Why handmade is “so expensive”

“$70 for a t-shirt?!”

“I love your website, but everything on it is overpriced!”

“Your stuff is too expensive.”

“Are you rich or something?”

“I could make that for $5.”

“Sorry, but that’s a rip-off.”

“$80 for a hoodie? You’re not Gucci.”

I’ve heard it all. It’s not something I hear often, but any other seller will tell you- you remember every comment like this. They get under your skin. They fester. The next thing you know, you’re a walking rage zombie! At first it made me worry that my prices were too high. And even now that I have years of success under my belt and wonderful repeat customers that assure me my stuff is worth every penny, the rude comments still hurt my feelings sometimes.

This is my job. It may not be like your job. I don’t have a boss or regular hours, and I don’t have to drive to work or even get dressed for it (heh), but this is how I pay the bills.

I’m always tempted to asked these people, “How about I come down to where you work and tell your boss you’re overpaid?” Because that’s essentially what they’re saying to me. Why not be rude right back? But I’m too polite to do that (and afraid of karma).

Because I think a lot of these comments stem from a lack of awareness versus rudeness, I decided to write this article to shed some light on the work that all of us that run a handmade business are doing… including all the behind-the-scenes stuff you probably never even think about. (And that most of us don’t charge for.)

And sure, some people will still be rude doucheballoons. That’s life. Karma will be all over their asses.

But maybe I can just make a few people think, “Oh, I hadn’t realized how much work goes into that!”

[Note: If you are a handmade seller looking for guidelines on how to price your items, please don’t use this article as a model for your own pricing. THIS IS NOT A PRICING GUIDE. It’s not how I price my items, it’s merely a representation of the massive amount of time it takes to create and sell a handmade item. As you’ll see below, I am a hypocrite when it comes to underpricing. Please do as I say and not as I do. Read this guide for pricing instead, if that’s what you’re looking for.]

 

Step 1: The design phase

I sketch most of my ideas before I start cutting. Sometimes it’s completely spontaneous. I just start doodling and see where it takes me. Other times I have exactly what it will look like all planned out, and I want to get it down on paper so I don’t forget anything.

It’s usually just a quick scribble of pen or pencil on paper. Other times I take more time. I’ll add color with colored pencils or do the sketch 4 or 5 times before nailing down a particular design.

Since most of my sketches are quick, we’ll say the total time spent sketching one piece is 5 minutes.

As you can see, my sewing skills do not translate to pencil and paper skills.

 

Sketching: 5 minutes

 

Step 2: The drafting phase

I make a lot of one of a kind designs, which naturally requires some drafting. This can range from drafting an entirely new pattern to altering an existing pattern in my collection.
For most custom orders, I redraft my pattern to match the customer’s measurements, as most people don’t fit into “standard” sizing.

Random tip: I like using old Tyvek envelopes for patterns because it won’t rip!

 

This shirt is pretty simple, so it only took about 15 minutes

Step 3: The cutting phase

This is another step that varies from piece to piece. My fairytale coats take at least 2 hours to cut because there are so many pieces. A simple tube top might take me 20 minutes. A zip-up hoodie takes an hour or more.

Start snipping!

 

Again, this one is pretty simple, so it only took 30 minutes

 

Step 4: The sewing phase

The most time consuming of all the steps, but one that also varies depending on an item. The formal dresses on my site, like the Nightshade dress, can take more than a full day to assemble. Same with the coats. A tube top takes 30 minutes, but a hoodie takes 3 hours.

 

This one took about an hour and 15 minutes. 75 minutes


Step 5: The photo phase

I usually make a big batch of items and photograph them all at once to make it easier. Because photos are The Most Important part of selling an item online, I like to be thorough. I generally take a modeled photo, a photo on the dressform, and a detail shot of the item.

This is one of the few steps that pretty much takes the same time, no matter what. I spend about 20 minutes on hair and makeup. Photographing 15 clothing items takes about 3 hours. Dividing the whole 3 hours and 20 minutes by 15 gives us 13 minutes per item.

Photographing the item: 13 minutes

 

Step 6: The measuring, weighing, and inspection phase

Before I put the completed items on the garment racks to wait to be sold, I measure and weigh each piece. I also take this time to inspect each one for any detail I might have missed before: stray threads, a skipped stitch, etc. Then they get a good going over with the lint roller and are put away.

Measuring, weighing, double-checking: 5 minutes

 

Step 7: The photo editing phase

The most tedious phase of all. I have to pick through all the modeled shots I take and find the ones where I’m not making a stupid face, blinking, or blurry. I adjust the light and color balance, crop, resize, and I add my watermark.

Editing the photos for one piece takes 30 minutes.

 

Step 8: The listing phase

When I add an item to my website, I have to upload the photos, write the listing description, and decide on a price. If I also list the item in my Etsy shop, I can copy most of that information, but it still takes time. It probably takes about 10-15 minutes to complete the original listing and 5-10 more minutes each time I relist in one of my other venues. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say 15 minutes.

Listing an item: 15 minutes

 

Step 9: The marketing phase

Listing isn’t enough. The second most important component of selling an item online (photos being most important, as I mentioned before) is promotion. If you don’t get the word out, no one will know your stuff is there! For the time it takes me to promote one item on the various social networking sites, 20 minutes is a conservative estimate. (This doesn’t even take into account if I actually purchase advertising.)

Marketing an item: 20 minutes

 

Step 10: The shipping phase

Once an item sells, I have to get it packed up and ready to ship. I spend about 5 minutes tagging and folding and another 5 minutes packaging and labeling. Then I email a shipping notification to the customer.

Note: Most sellers actually drive your package all the way to the post office and stand in line. They’re not only spending time doing that, but they’re spending money on gas. I didn’t figure that into my calculations because I print my labels at home and have the post office pick my packages up, but for some sellers, this is a big Time Hog.

Packing and shipping: 10 minutes

 

Grand total
Sketching: 5 minutes
Drafting: 15 minutes
Cutting: 30 minutes
Sewing: 75 minutes
Photographing: 13 minutes
Measuring: 5 minutes
Photo-editing: 30 minutes
Listing: 15 minutes
Marketing: 20 minutes
Shipping: 10 minutes

 

218 minutes or 3 hours and 38 minutes.

I’m going to stop right here and point out again that this is. not. how. I. determine. my. pricing. I do not time each and every part of making an item. That would be tedious and also I would freak out even more than I normally do about there not being enough hours in the day.

However, to put the amount of time it takes to create one of my items in the context of price, let’s do the math.

I would say my “goal” wage right now is $20 an hour. I used to use $10 as my goal, and then I realized that I could go get quite a few entry level jobs at that rate, and I’m not doing an entry level job. I have 8 years of experience and skill. $20 is a much more appropriate wage for skilled labor.

(And for those that think $20 is a huge wage, a full time job at that wage is equivalent to a salary of a little over $40,000 a year before taxes. Middle class in the US by every standard. On top of that, there’s no sick pay, vacation time, retirement or health insurance. If you still think it’s too high, then I can only shrug and continue on.)

At $20 an hour, this top cost $73 to make. That’s only time/labor, of course. Materials for this top cost $18, bringing our total to $91.

Even with being overly anal about calculating labor and materials, we’re still not anywhere near the true cost, because of “overhead”.

You can make the case that taking photos, editing photos and listing the items all should count as overhead. But so should the TON of time I spend doing extraneous things not counted on this list. Responding to customer emails is a huge one. Every time someone asks a question about an item, it’s another 5 minutes, at least. For the average custom order, I spend at least an hour emailing back and forth with the customer, sketching, shopping for materials, etc. Probably more like two or three hours.

A lot of people also have to drive to the post office (gas money) and stand in line (more time) to ship. I ship from home, because I got REALLY sick of that game. But I still often drive to the post office to get my orders in the mail TODAY, if I missed my mail carrier already. I had to buy a postal scale, and I pay a subscription fee for my print-at-home service.

I offer free shipping from my website, so there’s another cost that comes right out of the price of the item.

I have to order fabric and supplies. I try to clean and oil my machines and vacuum my studio at least once a week. Not to mention the actual cost of sewing machines, computers, utility bills, Etsy and Paypal fees, rent and utilities.

In most standard pricing models, you double the “at-cost” price for wholesale to cover the overhead and then you double the wholesale price for retail! That would put me at over $350.

I would be surprised if there were many handmade sellers using that kind of pricing model, though more power to them if they’re able to.

Let’s say I added on $10 to account for overhead to make it $101. That’s still my wholesale price, which I would then double that for retail – $202.

Yowzers. Obviously, I don’t use this method to price my items. Did I already mention that before? Oh, twice? Okay then.

In reality, I charge about $90 for this top, which coincidentally is the “at cost” price using the above formula.

I don’t point that out for pity’s sake. The responsibility to price things to meet my own goals and needs is on me. Like many artists, I choose to price where I’m comfortable knowing it will sell.

(And now I’m busted. Those of you who know me will have no doubt heard me preaching about the evils of undercharging, yet here I am committing the cardinal sin myself. For shame!)

When you buy a top at Walmart, someone was paid a decent wage to design the top ONCE, and then a person halfway across the world was paid a few cents an hour to make 1000 of them. Total time and materials for a single top at Walmart is maybe $3. If they sell it for $15, they’re marking it up FIVE TIMES the cost.

My stuff isn’t marked up at all, and neither are most handmade artisan goods. Even so, our time is more expensive than a sweatshop worker. But when you buy handmade instead of buying from a corporate giant, you’re getting a lot of things from us that they can’t offer. Handmade means we care about quality and attention to detail. Sweatshop workers care about one thing: make it as fast as possible. Handmade means we care about customer service. All corporations care about is that green stuff in your wallet. Handmade means you’re helping the local economy. Corporations mean you’re helping some rich greedy jerk get even richer.

A few people have responded to this article that just because I WANT to get paid $X an hour doesn’t mean I SHOULD or WILL. And they are absolutely correct. But that’s not the point of the article.

Others have commented that my process is too slow. Time yourself the next time you make a project, start to finish. I can promise you I thought I was a lot faster before I wrote this article. If you can do what I do, and do it faster, kudos to you. But that’s still not the point.

The point is: Don’t be a jerk. I put a lot of time and effort into my pieces, which is what I’ve tried to illustrate here. If you don’t appreciate that, that’s okay.

All I ask is that the next time you’re going to open your yapper about the price of someone’s handmade goods, think before you speak. (And if you’re still tempted to be a jackass, then at least remember the Golden Rule and keep it to yourself.)

And lastly, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my kickass customers, who are NOT the people that make the comments at the beginning of this post. With their support and appreciation, I am able to do something I love.

For more on this topic, check out these great articles:

About

My name is Alexis. I have a craft addiction. This is my story. also check out: www.smarmyclothes.com (my clothes) www.whatthecraft.com (my tutorials)

Posted in Selling Handmade Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
381 comments on “Why handmade is “so expensive”
  1. Corine says:

    I think the problem nowadays; especially in the U.S. is that we are just used to cheap products made in China. It’ not that what you are making isn’t ‘worth’ $75 an item or more (as the case may be) it’s just that Americans are not used to paying that much for a shirt. I don’t think too many people are intentionally trying to be rude, so hopefully your article will help people to understand a little better. Good luck!

  2. Angie says:

    I’m not saying anything new here, but I had to say something. I could stand up and cheer, and I’m going to share this with all my crafter friends.
    By the way, the coats are gorgeous and if I had it to spend I’d gladly pay twice what you ask. I will presently start saving my pennies. Onya.

  3. This article is excellent, and translates to so many industries. I’m a freelance copywriter, and my industry has been all but ruined by the fact that people think they can go to Fiver.com or ODesk or Elance and buy offshore written content for less than a penny a word. I am usually priced far ahead of my competition – but I can actually write, ya know, with, like, sentence structure and grammar and um, totes awesome spelling and punctuation and stuff like that, ya know? 🙂

    Anyway. I shared your link on my FB wall, and wanted to comment to say how inspiring, well thought out and perfectly articulated your article was – and how it can mean something even to those outside your specific niche.

  4. Julie Q says:

    Great article! Great comments. I have been hearing similar things for years. People saying, “I would pay $10 for that” almost like it’s a compliment, when the materials cost more than $10! The part that is most annoying to me is these same people think nothing of paying $6 for a latte every day or $5 for a pint of ice cream. Not only do we put our creativity and our sweat into a project, I daresay we put love into it, too! That’s the part that money can’t buy.

  5. LD Johnson says:

    I applaud you speaking out about this. I have had people ask me to make them a quilt who do not have any true appreciation of what it takes to create something “homemade”. The last person to request I make them a quilt, I asked them to purchase the pattern and material for the project. The subject of me making a quilt has not come up again and we talk at least once of week.

  6. Anntoinette says:

    Lex,

    Thankyou so very much for taking the time and effort to actually break this down for people and give a full garment example, rather than just a costing list that might be haded out in schools and learning facilities.

    With regards to the comments that have been made about cost and time stream lining I would just like to point out to all the people that either may not know, or may not understand, that the examples here which have been offered by lex are in point of fact already quite good, most likely due to experiance, and that the only real way to reduce it further would be to reduce the quality of the garments being constructed, (as speciallised machinery which might help with this is -very- expensive to purchace in good working condition and to maintain in that state).

    To give a comparison I have been producing garments for little over 3 years now, and while my times have gotten better with experiance and knowledge, it would still take myself, and at least 3 other people I know, of various skill levels, at least 2-3 times what Lex has quoted here to create the garment, in some areas it may be less, due to various strengths or past experiance, but in many it is more, and I would like to applaud Lex for being able to work so efficiently at something that she obviously loves.

    I would also like to ask why it is that people have the notion that working for ones self is in any way easier or less of an option than going out and working for a supermarket chain or a department store, or a corporate office? Is it because people are so set in the mass consumer mentality that they fail to see the use and value in hand crafted quality goods? Or is it just plain old jealousy, that they wish they had the guts to make something that they enjoy into something that can provide them with a living?

    Just a thought..

  7. Linda Rouillard says:

    I shared your article on Facebook. It is excellent. I used to craft for gift giving but I got tired of the lack of appreciation. Thank you for your writing efforts. Great piece!

  8. Molly says:

    Thank you for wording this so succinctly! As a small business woman, I have seen the same social issues you have and agree completely with you.

  9. Irene says:

    Lex, I admire your comments and your reasoning. And it makes me smile to see that a lot of comments from customer side still are just thinly veiled “that’s too expensive” (they never add “expensive for me”) statement.
    They never wore your shoes, but they assume they know what shoes YOU should buy and how you should wear them.
    Once I go an order to design a line of dog sweaters and matching sweaters for their owners ( womens sweaters). I am a knitter.
    I resourced the appropriate yarns, swatched them, created color boards, designed and graded a line of a dozen separate styles, made prototypes for all the styles. When the bill came my buyer responded that it was too high. I send her a spreadsheet with timing and prices. Her response was “I never thought it takes that much time and work!”

    Frankly, I think at the root of it all is plain and simple ignorance.

  10. Rhunya says:

    This is a wonderful article. I know there are already 5 billion comments saying that, but it’s true! I actually ran into this myself the other day making a cloak for a customer. I bought the fabric and gave them a quote at a substantially reduced price, since it was for a friend of a friend (slap me, I’m never doing it again!!), and they immediately backed out, though the next best thing they were looking at buying was about $150 more. I managed to get another interested buyer who didn’t scream and run from the price ($90), and I believe I’m making about $5/hr on it. Nowhere near where I’d like to be, but at least I’m not in the hole… lul.
    People just don’t realize how much fabric can go into a cloak, and how much nice fabric costs, sadly. 🙁

  11. Nancy Black says:

    Handmade is one of a kind; it’s unique; that is why it is more expensive than pieces that are mass produced. If an individual doesn’t want an item that stands out from the rest; he or she should buy items that are mass produced. If an individual wants to stand out, then he or she should consider handmade items.

  12. Former Dressmaker says:

    Great article! 🙂

    If you ‘streamlined’ your time (batch sewing, set sizes, etc. – like.. Walmart?) to reduce your costs, you would be making mass production items, so what would be the point? 😉

    And if you want to beef up your post a little, throw in next to each time estimate what the usual wage range for each of those jobs is, including hiring the model and photographer, answering emails, everything. If, for example, you wanted to grow your business, you would have to eventually hire someone to do some of the work. If you paid others to do the work, would you not then be *losing* money at your current prices? If you sold through retailers who took their cut, the price would then be double or more to allow for their share.

    Do these people who complain about your prices being too high because they are not ‘affordable’ go into high end retailers and complain about their prices? Who says people who earn less than $20 an hour or are single parents (and I am one) SHOULD be able to afford your garments? Do they feel entitled to diamonds and expensive sports cars? No.. and just like there is cheap jewelery and moderately priced cars, there is cheap clothing out there that has them in mind as a customer.

    And as far as loving your job, what a ridiculous idea that you shouldn’t be compensated fairly if you love your work. Quick go tell all the doctors and lawyers and accountants and programmers who love their job that they don’t deserve more than minimum wage!

    Keep up the good work 🙂 People need to be informed.

  13. Kristin B says:

    Thank you for posting this, I run into this all the time being a handmade soap maker. Yes, our bars of soap are around $5.00, and true you can get a two pack of ivory for that- but all it takes is a quick comparison of the label to understand why.
    Even buying in bulk (10,20,or 50 pounds at a time) Butters and oils we use in our products are expensive and the price is always fluctuating, because its directly affected by supply. Golden Jojoba oil, for example, has TRIPLED in price in the past few years, but its in many of my products because of its wonderful qualities. And there comes the dilema for all handmade artisans. Sacrifice quality to keep low prices? Raise the price and hope you dont lose customers? Or absorb the cost and make even less money.

    The profits on a bar of soap are tiny to begin with, sometimes as little as $1.00 per bar… so the frustration is large when you’re told you’re product is too much, but people continue to happily pay $70 for a tube of foundation from lancome.

    The best we can do is know our product, know ourselves, and ignore the negative!

  14. awsumgal says:

    Great article Lex! Thanks for educating the wider world a little in this regard. Talent, originality, quality and scarcity all have value along with all of the other things you have pointed out. I make handmade too, and explain some of my processes on my blog so that potential buyers can see a little of what goes into a piece. Takes a lot of extra time, but I think it’s worth it. I still get people expecting me to price things like I’m a factory, but it’s never gonna happen, lol. Keep up the great work!

  15. gina c in al says:

    Love this article. You should factor in the time and cost it took to find and procure your materials, gas to get to the store, postage if bought on line etc. Sorry if it was mentioned above in the comments.

    I do needlepoint but only as gifts for friends and family, no one would buy it if i priced it realistically. its just too expensive! I must do it for love then.

  16. Nic Ransley says:

    I found the link to your blog in an Artfire forum and I am so glad I came to check it out. I have tweeted and shared this post on Facebook because I think anyone who makes and sells handmade would benefit from reading this. This is even more true for those brave souls who sell at markets where people blatantly make these sorts of comments all the time. I have politely suggested to some shoppers that there is no way I could or would try to compete with the $1 cards from the discount stores, that our product is an original design, printed by us before being cut and folded by hand and that every card has taken hours from original concept to final product. I find this explanation often makes little difference to these folks. Luckily for every two or three of them there is someone who loves our work, appreciates the design, artwork and originality and gladly purchases one for a special friend or family member. This makes it worth it but my goodness, my skin has to get way thicker before I can learn to shake off the rude and ignorant comments completely. Well done and thank you for a very well written and enjoyable post.

  17. Tanith says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I make cakes. I don’t charge nearly enough for them. If you bought what I make at a bakery, you would pay 5 times more than I charge. It takes me 2 days to make a cake that I am only selling for $80. That means for a days work I am making a mere $40. It sucks that people just don’t get it.

  18. Teri Mix says:

    Excellent topic! As someone who is apprehensively considering (emphasis on “apprehensively!”) to sell her handmade dresses at some point, I truly appreciate your article. I’d like to share it on facebook and see how people feel about it, if that is alright with you.
    Thanks again!
    Teri

  19. Paul Chappel says:

    Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! I’m a composer and hymn-writer, so when I quote $300-500 for a finished small work (for which I should charge three times the amount, I actually feel guilty. Then I do something odd like say, “Oh, let’s take fifty bucks off” when I can ill afford that. Thank you for the courage you’ve given me and obviously many others to stick to our guns and take the time to explain what goes into work done privately. No one knows what work it takes until it’s laid out for them, so once more, THANK YOU for doing that. Best of luck to you!

  20. Nicthalon says:

    I am definitely a person who sees an $80 price tag and says, “Too much!” Sadly, I simply can’t afford to.

    However, I definitely agree that local, artisan, handmade items SHOULD cost more than their mass-produced counterparts, and if people aren’t willing to pay for that, then they get what they pay for, which is all too often poorly fitting and low quality.

  21. Maggie says:

    I was so glad to read your article. I am a hand knitter who has had enough of these kind of comments. it can take me over five hours to knit a baby or toddler hat – more for some – and there is no way I can charge properly for this time and still have a saleable item. And as you pointed out, I also have the design process, the buying wool, the sewing up, the labelling, promotion, posting etc etc etc…you already listed it all very well. I am aware that i undercharge and am not complaining about that as I can see there is no way i can expect to charge for every hour I put into these hats, but for goodness sake, if people would stop telling me my hats are too expensive at $12 – $25 each!
    Thanks for writing what so many of us are thinking xx

  22. Nøhr says:

    Jolly good idea to break down the process that we may understand how much work goes into things.
    Thumbs up 🙂

  23. Al McLeary says:

    My favorite comment is – I can get that same, exact thing at WalMart

  24. Amanda says:

    I loved this article! I’ve read the other article you have about pricing garments but this also helps and definately going to save this whenever myself or someone else complains about handmade items being high in price. Your right though about everything! But a plus to handmade garments is usually there isnt a whole lot of the same thing so therefore you have unique pieces that either you or only a few people have in the entire world! Your an awesome fashion designer, fashionista, seamstress whatever you want to call yourself, your a freakin bad-ass!!

  25. DB says:

    Indeed. I’m a freelance graphic designer; I hang out with artists who accept commissions. This is a huge problem, aided and abetted by too many artists grossly undercharging for their work.

    Most of my work is business-to-business, but occasionally I deal with a member of the public—a self-publishing author, usually—or someone who doesn’t have a background in design or publishing. They’re always shocked by my hourly rate. For the authors, my usual response is a more polite version of “this book may be a hobby for you, but I’m paying my rent.”

  26. dl says:

    Awesome. Great post. I had written a similar one here http://www.thatcuriouscat.com/dont-sell-yourself-short/ but yours is more detailed. Good work 🙂 Love your stuff. Very quirky and original.

    dl
    http://www.thatcuriouscat.com

  27. Sandy says:

    Something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and that something’s worth will be different for each person. By showing the process of something beautifully handmade you have made some people more aware of the love that goes into it.
    Its sad but a fact that there will always be cheaper versions and too many sellers out there making substandard items, handmade and commercial. I know that if I buy something I expect it to be well made, especially if I save to buy a piece of clothing etc as an investment. I have been disappointed in the past with handmade items not being made well for the amount I have paid for them, in comparison to a commercially made one. I would love to buy handmade more and am happy to pay more, but quality has been an issue for me in the past.

  28. mel @ loved says:

    thanks for sharing this, it’s my greatest dilema. I don’t think we ever truly get back what we put in with our handmade pieces..

  29. Robin Gage says:

    Sing it sister! Brilliant article. I am so glad Kelly from i love pretty things shared this or I never would have found you. Your clothes are so yummy!

  30. Joan Flynn says:

    Thanks for a great article. Your work is fabulous and should be valued the same as any other art work.

    The comment that makes my blood boil and my fingers curl up into fists is “$45.00 for that? But its ONLY home made.” It never seems to occur to these people that we have (a)spent many years perfecting what we do (b) even though we work from home we still have overheads and (c) our nett earnings are probably on a level with sweat shop labour for a much superior product.

    Keep up the good work and follow your dreams.

  31. Tina B says:

    People who DESIGN their own items deserve to charge a bit more beyond the cost of materials and labour. Your creations rock, they are pieces of wearable art. I think you have accurately chosen a target market and price range that suits your designs. Well done!

  32. Patty Hicks says:

    Thank you for writing this post! I just saw the link posted on Facebook by a fellow craft person and I have to say I’m glad I clicked on it!

    I am just getting into this whole “creating for a living” thing out of necessity and it was so encouraging hear your voice on this subject. I’ve read other posts that tried to speak to this issue but this was one of the better ones on pricing I’ve seen to date. It gives a lot of credence to the value/”true cost” of hand crafted items and I was chuckling at your hypocrisy by the way as I think we all suffer from it to some extent. I have a neighbor who needs to read this! Nicely done!

  33. Suzie says:

    Well said!! I wish everyone could read AND understand this!!

    The simple fact is that creating handmade is in a sense stepping back in time – BEFORE sweatshops, BEFORE discount stores, BEFORE mass produced – to a time when virtually EVERYTHING was made by hand in some way.

    Yes, it’s true; the workers back then didn’t always have the best work conditions, especially during the 1800’s. However for the most part they were VALUED as an integral part of the community. They didn’t need to complete with all that artisans do nowadays.

    So, when a person buys a handcrafted product today, they not only say ‘I love your work and support you in what you’re doing’, but ‘You’re a VALUED member of my community’

    Isn’t that after all what we all want?

  34. Kandipandi says:

    Brilliant, good point, well made!
    When it’s your living you must do this and people must understand. To be honest many people who buy handmade do appreciate this fact but you always get the ignorant ones. I would rather my lovingly crafted stuff didn’t end up in their hands anyway :0)
    Kandi x

  35. Lea says:

    So very true! Thanks for the article 🙂
    I not only design invitation, birthday, wedding cards, but also cut an fold and print them. But still a lot of people don’t get it. But I love what I am doing. Go on, your clothes are great, funny lovely!
    Lea

  36. Thank you thank you thank you thank you – about 3 million times over!! So many people DO NOT UNDERSTAND the time it takes to go into your online business – and for us we don’t even MAKE it – we just source it! We have had customers emailing saying we are too expensive when they don’t realise it take TWO people an HOUR to have a piece up from start to finish – and that doesn’t include sourcing time – which takes days sometimes weeks! I’m totally retweeting this!

    Tikkitiboo + Ahka Vintage

  37. Minnie says:

    I cannot believe anyone on this site, or even more so the article writer themselves believes this hasn’t been said already.

    “But I spent so much TIME on it!”

    Alright. Where do you think the time came from in the other person’s product? A bottle?

    No matter what you want to believe about handmade items vs “everything else”, someone, somewhere, is always working, or working on the work. Even if each stitch was lovingly sown by Riverson#245, the machine-sowing-machine, someone is watching Riverson#245, drinking coffee, making sure it all comes out alright in the end. Maybe they didn’t have to get dressed for job, either, as nobody seems to care. Maybe that’s the selling point, maybe it’s not.

    At the end of the day, you don’t get something from nothing, but everyone wants to get paid, and people want something, not nothing. So nobody wants to not get paid, and when they stop getting paid, they start to cut that something as close to nothing as they can, in hopes someone will pick it up. It’s called competition. It’s why we try to stamp out monopolies. Because that keeps things healthy.

    But the thing that tears me up. The thing I look upon and feel this needs some kind of wake-up call… is that ‘my-worth-from-my-ass’ number. 20 bucks an hour. Because why? I know a man. He works for a living. He is a skilled laborer. He’s learned his trade from professional schools. (where did you learn sowing again?) He has worked for 25 years at one company, at one profession, and is always in demand. He just now this year broke 20 bucks an hour. 25 years experience at just one place. And plenty prior. He TEACHES others, and they learn. (has you given lessons to anyone, other than on economy?) Here’s the kicker. He goes out every other Saturday or so, pulls out his guitar and makes 1600 dollars in three hours. For a gig he loves. That’s over 500 dollars an hour. (why isn’t your goal that high?) But I still see him go back to his 20$ an hour job every morning, and I hear him nonchalantly cuss’n’complain every day, and he gets up the next one and goes again.

    Basically, you already knew what you make on each product. You set yourself up to fail, mathematically, and then, as a result, believe yourself worthy of pity. If you’d said you were worth 15 bucks an hour, we could say you’re doing better than expected! … but no. We just take it on your word that 20 bucks an hour (which, I feel, the photo editing is the longest, most unnecessary, and vainglorious part of the process, yet it’s ‘tedious’ and necessary) is the right price, and we should feel sorry you’re not making that ludicrous goal, which you offer no backing of, other than 8 years experience. My mother sowed for 50 years. She should be worth her weight in gold, if that was the case.

    And before the flaming starts – this article wouldn’t be in existence if not for someone questioning her similarly before. We just see the less-than-eloquent examples. I’m not attacking anyone. I just want to point out what some other people might be thinking.

    • Lex says:

      “We just take it on your word that 20 bucks an hour (which, I feel, the photo editing is the longest, most unnecessary, and vainglorious part of the process, yet it’s ‘tedious’ and necessary) is the right price, and we should feel sorry you’re not making that ludicrous goal, which you offer no backing of, other than 8 years experience.”

      To some extent, I agree with you. When a customer buys from me, they are taking my word that my prices are justified. I doubt that many (if any) of them are thinking specifically about my skill level. Ironically, most of them are likely relying solely on the product photographs to make that decision. Anyone that sells online would question a statement about photo editing being vainglorious. Look around at the successful sellers offering tips to newbies. Number One is always Take Great Photographs.

      So while the initial purchase is a leap of faith, when a first time customer turns into repeat customer, when your customer feedback is excellent, when your business has sustained itself for X years, it would suggest that an artist’s prices are indeed justified.

      If your prices aren’t justified, then you’d better be prepared for a lot of pissed off people wanting their money back.

  38. AlikiBags says:

    WOW, so glad I spotted you and your blog !
    You really got me thinking about my pricing again…..
    People who want to buy cheaply ( usually exploitatively ) produced fashion should first visit a landfill site, then go to a BIG chain store…..if they still dare….
    Kiki ( AlikiBags )x

  39. Wow, I can’t believe someone would say that to you! I hope you told them to go to Walmart! A lot of people can’t seem to appreciate the quality of a well-made garment; especially one that isn’t made in bulk or from a commercial pattern! I once read about how Chanel suits were made, and to me that embodied WHY we sew–it’s artwork!

  40. I totally agree with your comments about people commenting on pricing. Sewing appears to be one of the most underated skill of all. When infact it takes years to become truly proficient and you never stop learning as new elements to the craft come out all the time. It really annoys me that people seem to think they can sew when infact they make a horrible botch of it but think that its simple. It is if your not very good at it but it takes a lot more skill than that. I have several pet hates, the 1st is why is that a person who cannot sew think that they can make curtains and then go on to ask me how to do it. The other thing is friends who want bridesmaid dresses want me to make them to a very high standard and unique but then go on to think that they are too expensive when i give the price but they wouldn’t work for the price they expect me to work for. The same goes for alterations, but they would pay a shop but change their mind when given the price. My work is top standard but they think it can be done in the blink of an eye. I’ve decided to produce a price list for curtains blinds, alterations and to stop being a busy fool and turn down those who simply do not want to pay….

  41. Terryl Fendley says:

    I am lovin’ this post! Anyone who has never tried to make something from scratch has no clue how difficult and time consuming and MESSY it can be! I do not have an actual craft/sewing space in my home so when I make things it ends up messing up 3 rooms in my house! I hope to one day be able to turn a bedroom into my sewing room, but for now they are all occupied…when I make a quilt, I stand for hours hand sewing because it is laid out on a queen size bed and I have to move it each night and drag it back out the next day…it’s very hard on my back and I KNOW for a fact I don’t charge enough to cover that! LOL…THANK YOU for speaking your mind and, at least for me, saying exactly what I would love to be able to say so wonderfully! I’m going to refer the next person who says anything to me about pricing to this page..LOL…You do WONDERFUL work by the way!!! LOVE IT!

  42. Bianca Timm says:

    You are soo right!!!!
    I really do understand your situation, because it´s the same as mine. I often had to discount prices, because people are not willing to pay more than the have to pay for fabric-made goods..thats why i´m not able to live from my work.

  43. IneS. says:

    SO true and so damn good written dopwn, that I have to share it on my fanpage at Facebook! THANK you for this articel!

    Greetings from Hungary,
    IneS.

  44. Tanja says:

    Very interesting article (and the comments, too). I posted a link on fb: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wollhuhn/185683078158244

    Greetings from Germany
    Tanja

  45. angela says:

    Awesome article!! 🙂

  46. So AWESOME!!! U said it all…and thank you for laying it all out there….u said what I think ALL THE TIME!!! Way to go!

  47. Ashley says:

    Wow, Minnie has it all wrong.

    I’m self employed as well, I do face and body painting for a living. What we do is a specialized skill. I can sew as well, but I can’t come up with garments and designs like Lex. Using the example of a guy that JUST started making 20 an hour is completely bogus. He is also working full time, is guaranteed hours, insurance, vacation/sick time.. Lex and I, as self employed small businesses do not get those things.

    I for one, can attest to the fact that I am marketer, designer, secretary, accountant, driver/deliverer, stock person, inventory manager, website manager, painter, etc… Does Minnie’s friend work as a one-man operation? Probably not. He is doing the work which he is paid to do.

    If someone can not afford Lexs’ product, then they are not her target audience. Just like if a family can not afford for me to come and paint at their kid’s birthday party, then they are not my target customer, I don’t want them to hire me.. They can go and hire the cheap clown person down the street. I want the clients that can afford my going rate, and tell their friends, who will also most likely be able to afford my services. Just because everyone can’t afford Gucci, doesn’t mean that Gucci should lower their prices to cater to everyone. No way! When you are paying a premium for something(especially handmade) then you are paying for the name/label of that product, and the quality/time that went into making/learning to make that product.

    Anywho.. My point is that people are allowed to charge whatever they want to charge, it’s capitalism.

  48. SilverSmack says:

    I say if you build it, they will come. . .

  49. WyldAngelz says:

    Thank you for posting this! You are so right. There are people I know who think it is ridiculous that I charge what I do for light switch covers! They have no idea the time and energy that goes into them. I am definitely sharing this article.

  50. LNCyree says:

    GREAT article! Thank you for sharing!

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Howdy, I'm Lex! I'm a craft addict & fashion designer.
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