The Importance of Charging Your Worth as a Handmade Artisan
Author: Jocelyn Serone
The image of the starving artist doesn't help your family or your industry
Recently, I have had a couple of customers bring up different issues regarding not valuing my business's worth…….
1. This customer was having quite complicated clothing manufactured by us, which she was then going to embellish with intricate applique & needlework.
After manufacturing samples for this customer, she told me that she really needed her garments to be made a couple of dollars cheaper, as she needed to retail her garments for under $20! When I said that I thought the price we had quoted was very reasonable & was the best we could do, I then asked her why she felt that she needed to keep her price point under $20?
Her answer……”to be competitive with K-Mart!”
I’m sorry but when did handmade goods start competing with K-Mart? Surely most consumers, whether they would decide to pay for it or not, would know the value of a handmade garment is worth more than a mass produced K-Mart garment? They are two very different catergories.
2. Again, at the sampling stage, a customer was surprised that we couldn’t sew her product for $1.50!
To loosely quote Linda Evangalista, we don’t get out of bed for $1.50! Really… how many minutes does it take to sew a product & what is our hourly rate if we are charging $1.50?
Now, I will insert here that I absolutely believe that there is a place in this world for products to be made overseas. There are just some instances when our labour & machinery costs are too high here in Australia. But this is not what I’m talking about in this instance.
There is a very distinct difference between handmade, artisan made and mass produced products and these all need to be priced accordingly.
It is incredibly important that we, as artisans & craft people, charge our worth. Our skills are usually honed over many years and these skills are often unique and cannot be replicated by the masses. Skills we take for granted are often what others hope to have. How many times has someone commented on your craft, wishing they could sew like that, paint like that, create beautiful jewellery etc. etc?
Undercharging your services or goods leads to extremely busy times for very little return for your hard work, which then leads to overwhelm- don’t ask me how I know :)
Here’s a few reasons why we should charge our worth-
Our families benefit when we earn our worth. Charging what you’re worth leads to being paid fairly for your services, which in turn sifts out the” wheat from the chaff” customers. Stress levels are lowered, your cash flow is smoother, the manic busy times have slowed down slightly and even when you are very busy, you are at least being compensated fairly for this busy time. This all adds up to making us much nicer partners, parents & co-workers.
The more money we make, the more we can give away. Even if you don’t have a huge income goal for yourself or your business, why not earn more and give it to charity?
According to ourcommunity.com.au, visual arts and craft professionals are the second highest givers in Australia, after ministers of religion.
A little extra money earned in your business can go a long way. $650 can provide schooling for a year for a girl in Africa and just over $10,000 can build a well for a whole village.
Surely raising your prices to what you are worth can improve your life greatly and also the lives of others on the other side of the world.
Educating others that artistic and handmade objects have value. Often, people who don’t sew, paint, woodwork etc. just don’t understand the blood, sweat and sometimes tears you have put into your craft, so tell them! Promote your work using the handmade, quality aspect as a selling point. People like my first customer example are teaching consumers that their art has no worth. This woman with a tremendous skill was selling herself very short, while also bringing down the bar for anyone else in her industry.
Now, I’m not saying that it is easy to raise prices or charge what we’re worth. In the early days of our businesses, we’re happy just to get paid! But this frenetic pace on minimum wages can’t be sustained for very long without leading to burn out. Every year your business progresses, your experience grows and your wage should increase accordingly. Why do other industries get paid according to the amount of years’ experience but you don’t?
I hope this gets you thinking about charging your worth as a handmade artist. Go ahead, raise your prices, you’re worth it!