Thursday, July 3, 2008

Perception Of Value

Ah, I'm finished. I haven't shared, but I've been tatting my fingers to the bone the last few days to finish one of my most interesting custom orders to date. I made a total of 72 inches of lace in the same pattern as this choker. I'm told this lace will adorn sleeves and a scarf edge and after all this work, I really should ask to see the finished garment, but I don't want to impose. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is, it got me thinking about pricing again. I know that many creators have a devil of a time pricing goods and I think I might know where the problem is coming from now.

I knew that it was going to take many, many hours to create this order of lace, so despite a small discount for being such a large order, I priced the lace accordingly and I assumed my customer would balk at the price and the request would be rescinded. I was pleasantly surprised to be told that the price was fair. As I completed the project and held all this lace in my hand, I thought, man I wouldn't pay that much for this. And there it is, right there, our whole problem! Of course we wouldn't pay that much for our products because we can make them, but we are not our target audience.

Okay, so here's my comparison. I don't sell my knitting anymore, but I have mad knitting skills. When I go to a craft fair, I take one look at the prices on knitted scarves and I laugh, not because they are over priced, but because I would never pay that much for one. I can make that scarf and I'm not just one of those people who just says that, I really can. I however take a look at the prices for metal worked jewelry and think wow, I wish I could afford that. See, I have no skills in that area so I would pay a premium for it. Here's another example, my husband is a computer tech, I know so is yours probably, but I digress. He fixes and updates all our computers without a second thought and he also works on the side for a few select folk on occasion. He had a really hard time decided how much to charge for his work too, because he would never pay someone to fix his computer he really didn't know how much his skill was worth to others.

It's always hard to step out of our skin and look at our goods as if we didn't know how to make them. My 72 inches of lace looked so amazing as I was wrapping it in tissue, like something imported from an exotic land, every knot made by hand one at a time. It is worth the price paid for it even if I would never pay that much for it. Perhaps we just need a fresh set of eyes every once and a while to remind us that while we are surrounded at etsy with other creators, it's not like that everywhere. Our concentrated numbers online has blinded us to a general population that does not actually create things everyday. It's easy to forget that not everyone knits, throws pottery, paints, tats, lathes, crochets, solders or sews as a hobby or for a living. We are still few and we have every right to charge what we're worth. So forget what you would pay for your goods and think about what you would pay for mine or for something else you don't make. Then maybe you can start to attach a real value to your pieces. It is, after all, all about perception.

35 comments:

Orion Designs said...

I think you're on to something here. Your work is so incredibly labor intensive - and very beautiful. Of course, it's worth every penny you charge for it.

Congratulations on being published in Bell Armoire Jewelry, btw!
Vicki

Francesca said...

You are absolutely right and I do the same thing myself! I'll try not to in future :)

Your lace work is so gorgeous - I used to do a bit myself many years ago and I know how skilled and labour intensive it is.

spawnofflame said...

That is such an interesting (and valid!) observation. It really is easy to fall into the trap of taking your own skills for granted.

To totally misquote someone when she is asked how long it takes to make a bead - an hour and the 5 years that it took to learn HOW to make it.

~Rose.

Toni said...

Thank you so much, this really helps.

Julie said...

Very well said!

Casbah Kitten said...

How true! I've never looked at it in that light.

organicstills said...

Well said. I think many of us tend to second guess what we charge for our art and this is going to give me some confidence to stop doing that and just believe that my work is worth it! Thank you. =)

Lucky Duck Designs said...

I hadn't thought of it this way - no wonder I have such a hard time with pricing!

Sarah said...

You've got it! This is what my mom's been telling me forever about my own stuff! She always says "Sarah, you're cheap! Of course you wouldn't pay that much...but normal people will!"

beadinbythesea said...

Thanks so much for your fresh insight into the "pricing issue". I totally understand because I make jewelry, knit, sew, crochet and have pretty good computer skills. I don't tat though and your things are very beautiful. Congratulations on your special sale! I hope they do share a photograph with you of the finished garment!

Cari said...

Great article, thanks for posting.

Plenox said...

Wow. That is such a good way to put it. I've thought the same things myself but struggled to put it into words. Your blog always gets me thinking.
Paige
LenoxKnits
plenox.etsy.com

hasullivan said...

Very insightful!

Cher said...

You are so right! I think any of us who crafts tends to fall into that trap.

It's like the carpenter who charges what seems like an outrageous hourly wage for what seems like "just hammering wood"... but it's not as much the cost of the tools and the wood, it's knowing how & where to hammer it ;)

Gina said...

Thathas always been my biggest issue too...if I can make it, I don't want to pay for it. I can use that money to pay for something I can't make. But...do I get around to making it? Depends on how bad I want it. Now if I could just apply the same principles to what I don't have the skills to make or interest in developing the skills to make it - to shake it down to how badly I want it...I might make a few less purchases. LOL!
:-) Gina

Go To Great Panes (aka GoTo) said...

Thanks for the perspective reminder. It's so true.

Recently we taught my in-laws to do stained glass. Each completed one project, and then my mother in law said she could certainly understand why stained glass costs so much. That was nice to hear from someone who had just learned the process.

Waterrose said...

Excellent points and observations. People ask me all of the time how I can make such intricate and tiny embroidery stitches. I just think...hmmm....it's so easy. But I've been doing this since I was a little girl. On the flip side of thinking that I would never pay, xyz, for something that I can make I have seen in many cases work being very under valued by the creator. That makes me crazy too.

alamodestuff said...

You are so right. Thanks for giving us that little reminder!

Kreated by Kelly said...

I love this blog post!! I lament on pricing all the time for oh so many reasons.

You hit on something I tell my husband all the time ~~ so many artists think "I only have XX in supplies so even if I spent 5 hours on this, I cannot possible charge XX." OR, "I know they only have $5 in materials so how could it possibly cost $35 to purchase?!!!"

Your post was great!! Thanks!!

Le Fleur said...

So true, so true.

I've had problems pricing my own jewelry, but seeing other people's reactions to it..."you can do that? and its just a piece of wire?"...and I haven't even been doing wirewrapping very long. I wonder where I'll be in my skills in five years :) You've provided me with a reason to look at my own pieces with new eyes and be assured that my pricing is fair.

KMCdesigns said...

wow, what a great post! You have totally hit the nail on the head too! brilliant!

Carolivy said...

Your tatting is stunning! I do many different kinds of crafts and have had to figure out formulas for my pricing so I do charge a fair price for both the customer and myself. Those formulas aren't easy to come up with, but once I have them, it is much easier to price something, rather than base it on, do I like this customer, am I in a good mood today, did I really enjoy working on this project in the first place? ;)

Chris & Samantha said...

What a great blog entry.. thanks for sharing your ideas on the subject! :)

Bubba & Rye said...

Completely Agree...what a great point of view!

SilverSunbeam said...

Great observation. It's so hard to decide on a price... I know what similar things (to mine) go for here in Nuevo Mexico, but then start to wonder if I'm charging too much for an unknown or too little for one that is well made. Thanks for reminding us that "it isn't about us."

Tiffany said...

Thanks for providing this reading material. I was recently considering if I should reprice some of my items. I'll leave them alone now.

Thanks again.

littlebird said...

how true!
your work looks beautiful btw, but then i'm a printmaker so lace making seems like the most romantic, exotic thing ever ; )

cloud9design said...

well said. i agree. pricing is usually way under what it should be.

Bling It said...

Oh how many times have I been at a show and thought the same things. I look at your work and started thinking about that custom order and I too believe it was worth every cent you charged for it. How many times have I held my breath after giving a potential customer a price quote. As an artist it's something that I need to "get-over it". You are on to something here...great post.

Carol b. said...

Your work is beautiful (I look at it and I'm just amazed that it's handmade) and what you said is very true!

Leah said...

wonderfully said. yes, my sister go round and round about each others prices...we are each others other set of eyes and it works! thanks and i might link to this post at some point! thanks!

moonmystic said...

Great points! I could not do what you do. . .beautiful!

cassandra_buzz said...

I heartily agree. I remember being at a craft fair and having a woman pick up a 6" tatted doily and bawk at the price telling me she'd gotten one twice the size for $3 on ebay. And there I was thinking $10 wasn't nearly enough. People just don't seem to realize how much work something like that takes. I'm really bad about underselling myself. Glad there's a reason after all, lol.

Amy said...

Exactly, I had a recent inquiry for a special order and I though the buyer would say thanks but no thanks at the quoted price and I really thought hard if I should discount for a bulk order. In the end I went with my regular price and the buy was more than happy with the product.

ShawnaSpeak said...

I'm lucky enough to be able to put on my "business woman hat" and charge with some ease. It is difficult, however, for my mother who makes amazing pillows and garments. Growing up, she used to tell me, "Never buy something you can make." I think that was her way of only buying groceries! lol! I don't think there is a craft we haven't done...oh, glass blowing, but I'm about to take some classes. Anyway, I think your article is awesome, and from what little work of yours I've seen so far, it's beautiful! I am definitely recommending this article to my mom and others who have difficulty in this area. Perspective is everything in life!