You Want How Much??



How many times at a craft show have you heard this? If you’re me, fairly often.

You need to learn to ignore it. After seeing some of the prices I’ve seen in the embroidery and crafting groups I’m in, it’s no wonder people feel guilty.  The public is out there wanting Walmart prices and making you feel like shit if you don’t give them those prices.

Well, stop it. You are a skilled worker. You aren’t offering fries with that handmade item. And they need to grasp that.

But so do you. And this is mainly directed at those who sew, or use embroidery machines, since that is generally my medium of choice in my work. But really, anyone doing handmade, this goes for you too, so pay attention!!

You are worth your prices. You are entitled to make the money you ask for your item.  Stop trying to make the customer happy over EVERYTHING. Pricing isn’t about the customer. Pricing is about YOU as the creator and owner of this item.

Making the customer happy involves fabric choices, your quality of work, and your interaction with them being pleasant. It has nothing to do with your wages. If you worked at a “real job” would you run around telling people how much you earn per hour? Probably not.  But your boss, coworkers and friends and family would assume you earn it since you get a paycheck. So how is crafting any different? You’ve earned your wages, now it is up to the customer to pay you.

So how do you price? This is actually a tough question to answer. Etsy gives a decent pricing formula, 


Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

which is a good starting place, but it isn’t set in stone. You should use it to come to a price to start with. But a lot of pricing is about instinct, and the willingness to take a loss in one place and a gain in another.

Good example is felties, one of the scandals in the embroidery world is people selling these for 40 cents each. Now, felt is 20 cents a sheet, even at wholesale, you won’t find it much under 14 cents. So right there, you’ve got 20 cents and that in a 5×7 machine will make 6-8 felties. Then you’ve got the cost of the design, say $3.50 for that and you might make it 20 times.  Just the design alone, you’re paying 35 cents per sheet to make 8 felties.  Now convince me of your profit.

This isn’t to say you should be charging $1 each for felties (except those blasted evil multilayer 90 color changes ones) , but the only way 40 cents each can pay for itself is if the customer orders 100 at a time. And even then, you’re making yourself more work than profit.

For one simple reason. Where’s your hourly wage in this? So many skip the idea of “paying themselves”. And you shouldn’t.  It is part of your costs. And it isn’t set in stone either. I charge $25 an hour for sewing work, $12 for complicated embroidery work, and $10 for items done in bulk like masks and felties.

So be flexible with paying yourself. I realize to embroidery folks that you just push a button, but you’re doing more than that. You know what button to push most importantly. You know where to get the designs. You understand how fabric works. And you’re the one who fixes your machine when you have basic problems like bird nesting or snapped threads. That makes you a trained employee and worth far more than minimum wage. $12 per hour. Minimum. Please.

One of the things I see a lot in embroidery groups is “how much do I charge per stitch?”. You don’t. That method of pricing is for big multi needle machines and industrial embroidery on things like shirts, or bag. It isn’t for the home worker with a single or multi needle. Charge by materials and labor. Not by the stitch.

And charge by demand! Don’t be afraid to use a fad to your advantage! I’m going to use the still popular example of the bunny currently making the rounds of the groups.

The design isn’t cheap, $10.99 and this particular seller does no sales. But this rabbit is so hot right now that every other post in 4 embroidery groups is about this rabbit. Take advantage of that! Customize, add special designs to the stomach, and charge $35 each for the 5×7 and more for larger! PEOPLE WILL PAY IT. When the fad is over, and Easter has passed, lower the price to $25.

“Well, wouldn’t pay that“.

No. You wouldn’t. Why? Because you aren’t your customer. You can make this. They cannot. They do not have the skill, the patience, or the machinery and tools to make this item. You do. Take advantage of that fact.

“But no one locally will pay that”. 

You’re thinking like a customer again. You are not your customer. You do not know for a fact locals won’t pay this. You think this because you’ve had a few friends, or family, or a few locals who want Walmart prices have sneeringly told you that they wouldn’t pay that.

It isn’t up to the customer to tell you what they’ll pay. It is up to you to tell the customer what they’ll pay. And this takes education. If you do shows, take your machine with you.  Have an older child, or a friend help you at your table while you work away using your machine.

Society is very detached from how things are made. They see the results, and not the work. And years of big box shopping have given them the idea that making things is cheap and everyone who makes things only gets 10 cents an hour. They don’t see the burnt fingers from glue guns, the sewing injuries from trying to work quickly, or the tears when your machine manages to knot itself up again. You’re dehumanized into a machine yourself, who churns out felties for 40 cents each.

Well, time to stop that. You are a person, and you are a creative one.  Some of your customers will never understand that and will constantly try to get your pricing down (I find sitting them in front of the machine and asking them to make me something tends to cure the worst among friends and family). Don’t worry, these “customers” will fall aside, making room for people who truly appreciate your efforts and will pay you what you are worth.



Filed under Business, Musings

3 responses to “You Want How Much??

  1. Pingback: Don’t Be a Dick Part 2 | Dirty Girl Designs

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