE THEM INTERNET 101 class, FTP, WEBSITE design class. Pcs are cheap (75$) from local fixer guys as businesses all dump older models to the fixer guy. Write articles ABOUT your experience STARTING a home- based businesses, cafe/gallery/groups.
20. Start a small theatre company, using school auditorium, or church. Then, use your 'actors' to shoot tourist oriented videos of the charms of traveling in your rural, country area, sell to Public TV stations in town. Send a copy of this video to every studio in Hollywood to get them to shoot on location in your town. Create the local 'Film Bureau' and tell Chamber of Commerce and Hollywood will hire you to find extras, locations, etc.
21. Read up on herbs, shiatsu massage, iridology, power foods, specific-healing diets, and be an holistic healer. No degree is required. Simply know your herbs, New age Nutrition and diets, and learn how to diagnose from the iris of the eye. All healthfood stores have the books that would teach you,and all healthfood magazines have addresses of correspondence courses. At your library, it's the 612/ 613 shelf. 45$ a half hour. Or, if you just do massage, $80-100 per hour.
22. WHICH WITCH? Learn Tarot reading, get Eden Gray book, Ryder Waite deck, entertain at parties and see private clients. Get a MAGIC website! Sell spells! Work for the big PSYCHIC HOTLINES, giving advice!
23. Start a Daycare for children. It's an easy license to get. And Raise funds for other Daycares.
24. Adjust decor of homes according to principles of Feng Shui. Become a highly paid mystical decor consultant and maybe even parlay that into a career as a decorator.
25. Start a Learning Annex. Arrange for the local high school to lend you computer rooms, home economic rooms, several nights a week, or have the classes at the teacher's homes. Write the Learning Annex in Hollywood California for their free catalogue to get an idea of the many subjects possible.
26. Create a Singles Party at your local church. Hang posters, distribute flyers. Charge 5-10$ at the door. Introduce the singles; call it a "Personal Introduction Party". You can make $1000 per nite. Then move it to a local cafe that has an extra room, on a week-night, starting right after work, 6:30 to 9:30. Have cafe serve small snack. They get the bar bill so they're motivated. Don't worry about music or dancing. It's a low-key chatty singles party, not a hullaballoo.
27. KUNDALINI GENIUS - Give daily yoga/airobics, exercise classes in an large, airy, unfurnished room that is carpeted. Read up on Gurmukh Kaur who started the GOLDEN BRIDGE yoga class in Hollywood, where all the stars go. She did ten years in her living room first.
28. VINTAGE VESTAL VIRGIN. If you have superb taste, fill a big room with racks full of second hand, Vintage clothing which you buy late Sunday afternoon at garage sales when you can pay nickles and dimes for leftovers. Only sell the most stylish 90's retro things. If you have a talent for sewing, tear apart old things and give them a modern flair. Lace curtains become evening blouses, etc. Costume jewelry from garage sales, restrung by you, is beaucoup bucks. Ditto jewelry you don't need to restring!
29. Create a 5$ therapy group at a local church. This can be as simple as a weekly 'Loveaholics Anonymous' for young people. Invitea local psychologist to answer questions, share her viewpoint on being 'lucky in love.' She doesn't have to prepare a speech, but answers written questions put in a basket at the door. Therapist gets the private clientele, you get the 500 bucks a night. You sell her tapes from the week before, 8$ each. If she's good and it's a hit, take it on a local radio station, then help therapist publish her book, go on national talk shows.
30. Start 'ORGANICS' a food-cooperative that home delivers a week of fruit, vegies, grains, legumes with recipes and health tips for 30$ a week.
If you're a capable person, or you have a lot of cousins and siblings, you could probably handle all 29 ideas yourself and help your family to become zillionaires.
In addition to these inspirations, there are always the predictable, old reliable ideas: weave, sew, paint, craft, sculpt, knit, design, collect/refinish antiques, write and compose music. They are always lovely. We just thought we'd give you some New-Age alternatives that never would have occurred to Mahatma Gandhi or Karl Marx. Good luck staying home with creativity, love, style, money and the best payoff of all, babies.
ORGANIZING THE HOME-BASED BUSINESS CHEAPLY:
1. ORGANIZE BIZ FILES: Find square, 1'x1' boxes at grocery. Cut out a space in the front so that you can fill it with ordinary peegee folders or files. PUT HEADER on each folder: Take a tab of paper, fold, put a title on it, and attach to the file so name sticks up. Who needs to spend l00$ for five containers at OFFICE DEPOT?
2. LICENSE: Call County, determine cost of a biz license. Your county will then give you a Board of Equalization number, for your taxes. I have run home-based businesses without all this, doing so for 30 years, and you can FOR A WHILE....depending on what kind of a biz and how big it is. My gal pal wanted to do landscaping, went for license, told them she had no earnings or clients, they gave her the license free, and she could buy plants wholesale rate! She started a BAKING/ JAM biz, her booth at the farmer's market did require she use a kosher kitchen to get a food selling license. So she made jam at home but said she made it at her pal's restaurant. That got her the license!
3. BIZ NAME: To cash checks payable to you in a BIZ name, legal requirement is you advertise name to get a bank acct. in that name. You need a biz account with name on it, to cash checks in that name. To get a BIZ NAME you have to advertise name in a cheap local newspaper in classifieds, 'Intent to Do Biz as "May Company." ' (it's a DBA) If your own name is on biz and clients give you checks, no problem. But biz called MAY CO. needs DBA. SAVE AD to show bank.
4. PHONE. Must be exclusively dedicated to the business, no private calls 9-5PM. A phone mail box is OK, costs 5$ a month with A T & T, takes messages. If you're out of the house a lot, Pagers that call you when your phone rings are good so you can call in. Put a terrific, warm message on it. "Hi, you've reached the MAY COMPANY, we're not in now, but leave us a message."
5. STATIONERY- Forget the stationery store or WALMART except to check prices of what l000 sheets or envelopes goes for. 20$? $25? Keep notes. Then, go to your local printers, find out what paper they have lying around for years, that they'd let you have cheaply. LOWBALL them, beneath WALMART prices by half..He'll let it go. You will go thru hundreds a month, doesn't matter if it's different stocks, remnants, non-matching stock. Have printer 'set' the type for the logo and do thousands at one sitting. TIP: You won't pay extra for royal blue ink if he waits until he has another client requesting royal blue. USE BLUE, not black. Classier. Looks 'custom.' Get a hand stamp for envelopes because you go thru them in a minute and they're expensive to print. Get all the remnants of envelopes he has lying around at cost or less.What does it matter if some are buff, some are white?
6. TO RENT OR NOT TO RENT- Until your biz grosses l0 times what rent in a storefront costs, don't do it. Rents are likely to devour business. As long as there isn't a huge FOOT TRAFFIC coming to your home, neighbors won't know a biz is going on inside home.
7. ADVERTISING- Forget it. Just another thing that cannibalizes biz. Placing ads at CRAIGS LIST daily is hotter than a pistol. Each ad should have live links. (THE FREEBIE URLS http://home.earthlink.net/~astrology/ that I get for free (up to ten free websites actually, with ten megs at each website) given by my server and THIS GETS ON CRAIGS, whereas the real WWW and COM websites are not allowed by craigs and will not get into the ad, the ad FREEZES.. CRAIGS forbids them, so use EARTHLINK as a server. A PAL with earthlink can lend you their ten freebie websites!
WORD OF MOUTH is second best way to draw people. One client brings two brings four brings eight is called INCREMENTAL GROWTH. LOW Rates for your product/service undercuts the competition first year or two. That's the thing that brings new clients. Give freebies or gifts to clients who bring you more clients. Do flyer mailouts, no envelope, placed on doors. STREET POSTERS with simple exciting text and a phone # SINGLES PARTY HOTLINE 555-1212" on a busy street, your fone mailbox which has all info on it and records caller's name, number. TARGET a neighborhood, using phone book to call families. Female voice promising ten things SHE is going to do for client, "Hi, it's Lynn at ORGANICS, healthfood suppliers. We deliver a weekly basket, recipes, everything you eat for that week, for 30$ Try us for just one week and you'll want it for the rest of your life. We will lower your cholesterol, make you young, thin, disease free, eliminate your shopping hassle. All I need from you is a simple yes and your first food basket will come." What you really get when they call you back is their check in front. Have 'em call 555-1212. OR, just leave spiel on people's message machines. They'll call back if voice is pleasant, truthful, warm. 8. ACCOUNTING BOOKS-Get "Accounting for beginners" type book at library. Do your own accounting. Later, get LOTUS software, computerize.
8. STAYING ON TOP OF IT ALL - Bulletin boards don't work as well as LAMPS. Four sided, with space for postem or stickems. If you clicked on MERCANTILISM page up above, you'd have seen it. Find a carpetner guy and start manufacturing it. Great design and utilitarian concept!
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