Seen my latest vlog about how to sell handmade items? It’s below if you haven’t and I’m revealing what it costs to make embroidery hoops compared to the prices I sell them at. And yes, I’ve had dozens of lovely customers holler, “What the fuck?!” at me. Anyway, when you’ve checked out the vlog scroll down for more, including links and advice about how to buy and sell handmade. Ready? Here we go then…
The response to this blog has been amazing on my Facebook page because so many makers have told me that they struggle to sell handmade items too. Worse, lots of makers say they have shut up shop because customers were unwilling to pay what items cost to make.
Now, I’ve seen this first hand, kraken lovers. I know one glorious maker who used to sell handmade mermaid tail blankets. They very justifiably cost £80 to buy yet she had customers quibble over her prices because factory-made items could be bought for £20. I don’t know how she resisted climbing though her screen with a large stick.
On the other side of the bobbin though, makers relentlessly under-charge, because pricing your own work can be like catching uber-pervert Harvey Weinstein when he’s hiding in an Arizona clinic. Many makers begin their craft with an emotional pull and that means it’s hard to translate that into pounds and pence (I’m one of them).
The fact is that all of us need a kick up the arse. Makers need to sell handmade items properly (even if that means adding noughts) and customers need to be prepared to pay (even if that means saving). After all, what’s the alternative? A world where nothing is handmade but, instead churned out of factories populated by hungry and exhausted children working for pennies per hour.
So, advice? As you’d expect I have shit-loads of it.
First, if you are a maker check out these links…
This focuses on art but asks really tough yet important questions (gird yourselves). It also looks at the psychology of pricing and engaging with customers.
This is cracking because it is so honest about the mistakes the author has made. I defy you to not identify with it.
For a quick and pithy read, check this out (in case you are so weighed down with orders that you haven’t had a wee since last Oct).
This helps you work out costs and mark-ups if you want to sell handmade. It’s a right eye-opener. *builds a new sewing shed on a tropical island*
Written by Mollie Makes, there’s loads of easily digestible advice here. Natch, it also comes with gorgeous graphics.
And if you are a customer?
Think about these things the next time you want to buy handmade yet struggle with the prices:
- As yourself if whether paying a little extra for an item will make you cherish it all the more. Ok, so this might stop you buying on every Etsy page you see but you’ll value what you do buy.
- Think about how the price contributes to the life of the maker. It helps them manage a mortgage or puts food on the table which has to be better than paying a factory owner who is already worth billions of pounds.
- If “Oh, I could make that!” flits through your brain, be honest with yourself. Could you really make that? Do you really know how to source the clasps for that slouch and are willing to pay for an order of 30 when you only need one? And do you genuinely have the time and inclination for handmade? REALLY?
- Think big pictures. Do you really want to live in a world devoid of small business because no one can make them pay? Or even a world where knitting, sewing, woodturning or jewellery-making die out because no one cares enough about them? No, neither do I.
- Contribute to female equality. Think about how many knitters, sewists, textile artists and crocheters are women. It’s not easy for women to run these businesses because they are routinely downgraded to ‘mumpreneurs’ or treated as if they are just playing. Your purchase means these women stay in the game and get taken seriously.
So us makers and customers have to unite if we genuinely love handmade items. We all want the same thing – a world of creativity, beauty and skill. But if we want to achieve that we need to get ourselves together. Brave a price hike or save for that must-have handcrafted item, but rest assured that you’ll sleep the sleep of the smug when you do. And me? Oh, I’ll be taking my own advice alright. My hoop prices will be going up in a fortnight. With my deep breath and your appreciation of makers’ work, we’ll create a better handmade world.
So what do you think about this? Do you struggle to sell handmade items? Or are you a customer who really wants to buy but can’t afford the prices? And what do YOU think is the best way to solve this issue? Let me know in the comments!