Beside Open Hardware, there is another bottom-up movement that’s slowly growing: the world of do-it-yourself (DIY) and microproductions of craft and fashion design products. There are many people designing and creating handmade product, clothes, bags and accessories, most of them consider it as an hobby, but an increasing number of people are trying to make a living on it, whether alone as an hobby (DIY) or in small groups trying to start small enterprises (microproductions).
The necessity to find new business models is getting urgent in DIY and Craft microproductions, since each maker has his/her own business model and they struggle to find a balance in their growth (something hard to understand for them). As Zoe Romano and Bertram Niessen from Openwear pointed out in an interview for openp2pdesign.org, many DIY Craft makers still follow the seasonal rhythm of collections, others are experimenting flexible models. Some people are split between different activities: they are at the same time crafters and crafting teachers, or they design and realize their own collection but, at the same time, they work also for third parts in different positions of the production chain. One of the biggest problems of the DIY Craft movement (especially compared to Open Source and Open Hardware) is the extreme fragmentation of the community: in Open projects communities may be small, but there are definitely more people collaborating together in the same project than in DIY Craft. It’s easier to profit with the long tail of DIY Craft than with a single project, and here we could use microcredit as a tool for community building and for building and managing collaborative networks among the many makers.
Moreover, as reported by Zoe Romano and Bertram Niessen, the b2b DIY Craft scene has a good percentage of transactions based on the bartering of goods and services and the money are mainly left to the direct selling of end products. We should then also consider this aspect, and think about microcredit initiatives within the DIY community and microcredit initiatives even outside it. It could be even just one microcredit initiative but in the end it will work in a different way inside and outside the community, and we should use it to create a stronger collaborative ecosystem.
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An earlier version of the protocol I wrote up had support for