WriteItDown wrote: ↑
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:05 pm
I don't know how to post an original post so must do it under "answer ". Sorry.
It is appalling to see how undervalued handmade goods are in this society. My quilting group decided to go on a short retreat to a nearby hot springs. None of us has much money so we had a booth at the 4th of July community craft fair. Hundreds of people attended and all we made was about $200. We had bed quilts, lap quilts, baby quilts and table runners along with my hand felted animals and sock gnomes. We sold 2 table runners, 5 Christmas spiders 2 gnomes, and 2 trivets. We thought that all were fairly priced. So, are we (crafters) the only ones that get paid about 2 cents an hour? Do not people realize how much time and effort it takes to make things?
A lot of it is where you're trying to sell. Small craft fairs, farmer's markets, and other events (like parades) which set up craft booths as an afterthought to the main event rarely do well any more. The competition is pretty stiff in the makers markets to begin with, millennials are shedding possessions, not acquiring them, and the re-movement (re-purpose, re-make, re-cycle) has many more people hobby crafting than have in the past. A recent article in the American Craft Council (I think that's where I saw it) magazine said spending on hobby crafting is increasing, and traditional folk crafts such as quilting and knitting are growing. The Modern Quilt movement has brought many women back to the traditional craft, and popularity of Ravelry and similar sites have drawn in new knitters and crocheters. With so many making it themselves, it's harder and harder to find buyers.
Years ago people could sell hand crafted items for pin money but that's not so true any more without having a relatively unique product or high name recognition. Direct selling to the public, either through fairs and festivals or sites like Etsy are almost a full-time job just for the marketing and traveling and set up and all the other stuff that's required to sell like that, before you ever get to the actual crafting part of it. I sold for years at festivals, but limited myself to the ones I knew my target audience was attending. Multiple-day music festivals only, preferably tourist oriented, with big name musicians. That way, I knew the people seeing my work had interests that would make my stuff appealing to them, they had money to travel for the music festivals and were willing to spend it on an experience, and the festival was organized and successful enough to pay for well known musicians. I always made my expenses and occasionally did really well at the festivals, but my real income came from commissions after the fact. I knew going in I would have to either offer shipping or create pieces with an eye towards what could fit in a suitcase or trunk of a car. I also had to accept that I might not sell something until a year later (7 years in the case of a piece I sold this past Christmas) but when I did I could charge more because they never want THAT piece they saw, they want something custom that is similar to it.
Putting your work in adjudicated shows and galleries, or anything with a jury fee, pays better if that's an option for you. I can't remember ever selling an actual bed quilt at a show, but people don't bat an eye at spending upwards of $1000 for one at a gallery, or calling me months later to commission one, so I usually had at least one on display even though I didn't expect it to sell. Many of the "professional" crafters gripe about the craft hobbyists being competition for sales but I don't worry too much about them. People will pay for quality, but they will also pay for what they like. My house is full of handcrafted pieces and art from beginners. The professionals do have a point about weekend hobbyists who undercut on price though. Price your work at what it is worth, and don't undervalue it, or your time, by pricing it cheaply just to sell it. Not only does that train the buyers to undervalue crafts but it makes YOU undervalue your own work when it doesn't sell. That is a vicious cycle when you spend more time or money or effort making a better product to sell at a price point that was already too low.
Do any of the lawyers on here charge less than their time is worth just to get clients? Doctors? Plumbers? Mine don't, so why should I?
I have actually seen and touched one of Maybenaught's bags and know what they are worth. If you were selling them for less than $75, you were cheating yourself. I know the woman who bought the one at the Nasty Women show thought she was getting a killer deal at $100. Oddly enough, if you value your own time and work and price accordingly, so will other people. If I saw that bag priced at $25 I would wonder what was wrong with it or if it was badly made.
The moral of the story is that you have to put the time (lots of time) in to building your reputation and client base if you ever want to make any money at selling handcrafts, and do not undervalue your own skills and product.