I finished knitting up a cowl for myself, and had uploaded this picture to my facebook page, offering to make another for the low, low price of $75. It resulted in a conversation between a couple of my knitting friends.
The timing of the conversation coincided with my train of thought while working on a pair of fingerless mitts. I no longer depend on income gained from handmade items. However, I do make a living selling supplies to those who earn a living selling handmade items. I’m very familiar with both ends of the stick.
When I first went into the handcrafted soap and personal care products business 15 years ago, the running rate for a 4 ounce bar of handmade soap was approximately $4-5 a bar. These days, the cost of raw materials has more than doubled, but I still see some of my long time customers selling bars for nearly the same price, and it breaks my heart. I’ll never forget an old farm wife stopping at my soap booth, looking longingly at the selection I had on display. She told me she really wanted to buy some, but if she did she would have to hide it. When I asked her why, she told me her husband would blow a gasket over the price, when she could buy a 10 pack of ivory soap for $2.
If I had a nickel for every person who has taken a look at one of my handmade items, and said, “That’s so cool! You should really sell your ________. If you do, I’ll be your first customer!”, I’d be a wealthy woman. The cold hard truth is that makers and artisans usually struggle to get a fair price for their work. I have tried to sell some of my handmade items, and guess what? Most of the people who told me they would buy never have. The subject of pricing among my maker and artist friends is a hot topic. It’s not a subject taken lightly, and most agonize over it.
I have a question for you. How much do you earn for putting in a 12 hour shift at your job? I’m going to use my fingerless mitts as an example, although they are a gift, and not for sale. They are rather complicated, and the pair will take me approximately 12 hours to complete. If I were to charge $10 an hour for my time and the cost of the yarn, the mitts should have a minimum price tag of $120! Needless to say, I’m probably never going to use this particular pattern for selling.