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!!!!
Well, as we get ready for Thanksgiving (family all coming to us for the first time in a long time...and a 23 pound turkeyto cover the spread....in every sense of the word), I'm also getting ready for a small local show. It's the annual "Shop 'til You Drop" event at Synergy, a wonderful fitness center in Ellicott City, Maryland. It's 6:30-9:30 on November 30. Details and directions can be found at the website noted below.
I'm but one of many artists and merchants showing (and, we hope, selling) many different goods and services.
I'll have jewelry from earrings to statement neck-pieces. And, you still have time to place a special order for that special someone! So, if you're in the area, do come to the show.
For directions and to see the list (and pretty pictures) of the artists and merchants at the show, go to the following link:
With the uptick of interest in things football in both DC and Baltimore, I can even fashion a wonderful necklace for you in team colors to show your support. [Hint, hint: they're also good for collegiate colors, even high school colors!!] AND, there are items for brides and bridal parties, too!
I've got LOTS of new things to share, and even a few pieces that I have been asked to make and remake!
Hope to see you there! And, in the meantime, enjoy the turkey, but enjoy the family even more!!
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!
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!
my picture-not theirs; mine's better?
So, there I was, minding my own business, editing a newsletter and checking my e-mail. Got an invitation from the American Craft Council to apply for the 2013 season.....ok....nothing to jump up and down about, just something to which I need to pay attention.BUT THEN.......I clicked on the following attachment, the prospectus for 2013 proposed exhibitorshttp://craftcouncil.org/sites/default/files/2013-Exhibitor-Prospectus.pdfWell, you need to go there and turn to page 4!!!!!! THEA FINE, BEADING DESIGN is in the prospectus! OMG, OMG, OMG.
While I do like MY picture of the necklace better than the one taken gratis by the ACC folks, this is SOOOOOO cool. WHADDA YA THINK????
NEW SHOW ON THE WEBSITE CALENDAR: Check it out! October 19-21, 2012. I'll be at the National Guard Armory in Morristown,New Jersey for the 36th annual Morristown Craft Mart. Don't know the booth number yet,but stay tuned. Check out the website for further updates on this and other upcoming 2012-2013 shows.
I'm on the WAITING LIST for Fall Paradise City shows (Massachusetts) and WAITING LIST for One-of-a-Kind Show in Chicago (December). Let the show organizers know you want to see me there if you can!!!
PHEW! I am tired! Sugarloaf was a good show this Spring. Not heavy traffic, but good traffic for me. Many projects went off to good homes. I ONLY send them to good homes, of course. The mailing list has grown markedly; web contacts, too.
I'm only sorry that I won't be able to participate in the Timonium show the last weekend of the month. It would have been a good event. Next up? Ann Arbor in July! I'm now wait-listed for Sugarloaf fall shows...hope to get in....
Given the relatively light schedule, it gives me much time to stock up on supplies AND to get existing projects finished, kits completed and up on the website, and some classes scheduled. REMEMBER, I am teaching at the Baltimore Gem Cutters at the end of June. The other major step I need to take is to update the website photos, and get a shopping cart up there! The new line is launched...."Just what the doctor ordered" is alive and well....Medic-alert bracelets in 12-in-1 Japanese chain maille in a variety of colors. I'm also getting some other versions ready in other media...stay tuned on that one!!!.
And while I was away, the birds have flown. As you may recall, I have a tiny barn finch nest at the top of the column that holds up my front door's porch roof. We last saw mama bird feeding tiny babies. Just before I headed out to the show, the young 'uns were beginning to take test flights.....Here's a picture of them as they were about to launch themselves.....And now, like my own young 'uns, they've flown the next. Time to clean up the guano and wait for next year's fledglings.
Tempis fugit, as they say!
Off to work I go!!