Friday, June 12, 2009

PIF: Spreading the Good Feeling

They say the most meaningful gift is the gift that someone made for you. I guess that's why we are all fans of the handmade marketplace, etsy. There are tons of creative people there, and every one that i've had the pleasure to communicate with has seemed to be warm and friendly: the sort of people that enjoy not just making things, but probably giving things they've made, as well.

I'm pretty cynical and pessimistic, but I'm a genuinely "nice" person (imho) and i firmly believe in the ethic of going out of your way to be nice to others, it will affect them, and they will in turn go out of their way to be nice to someone else. I try to instill that in my three boys. And i've come across many examples of it while talking with etsy sellers i've had the pleasure to blog about. This is what PIF, or "pay it forward," is all about. I visited today's featured artist's etsy shop and was introduced to PIF etsy style.

As well as other things, etsy seller noneoftheabove makes lovely starburst polymer clay pendants (click on photo to go directly to her shop). They're nicely proportioned and i like the off-center crystal surrounded by the tonal gradation of clay dot spray, like a fireworks flower. noneoftheabove explains the reason why she PIF's: "I have been very lucky to have received much kindness in my life and I would like to pay it forward!" In her shop you can have one of her "PIF"-labeled items for the $0.20 listing fee, plus her reasonable s/h fee, and the promise that you will list a PIF item in your shop or perform some other act of kindness for someone. Now that's the true spirit of PIF!

So then you do a term search on etsy to see how widespread the PIF movement is there, and you get 1800+ hits! And get really excited! And then you start looking more closely at those PIF listings and discover that an awful lot of sellers have their own peculiar definitions for "PIF". Some people apparently use it as a tag just to get people to their shops, and don't even have any PIF items. Others say their PIF item is "marked down," but i'll take that with a grain of salt. I found people who might sell a very cheaply made pair of earrings for $1, but charge almost $4 for shipping, which kind of cancels out any real sense of PIF since you know the seller has covered their expenses and made a profit in the bargain. Others sell the leftover scraps from their craft for a few bucks. I'm sure fabric bits and tangled yarn would be useful to someone, but we don't really want to pay forward our garbage, do we? (Sheesh, offer that for free if you want and just feel good about recycling.) Another seller's idea of PIF was to ship your 2nd item for only $0.20 more... Does that make you pause for a moment and reflect on how affecting an act of human kindness can be?

I like noneoftheabove's definition of PIF best. She's offering an item she took significant time and effort to make, and is essentially gifting it to you if you feel you need a pick-me-up; a pretty piece of handmade jewelry. That's really a warm fuzzy. It's a hug, not a business ploy. And i will follow her lead, and her definition, and PIF in my shop starting this weekend. :-D

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