When you hear the term “craftsmanship,” what comes to mind? Maybe it’s something you saw on Instagram on one of the more than 2.5 million #craftsmanship posts. Or maybe it’s a sign you saw at the big-box home improvement store or one of their ads touting the latest line of “craftsman-inspired” products.
Either way, rarely does the term “craftsmanship” actually translate to things like equity, quality, and care. I’m here to say it’s time to change that, and I’m happy to be one of the people helping to steer the home improvement industry in that direction.
For me, Evan, and the rest of the team at Steller, craftsmanship is always about connecting the work to the people who produce it. That means ensuring that people who do the work are paid fair wages and that they have the training necessary to make truly beautiful flooring.
True craftsmanship also denotes a level of passion that comes across in the finished product. That passion leads to a sense of perfectionism that makes for longer-lasting products. We love what we make and we want you to love it, too.
Craftsmanship does not just apply to the people who work in our lumber shop; it also comes through in our consultations and customer service. We truly care about the people who buy our floors. We want to hear every detail of how they’ll be used to make sure we get you the right product for your needs, and we want to be there for you if something goes wrong or you need our help after the floors are installed.
These practices are nothing new among small businesses in any industry, but they sound so foreign today because of how the market has changed. In a world driven by never-ending capitalism and a social media culture that promotes the appearance of craft, those who are focused solely on the bottom line can present any image they want without concern for the people who will actually have to live with those products or the people who will work under awful conditions to manufacture them.
Overcoming Barriers to True Craftsmanship
As I’ve written before, the term “craft” has been co-opted by big-box stores looking to cash in on consumer desire for well-made, unique products. In the flooring industry, the large, corporate players realized that they could take the same sub-par flooring or they’d sold previously and repackaged it with different marketing to make it appear like it was made with love by individuals, instead of on an anonymous factory assembly line halfway around the world.
Adding fuel to the fire, these corporations have huge marketing budgets and armies of people to implement slick strategies to sell consumers this gigantic bill of goods. Everything looks great at first, but it doesn’t take long for problems to set in and the flooring to scratch, warp or show other signs of wear and tear.
What happens when those problems set in? You’re largely on your own to figure it out. The big-box store is not going to be there for you; they’ve long since taken their profit and gave it back to their shareholders. We hear from people all the time who are left feeling duped and without a lot of good options because they can’t afford to properly fix the problem without starting from scratch.
Steller Floors is part of a growing movement to change these perceptions and reclaim the term “craftsmanship” to something that implies passion and care, not glossy filters masking cheap, unethically-made products. This is an uphill battle, to say the least, especially when you consider the fact that our culture also values quick solutions and instant gratification, both of which are decidedly at odds with the slow, methodical nature of craftsmanship as we see it.
While the idea of reimagining craftsmanship sounds daunting, it’s not an insurmountable challenge. The economic winds are shifting and more people are starting to seek alternatives to the big-box status quo in all areas of their lives.
Our mission is to be here for those customers and to stand in solidarity with our fellow makers and entrepreneurs who are bringing this change to other parts of the home improvement sector and beyond.