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BUSINESS: The Sock Problem by Anna Hull of www.widgetandfriends.co.uk


If you are hand-making and selling toys, CE (Conformité Européenne: European conformity) testing is something that will eventually rear its ugly head. If anything can cause confusion and strike fear into the heart of a maker, this will be it! I make sock bunnies and have hit a brick wall of red tape during my own personal struggle to sell my wares. To sell toys, handmade or otherwise, in the UK they legally need to comply with the DTI Product Standards UK Toys (safety) Regulations.


There is much confusion surrounding how to label handmade toys. One myth is that you can label your toys ‘Collectables’, thus avoiding all testing: you can’t. You cannot omit the title, ‘toy’, or get away with refuting the title, ‘toy’, if the item is displayed with, tagged, or associated


62 | ukhandmade | Winter 2010


with toys. If you make an item that is appealing to children then it is a ‘toy’ and needs to be tested. Period.


Listing it under ‘Accessories’ won’t do either! ‘Not suitable for children under 36 months’ still won’t legally cover you. This statement is for toys that have passed the test but may have other small parts that come with it, such as a teddy wearing a buttoned waistcoat. Instructing parents to, and I quote, ‘remove waistcoat before giving to small children’ is double protection for the company.


Your toy will need to pass a series of tests to prove that it is safe for children. These tests make up the infamous EN71. For the maker set on reproducing the same toy design over and over, this is a fairly easy, if


costly, problem to solve. You can either pay to have the tests carried out on your item, or ‘self-certify’ them.


Self-certification is a much cheaper option but is a lot more complicated. You will need to make up a file containing all of the information about the components your item is made of. It will need the documentation from the manufacturer of each component, certifying that the elements themselves comply.


Now sock people, this is important: we have a problem. It is very hard to self-certify a toy made from a sock that you have bought, because socks themselves do not have to conform to any safety standards, even children’s socks, because they are just that: socks.


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