Women and Home Based Cottage Industries
by Anita Sands Hernandez
In this era of Amazon role models ---lantern-jawed, Armani-suited, liberated woman clubbing their way through upward through glass ceilings in big cities---we sometimes forget that there are biological, historical, scientific, philosophic, economic and moral justifications for women staying home and working in home-based businesses. So they can raise BABIES.
Although the kind of enterprise a woman can do at home by herself won't add digits to the Gross National Product, 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 will be to her own, economic detriment. That exploitation 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 laborer/ transnational capitalist face off but in our time we've seen it degenerate into a first world/third world face-off, too, at times.
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 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. They made every cooking pot out of clay, wove their fabric out of cotton thread they spun, grew their rice, milked their goats themselves 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 or our male bosses and their glass ceilings,) and prevented his undeveloped country from being manipulated, colonized or 'taken into hock' by the first world banks and governments and the colonizers' 'bought' third world politicos as well as the trasnationals' 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 living with hand-made artisanry, food and decor it exports to stylish, foreign 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 polarize, kill of or make unnecessary the laborer in the factory as well as cottage industries outside the factory. Marx predicted that the factories of monopoly capitalism had a wicked way of letting machines do the labor cheaper, wiping out union labor and independent manufactories in one fell swoop. He didn't predict NAFTA and GATT which have totally made workers obsolete.
Today, most small retailers fail to give Walmart a run for its money, yet these days we frequently see small businesses and artists survive. The ugliness of factory-produced 'art' makes the buying public appreciate real, hand-crafted items even more. The bleak phoniness of factory produced desserts makes Ben and Jerry's ice creams a handcrafted, costly but popular alternative.
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 news 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 her mate and frequently enjoys it that way.
Psychologists suggest that for the emotional health of her offspring, kuche, kirche und kinder 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 their babes. In any case, the worker-friendly burp is fragile and disappears quickly.
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. Women wanted to be certain their jobs will wait for them for a few months until the infant is old enough to be weaned and put in infant care but opponents of such legislation pointed out that small businesses would stop hiring females if there were protracted paid '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 kuche und kinder so bad? At home in her 'office,' a woman can rock the cradle, 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 older children after school. She does not have to pay costly homemaker surrogates for this pleasant, creative work. Plus, all the above can be done between bouts of mind-challenging 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 extra and sometimes, let's admit it, untaxed money in their bank account.
There are distinct advantages to putting the office in the home besides babies being 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.
Literature supports the home-based business if obversely. 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.
E. Schumacher, (Small is Beautiful,) states that more competent conservation and superior end-products result from single worker situations. Small growers, seamstresses, knitters, artisans, healers, writers and cooks can simultaneously be mothers and wives.
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.
2. Buy old white enameled furniture at garage sales, partly sand, until it looks 'summer cottage antiquey' sell at swap meets. Redwood plank furniture gets stained bright colors.
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.
4. TEA PARTY-If you're zoned for business on your street, 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 boutique, beauty shop, ladies massage therapy or healthfood store. You can do all of them.
5. Start a communal Food Co-Op, sell wholesale groceries, farm fresh produce, home-deliver.
6. FARMER's DAUGHTER - Grow high cash crops, stringbeans, strawberries, melons, designer lettuce, arugula, kiwis, raspberries, sell in the city.
7. SHE LOVES SEASHELLS-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. Stringing beads, making necklaces. Thrift store beads or garage sale beads are cheap.
8. FRUITY? Make preserves. Get your neighbors to make them. Make pies out of local surplus farm fruit. Rhubarb, apples, peaches, whatever the farmer sez 'a buck and you can just haul it away. 'Take to an upscale gourmet cafe in the city one day a week. Great for rural areas. Add lemon rind and juice and many plain fruits jam up to become exotic, extraordinary. Or, try sharing a booth at the 'Farmer's Markets' now sprouting up in cities.
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. Alternative? A ROACH COACH but a younger male relative would have to run it. You'd cook.
10. A GAIN FROM GRAIN- Learn all these flour free breads, BIBLE bread, the wild wheat-free, spelt or kamut grain cookery. Get a route of cafes who give it to their clients. And healthfood stores. Also do hypo-allergenic fridged entree cooking a few dozen a day for every healthfood store, you know, whole buckwheat noodles in sesame oil Macrobiotic 'specialty' recipes. Then when THE GOOD GRAIN has a following and you're famous, teach at the local 'Learning Annex'. Teach private cooking classes, cater parties. But never stop supplying bakeries, cafes, diners. Sooner or later, you'll have a millionaire client who'll fund your cafe.
11. Get on the Information Highway. Get a computer, Create an online Web Site where you offer your wares to the world marketplace. Create an ONLINE 'country cooking' newsletter on the Internet. Put a spin on it that makes it exceptional enough to charge 5$ for a pamphlet full of the 'classified', secrets of SELF SUFFICIENCY country cooking. That's a big issue now. How to make feta cheese, etc. How to make preserves. So city people don't starve when the depression deepens and people are living in their SUV's.
12. Create a RECYCLER newspaper, free People's Classified Ads to all, sell paper for l$. PAID ads by merchants. Make a Million$ lst yr. It happened in L.A.
13. REN-FAIRE! 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. HENRI WHO?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.
15. THE HEMING-WAY.Write articles. Submit to mags. 500$-5k each. Writer's Digest is in every library in USA, tells you how. Use a computer. Research them at library.
16. SWAP- Rent space at local schoolyard Sundays, create a swap meet for artisans, collectors, jewelers, food booths, fortunetellers. Put ads around town "Swap Meet forming call this Number". Charge exhibitors 20$ each booth. Public pays $1.00 , kids 50 cents to come in. You can make thousands, more if you open drink (beer, lemonade, coke and fruit juice) booths yourself.
17. BUSY BOY-Create a business around a teen-aged male relative. He earns cash, no W-2s so he can pay for trade school or college, not do STUDENT LOANS EVER! You sit on the phone. He has a pager. He does apartment managing, maybe collecting rents. He does messengering perhaps, 7 to l4$ for trips across the city. You phone businesses and introduce them to "BUNNY HOP MESSENGERS" and mail them rate sheets. Or HAWG WASH, a car-detailing business. He carries hose, buffing compound, polish, rags. You book him. He works for an hourly rate which you pay him, doing airplanes, Harleys and cars. You handle the ads, phone calls, billing and books. OTHER TEEN ENTREPRENEUR IDEAS.
18. Start a special interest group like 'POET'S and Novelist's Circle.' Then, create a Literary Agency with stationery, and peddle the works to NYC Publishers for thousand dollar fees. Sell screenplays for 300k. Get l0%
19. WEB SITE DESIGNER- Take computer class at adult High then teach others to compute, wordprocess, get online, surf, download, share info. Buy a used PC, 4 gigs of RAM minimum. get a refurb DELL, cheap through mail order. Or query a suburban PC fixer shop. These guys have dozens of two year old refurbs. Another poss. is an uptown yuppie. They always dump the one year or two year old model with a newspaper ad. Then do what I do: write articles ABOUT your experience STARTING a home-based businesses, cafe/gallery/groups. Or take a course in web design, get a scanner and design web sites for a thousand bucks apiece for local businesses. Website design freebie lessons abound on the internet. Google search 'em.
20. Start a small theater 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 Hollywood will hire you to find extras, locations, etc. Start an acting class. FILM STUDIES ARCHIVE is the file on this.
21. NATURE HEALER- Read up on herbs, shiatsu massage, iridology, power foods, specific-healing diets, and be an holistic healer. No degree is required. No license if you donít advertise. 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, (I just read them in the store and take notes) 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, $80-100 per hour. Grow your your own culinary or medicinal herbs and replicate from cuttings. HOLISTIC ARCHIVE
22. Learn Tarot reading, get Eden Gray book, Ryder Waite deck, get job at psychic hot line giving advice, entertain at parties and see private clients.
23. Start a Daycare for children. It's an easy license to get. Call it Mother Mary daycare, and connect with the higher entitities, teach non-denominational religion there. Teach kids gardening, cleaning, sewing painting, embroidery.
24. Adjust decor of homes according to principles of Feng Shui. Become a highly paid mystical decor consultant and maybe even parlay that into a career as a decorator.
25. Start a Learning Annex. Arrange for the local high school to lend you computer rooms, home economic rooms, several nights a week, or have the classes at the teacher's homes. Write the Learning Annex in Hollywood California for their free catalogue to get an idea of the many subjects possible. Or read START AN INFO BUSINESS.
26. Create a Singles Party at your local church. Hang posters, distribute flyers. Charge 5-10$ at the door. Introduce the singles; call it a "Personal Introduction Party". You can make $1000 per nite. I once saw a gal make 5k in one party. Then move it to a local cafe that has an extra room, on a week-night, starting right after work, 6:30 to 9:30. Have cafe serve small snack. They get the bar bill so they're motivated. Don't worry about music or dancing. It's a low-key chatty singles party, not a hullaballoo or square dance. Or do a big table at a cafe, switch chairs all night, a SINGLE MINGLE DINNER, 25$ each.
27. Give daily yoga/airobics, exercise classes in an large, airy, unfurnished room that is carpeted. I know a Pisces who did it in L.A. A few years later, she moved to a huge building and L.A. Mag voted her Guru of the year and her first book was a huge best seller.
28. ONLY SEW SO-SO?If you have 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 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. Old curtains become pillows. If you sew well, be a seamstress. Or KNIT. Big money in sweaters.
29. Create a 5$ therapy group at a local church. This can be as simple as a weekly 'Loveaholics Anonymous' for young people. Or Psychodrama, a Gestalt method. Or youth Mentoring. Or Success in Love, a group that works on creating shifts in attitude. Or Adult survivors of Control Freaks. Invite a 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, with SUCCESS IN LOVE seminars.
30. Start 'ORGANICS' a food-cooperative that home delivers a week of fruit, vegies, grains, legumes with recipes and health tip pamphlets for 30$ a week.
31. GARDEN! Grow decorative gourds in summer. Week before thanksgiving, clear-wax and buff them, sit in supermarket parking lot with a card table. Larger gourds become bird houses or feeders if someone is handy. Read the GARDEN INDEX page
32. ROOM WITH GERIATRICS- Build a five room addition onto the house, or rent a big house. Get ten cots at the thrift store. Pay the small licensing fee to county to run Residential Care facility for the elderly. You get 1500$ a month per person. Ten geriatrics is $15,000. Actually, today it's more.
33. BIG MOMMA. Become a foster parent. County pays 600$ per child.
34. CHARITY- Read THE VULTURE SANDWICH way to salary yourself and a friend, raise money at parties, do it weekends and nights, so you can be with your children all day.
If you're a capable person, or you have a lot of cousins and siblings, you could probably handle all 33 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.
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 until you're sure it's a hit.My friend got a free license from city hall for her landscaping business, promising to pay when she made some money. That gave her a reseale number so she could buy plants wholesale. She had a few years to collect clients before she went and got the costly 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 "COTTAGE Company." ' (it's a DBA) If your own name is on biz and clients give you checks, no problem. But biz called COTTAGE CO. with checks coming in as such, needs a DBA. SAVE AD to show bank.
4. PHONE. Should 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 COTTAGE 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? Better yet, look up a wholesale paper supplier. Keep clear 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 through 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 like 'custom.' Get a hand stamp for envelopes because you go through them in a minute and they're expensive to print. Get all the remnants of envelopes he has lying around at cost or less.
6. TO RENT OR NOT TO RENT- Until your biz grosses l0 times what rent in a storefront costs, don't do it. Stay in your home. 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. A friend had a yoga class in her living room for years. One of her students .. a rockstar...eventually lent or gave her 150k to open a commercial spot and now she's tops in the big city, has a book out.
7. ADVERTISING-Forget it. Just another thing that cannibalizes biz. WORD OF MOUTH is 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. DO CRAIGS LIST, and do your own WEBSITE. 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. Imagine a 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, teaching pamphlets, everything you eat for that week, for 30$ Try us for just one week and you'll want organic food delivery forever. 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 baskets will come." What you really get when they call you back is their check in front. So feel free to leave spiel on people's message machines. They'll call back if voice is pleasant, warm and truthful.
8. ACCOUNTING BOOKS-Get "Accounting for beginners" type book at library. Do your own accounting. Later, get LOTUS software, computerize the books.
9. CONTINUAL RESEARCH VIA LIBRARIES, INTERNET - Online mags like ENTREPRENEUR. See: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217193
Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! & HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also HOW TO LIVE on A NICKLE, The FRUGAL PAGE.* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic!
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