As a bead weaver, I’ve heard a litany of critiques about the price of my jewelry. The classic runs something like the following: ”Your work is beautiful, but why is it so expensive? After all, you’re just using glass beads and thread. It’s not like you’re working in silver or gold….What’s the deal???”
As a result, I often second-guess myself about pricing….But NO LONGER! One of my Art Girls colleagues shared one of the best commentaries about pricing of our art. It was written and widely circulated by the gemstone cutter extraordinaire, John Dyer.. He explains that many of us actually aren’t charing ENOUGH for our work because we’re only charging a per hour rate while working on a piece. We THINK it would be a reasonable rate on any job….
Here it is:If you want to make a real living at jewelry (or any other independent endeavor) you need to consider that there is a lot of other stuff that goes into your craft as well.
Of course you can’t charge directly for most of these things, but the reality is you need to charge AT LEAST 3 times what you need to be making per hour when you are actually doing something you can charge for.
- Are you billing for time spent on Facebook? (Advertising) Billing for time spent talking to the client and designing the piece? (A genuine part of the time spent to “make” it!)
- Do you bill for time spent doing accounting? (You have to do accounting if you are going to be legal and pay taxes and also have some clue if you are actually making money or not.)
- Are you charging for the time it takes to talk to all the people who don’t buy anything? For answering all those emails? Charging for time spent receiving packages, packing up merchandise, filling out paperwork, going to the post office and shipping it?
If you don’t do this in the long run you won’t be able to survive. In reality you should probably charge anywhere from 4-5 times a “fair wage” because at most 1/3rd of your time is going to be billable. It will probably be far less than that.
If you did have a “normal” job your employer would have to pay you for every hour spent at work no matter what you were doing. (Even going to the bathroom!) Since your employers are now your customers what you charge them needs to reflect all that you do, not just the small part that is working on their piece of jewelry. No one else is going to pay you for doing the other things…
A number of years ago I heard that an independent contractor (in any trade) needed to charge a minimum of $35/hour to survive (because of all of the costs and non billable hours that they spend on work related things). This was so long ago that no doubt inflation has this at around $50-$45/hour now.
Sure your overhead might be low, but you have to make a living or you aren’t doing anyone any good in the long run because you won’t be able to keep doing what you love and providing people with the jewelry they want.
A clue that you either don’t manage money well or that you don’t charge enough is if you never have money to buy any inventory for stock or the new tools you need.
Charge a fair price and accept that numerous people will always think things should be cheaper. They just don’t have a clue all the work, sweat and tears that go into it.
These words have helped me rethink my pricing They are helping me stop excusing my price structure when challenged by potential customers. And they are clarifying why so many of us struggle….We need to keep this kind of business model in mind daily as we ply our art, our craft, our passion.
Please do share this widely. It’s part of the public education about the value and worth and price of creative endeavors such as mine.
Driving up to Brooklyn, NY, to help close my late uncle's apartment, the phone rang. It had been a bad week; I didn't need more bad news....
It was the ACC. They had a space for me, after all! Lucky #15 on the waiting list came through.
You can find me at
February 20-21 (wholesale) February 22-24 (retail),
10 am to 6 pm
American Craft Council Show, Baltimore, MD.
Come to visit; come to buy. It is an AMAZING show! Trust me, I was a patron for years before I became an artist IN the show!!!
With roughly one month to go before the ACC show, I remain ONE spot away from entry in the Wholesale-Retail part of the show. Not that I wish ill on anyone, but it would be VERY nice to make it into the show again, particularly since I have a start to my wholesale line of goods….some “under the sea,” some Judaica, and some stone circling. AND I can make a go of it as wholesale items. Huzzah! The DNA kelp tube is one as long as I use a pre-made toggle rather than one of my hand-sewn ones. (See below for the more custom version.)
I can also customize it with pearl closures, etc.
Then there are some new RETAIL goodies that are in the $1200-1300 range (or up).
All I need is one more space and the game will be on!
And, in case you were wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks….I was saying Aloha to the Big Island and Oahu for the first time. What a trip…lots of walking and eating avocados off the tree, hiking and sharing with friends who live there, hanging out in B&Bs on both sides of the Big Island and nibbling poke (an acquired taste that I have acquired!) at a restaurant recently visited by the President. Both John and I needed the time away
But now it’s down to work….. Beading, writing, and beading and writing. AND waiting to be a grandma for the first time, so there’s a bit of knitting thrown in for good measure, too! Check out my facebook page for my A-to-Z list of not-entirely-serious names for our soon-to-be-produced grandson.
AND SAVE THE LAST WEEK IN FEBRUARY FOR THE ACC CRAFT SHOW IN BALTIMORE. STAY TUNED!!!!
....to be busy! With the holidays upon us -- and Hanukkah behind us--it's time to get wound up to begin 2013 with a bang....I've got a series of new pieces -- one-of-a-kind and limited edition churning out as I write.
The double helix necklace is being developed in a multitude of colors. The white-on-white with pearls at the closure sold for the holidays (see above). A wonderful gift and most reasonably price for the work involved. I've now been working on many other colors, including a pale pink seed and white crystal bugle with a mabe pearl closure....
And I finally finished the most amazing beaded ammonite asymmetrical necklace seen below. Working on a number of other specials for the Spring show.
Currently, I am a mere 4 places from getting into the ACC show in Baltimore again this year again. It would be Wholesale-Retail, but it would be IN the show again. After so much disappointment in 2012, I truly hope that 2013 begins to turn around. I've applied to and am waiting to hear from a number of other shows, so stay tuned. New pictures and a new look for the booth are in the works as well.
Drop me a note if you have an interest in the DNA necklace in special colors. It's a perfect bridal necklace, and I can even hang crystals on the inside for some additional "pop." Head over to my website (www.theafine.com) and leave me a message; or e-mail me at email@example.com.
In the meantime, happy holidaze everyone! May 2013 be a beautiful year for us all!
In the wake of Sandy, the storm, I'm tired after collecting two parents in their 90s from a cold, dark townhouse in NJ and relocating them to the warmth of our guest bedroom for the duration. I have taken to referring to my dad as the "ice pop," since he's yet to warm up after a number of days. It's no trouble; it's just different, with other people's "things" in places usually reserved for mine....lol!
Where does this leave my beadwork? It's in a bit of a creative hiatus, particularly following a somewhat disappointing show in Morristown, NJ. The show was high-end; the quality of the goods, superlative. The number of fellow (or more accurately, sister) beaders was wonderful! We all work in the same medium, but the end results are so very different! Kathy King, who I adore, works with her beads upended and the thread showing gloriously (and in a very orderly way) on the tops of her "bead quilled" work. Sheila Fernekis has the most creative color sense of almost everyone I know. Wendy Lin's work runs in two directions: subtle like her lariats, or a riot of textures in her bracelets. Robin's work has ethnic overtones with loomed bracelets galore. My work is somewhere in the midst of all of this, and, again, wholly different. See, for example one of my new pieces in the picture.
Unfortunately, despite incredible artists and a broad variety of types of hand crafted goods, from upscale gold and silver jewelry, to outrageous floorcloths, to sculpture, enamel work, porcelain and some of the BEST clothing I've ever seen at this show or any other outside the ACC show, the gate was down. Those who came, walked with hands in pockets. Most artists didn't clear costs....your's truly among them. What got to me were the people who took a great deal of my time and booth space trying on a series of items, having me size them to meet their needs (all written down to make the alterations relatively easy, once they bought the goods), and then WALKING away with nothing. I can only hope they contact me via e-mail or my website. SIGH....
BUT, the camaraderie was wonderful; the time spent with other artists was WELL worth the trip itself. Perhaps we can find a creative outlet to share down the road.
In the meantime, I'm completing some projects that have been in the works, repairing bracelets shredded by zealous (or perhaps overly ambitious) efforts to fit small circles around overly large wrists. The result was rather like the square peg into round hole syndrome -- because something had to give, it often was the jewelry. I've had a few commissions of late. Some larger, some smaller. One with potential to help explode my business! I should know around Christmas if that happens. And I will share a picture of what it's all about...WHEN I can....
Plans for the spring and beyond are shaping up.
1. While we await acceptance, a colleague and I expect to be be teaching "Nerfertiti's Necklace" at Artifest in Ohio. It's a two-part project. My colleague, Roberta Altschuler, will do the necklace part; I'm teaching the pendant and closure. Two days, two teachers....It should be a GREAT opportunity. More as the process evolves!
2. Waiting list for ACC/Baltimore and ACC/Atlanta. I remain hopeful for both. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!!
3. NO Sugarloaf this Spring; family events are conspiring to make it virtually impossible. And they are VERY exciting family events, I must say. (Pictures to come when they occur!!!)
4. Applications in for East Coast shows for Spring; applications in the works for many other shows. Stay tuned for updates to my calendar.
In the meantime, I'll be posting new pieces to the website and working to get a shopping cart up live. If I'm not up to beading per se, I can always engage in the business of the beading business, right??? The holidaze are coming; time to stock up on my beading designs. It's not just jewelry, it's wearable art!
One would think that with only one show slated for sure for the fall, that I’d be kicking back and relaxing. But NOOOOOOOO. This is the time for for planning a bead class at the April Artiscape with my friend across the country, Roberta; for creativity in beading; for catching up on bead projects in the works and promised gifts; and for getting applications out for next year’s shows. Oh, how I want to have a GREAT year, building on this one. I’m working on a bracelet kit (hint, hint, it uses daggers!)
Some of the inspiration has been generated by the pictures I took during our trip to Russia….Below is the floor in one area of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Can YOU see my spiral insignia in this? Can YOU see an incredible bead embroidery piece? I can….but it will have many more colors than this magnificent inlaid floor does…..
The costumes, the royal jewels, crowns, gowns, even the carriages are a riot of color and texture….OOOOH, my muses are stirring. Breakfast first, then to bead!
More about the Artiscape class with Roberta coming up! And WAIT until you see my latest necklace…..another freeform during which my hands led my head….once again, a wonderful statement piece that cannot be repeated…..Pictures coming…..
Told you that I'd have news....and I do, but not about beads exactly.
The news is that I've been away for a bit of R&R with the husband...to RUSSIA, and yes, with love, too.
It was quite the trip. A river cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow (and I don't mean Florida to Idaho!). The recharging of the spirit, the feast for the eyes and other senses was just what the muses ordered. From the gardens of the Peterhof Papace to the glory of the gold room at the Hermitage Museum and from the onion domes of St. Basil's to the treasures of the Kremlin's Armory, the views were amazing. And the people quite fascinating as well.
The "party line" may have changed, but the depressed economy remains the same. After seeing the opulence of the palaces of the czars, I can understand the reason the revolution succeeded. And seeing some of the summer houses -- dachas -- of the oligarchs, it looks as if little has changed! The have-nots are lacking a great deal; the haves are frightening well-off! The number of bmws in Moscow as surpassed only by the number of seemingly homeless people we saw! YES, they do exist.
But the beauty of the country -- rough is some places, and quite elegant in others -- cannot be denied. The art is remarkable; the treasures a feast for the eye. If ever I got a sense of what was and what is, it was here.
The "home visit" we had with an 88-year-old woman in the town of Uglich (a real working-class town with a watch factory, albet not too far beyond the Moscow environs) was a highlight. When asked about her memories, the saddest and most unfortunate chapter in her life was during WWII. She was a teen living in a small town in Belarus. She told how they marched everyone out into the center of town, separated the Jews, shot them, and then took all the able-bodied remaining Christian men away as conscripts in the army or for forced labor. She then told of how she survived and her road to Uglich and life in a small town, first harboring children not much younger than she during the siege of St. Petersburg and later as a teacher in the town and, finally, as a factor worker. Throughout it all, she continued to make crafts--you can see one version a doll that converts from summer to winter clothes by turning her on her head. I do wish I could have bought it from her!
Jewelry was remarkable -- mostly under cover at the Kremlin's Armory and at the Hermitage's gold room. Amber was ubiquitous, and likely not all was real. We DID see some craftspeople -- including a beader. Her work was bead crochet, and not particularly remarkable. The communication gap made conversing about stitches and bead sources a bit of a challenge -- aka, impossible! But the work is universal, something we all knew. The element that distinguishes one from another is the creativity that goes into the work.....and the current beadwork I saw sadly, was not particularly inventive or even colorful. Other artists -- working in watercolors, in silver and in enamel--were much more gifted and much more creative in their approach. As we'd planned, we bought a lacquer box from the artist at a gallery. It is one special, special gift to ourselves and wonderful reminder of a two-week float down rivers and lakes from St. Petersburg to Moscow!
Now to get back to the beadwork!!! I've been applying to shows since our return and will keep everyone up on what's happening. Also, am working on new pix for the website, a shopping cart for the site, AND a kit or two for my beading colleagues. I've also got a project ongoing for a two-woman class at Artiscape next April in Ohio....we'll see if we get picked up for the class!!!. Colleague, Roberta, doing the necklace; I'm doing the focal piece -- a combo of bead embroidery and off-loom freeform work!
D'as-vedanya for now....
What is exhausting, I've discovered, isstanding in one place for hours during a show. A week later, despite good shoes, despite sleeping with feet raised, and despite being off salt for years, my otherwise skinny ankles are still a bit puffy.
The Ann Arbor show ran 4 days, opening at 10 am each day; closing at 9 pm but for the last day, when it closed at 6 pm. That's four 11-hour days (not counting partial setup and takedown each day.) It also doesn't count the heat and humidity and the RAIN! [Mercifully, when we had a deluge overnight, my neighbor had a sump pump. He used it to bail out the backs of both of our booths. Apparently, we were in the lowest part of the street, and the water rolled downhill right into our booths. So glad I'd picked up the carpet!]
Nonetheless, it was a very successful show from many perspectives. My work was validated and valued by my colleague artists, which is most gratifying. Sales were better than they've been for at least the last 18 months (but then, again, so were the crowds, probably since it's a free show of very long standing).
And Ann Arbor is a GREAT town! Stucci's ice cream (so fresh, such unusual flavors, so MELTED!). The pilgrimage to Zingerman's deli where they serve corned beef that is the next closest to New York City's that I've ever had. Wonderful dinners at great restaurants -- including two meals I received in boxes after John went to dinner with our midwest relatives who visited. Clam pie from Mani Osteria was particularly remarkable --even tepid/cold! And we met the most incredible, friendly and wonderful people, whether other artists or locals.
I must say, the shows really know how to make it comfortable (relatively, given that we're talking an outdoor 4-day show) for the artists. Breakfast is available for us in the morning -- coffee, bagels, muffins and other goodies. Staff bring around ice cold bottled water during the day without asking. Booth sitting is readily available and the (ahem) facilities are very clean and tidy --and include sinks and recycling, too.
What you see to the right is the view I had from the BACK of my booth. It's the University of Michigan "Diag"(I assume, short for "diagonal.") Out front, in addition to my wonderful "across the street" neighboring artists, is a stunning old church (barely visible in one of the pictures). How much better could it get?! Not much!
I do hope to return next year.....perhaps at a different place to lay my head. The B&B was nice, but the large dogs, turn-of-the-century AC (and I mean 1800 to 1900!), shared bath, and the fact that I left before breakfast made it just OK. [That, plus the fact that being accepted late meant we wound up sharing a double bed. We're small, but it was small for even us!!] But all of that is a year away......
In the meantime, I continue to rest my sore tootsies and stretch my seriously compressed spine, a problem that I can't afford at only 5' tall!
Now I KNOW I shouldn't even lead with a header like that, since it's really tempting fate, but it seems that the muse may have returned -- along with the first hummingbird of the season! Both flit in and out of my life in the spring and summer, but I'm hoping they'll both decamp for a while and become a part of my life.
The picture appended to the left is the latest goodie--a beaded wave in my under the sea collection. What you can't see very clearly in this rendition is the changing nature of the necklace beyond the wave or that it's offset, with the clasp close to the shoulder, not the nape of the neck.
Even better, I've been creating some chain maille/beaded bead necklaces in multiple colors and looks..They're part of the "just what the doctor ordered" collection. With loop and bead closures in the front, they're designed particularly for individuals who have trouble with arthritis in the shoulders, elbows or even hands. In fact, they've been "test driven" by several friends who, sadly, have limited mobility in these ways. Let me know if you want to see some of them. I'll load them up.
I'm now working on a few "finish ups" that have been in the works for quite a while. Stay tuned. It's getting exciting to see NEW THINGS. And I hope to get them up on the website for EVERYONE to see.
Challenges for the rest of the summer: getting new pictures shot of a few special pieces; getting instructions written for a few bracelet kits; getting instructions for a different bracelet AND pictures to a beading magazine for consideration as a published article; getting materials together for a class I'm teaching at the end of the month, and getting show applications for 2013 started. Hard to believe when we're just halfway through 2012! And oh, boy, do I have a lot of work to do.
Hope those of you in the heartlands (or those who want a great town to visit!) will find time in mid-July (18-21) to come to the Ann Arbor Craft Shows. FOUR different shows all at the same time! And I'll be there -- at the Guild Show -- State Street, booth 4! Drop by!