It’s a very short step from pickles to ice pops, at least in Brooklyn, so we read with great interest Adam Davidson’s recent economics column in the NYT, “Don't Mock the Artisanal Pickle-Makers,” about the post-industrial, post-recession move in certain sectors towards a craft-centered economy.
Yes, as the author says, “it’s tempting to look at craft business as simply a rejection of modern industrial capitalism.” Dave, Joel and I went into business together because we wanted an alternative to corporate jobs, the liberty of being our own bosses, of shaping our own lives, and of making decisions led as much by principles as they are by economics. But when Davidson says, “It would break their heart to be called model 21st-century capitalists,” he’s wrong. To us, there is no higher compliment. To be able to lift our business out of the artisanal ghetto into the realm of consequence, resonance and profitability is a dream that, with much hard work, is slowly coming true.
Don’t get me wrong—I venerate artisans, embrace locavorism, and spend as much on the handmade and humble, whether it’s jewelry or goat’s milk cajeta, as any Brooklyn hipster. But I challenge the dichotomy created by a small-is-beautiful, big-is-bad worldview. Companies such as Chipotle, Organic Valley and Whole Foods are showing us that you can mass-produce responsibly, that you can empower all levels of people within a large corporation, and that there’s a huge and growing audience for consciously sourced goods.
In fact, it’s snotty, fallacious and unworkably purist to believe otherwise. If we at People’s Pops can continue to source our fruit from nearby farms, supporting our local ecology and economy, but we are making 100 times more pops than we are making now and they are still as delicious, is that still a good thing?
We think it is.
If we can provide 50 more jobs than we did when we started, but our cherries get pitted by machines rather than by humans, is that still a good thing?
We think it is. (You probably would too, if you’d ever spent entire days pitting cherries by hand while your brain slowly rotted.)
And why do we have to trade profit for satisfaction? If our product is terrific and enough people buy it, we and our employees can be happy and prosperous. Isn’t that good too?
Bring it on, Davidson. Say it loud! We are 21st century capitalists, and proud!!