04-03-2016, 11:41 AM
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Most of us here seem to really appreciate certain small business artisans. There is something romantic and noble about someone just like you or me leaning a skill to mastery, using that skill to sell a product or service, and working hard to translate that into a profitable independent business that can provide for one's needs outside of a 9-5 job and compete with the corporate giants.

Of course, one of the problems with being a small time operation is that if your product or service is exceptional and in heavy demand, customers can get put on indefinite wait lists, or must pay exorbitant mark up fees to re-sellers that have an inside track on the supply chain. Another problem for the consumer has to do with it being dependent upon a 1 or 2 person show. If the maker of your favorite soap or fragrance or brush or razor dies of old age, retires, or otherwise goes out of business due to bad accounting, tax issues, marketing issues, or logistic issues; suddenly you no longer have your favorite product. On the other hand, if your favorite after shave is Old Spice, this is a problem you most likely will never have to worry about. (+1 for P&G)

These are problems that have several solutions. But for this thread, I'd like to focus on one solution in particular; namely, the age old practice of apprenticeship, and passing down specialized knowledge to sons, daughters, and passionate students of the craft. Some artisans don't want apprentices, and prefer to work alone. I can't begrudge them this, but is sad for us if they have a specialty formula, trade secret, or particular skill that will die with them. Wouldn't it be nice if Lee Sabini could train a young, passionate student to make brush knots that equaled, or even surpassed, his own standards which he himself could judge and supervise? Wouldn't it be nice if Martin de Candre could train a young soap maker in the ancient Marseille method? And wouldn't it be nice if James Dufour (Wolfman Razors), could train a young machinist to make razors with the impeccable eye to detail, polish, and tolerances that he himself has? This could also apply to the best strait razor artisans and fragrance makers as well. Or how about restoration specialists that clean/sharpen/hone blades and razors to a like new condition?

Are any members here passionate enough about these products and services to contact one of these masters and learn from the best? Are any members here already doing this? If so, what is your arrangement? The pay might be meager at first, but would work for a room and board type trade off be doable? And for artisans themselves reading this thread, does taking on an apprentice(s) appeal to you, knowing that you can pass on your passion and knowledge through the generations? If so, what would the arrangement be? A lot of sweeping floors and fulfilling orders as well as assisting in the laboratory? How could you compensate your apprentice, so they could sustain themselves in the process? Part time, so they'd have to take another job on the side? A living wage, salary, contract, or percentage of sales? Live-in, room and board type set up?

I'd love to see unique and specialized crafts continue through the years, and I'm sure you would too. I hope this thread can spur some thought as to solutions for these issues, and maybe even connect master artisans with passionate, young students that love and respect the craft as much as the masters.

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