Small Shop & Aliexpress Controversy

I excitedly scurry home from the mailbox with our packages, run in the door, and start tearing into them. Of course taking some happy mail photos as we go. Our dress, romper, and bloomers from a “handmade” shop in Australia had finally arrived. I pull them from their package and immediately notice the poor quality, a little upset I start looking at them a little closer. I open the back and see a tag in the romper with Chinese symbols and it says, “Made in China”. How was my romper made in China, when I purchased it from a “handmade shop” in Australia?? Welcome to the controversial world of small shops and Aliexpress.

I had forgotten about that whole disappointing experience until recently when I started to see more and more discussions appear in my social media feeds in regards to this matter. The matter I am talking about is when small shops purchase products through Aliexpress and market them as “handmade”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Aliexpress it is an overseas online marketplace where you can buy almost anything for extremely low cost. Small shops now have started purchasing products through this platform, marking them up to handmade prices, and marketing them as “handmade”. It is all in the fine print, if you read into it more, somewhere hidden on their site it usually will say, “handmade in China”, but everywhere else they forget to add the “in China”. I have no problem purchasing from a shop that sells products purchased through Aliexpress if they market it correctly as “hand selected” or something similar. When they word it like that I know that my product is not handmade by them  and the prices on those sites usually reflect it. For those who are getting upset about the purchasing and marking it up, welcome to the world of retail. Every other store you shop at works this way. They buy wholesale, mark it up, and there is where they can make their profit. The integrity of it becomes questionable when the marketing becomes vague.

I have multiple small shops that I fully support who sell a couple of products available on Aliexpress. They market it as “NOT Handmade”, and will get the product to you in a matter of days, rather than the weeks or even months it takes to receive them via Aliexpress. The other key factor in why I support them is their pricing isn’t marked up to handmade pricing. They know the margins and stay at a reasonable price to accommodate for their work they put into ordering, shipping, and the other behind the scenes efforts that go into running a small shop.

Then there are the shops like the Australian one I previously talked about. I ordered products that were being marketed as handmade, and were priced extremely high, thinking I was ordering quality products handmade by the mama in the photos that ran the shop. I paid for the expensive overseas shipping to get it to me and weeks later when it finally arrived I had spent nearly $150 on a couple of $7 products. This was so disheartening for me as I had just entered the small shop world on Instagram and this was one of my first experiences. I decided to chalk that up to a lesson learned and continued to support the small shops on IG (minus that one).

At some point in time we all experience that twinge of disappointment when the thing we wanted wasn’t what we hoped it to be. I want to save you from this feeling when you are supporting small business. Almost every order we receive we are filled with delight and for the love, time, and money that goes into genuinely handmade products you most likely will always be satisfied. But with our readers being both shop supporters and shop owners I wanted to bring the Aliexpress Controversy to light. To warn the shoppers to make sure their handmade products they are paying more money for are genuinely handmade, not sweat shop handmade in China. I also want to urge all shop owners to be honest, we will support you even if you do purchase via Aliexpress, as long as you are truthful about where your products are made.