Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A little note about "making a deal"

Dear well-meaning bargain-hunting customer:

I appreciate that you are on a tight budget.  That you are single income, that you can't afford to spend the prices I may be asking for the products I create.  I hear you when you say you can buy a similar product at Walmart or Target or Macys for half that price.  I occasionally share your feelings when I see a beautiful piece of pottery that someone has handcrafted and know that I can't justify spending $60 on a mug..... here is where we differ.  When I see something beautiful that I can not afford, I do not ask the artisan to lower their price for me.  I do not ask them to sell me 3 or 4 or more at a significant discount.  I do not ask for them to give me things for free if I spend money on other things they make.Something that my potential customers may not understand:  When I set a price on something, I already take into consideration the cheap versions of my items out and about in discount stores, mass produced for a pittance by overworked underpaid production workers in China, India, Thailand, or wherever they've come from.  When I set a price for my work, I leave out the time it takes for me to source my materials (hours a month), or to come up with ideas and create prototypes (hours a month and dollars "wasted" on things that will never be sold).  I also leave out the cost of selling online, advertising online, the percentages taken by paypal and Etsy, or Visa, Mastercard, American Express.  I don't charge for the cost of my Market stall each week.  What is left is the actual cost of the materials being used, and what I value my hours of work at.  Generally, I work things out so that I am actually netting about $5 per hour.  FIVE DOLLARS PER HOUR.  Some things I make a little more on, some things a little less.  LESS than $5 per hour.  This is what I get paid to spend time making things for your little one, for your gifts, trinkets, toys...  That is less than half of current minimum wage here in Ontario.  My time away from my children, away from my housework, away from my own leisure time, television time, often even sleep time!!!

I justify this wage because sometimes I can work while doing things with the kids or watching television.  Sometimes. I justify it because I do enjoy it.  I get to create things I want, things you want.  I get to hear praise about my work, suggestions, ideas...I get to see your beautiful little ones...  

But mostly, I just swallow it.  I accept that crafters never make a living wage on their work.
Consider your own job.  Would you work for less than minimum wage?  Would you accept your boss asking you to work extra hours and offering to pay you less to do so?  You are a stay at home mom?  Guess what.  So am I.  This is what I do around my time with my girls.  One with special needs.  Working more for less means less time with my girls...  Less under the tree for my girls this time of year.. Less opportunity to support other crafters with my purchases...

So please.  I ask but one thing.  PLEASE, don't ask me for a discount.  Don't tell me you can get it cheaper somewhere else.  Don't ask for a better price if you buy more than one.  Selling two means exactly twice the work and twice the time.  Selling three, well, you get the idea.  Why should I make less money for doing more work?  Do you?

a very tired, and slightly overworked,


  1. I couldn't have said it better! I too pay myself about $5 an hour for the handmade work I do. Until people walk a mile in our shoes I don't think that they can truly understand the MASSIVE amount of time that goes into making and selling a handmade item. We really are motivated by our love for our craft.