Pricing your work

Hello to all the new visitors coming over thanks to my mention on Whip Up. I should do more tutorials if they are this popular!

And also thanks to all the new commenters who have passed by recently and thanks for the birthday wishes from the other week. I’ve not got time to reply individually at the moment – but I do really appreciate you all.

Talking of comments, I wanted to answer one from Fashionista from a week or two ago about my new range of corsages for Enamore. I haven’t been able to reply directly as she left no email address, so will do so here. I do feel it’s important to answer it in the main body of the blog not in the comments, so other people can join in….

fashionista said…

I am an 18 year old student and i am designing a similar corsage to what you make.I have already made a mock up and the total cost was under £1. If you are using recycled materials-then why the extremely high asking price?I do not see the logic.Recycling items are meant to be cheap!

OK. Point 1
Designing similar corsages to those that I make *could* be a copyright infringment. Please be aware that I am a professional designer-maker, and my designs are my own. Please don’t copy my work for commercial or professional gain. This applies to everyone – I am not aiming this comment specifically at Fashionista, it’s just a point worth making here.

Point 2. Recycled fabrics and relative cheapness. I don’t use recycled fabrics because they are cheaper. Often I pay more for the recycled fabrics than I would for equivalent new fabrics. There is more effort and processing involved in using recycled fabrics, which adds to their cost (see below). I recycle because I believe in making minimal impact on the environment with my work.

Point 3. The price. OK, let’s go through this in detail.
a) I am a professional maker. I make a living doing this work. I have to make a living wage. I have to charge for my TIME. For each piece I make, I cost it according to my hourly rate. This rate is worked out through various means:

  • How much I need to earn to live
  • My business overheads – studio rent, machinery, bills, insurance, photography, marketing costs and advertising, website development and maintenance, postage, stationery, packaging etc. Believe me, this adds up to A LOT.

I work out my annual overheads, income and required living amount and base an hourly rate on how many hours I am able to spend per year actually making. This doesn’t include the other stuff like marketing, answering blog comments, travel and of course time off. So this brings me to an hourly rate.

So each piece is costed in the following way:

Materials (which is often a small proportion of the final cost)

Add these together and add 10% profit (roughly). This 10% is the only actual real profit I maker per piece when selling wholesale. It usually is less than £3 ($6).

This makes the wholesale or trade price. This is the price I sell my pieces wholesale to a shop for. When a shop buys in work, they have to make a profit on it themselves and they add a mark-up, usually at least double the wholesale price. Often it is more than this, though some small shops put less mark-up on.

When I sell products directly there is no shop mark-up involved, so I get to keep the mark-up myself. I have to sell the products at pretty much the same as the shops do, otherwise I am undercutting the shop and they would be entitled to be annoyed, and refuse to stock my work any longer.

That’s how a corsage that has material costs of £1 costs £25 when sold in a shop. That’s why handmade products made by professionals cost more than mass-produced, and why equally lovely handmade products sold by non-professional makers can cost a lot less.
Most people don’t know this, and that’s why there is such a problem in the craft world about pricing. Have a look at this factsheet for more information.

While I am on this subject, I also want to mention why I don’t give out patterns for my designs – I do get asked a lot, often on Flickr. All my original designs are things I sell or intend to sell, therefore I don’t want other people making them! I do teach some of my techniques and designs, but I get paid for that and make it clear that my designs are my copyright. Where I have worked out a pattern from another piece (usually historic and by an unknown maker) I sometimes make the pattern available, again through teaching. I would be out a job if I gave away all my secrets! So the answer is either to come to one of my courses, or wait for me to get a book published with all this stuff in it.

I don’t mean to be unhelpful, I just need to protect my copyright and my brand and make a living! I’m happy to offer help and assistance where the request is reasonable. I love teaching and helping textile enthusiasts achieve creative heights. I would (will…) put more tutorials on this blog as and when I have time.

Do feel free to leave your comments about any of this, or email me if you want a direct answer. (ruthATruthsingerDOTcom)

12 thoughts on “Pricing your work

  1. RIGHT ON! I’m so glad you’ve said this. The more we all look at and value quality crafts the more we should all be willing to pay someone for quality work. It’s hard to come by, and we should value it. Furthermore, all crafters should valuse THEMSELVES and their ideas enough to price their work fairly to everyone.

  2. Now, can I copy what you’ve said (with credit!) and repeat it to others who ask me the same about my quilts? 😉 I think where a lot of people lack awareness is the wholesale pricing issue. Even if you’re selling your stuff at a market and never intend to go through shops – you need to factor in pitch fees, insurance, transport: there’s so much more to it than just the cost of the materials. (now I’ll just get back in my box…)PS to all other readers – I’m not on commission but I heartily recommend Ms Singer’s classes, if you’re near enough to attend!

  3. I totally agree with you on this one. I have difficulties pricing my craft because I do not really know the value of my work. Thanks for posting this and I will always refer to this post from now on. :*)

  4. Excellent, excellent posting, Ruth! It bugs me sometimes that in addition to everything else we do we have to educate people too, but it is worth it in the long run.

  5. Well stated, and as you did state, worth stating. Over and over. Because crafting and making and fiber and fabric are all so lovely and there will always be new people coming to it with new interest and not so much background knowledge. And because doing it for a living is very different than doing it for fun and/or selling a few things on the side.Also worth mentioning that there are SO MANY things to be made in the universe, so many things to be discovered and developed and made new, it seems a waste to spend too much time imitating others.

  6. Well said. Very eloquent and comprehensive. People should understand the amount of work that goes into something handmade and appreciate the difference between that and something mass produced. If crafters underprice their hand made goods they do a disservice to all the other crafters who are trying to make a living out of their skills.

  7. brilliantly saidthis is exactly the sort of thing I should have said a couple of days ago to a certain shop owner (who I wasn’t even trying to sell to) who asked me why her customers would pay £55 for one of my cushions when they could get one from au natural for £7. I’m going to study this in hope that next time I’ll be able to say something eloquent at the time rather than just think about what I should have said afterwards.Thanks

  8. You are right. It is not the same to do one thing at home an sell it, that to live from that what you produce. Very good explanation

  9. Hi Ruth,I agree with this a lot. You may be even right it is a particularly big problem in textile crafting.I experience the same kind of problems in my professional area, which is (linguistic) research. As in craft, your succes is (partly) dependent on a great idea and for a large amount, hard work. And then, you need to be ‘out there’ (for crafts, on fairs and on the net, for research, in the professional journals) where some people see your ideas and then promote them as their own. It’s devastating, as well as unethical. It’s a hard one to deal with, as you are not supposed to promote yourself (in crafts, by actually putting a price on things, in research, by telling people they actually are saying things that you have been saying for several years) – you are breaking a social norm. Remember though, that by copying without permission – and selling (in crafts) or by putting forward óthers’ ideas without giving credit, people are breaking a norm too.

  10. I would agree that there are a lot people who don’t understand about pricing when you are trying to make a living doing it. I have a retail store for which I make many things myself (and I would definitely call myself a professional). So I’ve certainly spent some time explaining the same process of pricing.It did seem a little unfair to throw out the copyright infringement bit when Fashionista merely said she was making a broach “like” yours. All good design comes from previous good design. There are a lot of Professionals making similar fabric flower broaches as yours and are in no way stealing your idea. Because, in fact, fabric flower broaches have been around (as you know, being particularly interested in such history, as am I) for centuries. She didn’t even say she got her idea from you.I understand how important copy right protection is, but there is a huge difference between copying someone’s work and being inspired by it to make something of your own.You have only to look at the runways and fashion history to see that everyone borrows inspiration from everyone else.Anyway, this does seem to be an important discussion to be putting out there.

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