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Please save micro-businesses like Violet’s Peapod from the CPSIA!

May 20, 2009 by Dawn  
Filed under BLOG, Featured Articles

I am a San Francisco Bay Area Designer who specializes in 100% natural, locally-made, completely adorable peapod-shaped baby sleep sacks.  I came up with my business idea while pregnant with my precious daughter, Violet, which is why I named the business after her.  Working from home doing what I love, while raising my two kids has given me the fulfillment I always wanted in life.  I truly want to keep that dream alive, but the CPSIA threatens the livelihood of thousands of micro-businesses like myself.

In August of 2008, former President Bush signed into law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). It was created as a toy safety law in response mostly in response to the numerous recalls in the year 2007 for lead in children’s jewelry and toys.  Although this law was probably well-meaning, its reach is very, very broad and there are largely unforeseen consequences attached to it.

Many San Francisco children’s designers like me decided to band together and fight this law, making calls, writing letters, and e-mailing State Representatives, Congress people, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  We have been fueled by our passion to hold onto our dreams, and we voiced our opinions to save small business like us from this unfair law.  Many, many other groups across the nation formed their own calling/letter writing campaigns and it was refreshing to know that our collective voices were finally heard…at least temporarily.

On January 30th, 2009, the CPSC approved a stay of certain certification and testing requirements under the CPSIA.  This was good news, as this allowed us some breathing room.  I was lucky to find a resource to XRF laser scan my baby sleep sacks, which is considered a reasonable way to self-test and prove that products are in compliance with the CPSIA law.  My sleepsacks passed with the tests with flying colors, and having my General Conformity Certificates has offered assurance to stores who have decided to carry my goods.  But once the stay is removed In February of 2010, 3rd party testing will be required and my XRF test results won’t be good enough proof of compliance.

If I were to have each batch of my current inventory tested by CPSC-approved third party, I would have to pay $57 per print and batch for 3rd party lead testing, and $278 per print & batch for phthalates, totaling $4,690 altogether.  If I were to increase my price point based on cost increases to cover this 3rd party testing, I’d have to raise my price point by $19.14 each.  My precious baby sleepsacks are barely selling at $53.95, so charging $73.09 each in these tough economic times would surely put me out of business.

My only other alternative would be to liquidate my inventory completely, selling it for half it’s worth (and losing $13, 218 in the process).  Once I’d get the cash flow from that, I’d be able to start up a single batch of sleepsacks (ONE PRINT).  I’d then have it 3rd party tested for lead and phthalates, and increase the price point to $57.95.  With an increased price point and only one style/print in my line, I could hardly remain competitive in the marketplace!

If the law doesn’t change by February 2010, I may sadly have to close my doors forever.  I started my business with my life savings and a dream, and I would hate to have to give those up.

Please hear the voices of local small businesses and help keep entrepreneurial spirit alive!  Amend the CPSIA!

Lennore Merz, Owner & Founder
Violet’s Peapod
712 Bancroft Road #267
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Tel:  925.297.7952

www.violetspeapod.com

Comments

5 Responses to “Please save micro-businesses like Violet’s Peapod from the CPSIA!”
  1. kurt says:

    nice post…

  2. marianne says:

    These products are wonderful and the exact type of companies this law is hurting in the name of child-safety. How bitterly ironic. My anger just keeps compounding.

  3. Tommy says:

    Why don’t you have three style/prints as a compromise? And swap the lowest selling one out for a new one semiannually, testing the new one?

    But seriously, if your business is so borderline that you can’t afford to invest $5,000 in it, I think you have problems beyond the CPSIA. There are lots of reasons that the CPSIA is crazy, but your story is not the most compelling evidence against it.

  4. Greg says:

    Tommy, I think you’re missing the point of her post. There are thousands of microbusinesses like Violet’s Peapod – thousands of businesses providing some extra income or enough income to live on for thousands of people. Maybe they’re not looking to become mult-million dollar businesses. Maybe they just want to earn enough money so they can work for themselves from home. The CPSIA makes that uneconomical.

    Also, I don’t see how “investing” $5,000 in her business is the issue. Her issue is that the added costs of the CPSIA are pricing her out of the market. Even if she had $5,000 to “invest”, she still has to raise her prices to cover her costs, or to operate at a loss, which kind of defeats the point of being in business.

    So her story actually is a perfect illustration of one of the problems of the CPSIA: it prices the small businesses out of the market, and hands the market over to those medium and large scale operations that are able to spread the compliance costs across thousands or millions of units.

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  1. [...] Act are due to go into effect nine months from now, when the temporary stay expires. Here’s what they’ll do [AmendTheCPSIA.com] to the economics of one Bay Area designer who specializes in “100% [...]



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