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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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....
My most fabulous and creative photographer (a rare combination for a man whose daily life is as a nuclear engineer!) has beautified some of my latest work into magnificent photos. They're so new that I haven't put them up on the website yet!
When I get back from my travels to Ann Arbor, MI, for the 4-in-1 series of shows that run from next Wednesday through Saturday (with 11-hour days in the booth for the first 3 days!), I'll probably be putting a new area up on the website for items that are "hot off the beading table," such as these pretties. Wait until you see my latest "under the sea" creation with an all-bead ammonite! I haven't gotten a picture take of it yet; I only hope it doesn't sell before I do. [No, that's not true. At its high-end price, I sure DO hope it sells and fast!!]
I'll be blogging from my perch on State Street (booth C04) in Ann Arbor. That is, I'll be doing it IF the weather (yes, both heat and thunderstorms are in the forecast, gulp) and the crowd (yes, let there be a large crowd) permit, and my level of exhaustion doesn't catch up to me too quickly-- a big ask at my advancing age, LOL. If you're in the area, stop by -- but you MUST bring me a cold drink if you do so. I wilt very rapidly in warmth, particularly when combined with humidity. [No pictures of the artist are allowed under such circumstances; the appearance is much like someone emerging after 15 minutes in a warm sauna!
Let's all keep fingers crossed that the weather holds, the crowds are legion, and we have a bang-up successful show.
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!
Well, the annual case of "it's almost summer" malaise has hit. My creativity has shriveled to a nub of its former self; I repeat previous designs in limited edition while I await the muses to regroup and rejoin the community of art and color that populates my studio.
In the meantime, projects already in the midst of completion are receiving attention, but no new work is being incubated. Much of my one-of-a-kind work takes weeks, if not months to gestate and then come to fruition. So when NOTHING is in the containers that incubate the work -- beads come and go along with add-ons to the focal piece--I get seriously worried. Of course, that only serves to amplify the angst and worry that go along with the dearth of creative thinking...
To jog the mind and jumpstart the vision, I've taken to looking at nudibranches (see picture above). They're sea slugs, if you can believe it. According to Wikipedia, they begin life nude and plain and evolve over time -- much like my jewelry. Their colors are remarkable and, at times, absolutely surprising (such as the case of these two). I've been pinning them to my Pinterest page as creative juice, along with some other visuals that I've found online in an effort to energize the synapses that extend beyond the replicative movement of the hands to bead mindlessly....
The other thing I'm doing is writing up directions for the sea urchin bracelet. It will be offered in classes for those nearby who learn best in a class environment; it also will be available on my website in kit format (in a limited assortment of colors only).
Stay tuned....We WILL jumpstart the muses -- I'm working on food as a means of luring them back home for the summer season.
When a friend handed me a bag of small bugle beads that she inherited in a button bag from a relative, I wondered immediately how I could create something from a type of bead that I generally have not used, particularly considering my penchant for peyote stitch, flat, circular, and otherwise. She told me to "play" and come up with something she'd like, and she named a vey healthy price range.
Lesson #1: NEVER, but NEVER allow a client to walk away until you've gotten a very, very, very clear sense of just what she (or he) wants created. Even a little hint of length, style, things liked in the past, things hated currently, etc., can be a wonderful guide to design. BUT NO, I broke lesson #1 this time....Ultimately it did pay off...and ultimately, it produced a series of "possibles" as well as a final. Here's what happened: I thought and played, and played and thought. First, I created a series of beaded beads from the bugles. They could have become elements of a necklace or bracelet. Nice, but not for my customer (but perhaps for something later consideration using bugles of my own).
Then I used the bugles to create a fringe to circle a cabochon. Too fussy for my customer. (Again, an idea for the future).
Finally, she told me she wanted something long and "drape-y" Well, at last, some direction! The helix that you see hit me immediately. It's a long necklace; just what she wanted. Next time, if I do something like it in lighter colors, I'll consider suspending some dark-colored swarovski crystals or perhaps some dark pearls within the tube. Could that be a great idea?
In the meantime, I've created some sea-dwelling creature that undulates like a jellyfish found in the depths of the depths that recently were plumbed by James Cameron in his miniature submersible. It's an "under the sea" creature, particularly in those wonderful shades of green.
My customer is happy as a clam. What do you think?