Sunday, September 2, 2012

Take 2--or Double Take

I really enjoyed the polka dot flower brooch I made this week. On the strength of it I asked myself a couple of questions:
  • how would it look in a hand-dyed cotton homespun fabric?
  • how long does it actually take to make one of these brooches?
Here's how it looks. And it took fifteen minutes to make after I'd assembled all the materials and worked out the technique on a previous incarnation.
 So what? Well, one of the topics for this weeks Make Craft Your Business class was pricing. We've been pointed to this formula as a good guide. It suggests a fair retail price is four times the cost of materials plus time. Yep, four times! That's to cover all sorts of things like finding and purchasing supplies, developing designs, labelling, promoting, etc, etc, etc. Not to speak of overheads. Now I'm no-where near making my living from my crafts, but it's a worthwhile question, particularly if I'm going to be more intentional about what I make to sell.
 I don't have an estimate for the time and materials I used to dye this fabric. It was a few years ago, but I know that good quilting cottons, whether hand-dyed or commercially printed retail for $24 per meter. This flower takes just under 10 cm of fabric, The brooch back costs 40 cents. The big question then becomes, "What price should I put on my time?"
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this difficult topic. I can tell you that when I pulled out the brooch in class and presented my figures, we were all struggling to know how to reconcile the issue. I deliberately did this with something I don't feel too precious about. In fact, by the end of the day I wasn't even sure that I liked the brooch. I'm a bit happier with it this morning. And the possibility of selling kits helps. 


Dee said...

1. the colours and the brooch look fine.
2. I have seen these retail in stores between $5-$12.
3. Personally I wouldn't pay over about $7-$8 (as you know I am very careful with what I spend so may not be the best guide)
4. I raised the matter with the art group last night as we were discussing pricing hand-made items for sale. 9several of the ladies sell their goods at markets and via web-stores) One woman was making and pricing some items as we discussed it. We had quite a lively discussion.
Here is the breakdown:
a. Most agreed that paying yourself $20/hour isn't viable or realistic for most handmade items due to cheap overseas products and the sheer number of hours that go into many such items. this led to a side discussion on pay rates and the current pay for an adult retail sales assistant is around 17/hr.
b. most had heard the formula before and whilst agree in principle find it not sustainable.
c. one woman, who makes her living as a silver smith, said that she has many simple items that she is able to make from her left-overs which also take little time that she is able to sell to 'pay the rent' and allow her bigger priced items to sell a little slower. It means being prepared to have plenty of the same or similar item at a reasonably low price, certainly below material cost if one was factoring in the cost if cutting into a new piece of silver. This same woman demonstrated making silver balls for us some weeks ago and said that she uses them to make basic studs - her rent money.
d. If an item is exceptionally well made ie better than the cheap knock-offs, people will happily pay more. the correlation is that if one can't easily distinguish the difference between such items, then one is stuck with the lower amount.
e. when considering the cost of materials, it is difficult to charge for the top dollar paid and it is expected that even if retail was paid for materials, that charges have to be based on their wholesale cost to the maker. eg fabric may retail at $24/m but we can only charge it at wholesale of $12/m at most.
f. One woman watches her customers. It they look, touch, put down and walk away without saying much, she knows she has over-priced the items. If they snap them up in larger quantities she knows she has underpriced them. She also said that it is more common for the former to happen and one has to be flexible and prepared to mark prices down. That lead into a discussion about the psychology of a bargain because it was marked down too.

I hope that some of this is helpful. I am sure it will be an ongoing discussion.

Chiara Z said...

Thanks--definitely an ongoing discussion!