Monday, November 21, 2011

What does it really cost?

I was selling at Southhill Park craft fair for 2 days at the weekend. As it was a fair at an arts centre and people had to pay to get in, you were pretty much guaranteed that the people who were visiting were there to buy
my monsters
my printed softies
Whilst I was off looking at everything else a couple of ladies visited my stand and spoke to my husband. They had been looking at my work and then left. After a couple of minutes they returned to tell my husband that they had been discussing the price of my felted wool monsters, which they absolutely loved, but they felt that the price was just a bit too high, and that they felt this was putting people off buying them.
My husband tried to explain what goes in to making one monster, the time, the materials etc and that for the last 3 years my monsters had been sold for £18 each, but due to rising costs, they had just gone up to £20 each. My husband did a great job, but I so wish I had been there to speak to them so I could have talked them through the making process so they could appreciate what it takes to make a single monster.

I buy all my jumpers second hand either from charity shops, ebay, and occasionally boot fairs. You can't buy a lambswool jumper in a charity shop (well not the local ones to me) for less than £5. I have a rule that I'll never pay more than £10 for a jumper, but on average I'd say that one jumper would cost me £7 (this is a round figure). The size of the jumpers largely depends what can be made from each jumper. I buy jumpers more for their pattern and colour than their size, so If I'm lucky I could make 4 monsters from a big men's jumper, and maybe 2 from a small ladies jumper.

Each monster has button eyes and other features (mouth, scars etc) that are hand stitched with cotton threads. They are each stuffed with polyester toy stuffing and then machine sewn with polycotton threads. They also have a tag attached with my name on.

The hidden costs are the ones that are hard for people to understand. Time is a huge hidden cost. To make a monster, starts with a couple of wool jumpers which need to be cut before washing in the machine. They then need to be air dried and ironed before I can begin cutting the pattern. Then there is the time taken to actually make the monster, which on average can be made in an hour.
Other hidden costs (let's call them overheads shall we) is the cost of electricity - for the washing machine, iron, sewing machine, heating and lights.
Then there is the cost of paying for the craft fair, which depends on the size of the event and venue, and of course the cost of petrol to get there and back and parking charges. Let's not forget to add the time spent labelling and pricing the product (and packing and unpacking) and the time spent at the craft fair to sell the monsters that have been made. And then there is profit.
I know I'll never be rich because my profit margin is low, but I make this decision in order to actually sell my products in the first place. There is no point of having a lot of product that you just can't sell.
I have no doubt forgotten some costs here too.

When I've made a product I'll often show it to my husband as ask him what he would pay for it. He hates it when I do this, because even though he knows what goes into making something, his estimated price is always lower than what I think the item is worth.

A couple of people (other makers) told me that they thought my work was really well priced (i.e. probably too cheap), but then they understand what the real cost of making and selling is.

So, no. My items are not  priced too highly, very much the opposite in fact.


Despite this, I did have a good couple of days of sales. The majority of my sales were for items of £10 or less. Times are hard for everyone at the moment, so I know it's always good to have items for £10 or so at the sales events I attend.

On a different note, if you haven't already, go and enter my fabric giveaway here. You can get your hands on a yard of any monda designed fabric from my shop completely free!


selfsewn@summerfete said...

it's just rude!!

Ali said...

I'm so sorry you had that experience. Your monsters will find appreciative homes elsewhere for sure.

Hang in there.

picciolo said...

I'm glad you had a good couple of days despite those people, how cheeky they were. Your breakdown is excellent, but I do think it a shame when people can't see the extra love, time and attention that gets put into handmade items and how they are worth more than factory made things.

poppyinpink said...

I like your style! I hope you don't let a few negative comments take root in your heart. I'm sorry that you had a rough time but keep moving forward because your work is gorgeous. It has a real spark of genius in it coupled with lots of hard work. I am personally not into monsters as such but even yours have a cute edge to them to make me want to love them...which says something for your gift!

Rosie maddocks said...

I think your little monsters are great, and what a wonderful bit of recycling. I think people just don't realise the time and effort involved. Keep doing what you do, cos its fab. I know my daughters would LOVE these! xx

Hoola Tallulah said...

I really, truly, genuinely do not think your monsters are too expensive!

jojoebi said...

I think most people just have no idea how much work and time goes into making something especially when they are used to picking something for a couple of quid in the high street.
Mainly ignorance! I made a bag the other day that I sold for $50, my step dad made a comment about it being good money but really when everything is broken down my hourly wage is laughable.