Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sinking cost - Iceburg straight ahead!

A fantastic post on pricing handmade items was running around Facebook today and I found myself commenting on in a few places, so I figured I'd bring it up here.

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Crafty Peeps : Do not undersell yourself!

Here's a thought exercise:

Think about a price you REALLY think someone would be willing to pay for an object you can make.

Divide that price by your state's minimum wage - that number is how many hours you would have in order to complete it before you are making *less than minimum wage* at that price. Suddenly that "reasonable" price looks a bit low, doesn't it?

Now notice that you've just ignored materials cost, wear and tear on your equipment, studio fees, taxes, etc, etc, etc...

Yeah. Get the lifeboats.

There's also the whole other level of what you do to the rest of the craft industry when you undercut but that's a discussion best left to pros.

I don't do paid sewing work anymore for these reasons. 

I do occasionally enjoy a bit of barter because I have talented friends and thankfully I'm no longer an unemployed student so I'd just be using the extra money to buy neat things anyway, but nowadays my rule for free crafting for friends is they have to keep me company the whole time I'm working on it.

It's funny how peoples appreciation for "free" stuff raises exponentially when they have to schedule THEIR time around spending hour after hour (after hour) watching you work on it. 

I find people also greatly underestimate the amount of tweaking and finishing I do before I will hand something over as A THING I MADE. If my name is attached to it I want it to be as close to perfect as I can get it. Because I am human and things aren't always as perfect as I like I also generally provide whatever fixes I can over the life of the object. That's a LOT of completely invisible work, especially in today's ergonomically constructed, perfect out of the package world.

The other side of that underselling yourself coin:

There are many objects/materials I COULD make for myself that I buy instead because I recognize that my time is worth money. I ask myself if I would rather trade my time at my job or my time at my home for an item and spend accordingly.

A $20 cotton skirt a la Old Navy is not worth making myself,. The time it takes for me to SHOP for the fabric prices it out of home-made reasonableness.

A $400 carefully fitted wool skirt that's going to be a wardrobe staple for the next fifteen years however... now we're potentially talking value.

Then again I may decide that there's a neat detail on the pre-made item I have not mastered. Are the hours of work necessary to perfect that skill worth higher in value than just buying the freaking thing already? Heck, am I even going to bother or is this going to end up another "it would be nice but... busy" abandoned project?

These are the considerations that must immediately follow the knee-jerk "yeah but I could just MAKE that" dismissal.

I could certainly do a lot of things, but do I wanna AND am I gonna?

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