A cottage industry is an industry—primarily manufacturing—which includes many producers, working from their homes, typically part time. The term originally referred to home workers who were engaged in a task such as sewing, lace-making or household manufacturing. Some industries which are usually operated from large centralized factories were cottage industries before the Industrial Revolution. Business operators would travel around, buyingraw materials, delivering them to people who would work on them, and then collecting the finished goods to sell, or typically to ship to another market. One of the factors which allowed the Industrial Revolution to take place in Western Europe was the presence of these business people who had the ability to expand the scale of their operations. Cottage industries were very common in the time when a large proportion of the population was engaged in agriculture, because the farmers (and their families) often had both the time and the desire to earn additional income during the part of the year (winter) when there was little farming work to do.
The use of the term has expanded, and is used to refer to any event which allows a large number of people to work part time. For example, eBay is said to have spawned a cottage industry of people who buy surplus merchandise, and sell it on their auction system.
History of cottage industries
19th c. ox powered double carding machine
Reine Berthe instructing girls to spin flax on spindles using distaffs
Hand loom at Hjerl Hede, Denmark, showing grayish warp threads (back) and cloth woven with red filling yarn (front).
A cottage is a farmhouse usually in rural areas. A cottage industry is a small self-help industry that is carried out in the home, community center, parish hall or some other convenient place. Such industries are evident in handicrafts, catering, tailoring, dressmaking, beauty culture, retailing of dry goods, pottery and furniture making on a small scale....