A Few Words on Handmade and Pricing

January 19, 2020 10:16 by ehouston

One of the biggest issues facing Makers out there is how to price your items.  I am constantly tweaking my formulas and trying to rework the numbers to get to a price I think a buyer will consider and never seems to matter.  I have sold the same type of items for $30.00 and $130.00.  It all seems to depend on the place I am selling and the type of customer that is looking through my stuff.  In the past I have been that person that walks through the craft fair thinking to myself, "I can make that" and thinking I can do so for so much less.  If there is one bit of knowledge that I can pass along to those that frequent handmade fairs and boutiques it's that YOU CAN'T!  In most instances the Maker is selling their wares for pennies and only keep going because they have a love of, and internal need to keep creating.  For some of us it's the only way to stay sane and unfortunately even if we spend hours perfecting our passion and creating a piece of art or useful item to sell we will never see it go for a price that comes any where near covering the cost of time and energy (and materials!) that go in to it.

  Vintage Upholstery Embroidered Bird Adjustable Crossbody Bag image 1

I am putting this out there because I wish I could find that magical place to put my items up for sale that is frequented by people who understand what it takes to create.  I wish I knew where all those lovely souls go to shop and understand that, "I could make that for myself, but why invest in all the materials, labor and trial and error it takes to get it right when a perfectly created piece is right here for the buying?  And, I will pay that higher price because the Maker has invested so much time and energy and love into this one item.  AND, I GET TO HAVE IT/USE IT/WEAR IT right away!".  I'm looking for those people and no matter how many articles I read about how to price my wares that question is never answered.  


In fact, I find myself hearing over and over again about how easy that is to make and how the store owner is trying to rob people blind.  I saw that sentiment in a comment on a post by a local store recently.  The person making the comment was so insensitive to make the remark in the first place, but to not even know what the item was made from and then take the time to say something negative and demeaning about something that took time to curate and then create.  The shop owner was very gracious to explain the materials and pricing, but I still left that post with a sick feeling of "this is how so many people feel and they have the loudest voice in this industry".  


My hope is that people continue to consider shopping local rather than Big Box and really think about where things come from.  I wish people would take some time and really think through how the world is effected by their purchases and how they can change a mindset about what it costs to keep stuff out of the landfill and in circulation.  Buy handmade, upcycled, recycled and made from scratch items from materials that already exist.  Back off the thinking that says all my furniture needs to be new and from Ikea, Target, Haverty's, Greenfront, (insert chain store here).  Remember our mindset of only wanting cheaper and cheaper prices sent manufacturers out of this country.  Cheaper means lost jobs, and more than anything crummy craftsmanship.  It means items that don't stand the test of time and don't make it as hand-me-downs or the family heirloom.


If we could all just change our mindset about how we buy and remember what it takes to actually come up with a product or idea, pull together materials, create a pattern through trial and error and then make that item, then things could really take a turn for the better.  Craftspeople and Makers could stop pulling down their prices in hopes of a sale.  We could stop losing money just so we don't die in an avalanche of our unsold items.  Makers, how many times have you off-loaded things for nearly nothing just because you had to get them out of your space?  We have all been there and the sad thing is, that in doing so, we just hurt our own cause.  If we could all come together and price our creations right, we could all find ourselves "quitting our day job" and really making a living from what we love to do.

And, frankly, I think the world would be a better place for it.



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