Sunday 8 November 2015

Craft Fair : Trading Standards

As well as all of the fun I have had making stock I have come across a few more serious aspects relating to the Craft Fair. The main three things to think about have been have been Trading Standards, copyright issues and costing. This blog looks at my experience with complying to trading standards.

I have two products that classify as 'toys' because they are aimed at babies and children under the age of 14. This means that I cannot sell them without a "CE" label and the work that goes into proving it is safe. I was told this initially by the volunteers that are running the fair, one of the many instances in which their help and guidance has been amazing. I contacted Trading Standards as advised and I had two meetings with an incredibly helpful officer. From what I have seen online the amount of advice and support varies by location and I have been really lucky with the input I received. I would advise that if anyone is considering selling toys, cosmetics or jewellery that they should be the first point of contact.

Because I am selling on a small scale I am able to put together a self-declaration file that I keep, and if needs be update, for 10 years. This blog is far from a definitive guide and I am not going to add in a lot of complicated legislation but I wanted to simply write about the things I had to think about. I found that a LOT of the things that you have to consider are common sense and I would hope that people making items for children would consider them anyway; for example I would never send a toy without pulling and tugging and shaking it for example, but the difference when doing things commercially is to be able to show that you have procedures in place.

The first toy I made my daughter had very cute little antennae and I swung it round by them just to make sure they were secure. She has now had it for almost 3 years and has never been as rough with it as I was! When looking at the legislation this comes under "forces applied". If you live elsewhere then you can go to test centres with your creations but as that is not possible up here I described how I carried out each test. I also wrote about the flammability of the fabrics I used. Thankfully all of the fabrics took quite a lot of effort to catch fire when I attempted to burn them. This was reassuring as there has been a lot in the press about flammable Halloween outfits recently.

In the past I have made juggling balls, using rice to fill them, which was fine for family, but to sell them it was suggested that I use plastic pellets designed for toy filling instead as the rice could harbour nasty bacteria if it got damp. For added strength I had already designed the juggling balls to have a double bag and in my CE report I wrote about stitch length and strength as well as how I make sure all pins have been removed. There needs to be batch traceability so I have marked these ones so I know which pellet filling they have. I do not use any stuffing but if I did it would need to be traced as well. The report also contained dimensions and descriptions of my product along with photographs. It is obviously important that the fabric is clean and the stuffing is new. I used all new fabrics, although up-cycling of fabric would be fine as long as it is adequately cleaned.

Thankfully my toys contained no mechanical or moving parts and I decided to use felt eyes so nothing could come loose. Neither would any of my toys fit into the test cylinder that is used to check if there are any choking hazards. As a parent I find it reassuring that all of these regulations are in place. I know that I check the seams on all toys and those that are made on a larger scale will also wear down with time. I have seen people claim that this is "health and safety gone mad" but I think it is just about making sure people consider all of the factors that are needed. I do, however, find it frustrating that the regulation is written in a far more convoluted way than I think it needs to be.

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