Blog

Why handmade is “so expensive”

Posted on

“$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

Read more…