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 A beadworker's blog

  • Writer's pictureI:si

It's not your prices, it's where you sell

Updated: May 3, 2018

My long journey through Pricing Valley brought me many lessons, and I'm sharing them with you

I hate pricing my pieces. Don’t you?

I used to eyeball it by looking at a piece and going -looks like I could sell it for maybe $10- and calling it a day. Long story short, a few months after starting to sell my beadwork I realized that I was in fact making less in sales than what it was costing me to make it. Hey, I’ve always said it, I’m a beadworker not an accountant…

But eventually I wanted to turn this expensive hobby into something that could actually sustain me as a secondary (or even maybe a primary) income. My tota used to tell me I’d buy groceries with beads some day and now I understand what she meant. And she raised 12 children so she must have known what she was talking about. To get to a point that I could support myself with my work, however, I was going to have to increase my prices. Significantly. I’d spend 8-10 hours on a pair of earrings that I would sell 20$, so a weekend of beadwork would get me 40$ on a good day. That’s about 2, 2.5 bucks an hour! I simply thought that no one would buy my jewellery if I priced it according to material cost, time and overhead.

The first big leap is giving yourself the worth you deserve...

And I still struggle with it from time to time. Old habits have strong talons, but I decided that I was going to put every single hour of work on the price tag anyway. I looked at my pieces and wrestled with the numbers for a while. I have to play mind games with myself sometimes to make resolutions stick, so I tried to imagine what advice I would tell my daughter if she was starting her own beadwork business and was pricing her items the way I used to. The words self respect, heritage and knowledge came up in the mix and that helped me make peace with pricing my work properly.

At first I didn’t sell a piece.

I would go to some events and my table would still be full at the end of the day. I almost gave up, it’s really depressing to see everybody else making sales while you try to pass the time. I was starting to think that my jewellery was going to end up in a bag somewhere at the back of my closet...And then I heard about some friends selling their work for 400, 500 and more apiece. A pair of earrings selling for $80? Yes please! So why wasn’t I making these kinds of sales?

Ultimately, it’s all about knowing your market and respecting your work as an artist.

Location location location

Whether you have an online store, a brick and mortar store or travel from one event to another, the location where you are selling will greatly influence your sales. If you are selling at a flea market, those hundred dollar pieces are likely going to stay on your display. But show the same pieces to a gallery, or at a fashion event, and you will have a much better chance to make a sale.

So my mistake was that I wasn’t selling the right kind of items for the location. I have learned over time to adapt my display table to where I will be selling. I have 10 and 20 dollar items for the flea markets and small events, that really took me very little time to make. The key thing is, they are worth their price. I also have $50+ pieces on the table, that I am expecting to sell at fashion events more than vendors’ markets, but they catch the eye from afar and attract people to my table.

Ultimately, it’s all about knowing your market and respecting your work as an artist.

Last but not least…

Don’t listen to what people might tell you to get you to lower your prices. I’ve heard some appalling things being said about my work just to get a dollar off the price tag. But to name only a few…

“It’s probably fake”

“This is way too expensive!” on a 10 dollar pair of earrings

“I can’t afford that”

“Why do you sell your earrings so high when others sell theirs for half that? What’s so special about yours?”

“Yeah but you’re not like a real company”

“If it was in a museum, then I would consider it authentic”

You get the picture. Those are the product of ignorance paired with the desire to strike a deal, or sometimes even from the preconception that we are in a vulnerable position as indigenous vendors and that they are doing us a favor by purchasing our wares. It does not come from respect, and you can educate them if you want, but you are in no way obligated to offer your services to people who treat you with less than the utmost respect.

You work has value, it has meaning, it is your heritage and the result of your beautiful, creative mind. People buy all that and the time that you put into creating these beautiful pieces, so give value to that time as well.

Ok, so now I just have to find a mirror and repeat that to myself.


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