Monday, March 18, 2013

Priorities : :

Once again I'm beginning the week by organizing out my projects. Some I'll finish quickly, some I'll only begin, and others I might not even get to!

For dreaming : :  A fat quarter stack of Jeni's Color me Retro collection for Art Gallery Fabrics!

For Project Dreaming

For quilt finishing : : Tsuru yardage, in my most favorite prints in the collection, from Stash Fabrics!

For Quilt Finishing

For pillow making : : A bundle of Cloud9 Fabrics from Project Anthologies to become pillows to match these favorites!

For Pillow Making

For today : : A new baby quilt plan with Cloud9's In the Forrest!

For Today

For shipping : : Just a few of my recent Birthday Crown makings!!

Monday Morning Crowns

My little etsy shop continues to keep me SO busy these days! I'm not complaining at all, I appreciate and wish for every. single. order. But I need to be honest, too. More and more I'm struggling to keep up! Not just with my orders, but with ALL of it. I'm guessing many of you can relate, one way or another. Besides all the work we put into motherhood/homemaking, I won't mention details -- you know! I have my "work" sewing, my "fun" sewing, my etsy, but I also have BIG dreams that have fallen by the wayside. To design a fabric collection, to write new patterns, to do more slow, unhurried quilt work, like my recent applique quilt...

Without a doubt I need to prioritize these things. Certainly, my family comes first and foremost. So in regards to just my career -- since my etsy is what is commanding the bulk of my time, I need to make some decisions there, first. I truly LOVE making crowns and pillows, and I rely on that income. To handle my orders better, I have been considering hiring a regular helper for just a couple days a week? I was chatting with my sister about possible options, and she suggested that first I need to raise my prices, even if just a little. I wasn't surprised, she is one of my biggest cheerleaders and has always recommended that I need to do this. But this time, it made me wonder?  

Is this a reasonable and fair solution to try out? Pricing is SO very tricky for me, how about you? Is there a formula you use?

There are so many things I've been wanting to discuss here about growth of taking sewing from hobby to business. I'm also guessing there are many of you who are struggling with these same issues -- How to balance family, career, and fun!

Today, I'd love for you to share any input and links you feel comfortable to offer up, on my personal pricing dilemma, or more!! I hope you'll share your own questions, along with your ideas! We can only help one another!!  , Maureen

74 comments:

  1. love the bluebirds and poppies !!

    i add up how much i actually have invested in the project itself and then see what i can add for my time. sometimes it is little of nothin simply b/c i would be so expensive i would make no sale, i have pretty stiff competition lol

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    1. I know, Geninne D. Zlatkis is one of my favorite artists!

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  2. Maureen, I too struggle with prices. I have an Etsy shop and I am not nearly as busy as I would love to be. My daughter says my prices are too low. She understands the quality and craftsmanship of my items because she has grown up with custom garments.
    I am glad to pay more for things that are quality. OUR time is valuable and I want to work for people that share that.
    I admire all that you do and love following you. I wish that I had the need for a helper. Maybe we should listen to our "Cheerleaders"!
    Keep up the fabulous work!
    P.S. If you would like to take a peek and see what I do..www.sewbeeitclothier.etsy.com

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  3. I know this probably won't help you much, but the reason I have stayed away from selling anything I make is exactly what you are talking about! Your work is gorgeous, and putting a $$$ value on it difficult. I love to quilt and make crafty things, but I always give them away as gifts, or donate them for fundraisers, because the amount of time and love that goes into each item I make, makes it difficult for me to put a price on. I saw someone on a blog say something about cost of materials plus minimum wage for your time... Honestly my first thought about that is that I am worth more than minimum wage and someone who makes things as beautiful as you do deserves more than minimum wage as well. I hope you find some balance and can work this out in a way that is beneficial to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you Jessica! I definitely agree that minimum wage is way too low. That is what I'd have to pay a helper! :) The reason I rarely sell anything quilted or made up of lots of yardage is exactly what you mentioned, it's just too difficult to price. As for the crowns, I'm lucky to have started making something that are definitely made to be sold as small(ish) gifts, that are both beautiful and functional. Making them is also very rewarding, which is key!!

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  4. Pricing is something most handmade shops have a rough time with. How do we balance a desire to be affordable, the need for profit, and a self-perceived value for our own time and skill sets? I think the biggest obstacle is the perceived value we place on ourselves. Just because we may have a talent for crafting and creating a particular art form does not mean that it is not valuable. We are not our own target audience. Professionals deserve to be paid for their time, energy, and talent. Would you expect to pay rock bottom prices when hiring a highly sought after, professional architect, lawyer, electrician, or physician?

    Another important question to ask yourself is whether your Etsy shop, or the like, is to sustain a hobby or generate income. Do you wish to maintain your current status or grow? If you're happy where you are, then leave the formula you're using alone. However, that doesn't seem to address the current struggle you're facing. ;-)

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  5. The moment I read that you were struggling to keep up, I knew I was coming down here to tell you to raise your prices. I was so relieved that you're already considering it. There's nothing wrong with reflecting the market. You go, girl.

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    1. P.S. Good on you for doing what most people can't in the handmade craft world: Finding an item that you can sell (like gangbusters) for more than your cost plus labor. But now your time is worth more to you, so I suggest seeing whether demand keeps up or falls away. If it keeps up, hire the assistant. If it falls away, enjoy your extra time! (Or, er, lower the price again.) Good luck. Hope you'll share what you decide.

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  6. I have only been selling aprons for a little over 1 year... I had a goal of a family trip to the ocean. It helped with that. I try to find cheaper material at thrift shops, etc... lace, buttons, etc. Otherwise, cotton on sale here in Canada is at least $8/m. If I use roughly 2 meters of fabric for a reversible apron, plus some lace, a button or 2, then 1/2 day of my time? Then my hubby says I'm crazy for selling for only $35. But China does it for cheaper. If I can get faster or cut out multiples at once, etc, it is more beneficial. I also home school 3 girls. Try raising your prices a bit, then if the customer thinks it's too high, some of your sales will drop off. If not, you're just as busy, but making a bit more money. That's the goal right? To make INCOME from home? Not just pay for a hobby? Get really fast at a few things, make more money on those, then have fun with the other stuff :) www.cariboogals.blogspot.ca

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    1. Thank you for sharing Jo! When I started out selling handmade items, before I ever began sewing, my goal was just to make extra money for special family things, holiday gift buying, small trips. I was juggling that with staying home with the kids and it was always just enough. Now they're all school-age and I don't home-school, so for me, transitioning this into a profitable business that is worth how much time and energy I am putting into it is very important. I'm feeling encouraged by what I'm reading -- thanks again!!

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  7. I will just toss my 5c's worth in :) pricing is the hardest part of selling, heck I had priced my items at what I thought was reasonable, until I mailed my first sale, our postage is horrid and I made a grand total of 50c hahaha, lesson learnt. But looking at your biggest seller, I can see there is a lot of work and material that goes into the making, would the idea of selling the crowns in kit form be a silly one?, and the names could be added to each individual kit sold, would give the buyer a sense of "I made this" and perhaps turnover would increase but with less pressure?. :)

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  8. I feel like you at least have to double your cost of materials & then account for paying yourself for the time you drive to the post office, create the product, & marketing it.
    I am frustrated when I find shops online selling items for just a few dollars above what the actual materials cost them. I know satin (even cheap fake stuff) is $5 or more a yard. Don't sell a satin, appliquéd cape for $10. It lowers the value of those making items with the attention of making an item a forever gift.

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    1. It can be frustrating! In the beginning I did a little research and had priced myself in the middle somewhere, and I really thought I was making a good profit on each crown until recently. I guess my issue is really all about demand and that I just cannot keep up at this rate. Raising my price to avoid burnout by either taking on less orders or making enough to hire some help, is feeling pretty necessary at this point! It would also be such a shame for all of this to stop being fun!!

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  9. Pricing is so hard !
    What I do is : cost of material + my time + a bit more = price of item.
    So let's say it costs 24$ to make a bag, it takes me two hours, I will sell this bag 55$ (I live in Quebec and the minimum wage here is $10/hour so I pay myself a bit more than that).
    Then if someone asks me why it's so expensive, I can tell them and they can't complain !

    Maybe someone people will go somewhere else, but if they really want something made by you, they will stay, even if you increase your prices.

    Also, price is important, but customer service is even more !

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  10. As someone who has had a similar dilemma very recently, I completely feel your pain! While I was selling LOTS of items at a cost that was above my cost, but once I factored in fabric research, emailing customers, listing, taking photos, shipping, etc. I realized I put in WAY more hours than the hours just to make the products. I raised my prices by what I thought would surely reduce demand (35%+ on some) - it didn't, and in fact, no one batted an eyelash and customers just kept buying! So, I agree with Jenny - raise your prices. If you see your demand go down, you'll be making more per unit to make up for the reduced demand, and gain back what I like to call "opportunity time" - the time that you'll have to pursue other opportunities for yourself and your business. Also, by charging more per unit, you will be able to hire someone to help you with production, which I realized is one of the only ways to grow a handmade business. Think of ways to streamline your products to make it easier for someone to help so you don't have to be involved in the making of every product that goes out the door. Sorry for the long post - I hope this is helpful!

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    1. Thank you so much for the input, Christen! I do wish for more free time to make other things to sell, as well as pursuing the other things mentioned that I dream about doing along with my sewing. Thinking of ways to streamline is also something I need to be very conscience of. There are parts of the process -- emailing, cutting, packaging that could all be done by someone else, so I could focus completely on design and construction. Thanks again for the help!!!

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  11. Maureen, I love what you do and make and check out all your blogging. I think it is great that you are considering the longevity of your craft business. I have opinions on all this, but take what I say with a grain of salt since I am not nearly as accomplished as you. I have not opened an Etsy shop because I am worried that the prices that reflect the value won't be appreciated by consumers. With your busy crown making are you reaching a point of potential burn-out? That would be awful since your designs and makings are so lovely. I do think it would be smart to hire some help for the makings of your shop. In the long run, design work, whether in print form or fabric form, has the potential for long term revenue. A year ago, when I had the chance to meet Anna Maria Horner, she asked me if I had an Etsy shop. I told her I didn't and she said that it wasn't a realistic way to make a living anyway, that it was more of a way to support a hobby. During her lecture, she talked about her background and how she got started. She entered her art in a design trade show where she was approached by Westminster Fibers. She has also had her art on paper products and home decor items. But she said that you have to get your stuff out there, in front of the people that can get you started.
    All this to say, hire some help to free up time for design! I bet you have an awesome fabric line lurking in there and I know you are capable of pattern making. Lastly, research if there are any mentors available to you as female small business owner. This puts you in a minority group and you might be surprised about programs available to you.
    Best of luck! Martha

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  12. Pricing is very tricky. When I first started making purses, I know that I wasn't asking enough for each item. Over time I have increased my prices - usually when I add a new update. For example, last January I added a zipper closure to the top of each purse. I had so many people say that they couldn't have a purse without a zipper closure - so once I got it all worked out for each style of purse, I increased the price by $5-10. It takes more time and materials to put in that feature, so I thought it was only fair to raise prices. I was pleasantly surprised that I have actually sold more as my prices have increased. Also this past winter I used a price calculator like this: https://craftybase.com/etsy/pricing-calculator
    to see how my current prices compared. Some of my prices are lower than the calculator suggests they should be, and some of my prices are right on. I think it's an important exercise to be very honest about the materials cost, cost of my time, cost of fees, etc. The ONLY way to stay in business is to price your items to make a profit!!
    And when someone says that your prices are too high - they are not your target market!!!

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    1. Thanks for the helpful input, Liz! I will definitely check out the link you shared!

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  13. I think you could definitely increase your prices...a quick search on etsy shows that your work is superior to your competition (IMHO, no offense to anyone), but your prices are lower. I typically price my items at the cost of the materials plus $12 per hour for the time it takes to make each item. This doesn't really take into account the time it takes to design or customize an item though. My prices are not the cheapest (by far) but they're also not the most expensive in my category. Could I sell more if my prices were lower? Most likely. But I wouldn't be able to spend the same time and love creating each project or use the same quality of materials. It's a tricky balance. I wish you the best...your talent shines through in each of your projects and I think people would be willing to spend a little bit more to have one of your treasures!

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  14. having a helper a few days a week sounds like a winner

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  15. One time I had a home stager/designer come to me wanting to "help me out." She was going to a vendor fair and wanted me to make something like 150 aprons for her to turn around and resell. She came to my house with this formulaandd said "so you can make them for under 50 cents a piece right? That'll give you some cash in your pocket AND help me." Needless to say I was flabbergasted and tried not getting offended that she thought I was that "cheap."
    I will repeat what everyone else has said. Pricing is the hardest part of making and selling handmade. Some people just don't get it. They want top quality for literally nothing.
    You do what you love and you are darn good at it. Let your prices reflect that. If sales slow down a little, you'll have more time on your hands for the other things that are important to you. If they slow down too much, re-evaluate- should you make and sell a quilt here and there? Just something to consider:) You know I'm a huge fan of your creativity and work!

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  16. it is such a tricky decision. you dont want to be too high but you have to be compensated for your time. so, my question to you is: what is going to make you happiest right now, in two weeks, in 6 months, in one year, and in two years?

    raising your prices and hiring an employee would make the biggest difference for you immediately. but you would also have to factor the cost of having the employee. maybe you could offer to pay someone in fabric! ;)

    i think those two things would affect the right now/two weeks and would subsequently give you more time for those other things; fabric and pattern design, that will cause the greatest change in the one year/two year time frames.

    i had a boss that told me that i needed to remember to look for the big picture, to remember what the end goal is. my hope and wish for you is to be more successful than pat bravo. you have it in you my dear, i know it!

    i will send you my resume! ;) xoxoxo

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    1. That's it!! You move in next door (the house is for sale btw), we join forces, and the rest is history!! :)

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  17. I have to admit, I have been to your Etsy page and wondered, "how does she make any money?" Your designs are beautiful and custom work means more time spent designing the item.
    When determining your "hourly wage" it is important to remember that you could work for someone else for minimum wage and never have to think about (or pay for) the million other things that come with running a business, and that time needs to be accounted for, as it is time spent away from your family as well. I am in a government-run small business program and that is one of the things that really stuck with me from the pricing workshop. Having said that, I have not had as much success as you on Etsy, so maybe take that with a grain of salt :)
    Pricing is so hard because you put your heart and soul into projects, and how do you price heart and soul? My Etsy page is www.thebarefootsprout.etsy.com if you would like to check it out.
    Your items are beautiful and definitely worth it! I love your blog, and your Etsy items so keep up the great work!
    Andi

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  18. I like reading this encouragement to raise your prices and/or hire a helper. Look at Susan of Freshly Picked, for instance! From all outward appearance, she's going gangbusters and has turned her specialty item into a thriving business, and is charging a decent amount for handmade moccasins! Honestly, I hadn't visited your etsy shop to see what you even charged for birthday crowns, but in my head I had guessed they were $50, just because of how beautiful and intricate they are! They're heirlooms. Hmmmm maybe I should buy a couple before you start actually charging what they're worth. ;)

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  19. I see your dilemma... the crowns are SEW cute though....
    Ideally you want to make $20 an hour but I know you are probably not making 5! well maybe you are, but no more than 10 I bet :-) crafts are so hard to price, people want it all hand made but not pay the price.
    I don't know what to say, I haven't had much luck on etsy but I do have plans for something again soon. How about selling your crown PATTERNS on craftsy? I once in a while get a little notice that one of my patterns sold and Hey, $5 here and there add up and it's no more work on my end :-)

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  20. your blog post reminds me why I don't push it to sell quilts. I do sell quilts a little here and there but not for a business, I do not want the stress I want it to continue to be something I like - a fun stress reducer not work. All of the fabrics and notions cost so much now and people are not willing to pay what they are worth in the time it takes to make items. Most do not seem to understand how much it cost to make something and the amount of time it takes to make it. No way can most of us get paid even $5 an hour for our time. you have to decide what is best for you but if you can raise your prices at least a little bit it might work out for you in the long hour over paying someone to work for you - that will really add up over time.

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  21. I love the idea of kits for the crowns, and patterns. You sure have a lot to think about.

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  22. First of all I applaud you for putting family first. The world needs more full time moms. My two daugthers are young adults already and I thank God for the wonderful relationship we have. I was able to stay home for them and don't regret it at all. Of course pricing is my problem too. Thanks for bringing the topic up. As everyone says I think you should go ahead and raise prices but just a bit at a time. I'm saying this and I also have to re-evaluate my prices as well. Best wishes on your goals!!

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  23. I'm having very similar struggles, and I've only just started out! I know you Can do those other dreams, like designing fabric and patterns and I am hoping for you not to undersell yourself (or your time with your family). Really, not an easy task!

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  24. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that if you have MORE demand for your handmade items than you're wanting to spend time creating a supply for, you definitely should up your prices! Why bust your butt to make 100 of something if you can earn the same money by making 75? Your time is valuable, perhaps even more valuable than when you first set your current prices, so my advice would be to sell them for what people are willing to pay. You're kind of a big deal, right?! Right!

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  25. What interesting posts and ideas have been written. I am retired and help a lot with my 3 grandchildren. I had visions of opening an Etsy shop, but have found I just cannot balance everything. I do sell items locally, but pricing is such a question. We live in a small Michigan community and many people have no idea the price of supplies and the time it REALLY takes to make an item. Most days I just thank God that I am able to be of help for the ones who need me, but some days I am just very frustrated. I have been following your blog for about a year now, and please know that I have felt like I am reading things I would say to you over the backyard fence. Thanks to everyone else who took the time to comment on this subject also.

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    1. Thank you, Gayle!! I've been really choosy about what I've been willing to offer in my shop for the last couple of years. It's all very tricky and I've learned a lot by trial and error! As always, I am so glad to have this space to share and discuss these issues! I'd be lost without you all!! :)

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  26. Pricing is always a sticky issue. You have to balance, are you getting a reasonable return for the time/ effort you are putting in, against, if folk stop buying because you have priced yourself out of their market.
    You need to make sure materials costs are covered, and look at the time involved, and make a stab at how much that is worth. Then you need to put your calculator hat on and coldly say, 'will they pay that?'
    And shade from that position.

    And if you offer the kits as an alternative to the finished items, you can have two different price points with subtly different markets.

    I run a very different type of business, and I struggle with pricing too!

    Good luck!

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    1. It is so sticky! Offering kits is definitely something I consider from time to time. I have so much to think about!! :)

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  27. Totally agree you should raise your prices. When I clicked over, I was honestly surprised by how inexpensive they were. I struggle with this pricing stuff myself so I don't take commissions unless its family, but try and keep in mind your target audience: someone who isn't willing or doesn't have the talent to make what you can - that's something worth paying for. Don't sell yourself short.

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  28. Wow. I don't have kids in my life, so I had no idea your pricing was so low for the crowns! As someone who is only a buyer, not a seller, I would pay $35-45 for a crown like that. This is an item that is meant to stay with the child throughout the years, not a disposable item. I also sew, so I know how much effort goes into producing an item like that!

    I also agree with the earlier comment that if someone says your prices are too high, they are NOT your target customer. And, if someone says your prices are too high, they do not value the work you're doing....and frankly, they're rude. Would you go to their workplace and suggest they shouldn't be paid what they're making for their work?

    You have a beautiful, high quality product that is going to become an heirloom for the child you it's given to. That's an amazing and beautiful thing, to live on through your art. Don't undervalue yourself.

    Jessica

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    1. Thank you so much, Jessica! I really appreciate your feedback and encouragement!

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  29. I make and sell my wares at the local craft shows to supplement my income. I know how hard it is to price things because people don't want to pay a 'high' price for handmade quality. I did come up with a schedule of sorts. I take the dollar amount it cost me in material and then double it. I try to make minimum wage of $7 to $10 on what I make depending on the work that needs to be done. I don't do many 'large' items like quilts, etc. I also don't have a family at home except for my dog to take care of. But it does keep me off the street and out of the stores - :) I will say that I have had a couple of people question whymy prices are not higher for the quality they see - so they say :). I also have to take in consideration the economics of the area I am in. I don't sell on etsy though so have no experience with that.

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  30. When I used to sell bags I would take the amount it cost me to make it and then tripled it. Such as $10 in supplies = a $30 bag. And for hiring a helper--sometimes the sewer gets paid by the item, not by the hour. Then you can add that figure into the new price.

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  31. I came across this a while back. It has TONS of info about selling on Etsy. Number 3 is about pricing. I hope it helps. :)
    http://www.handmadeology.com/10-real-tips-for-successfully-selling-on-etsy/

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  32. Do you cut all that felt by hand or do you have a cutting machine. If you cut by hand you might want to think about one to cut some of the stuff. Or hire some stay at home moms to hand cut during their tv time. Good luck in figuring out what you need to do

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    1. I use my GO! baby for just the scalloped flowers and leaves, and everything else is completely hand-cut!! I haven't found any other GO! dies to scale with my crowns, but honestly, I do love the handwork!

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  33. I sell nothing but as a buyer, I'd be willing to spend more on your crowns than what you are asking. I was quite shocked at the low price! They are a re-usable item and keepsakes besides. Customized no less! I would think they'd still be easy to sell at $35 or $40/custom crown. Maybe make some generic ones and sell them for $30 and then the customization/name comes at a higher price?! (and if the generic ones are sold out, so be it!)

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  34. Your crowns are beautiful and I've often wondered how you keep from getting burned out when I see all your weekly order pictures. I do think your prices are too low for the amount of thoughtful work you do. I try to consider an hourly rate for the work I'm putting into an item plus cost of supplies, but mostly keep it to family and friends because I don't like dealing with prices. I had turned my photography hobby into a career and lost some of my love for taking photos in the process. I don't want that to happen to my crafting! I do think both handmade items and professional photography are undervalued by the public because there are people who offer low rates to "scoop" their competition and others who offer a low quality product at a cheap rate and lower people's expectations of prices for quality work.

    Good luck going forward! I really enjoy your blog and the beautiful projects you make. And I'd love to see a fabric collection!

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  35. I love all of yoru fabric. They are allways so bright and vibrant. So full of life.

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  36. If you are getting more work than you can handle, then I would definitely recommend raising prices. It should cut back the number of orders, leaving you with more time on your hands, or, if not, at least more cash. If you don't want orders to drop back dramatically, then maybe an increase of $2.50 would be a good start. If the orders keep rolling in, then maybe you can increase it by $2.50 three months after that and then again three months later and keep doing this until you have the order to price ratio just where you like it.

    I also think the idea of making kits and patterns available is an excellent one. It may make you even busier in the long run, as you will likely have more customers, but selling patterns will be effortless after the initial pattern is made, and you can hire help for cutting and packing kits.

    Good luck!

    P.S. You have some amazing fabric in your collection. You are a lucky girl to be able to have your work be your passion!

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    1. P.P.S. JennX mentioned selling generic crowns, without the customisation. I think that is a great idea too.

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  37. Maureen - seriously - you need to raise your prices. You sell a beautiful, well made product and you deserve to be fairly compensated for that. Underpricing will just lead you to resent your work, and life is too short for that. Raise your prices, hopefully your work load will become more manageable (with the same income), or if demand continues, use that extra money to hire an assistant. Time to step up to the next level! Well done, this is called success!

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  38. I think a lot of people start off selling things, encouraged by well meaning friends and relatives, without proper thought to the time and effort that goes into them, charging for materials and not much more because it only cost you $X to make. Except it didn't. It cost your materials, plus your time to make it, plus your electricity to run the sewing machine and light your room, plus heating your room, plus the time you spent marketing/listing/selling it. Then, having started off at a set price, people are reluctant to raise their prices, even if the costs of other things have gone up. I fear you may have fallen into this trap (and I'm not saying it in a bad way, I think we all find it tough to raise prices and charge reasonable amounts)

    So what can you do?

    1) Raise your prices on your fancy crowns with all the bells and whistles, from the comments above it seems you could easily whack on $10 without much thought.

    2) Create some simpler crowns at the current price, saving you time, effort and materials, yet still catering to people with smaller incomes.

    3) Create kits for people to 'build their own' - make the crown base itself, but then have a pack with all the other bits in it for people to assemble themselves, then they get an even more unique item because they did it themselves, and they have a craft they can do with their kid.

    4) Invest in some more dies for your Go, or invest in a Sizzix Big Shot, which has a ton more options having originally been designed for scrapbookers, which would save you some time and effort

    5) All of the above!

    Oh, and get some help too so you don't burn out, remembering that you are not in peak health (she says, sternly)

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  39. I agree with those that say you should bump up your prices. (Katy's advice is awesome.) The formula I've always heard is that you take your cost and double or triple it, then adjust up or down depending on the item type and how much time it took to make it. But it's never going to feel quite right. You have to remember that what you do is not what everyone can do; try not to be insulted if people go for cheap and low-quality over one of your pieces. It's their right to do so just as it's your right to charge what you feel is fair for your work. And while sales might drop off, it's better than working at slave wages, AND helps to pave the way so that NO ONE is paid slave wages anywhere. As artists and sewists, we can occasionally overnice ourselves to death!

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  40. WHy not sew more, and blog less.... some of you blog so often i dont know how you find the time and expertise to do so.... even once a month would be fine, then you could use set days to "do crowns" then other set days for "fun". why not employ a casual to say just cut out... or do the velcro bits.. I think the kit idea is GREAT.. YOu could handmake the name part, and sell the velcro bit already done.. i hate sewing that stuff on !! Stick with it. having an etsy shop is still a shop, and demands time and attention. Self agree to have a tighter schedule, and put others things on hold.. but have a deadline, for doing those extra things you want ( fabric line// etc....) I like your work but havent been to your site to see them for sale, so i guess i should have a look at the price, before i ramble on too much more!!!

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  41. $25 ??!!!Are you kidding? I never looked as I'm in Australia and postage here often makes things prohibitive. Seriously put your prices up! Its easy for all of us to say but it is true, you are underpriced, by a lot! Also i agree with kits idea, or perhaps even a PDF pattern. I have seen the things that people sell patterns for..... yours would actually be worth it, and once the initial time is spent its money for jam!
    just my 2 cents worth, make yourself happy above all.

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  42. I know it's not a craft per se, but we deal with pricing issues a lot with our photography business...and it IS my husband's creative outlet and final product. Often people want to know why/how we come up with the prices and why prints are priced the way they are when you can get them printed at Walmart cheaper (It kind of reminds me of the argument behind why people knit socks). So...he wrote a blog post about it:
    http://timwalckphotography.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-we-price-our-photography.html.

    PS: I looked over your prices on your etsy shop. Your work is too good for such a low price! However, this comes with the disclaimer that I'm a fellow crafter and I appreciate the hard work/time dedication that goes into the final product.

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  43. I agree with everyone else - you should definitely raise your prices! Your crowns and pillows are just beautiful!
    But it's tricky - on Etsy I've had a couple of customers who thought they were buying one of my finished tote bags for $7.50, not the pattern. And then were mad. Seriously?! I could hardly even ship it for that! So it's a fine line to walk. Best of luck with making these difficult decisions!

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  44. I think you can quite safely raise your prices . Your work is of a very high standard , customers will be happy to pay more . I did a short business course in floristry and remember the lecturer saying " start out the way you mean to continue " so pricing too low in the beginning makes it difficult to increase your prices later on . Perhaps deciding on a fair hourly rate plus your materials at retail prices , not wholesale might be a help in deciding how to price your items .

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  45. Hi Maureen: I disagree with one of the comments above about the frequency of blogs. I started a blog recently as a personal quilt journal. I love taking pics and writing about that day's entry. It works for me.
    Keep writing blogs as often as you wish and I'll enjoy reading every entry.
    By the way, my idea for increasing prices is to be like the post office. State a disclaimer for the need for higher prices like increased costs, new help etc. and increase the price $5 every month til the price is the one you're comfortable at.

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    1. I agree with your advice, especially about blogging. I think that discussions and feedback (both positive and critical) make our passion of sewing more meaningful. I do not blog, but I think I should seriously look into it. (I'm a grandma and need to get my grandson to help!!!) When people ask me what I do with my time and I tell them it's taking care of 3 grandchildren and sewing, many of them look at me like I'm from Mars!!

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  46. I would raise costs! I recently bought a crown - if it had be $30 instead of $25, I still would have bought it. It was just too cute! :)

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  47. you might consider testing the market by increasing prices for a set amount of time (1-3 months) to see whether sales volume drops. if you have fewer sales but the same profit, that would be okay, too. you can always send a PR email at the end of the period saying you are lowering prices to suit customer demand if the trial goes poorly. unfortunately, i think makers of handmade items seldom get the value of their products.

    on an unrelated note, what fabric has the cabins? i didn't see it with the other cloud9 line, and it's adorable!

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    1. The print with the little cabins is the "over the Forest" print, the first one shown here -- http://www.cloud9fabrics.com/intheforest_II.html

      Thanks!!

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  48. Maureen, you have a lot of great suggestions already. I just wanted to add that when taking the cost of your supplies, don't forget the one cost many forget and that's your shipping costs to get those supplies to you or the gas you use to go purchase yourself. And also, don't forget (I used to do taxes a few years until I had to quit because it was too much with a full time job, three boys and a new boyfriend/now husband) the mileage is tax deductible so be sure and keep track of that with each trip you do when purchasing items for the shop.

    Most of all, try hard to find that balance or you will burn out so fast that you will begin hating it all or stress your body too much which is never good for anyone, especially your family. It takes time and some trial and error too on your part. Try a few different ideas and see what works. Nothing says you can't reprioritize again and tweak what you did already until you can find that perfect balance. Good luck.

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  49. First, it made me smile that I have each and every one of those fabrics on my wish list right now. Let's be friends :)
    Second, thank you for sharing your worries about pricing. For a few years I had a newborn and child photography business. I started doing it just for friends so pricing was really difficult for me. I kept my fees very low, which of course meant that my friends told their friends and before long, my little hobby career was taking up every last minute of my day. I dreaded having the pricing conversation with potential clients. I knew I should charge more but something about that seemed narcissistic to me! Eventually, I quit because I just couldn't handle the hours but I've always regretted under valuing my work. Your work is fantastic so up those prices! I know I'd pay it!
    P.S. I'd work for you!

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  50. Years ago, I had a friend call me and ask if I would make a king size quilt for her, I had no problems making the quilt, but I told her to go out and purchase all the fabric, batting and batting it would take, then I would charge her $100.00 for my time, then she would have to have it quilted once I had the pieces assembled as I don't have a long arm! She about fainted when she went shopping for all the materials. Needless to say, she not yet purchased any fabric!
    People just don't realize what things cost these days.

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  51. Judging by the craftsmanship of those crowns and the intricate designs/customization, I think you could raise your prices at least 35% and still have them sell like hotcakes. If I had kids, I think I would pay $35-40 for one of your pieces. Also, have you thought about having a custom cutting die made for common pieces (like the crown part and the nameplates?) it might be cheaper in the long run for the dies than for a part-time helper, and it would significantly reduce the time you spend cutting.

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  52. Your post really resonated with me, Maureen! First of all, I really struggle sometimes with finding balance in my life-- my job requires a good bit of time and focus, and prioritizing family is really important to me, too! That leaves less time than I'd like for sewing and blogging, and I would like to spend a little more time reading and commenting on my friend's blogs. We just can't do it all! I've often been amazed at how on top of things you seem to be. And running an etsy shop is a LOT of work-- I've sold a few things through mine, but I've found it's just not sustainable for me-- in large part because I don't think I can price my products for what they're really worth to me. I often figure out the cost of materials and then think about how I value my time... and then have to cut that total in half. When family and friends tell me I should sell my work more, I feel both happy (that they think I can/should sell these things!) and discouraged, because I don't think most people will be willing to pay a fair price. When I do have someone request a quilt, I am very up front about the time it takes to make it!
    So, in a nutshell, I pretty much always think that people selling handmade goods on etsy are undervaluing their product, and I would love to see people raise their prices and truly value their work for what it's worth to them!
    :) Hope you're doing well!

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  53. I don't sell anything so can't even imagine what a struggle that would be to price. I did do a Farmer's Market once and had the hardest time just pricing burp cloths. I started sewing probably 10 years ago, but not buying the more "name brand" fabrics until 5 years ago or so. Prices I remember for my first purchase of Denyse Schmidt fabric was about $7 a yard, now I can get it for $10-$11, and guess what, I still buy it. My other suggestion is maybe making a pattern for your crowns where others can make them for personal use. Maybe have a few template patterns in there or instructions. You could probably sell a lot of patterns, and the people that can't or don't sew would still buy from you, or even buy anyway. Good Luck with it all. I'm sure you will figure out what you need to do.

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  54. The idea of selling patterns as well as making is a good one. Here's a post by Abby Glaassenberg which covers her very practical reasons for selling patterns here.
    http://whileshenaps.typepad.com/whileshenaps/2013/01/the-economics-of-selling-sewing-patterns.html
    She has many articles aimed at those wanting sell craft as a business.

    By raising your prices (you are not just a crafter but one with a name), employing a helper and selling patterns will you likely increase your short and long term income streams AND give you a chance to follow those big dreams which will carry you so much further and energise you as you go.

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  55. I think you should listen to the voices in this post. Raise your prices. Hire a helper, and do what you love. <3

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  56. I read once that if you're beginning to resent what you're making, your prices aren't high enough. :) You could raise your prices without any problem- and then you'll either make more money, or make the same money with less work- a win/win!
    xoxo,
    Amy

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  57. Raise your prices! You do great work and deserve it....anyone who sew/quilts etc. knows the value~ I follow a girl who does dolls and she feels the same sometimes...she does not charge enough for her wonderful dolls and I have encouraged her to do so too. I have 7 and they just make you smile to see them. Usually if someone decides they want to buy something they will be happy to see it because they fell in love with it and had a need for it. I have sewed for nearly 50 years and still love to ...

    pmanson@peoplepc.com

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  58. I am struggling with the same issues and I have only sold a handful of items. But it has to be worth your while! Not only the materials but you have to pay yourself and time for cutting and assembling and designing. I find the greatest cost is the loss of joy when we are just breaking even for a lot of hardwork. You crowns have lots of details all that is time consuming. Raise your prices, (Etsy has a pricing segment video) if you need to, if people really appreciate your stuff they will keep coming.

    Example, My friend wanted a tutu from Etsy, asked me to make it. I had her buy the material and "taught" her how to sew part of it. When the whole thing was done, she said it was totally worth what they were asking, so the next tutu and T-shirt set she loved, she paid someone on Etsy and understood why crafters/sewers charge what they charge. True story!

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  59. Love the fabric, would definately made something for my grandsons!

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