the cost of compliance

Jessica at BuggaLove has posted a blog titled "The Cost of Compliance with CPSIA." She contacted 3 different companies who offer XRF gun rentals and posted her findings here. If you don't wish to rent one, you can always purchase one for approximately $40,000.

Basically for me, unaffordable. And the real kicker is that this is the only "reasonable testing" procedure that has been mentioned by the CPSC, they haven't outlined what else might constitute as a "reasonable testing" procedure. And the deadline is fast approaching...February 10th, 2009. From what I have read, pregnant women are supposed to take extra precautions when using the XRF gun (X-ray fluorescence). When I had to have my knee X-rayed during my first pregnancy, they doubled up the lead aprons over my tummy. So are pregnant women supposed to wear lead aprons while using the XRF gun to test their products for lead? Luckily I found this NO-LEAD maternity apron online last night for the pregnant WAHMs for only $431.43.

The 2nd kicker is that "reasonable testing" will only get you through until August 2009. That is when the CPSIA mandates that our items have to be certified by an accredited 3rd party lab (choose from a list set out by the CPSC). A lot of these labs are located overseas. The testing process destroys the product. So much for one-of-a-kind.

So even for the home-based businesses or small businesses that might be able to afford renting an XRF gun for "reasonable testing" until August, they most likely won't be able to afford to send their items off to a 3rd party lab, which is tremendously more expensive than even renting the XRF gun. See CPSIA specials here for examples. A lot of these 3rd party labs are full and not taking on new clients, or they won't accept small businesses as they are not cost-effective for their labs. So even IF we could afford to comply, we may be turned away from the labs...or be put on a never-ending waiting list.

Another problem that I'm grappling with is how I would go about testing my products even if I could afford to rent an XRF gun. I don't have 500-1000 bibs in inventory sitting around in my sewing room, ready to test. You have to test the finished product, 1 from each batch. I make my bibs made-to-order. As a customer places an order, I sew up that bib and ship it out. Some days I may make 30 bibs, all in different prints, the next day I may make 2.

If I run out of a bolt of chenille, I would have to newly test a finished bib made with the next bolt of chenille, even if I had already tested that same style (or fabric pattern) previously. If I run out of snaps, I would have to newly test a finished bib made with the new order of snaps. The same goes for my lining...and I'm guessing even a new spool of thread?

For instance, if I have 2 bibs, created with the same exact fabrics, same chenille, same lining, same spool of thread, but I have pink snaps on one bib and white snaps on the other, those bibs have to be tested separately as finished items because they now have different components (different colored snaps). Or for clothing makers, if they use the same fabrics and components to make a shirt in 2T and 1 in 4T, they have to get the sizes tested separately.

I would not be able to take custom orders anymore. Which is really sad for me, as that is how I "meet" a lot of my customers. They browse my flickr site and request custom bibs made from fabrics I may not have listed on my Etsy site or website.

Another thing that makes me incredibly sad is that when the new fabric lines come out from Michael Miller, Robert Kaufman, Amy Butler, etc., I won't be able to afford to purchase a new fabric I might want to use to make a new bib style, as it would mean testing that new bib (renting the XRF gun again or sending the bib out for testing). When I buy a new fabric, I don't purchase by the bolt (15 yards), I purchase by the half yard or maybe a couple of yards to keep on-hand to keep my overhead costs low. If that bib is a popular seller, I reorder when my fabric supply gets low or sells out.

4 years of hardwork, late nights sewing...POOF and it's all gone.

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