Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sad but True

I read a really sad post on a UK blog called The Faerie Factory today. The writer, a rag doll & craft maker closing down her blog and ceasing to trade for two quite distinct reasons that I am going to cover in two posts:

Reason number 1, I think we all know this feeling from time to time: "In recent weeks I have realised how much time is taken making and preparing for fairs for very little financial reward. As much as I enjoy creating it has become more and more like a production line with all the stress and pressure that entails.

I wish that new craft hobbyists and those in a rush to open their etsy shop would finally realise that Time really IS Money! It is so easy, you begin to make a few crafty items from old buttons and bits of lace and ribbon you have had lying round the place for years... you buy a few supplies from a hobby shop and sit there making cute things while you watch TV. People like them, they want to buy: Hurrah!!! What the hell, they cost you hardly anything to make -but hey, you are new at this and maybe you don't feel that confident in your abilities yet - so you price really low and bask in the glow of selling things to people who really appreciate the amount of love that has gone into making them. You feel really fulfilled and now you are part of the whole crafty artisan movement that has been gaining momentum over the last decade....

ERRRRRRRR, hold up! I hate to burst your bubble, I really do, but take a step back to the price you just put on your work... it doesn't matter that the buttons and ribbons etc, were free. If you come to make more, you will need to buy, how much will that cost you? How much did the supplies you bought at the hobby shop cost you and how many items did they go on to make? How much did the electricity that burned the light you used to sew by cost while you were making... and lastly, probably most importantly: what price do you put on your time. Think about that one hard. The minimum hourly wage in Britain is just over £6. How many could you make in an hour? Lets take all your costs away and see what we are left with... Oooops!

Think long and hard about how you price your hand made items, if you put time and effort into them then don't sell yourself short, and remember, if you get successful you will hit a real dilemma... you won't have enough time to make enough of "The Item" to fulfill demand by yourself so will have to get others to help you make them... that's a whole new can of worms! THINK before you open an etsy shop, think long and hard because as a wise lady told me a long time ago "price too high and you can always have a sale or reduce at a later date, price too low and and you will soon find that when you need to put your prices UP you will lose goodwill"


Deborah Darling said...

lovely to connect with you here on blogger, I try my best to promote others and encourage people to keep going and offer advice and help where i can, I have been doing what I do now for 26 years !! yikes ! time flies when you are having fun, but its not an easy profession and not for the faint of heart. Famine or feast is the life of an artist, especially if you are a single person, without the back up of your better half. But its the desire to create that keeps us going, whether for pleasure or profit. I am so sorry your friend is closing her business, but I hope she still will make for herself. Lets try to support one another and encourage others to buy unique hand made products this christmas season xxx

Virginia Crawford said...

Great post! I feel very strongly about this subject and am relieved to hear a fellow creative saying exactly what I would. It is so frustrating to see friends fall into the under-pricing trap, or to be undercut by someone who sees their creations as a hobby/something they feel they can't charge properly for, when to me and many others it is our actual income/'proper job'. I'm looking forward to hearing your views on the CE issue, too. I'm a dress, costume and dollmaker and have had to put the doll part on hold while I decide what to do. It's frustrating and heartbreaking. In recent times I've seen so much heartache and several people stop making because of the mad bureaucracy of CE labelling. Often the TS people don't know what to make of our products anyway, and there's no actual standard, so two artists living in different areas will get two very different assessments. And then there are the makers who continue to make and sell (usually at low prices) with no regard to the law... and the rest of us who are above-board and trying to make a living with what we do end up at a complete disadvantage.
I'll hop off my high horse now :D
I love your blog, and I've learnt a lot from your adventures in dollmaking, so thank you for writing. I hope to blog more soon, and be as encouraging and sharing as you have been :)

Sewing Box Designs said...

Exactly. You can adjust to the market and economy, but I think more than anything, like the person who sounded off about a doll t-shirt being 20$ being too high, you will never make everyone happy. There will always be someone who thinks your prices are too high no matter how low, or that "custom made should be cheaper because you're not paying for a whole factory" (oh--my--gawd...)
As someone else said, "My prices are my prices, you can go somewhere else, the items will eventually sell." By undercutting the market, you're teaching customers to expect you to be cheap and stay cheap even when you are working 24/7 and the minimum wage and shipping go up in your country or region.

Yve said...

Deborah: Lovely to find you too and it's great to have you out there championing handmade and artist creations. You are so right, it's not for the faint of heart!

Virginia: As you might have guessed the Trading Standards/CE issue is tomorrow's post. It really worries me how many crafters I speak to are completely unaware of this issue and of the fact that they may be inadvertently breaking the law. It's a frightening prospect, and you are correct: very difficult to know how to approach it when it's all down to the personal perception of the TS Officer concerned.

I want everyone to keep crafting! We used to have such a strong and vibrant crafting scene here in Wales and it does seem to be on the rise again. If we all help each other and make sure everyone understands these issues then fewer talented people will fall by the wayside.

I don't actually know Sarah of The Faerie Factory, I just stumbled on that post and my heart went out to her, I think people can forget that we put our heart and souls into what we make and she has had a crushing blow. I hope she dusts herself off and carries on with a few adjustments.