We hosted our first Weaver’s Workshop, an hour long presentation and Q&A session geared towards artisan and handweaver manufacturers. Our aim was to cover the basic compliance requirements for the US, Canada and European markets, including testing requirements, costs, maximizing fiber/product offerings, and things to consider when deciding to move from hobbyist to business.
The slide deck from the workshop is below, and a summary of the excellent questions from our participants is below. Missed this workshop? We are aiming to offer this one again in the near future.
Q&A from the session:
Q: If a product fails during testing, what is the process?
A: It depends what the failure is, and what the lab process is. If it’s a physical or mechanical failure, most labs will retest for a 50% cost. If it’s a small error (missing info on packaging etc) many labs will let you correct this with a new image/sample. Corrections to registration cards, instructions etc. are usually re-examined for a small fee (50$ or so.)
Q: Does anyone send you a reminder or notification when your retesting is due?
A: No, not unless you are using some sort of compliance service. But manufacturers need to have a written testing plan that outlines when they are testing, what triggers a re-test/new test, and your schedule, so putting it on your calendar to review testing requirements for the year is a good thing to schedule in.
Q: Do all fiber combinations need to be tested annually or can they be staggered?
A: This is probably an area where a well written testing plan can help you spread out your testing. If you can spread out your testing to every 2 years, you could test a different fiber combination on alternate years and in theory expand your tested offerings this way. Please note that annual testing is a US requirement specifically, and is not written into any of the Canadian or EU requirements. Depending on risk tolerance, record keeping etc, a manufacturer could likely create a testing plan that tested a few different fiber combinations that would then allow you to mix and match different fiber combinations as well.
Q. At one point there was a discussion around testing per x number of products made- did anything ever come of this?
A. At this point in time, no. There are no exemptions for small batch manufacturers when making baby carriers, whether you’re making 20 carriers or 20,000 carriers.
Q. What are the requirements for grouping with other weavers to consolidate testing?
A. We’ve certainly seen successful cooperatives and business partnerships in the industry to tackle things like this. It seems doable if you think of it as one business, or as a factory/sewing house. You would want to have exceptionally clear quality control/quality assessment guidelines laid out to make sure that product from each loom/weaver was consistent and everyone was working within the same parameters.
Q. What are some of the decorative finish concerns- ie. ladder weaving, macrame, fringe etc.
A. Ladders are a concern for entrapment hazards (fingers, toes) and depending on where they are within the wrap or sling, could also be a weight bearing weak point. Macrame finishes on the ends have a similar concern, so that’s something to be mindful of as both the ASTM and EN standards test for entrapment. Fringe is really only a concern if it’s excessively long, so be mindful of length. Things like beads, charms etc added to a wrap are always a concern and should definitely be tested. They need to be permanently attached (and pass testing to determine this). Most bead and charm materials are also going to require lead testing and possibly phthlates testing depending on what they are made of. Including things like this are a higher risk decision and definitely need to be tested, not incorporated as an untested add-on finish.
Q. You mentioned flammability testing in Canada as being required for different colours- how is this workable when someone might use hundreds of colours?
A. Unique colours are usually made up of a smaller selection of base colours. You could isolate your base colours and test samples that included a variety of colours per sample (I believe the lab can test 6 colours per sample, but seek clarification on that before sending in samples.) You should be able to cover off the majority of your colour options within a few samples.
Q. Do you think someone would find BCIA membership useful if they are still contemplating making weaving a business venture?
A. I would say if they are trying to make this decision with the most information possible, they should reach out to me for a conversation first (Linnea at firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can walk through the pros and cons. If you decide business isn’t for you, nothing lost. I’m not in the business of talking people into or out of business, and I aim to share as much info as I can so you can make the choice that works for you. I think BCIA membership really becomes valuable at the beginning of your business venture though, so if you do decide to take this on as more than a hobby, it’s absolutely of use to have those services and resources from the start.
Have a question that wasn’t covered here? Send it on to Linnea at email@example.com and we will find you an answer (and incorporate it into our next workshop.)