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Sat Dec 15, 2012, 07:13 AM

Think Twice Before Quitting Your Job to Sell Homemade Jam [View all]

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/think-twice-before-quitting-your-job-to-sell-homemade-jam/266295/



"Small business" has always been embraced by politicians, the phrase a lazy stand-in for "good, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth Americans."

But now, in many progressive communities (Austin, Brooklyn, Portland, my hometown of Chapel Hill, NC ), small—very small—businesses have gained a new, distinctly groovy luster. In these parts, people speak of an "artisan economy" of "hyper-local" businesses selling "handmade" goods. In this new artisan economy, running a teeny-tiny business is not just fulfilling, it's morally good. Not only are you pursuing your creative goals and rejecting the rat race, you're also striking a blow against corporate behemoths and all they represent—greed, environmental destruction, the homogenization of culture.

As the idea of an artisan economy gains mainstream purchase, it's being especially promoted as a way for women to find work-life balance. The parenting site Babble published "Top 50 Etsy Parents," in which the crafty moms (for they are mostly moms) gush about how Etsy has allowed them to achieve work-life balance, put family first, spend time on what really matters. There are legions of recently published books with titles such as Handmade to Sell and Etsy Success, whose cover features a picture of a young woman literally balancing a baby on her hip.

But here's the thing these books and articles don't mention: Microenterprise works for a very lucky few. It fails for a vast majority. And, although it may be dressed up in new hipster duds, microenterprise as a solution for work-life balance is nothing new. It's as old as selling eggs on the farmhouse porch. And it doesn't work.

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xchrom Dec 2012 OP
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