Sunday, 26 April 2015

Just because it's handmade, doesn't mean it's cheap

This is going to be a bit of a different post.  I have no creations to share, no crafty altered project, new flowers or new sewing items to share.  This post is in support of all creative people out there and a little "heads up"so to speak to all non-crafter's that request we make something for them.

Now don't get me wrong, there was no incident that lead me to write this post.  I haven't been given an unreasonable request or asked to make anything for someone.  It is just something I have been thinking about lately, particularly since I've become really interested in sewing lately and was glued to my laptop watching The Great British Sewing Bee.  For example, I always assumed sewing was a cheaper alternative to buying your own clothes.  Boy was I wrong.  With shops popping up like Primark, H&M and Forever 21, it is almost impossible to personally make yourself an outfit cheaper than what these companies charge for their clothing.  In fact it will most definitely cost 3-4 times more for materials alone than what you could buy pre-made in the aforementioned shops and that's before factoring in your time and effort for making the item.  But then, with homemade items you are putting a great deal of time and effort into your unique pieces of art so you know that the quality of the item is not only impeccably well made but is also a unique one off creation.  So although it may cost more to sew your own items, the quality does shine in comparison to "off the rack" clothes.  And this is not just relevant to sewing, it covers all crafts.  And let's face it, I dabble in a bit of everything.  What am I?  A Bookbinder? An altered artist? A flower maker?  A Sewer?  Mixed Media Artist?  What?  Just what am I??  I like to think that I am a Jack of All Trades (and Master of none, teehee).

But I digress.  I think the reason I wanted to write this post was to make all the Non-Crafty people out there realise and appreciate that just because something is handmade, does not mean it is automatically cheaper for you to buy.  I know for sure that there are crafter's out there that sell their handmade cards and in most circumstances are happy enough to just cover the cost of materials (just about) and don't think of giving themselves anything for the time they've spent designing and creating those cards.  As Crafter's and artistic people, we are extremely generous and in most cases are just happy to make an item for friends or family.  If my sister ever found out just how much it cost to make her that quilt for Christmas, she would kick my arse, lol.  And I won't even go near the subject of my Brother's Wedding stationery because he too would be kicking me and my butt does not need multiple kickings from my younger siblings.......so I'll never tellllllllll, heehee.  Simply because anything I have ever made for anyone close to me has been about making them happy, regardless of what it costs me.

I don't have a shop or craft to make a living.  If someone wants me to make them something that's fair enough, I will gladly do it.   But there is a difference between making gifts for friends and family and making items to sell whether it is to help fund your crafting endeavours or actually help earn you some living money.  Making things to sell is a completely different ball game from making items as gifts.  I think a lot of creative people, crafter's and artists are almost afraid to insult a customer by charging the appropriate amount of money for their work and therefore end up undercharging.  I think of it this way......if a customer wanted to buy off the shelf, generic items that everyone can have then, they would have done so.  If a customer comes to you asking to have an item handmade, its because they want something unique and of a certain standard of quality.  Therefore, they are willing to pay for exactly that.  If you are embarrassed or shy about charging for your work and do not charge the appropriate amount to include your time spent, designing and creating the item for that person then you are setting a precedent for yourself and that is when people will take advantage of you.  Because you have underestimated yourself and your work, they will inevitably expect you to do the job for cheap because that is how you've priced your work.  And lets face it, we all love a bargain so no customer is going to tell you that you've undercut yourself.  It's not the purchaser's fault persay simply because they don't know what it costs to make the item.  You haven't told them or charged them appropriately to not only include your inventory costs but also your time spent.  You are entitled to a wage too you know, lol.  So what does that say about us as Crafter's and Creative People?  By not pricing your items and work accordingly to include your own precious time, you are basically belittling the work you do and not giving yourself the respect you have wholeheartedly worked for and deserve.  You need to be confident in your work and be able to say "I am an artist and if you want my unique piece of hand made art, it is going to cost you".  And I'm not saying to charge £20 for a card or extort money from customers.  I am merely saying, give yourself the respect you deserve for the time and effort you have put into your work and don't just charge for materials alone.

So, if someone comes to you and wants you to make something handmade should it be a dress or a box of birthday invitations, you have to be willing to tell that person that not only will you be charging for your costs but your time also.  If they want a uniquely handmade item then they are going to have to be willing to pay for it.  And in most cases, the fact that that person has come to you in the first place means they are genuinely wanting something unique and handmade.  So in most situations they will completely respect that you have a right to earn and not do things for cost alone and they'll happily pay your fee.  But there will always be those people who will want a lot of product for virtually no money.  And these are the people you need to weed out of your life.  If those buyers are not willing to pay then they are not respecting you and the work you do.  You should never be willing to lower your prices and your worth to meet their tight purse strings.  Non-Crafter's need to realise that handmade does not equate to inexpensively made.  In fact handmade means more time, thought, and work has gone into that item than any item you could ever buy off a shelf.

Therefore......my advice to all Crafter's and Artists who sell their wares - be fair to yourselves.  Allow yourself to earn money as you've been the one who has spent the time on your customer's project.  A plumber wouldn't fix your sink and only charge for the parts.  He or she would charge for their time.  So you have just as much right to charge for your time too.

And Non-Crafter's and Customers - please don't expect something for nothing.  You are asking to have something made for you because you obviously want something uniquely designed to your specifications.  Therefore please respect the Artist and understand that handmade does not mean it will cost nothing.  Afford the Artist the respect they deserve.  They have as much right to earn a living as anyone else.

I hope this didn't end up being a preachy post folks, that was not my intention.  It was just some thoughts in my head spilling out onto my blog, lol.  I hope if anything this post will make Artists and Customers alike respect and appreciate the industry of Arts and Crafts and give those Artists and Crafters the recognition and respect they work so hard for.  But likewise, maybe help Artists and Crafters realise that if they don't educate Customers and show them just how much work actually goes into a hand crafted item, that the customer can't be blamed if they aren't aware of what items cost and tend to expect a lot for very little in return.

That's it from me for now folks.  I'll have something that is maybe a little lighter on the reading front next time, teehee.  I hope I haven't bored you, lol.  Have fun all my Crafty friends.

Until next time....Toodles Noodles.......Loops  (aka, Lee xx)




7 comments:

  1. Well said! I refuse to sell my hand-made cards for £1 (as I've seen others do - though they're not as 'decorative' as mine!) and I tell people who ask me to embroider for them that I charge £1 per 1000 stitches (machine, of course) and that the design they're admiring on my shirt has 60,000 stitches.....it stops them asking again!

    I will happily craft for hours and give stuff away, make cards which take several evenings for someone special etc. but I will definitely NOT undervalue my work.

    Your post is perfect :)

    www.CraftyJo.org.uk

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  2. You hit the nail right on the head Lee! I've seen numerous posts by crafty peeps who don't know what to charge, or are asking "Is this too much to charge?" They don't want to overcharge their customers so they come to others for advice. Especially in a sewing group that I'm a member of. I love they way you organized your thoughts for us.
    I shared your blog post with them with the hopes that it will set some of their minds at ease about charging what they are worth.
    ~Hugs! Christy (A.K.A. Lady Innominate)

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    1. Hi Christy. Its so lovely to hear from you. Thank you so much for your comment. I was hoping I didn't upset anyone with this post, lol. Sometimes what is in my head doesn't quite come out as perfectly as it should, teehee. I am so glad you shared this post, I hope it helps someone out. Lee xx

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  3. Oh I love your thoughts. Because I am a crafter I think I can make that but I never do. And when I make something I think anyone could make this and I almost give it away. Really most of the time that is what I do, give it away. So you post was very good for me to read and I thank you Crafty Loops you are so right.

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    1. Awww thanks Linda. You're a star. Lee xx

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  4. Hi Lee! Yes I agree with you wholeheartedly. Well put. Xxx

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Helloooooo! Anybody out there??!! Hey....there you are! Thanks for leaving a comment and stopping by my Blog. Lee x