"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Price is Right?

~I love to make things. I love to design and create many things. Rugs, weavings, embroidery, little sheep and miniatures.( I made the rug above ) I have made and sold many, many items and always have difficulty putting a price on my items. You see, I want to sell many things I make, but I have been told I charge too little. I have been told that by people who actually charge a LOT for their craft and sell enough items to justify their prices. But all it takes is one person to gulp at the price tag on a rug or weaving and self-doubt just charges in on me and I am tempted to lower prices ASAP! ~A few years ago as I was perusing the shop of a local weaver, I was enthralled by her many looms, her colorful rugs hanging on the fence outside her home on the main street of a cute little mountain town near by. We bagan talking about the price of weavings and rugs and how it is hard to explain to people why they should pay more for her / my rugs when they can go to the local discount store and get a very usable and attractive rug for a very low price. Cheap, in fact!The lady in the shop scolded me for my willingness to cheapen my work by being too cheap in pricing. She actually gave me a LONG lecture, and my daughter-in-law witnessed it. But I want to make some money, I want to sell my things. ~All I can say is that I start with my own lambs and sheep. I buy hay for them, tend them with love and lots of attention. I make sure they get their vaccinations, wormings. I keep records on them and think about them a lot. I pay someone to shear them, and then I skirt the wool fleeces, wash most of them myself. I dye the fleeces myself. I spin the wool into yarn for my weaving and rug making. I design and craft the rugs and saddlepads I make, and each rug or saddlepad has many hours of work involved before completion. So really, I cannot put a price on the rug for the hours or work involved. I put a lot of love into what I do too..I LOVE what I am doing. You cannot put a price on that either. ~However, I have discovered that many items I have given away, or sold very cheaply, sometimes are then treated as of little value.....and how can I expect someone who is not familiar with my craft to appreciate the hours and hours of spinning the wool, hours and hours warping the loom, so I can weave them a gift? And if I have woven dyed yarn into the weaving, well, there are many more hours involved? Somehow, it seems like this should make the item matter at least as much as the factory woven table cloth....but I digress. ~Somehow, some way, I need to price my items so they are affordable, but not cheap. Well made, with love, because I don't want to sell something badly made. But I do myself and other fiber artists a disservice when I consider the things made by hand are not worthy of some sort of reflective price....and I have decided I will keep some items rather than sell cheaply. I do make items that are affordable to anyone, but rugs..and weaving..not any more, they will reflect a tiny bit of the time and effort involved. But still, What price is right?
~The pictures are of a wool locker hooked rug I made. It is 3 feet by 4 feet and very, very thick. This is one of the items I do not know how to price, but I finally decided it will not sell below a certain price, and maybe I will never sell it. We'll see.~
Blessings: To be able to work and craft with the wool of the sheep I love, time to craft with my wool, imagination


Mary Humphrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Humphrey said...

Kathy, as you can see, this is my second comment, first one deleted. I should not try to write anything when experiencing insomnia. :) Setting prices was one of my most difficult tasks. When you consider all of the time involved (milking, caring, feeding), you understand why goat milk is 4.29 a quart. Farming is a very difficult job, not including a soap company. I chose to do the job, however, and I will not make other's pay for that decision. See where I am coming from? Your question, "What price is right" is perfect. I do, indeed, rely on the calculations of my time (away from the barn), the cost of the supplies, and the utilities in the shop (just cents), to set fair prices, prices that hold peace in my heart, knowing they are based on solid facts. Can you price for your care, skill, and quality that goes into your work, yes! It is more difficult for you to do that, than it is for me to tell you that. No doubt.

KathyB. said...

Mary, thanks for the thoughtful reply.There is some point where i realize i do this because I love to do it. But to sell them requires some reflection of what it takes to get it made, balanced with a reasonable price tag.....and hope that just maybe someone with a little understanding of all that goes into making a rug like this will be willing to pay the price. Otherwise, this rug will look mighty fine in my home!

Anonymous said...

Kathy, I know that pricing my services was the most difficult thing I had to do when I started my business years ago. And, I too discovered that an underpriced product &/or service is viewed as not being worth more. Crazy but that is just how us humans think I guess. Being the recipient of your beautiful items, I know the quality of your artistry and it will only take a few people seeing first hand, by buying and owning one of your treasures, for word to get out. Or, maybe we can get you on Oprah! :-) Love you!

Your lil' (well, not lil' but younger) sister Joni

Candy Duell said...

I dont know how much your going to ask for it, but I do know it is BEAUTIFUL!
You do wonderful work. I wonder if a raffle would make you feel better, and then you would get your price. I most certainly would buy raffle tickets.
Just a thought...:)

Debbie said...

"Of His Pasture" was the name of a business my daughter and I formed some years back. She is an extremely gifted crafter and we made things together to sell in local shops, bazaars, etc. We did woodcraft, pillows, candles, prim items, etc. We realized pretty quickly that some folks are looking for a deal but a lot of time and investment went into our work and we had overhead. Long story short, we learned to price our items where we knew we should. They still sold very well. The few pieces I have here to decorate my own home were leftovers that I wouldn't come down on and I am enjoying them now and glad to have them. I refused to give them away.
Finally, we couldn't compete with the growing gift business and Chinese imports. But I miss the shows and the fellowship and seeing some nice lady fall in love with something we'd made and take it home to adorn her home with it. I just loved doing that. If you can't get its worth, keep it. I know what something is worth to me to sell, knowing how much time and trouble it was to create. Your work is beautiful and one of a kind.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Kathy, I cannot imagine the attachment you have to every piece that you create, given all that goes into making it. I once made cross stitch items to sell at craft shows and sold them very reasonably I thought. A young child wanted an item I had spent 8 hrs. making; her grandma picked it up and said, "I could make that in 15 min." and then threw it back on the table! I figure folks like that don't need a hand-made heirloom!

LindaSue said...

We never charge enough for the things we make. Your pieces are more folk art than "just" a rug or runner or purse for a cell phone and lipstick! Your work is beautiful and the process you go through to create is worthy of Proverbs 31:29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."-and in Romans 4:4 "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation." - so there you go - worthy of praise and your payment isn't a kindness it is an obligation - whew glad the Bible gives words I don't have! Interesting discussion and one reason I don't sell my baking - I just won't charge enough for a cake to pay for the time, ingredients and work.

Anonymous said...

This is a constant concern, dilemma, question that I have. My mom helps me price my stuff a LOT! My tendancy is to price my items to low and I agree that the value is lost when you do that but I also want to sell my items. Great post and your pieces are stunning and made so well.

A. Joy said...

I'm sure Tiger Woods enjoys playing golf - and he's making millions doing it. When people really want 'hand made' they are usually aware it will cost more and are willing to pay it. You calculate the cost of everything you put into each item, then add extra for time and set your price. If someone does not want to pay that price - then - they don't get the item, simple as that. Not until you're unable to sell ANYTHING should you lower your price ( like the housing market! ) and I have 2 more words for you when you're thinking your work isn't worth the price - " Remember Chuffy????"

Anna Colleen said...

That rug is one of my favorites of yours.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

One thing that helps people understand why you charge what you charge is to have a simple poster telling your story. Exactly what you've written about but in a small poster form, with photos. Teach people why you do what you do and some of them will, happily, pay your prices.

One tip that sounds rather strange, if something isn't selling...RAISE the price! People perceive things that are priced low to be not worth very much. The inverse is also true.
Perhaps your market isn't locally, perhaps it's more urban or metro areas...? The i-net opens the world up to us and I'm still figuring out how to use the various "communities" to my benefit.

noble pig said...

It is so true...and yes, if you charge more the item will be treated with more respect by the new owner. All that work is worth every penny!

Pricing is a weird thing, even with wine. Everyone says they want an inexpensive wine but restaurants who have priced bottles at the 20 dollar mark sell less of it than when they price it at 30. Go figure.

Stella Jones said...

I do understand your dilemma. I think it is almost impossible to price your own work. If you take into consideration the cost of the product that you make plus the time and expertise that goes into it, not to mention the love expended on it, your item would be almost priceless. You will never get what it is really worth and you will lose it anyway, if you sell it. Maybe you had better make two of everything, one to keep and one to sell. Yes, a dilemma indeed. Good luck with it.
Blessings, Star

KathyB. said...

Joni, thank-you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me. As far as pricing for your skills, I think if you were paid for all the high quality work you really put in, you'd be very, very rich!

Candy, thank-you. Raffle tickets sound like an interesting idea!

Mrs. D., you are right! It is hard to compete wit imports and China trade...that is why I make a point of purchasing at least one quality item ( often more ) from crafts persons at the bazaars I attend.

Oh Mildred, I have encountered some unpleasant people at bazaars and fairs, but that lady who said that to a child about your cross stitch, too bad about the lessons she passed on to this child. I like your attitude about it.

LindaSue, thank-you, thank-you for the scripture! I know we can never place the true monetary value of what our crafts, or farm sales cost....but you're right. There has to be a bit more for such items...

kenleigh acres, your whole family seems to have jumped in to support you..and you seem to support them! I love seeing the pictures of you, your sister and Mom and friends helping with your new shop!My sisters are supportive with encouragement and love, and I do have a lot of farm type friends and fiber art friends..so I DO have a good support network i need to listen to.....( maybe your Mom could help me price ? )

A.Joy, I had forgotten about that beautiful little Chocolate Lab puppy we let someone talk us WAY down on the price, and then he called to complain about a stupid thing.....I think now that if we had doubled her price he would have thought he had a deal. We did miss her after we realized what a jerk he was.....but you missed her most!

Anna Colleen, thank-you. You're getting pretty good at making these rugs too....

Thistle Cove, good idea about the poster with pictures.....I will do it for my next bazaar...pricing has always been the hard part for me....thank-you for the advice.

Noble Pig, I did not know that about the price of wine at restaurants..but apparently, from what I am reading here, this is true for most things..hmmm. It sure can't hurt, can it? Especially with an item I don't mind keeping!

Star, yes. I long ago realized I would not sell anything if I tried to figure in all the things that go into making things, and I suppose that is the case for anyone who sells items they bake, make, grow, or produce. I do like the idea of making 2 of everything!

Thank-you all for your ideas, comments and suggestions. I am really paying attention and will take a lot of this advice. My Hubby will be happy about this, because a lot of what you have said mimics what he has told me! I am a slow learner!

Connie said...

Your work is beautiful, Kathy, and it shows that you pour love into everything you do. Good luck in pricing and selling your crafts. I'm sure they are all well worth whatever price you put upon them.