Friday, September 9, 2011

A Look at Handmade Pricing

Artisan’s have a challenge and struggle with pricing their art. For some it is the fact that they put a piece of themselves into their art and well most artisans do not have a background in business. Yet, it isn’t just that it is also how it is received by the public and the buyer’s perception that plays a part in it too. When you hear:


“Wow, your stuff is so expensive”

“OMG, you are ripping people off charging those prices”

“Really, are you serious you think that is worth that?”

“I could make that for $10.00 bucks and you’re charging $200.00”

For most of the buying public it is a lack of understanding and knowledge about what goes into each piece of art. No longer do I find these comments offensive, allowing feelings to be hurt, it now leaves me a bit baffled. Instead we work on creations during events, answer questions, and work on educating buyers about what goes into each single piece.


1.) Design Step

This is the time spent sketching out designs pieces. Sketching the piece in with different colors and different mediums to see what may or may not work best. This can be anywhere from a quick 5 minute sketching session to a couple of hours, depending on the piece.

For our purposes today we will use the average of 20 minutes per piece.



2.) Preparation Step

In this step it is where all the supplies are pulled from inventory to complete this piece. Wire is cut and measured. Beads, stones, and lampwork are counted and inspected for quality and usability. Usually this step takes about 10 minutes.



3.) Creation Step

Let’s take a look at one of our Viking Knit Bracelets for this step. The weaving of the Viking Knit alone for a bracelet with a center focal piece takes 2 hours. Add another 30 minutes to put the piece together and create the clasp.



4.) Photography Step

Selling on-line requires excellent photos, ones that can convey the uniqueness of each piece. Because taking photos is a step that I generally do once a week I took and divided that time between the total number of pieces. In a three hour session I photographed 13 pieces which worked out to 14 minutes per piece.



5.) Editing Photo Step

Once the photos are taken, there is the job that is probably the least favorite of all artisans editing the photos. It is a necessary but tedious step, to do a color balance, crop and size the picture. It generally takes me 30 minutes per piece to acquire 10 usable photos of the 15 to 20 I average per piece when taking the photos.



6.) Pricing and Inventory Step

Each piece is assigned an inventory number, which is then attached to the pricing sheet. There is a pricing sheet for each individual item due to most of our items being one-of-a-kind (OOAK). It also includes measuring the piece.

Average time is 10 minutes to look up the prices and type the sheet and assign the inventory.



7.) Listing Step

Selling on-line requires what we refer to as listing an item. Listing an item involves uploading the photos. Writing a description that is high quality and unique that contains all of the information that might be of interest to a buyer. Usual average time is 20 minutes.



8.) Promotion Step

Promoting is a nonstop process. Not just individual items, but our studio as a whole. Bottom line we are marketing ourselves not just our art. To break it down by piece is a bit of a challenge. However we are going to say that per piece we average 30 minutes.



9.) Shipping Preparation Step

Once an item sells, payment has to be verified, shipping invoice and record invoice printed, shipping label created. The item(s) pulled from inventory, a final inspection for quality done and then packaged and labeled for shipping. Average time approximately 10 minutes.



10.) Actual Shipping Step

This is the step of driving to the post office, standing in line and shipping the package. With drive time included this is a minimum of 20 minutes on a good day. Gas hasn’t been calculated into the equation.



So let’s total our time and see where we are at:

Design: 20 minutes

Preparation: 10 minutes

Creation: 2 hrs 30 minutes

Photography: 14 minutes

Editing Photos: 30 minutes

Pricing and Inventory: 10 minutes

Listing: 20 minutes

Promotion: 30 minutes

Shipping Prep: 10 minutes

Actual Shipping: 20 minutes



It works out to 314 minutes or 5hrs and 23 minutes.



There are a lot of things that are not included in the above list that all have to be done when running a business. Some of them include answering emails, participating in business forums, research, shopping for supplies, inventorying supplies, and paperwork to name just a few.

Because we create mostly one-of-a-kind (OOAK) pieces there is no averaging time or pricing on our handmade jewelry. Making a livable wage is not an unreasonable expectation. Especially when you consider that not only are we not charging for actual time on every piece, but we pay our own medical, our own insurance, our own social security and a larger piece of income tax than most.

Look at it this way when you buy a skirt at your favorite store it was designed once by one person. That person was paid a decent livable wage to create it. The piece was then recreated countless times, because a single design being recreated countless times, allows the price of the item to be lower. Most companies have shipped the creation process overseas, where they can be made for pennies by paying less than a livable wage by our standards here in the United States.

So next time you are shopping handmade, remember and consider that not only are you purchasing a piece of art you are helping local communities. You gain something though, your item will be unique and made by someone who created the item with care. You will be benefiting someone directly with your purchase rather than a nameless corporation.

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