"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
Last weekend I took an out-of-town visitor to Hammond's Candies in Denver. This is one of my favorite places to take visitors. You might not have heard of this candy, but it's doubtful you've never seen any, particularly at Christmas time. Their colorful, old-fashioned candy canes and lollipops can be found in major stores including Crate & Barrel, Whole Foods, Macy's, Williams-Sonoma, and many others.
One reason this candy factory fascinates me is that they still make their candy by hand with the aid of a few old-fashioned tools and small machines. On the tour, you can see them stretching out ropes of striped candy that will be cut into pieces with scissors and then crooked by hand to add that unmistakeable candy cane shape. I love knowing that there are still places that make things by hand and play in the big leagues.
Another reason they fascinate me is that in their retail shop, you can not only buy lots of beautifully packaged candy, but you also might visit on a day that they have some "rejects." (They also have an "oops" section on their website.) I bought this bag of Vanilla Marshall Sweets (a marshmallow covered in caramel) from the discount bin for a couple of dollars. (The package was actually a bit larger than this; I didn't take a photo until it was at least a third eaten!) You can see that the candies are all melded together instead of being individually wrapped. I have to use a sharp knife to cut off pieces to eat. Obviously, they'd have trouble selling this for their full retail price. I find this kind of bargain irresistible.
What should you do with your mistakes?
When trying to decide what to do with one of my own "mistake" jewelry and cards, I consider:
Is it really a mistake?
Just because a design turned out differently than you expected doesn't mean it's a mistake. Recently, a jewelry maker shared a photo of a stamped component on Facebook. She thought that the placement of a few of the letters made it something that she couldn't sell, but the comments were full of admirers who wanted to buy it. Why? The odd placement turned the component from a thoughtful piece into one with a funny play on words, perfect for a not-so-serious piece of jewelry.
Can you turn it into something else?
Recently, on the radio cooking show The Splendid Table, a caller sought help for some blackberry jam that she had overcooked to the point of it being solid and not suitable for spreading on toast. The host Lynne Rossetto Kasper suggested a number of ideas of how to use it, from placing small pieces on a pie crust before adding the filling or slicing it and severing it with cheese. By the time she finished, I was ready to go "ruin" some jam so I could try her ideas.
Is it dangerous?
If a pair of earrings has a sharp edge that I can't smooth or a bracelet has a pokey piece of wire that I can't tame, I won't sell it. I do see broken items items in the sale bin at big box stores, but for me, I'd rather either recycle or dismantle the item for parts if possible.
Does it still have value?
In other words, will someone still want it? Is it still usable? Will it bring some pleasure into someone's life? In the case of the candy, absolutely. It still tastes delicious and I feel like a super savvy shopper to have gotten such a great deal. I might not buy this as a gift (especially if I wanted to impress someone) but for me, this candy in it's not-so-perfect form, still had a lot of value.
Will it ruin your reputation?
Do you mind having your name associated with the item? Does it embarrass you? You might feel one way about having a spelling mistake on a pendant and another about the lavender (instead of pink) beads in the earrings. It's also possible that you'll decide you don't want to ever sell anything less than perfect under your brand name.
Do you sell your mistakes? Have you ever bought anyone else's?