If there is one thing that gets me jumpy, it’s being asked to put a price on completed garments.
When I do a private commission I bill by the hour, plus materials and sundries. But when it comes to selling something I have already made, something that may have taken weeks and weeks to hone into a final piece at my leisure, I am always nervous about putting a final cost against it.
But if someone asks and then accepts my price, I worry I should have asked for more. Because if there is one thing I am acutely aware of, because I am told, it’s that I under price my work.
I was prompted to write this article not only by a recent sale but also by ‘The Lingerie Addict’ who’s two articles on the ‘worth’ issue ‘What Is Reasonable Pricing?‘ and ‘Why Corsets Are Expensive‘ beautifully sum up the problems of pricing handmade products in a tough world.
I have got better as I’ve worked more with longer established, confident businesses who have, by association, made me a harder business woman. And there are now invariably times when I have walked away from projects because the financial remuneration hasn’t been worth my effort.
Thankfully these days I am not ‘desperate’ for work. Things have become strangely comfortable in that department over the last 6 months and I can afford to be a little picky and select the jobs that financially and creatively are more beneficial to me.
If something is particularly viable for me in the creative department or the team is especially tempting I will employ ‘mates rates’. But I have seen first hand what happens to people who are lenient with their pricing. They go bankrupt. And I am determined to remain in business.
I am after all solely responsible for paying my bills. There is no one else picking up the shortfalls so I have to hit my minimum mark every month. Amazing opportunities and pretty pictures are all well and good but you can’t offer them to the electricity board or the petrol station.
Mixing the joy of creativity with being a viable business is hard but it is possible, as I am learning. There are aspects of what I do that are there for the money, and others that are more about what I do than what it pays me. And sometimes this is what people prey on. And you have to remain level headed and balance up between what you need and what you want.
It does get easier over time. It’s another of those learning curves that we all make on the road to success….survival….getting by. Because if you are doing any of those things, you’re doing it right.