8.07.2008

Art Biz Celebration


My oh my - so much has been happening in the last couple days I can barely wrap my head around it. The primary catalyst has been EtsyRain, which is the Etsy Street Team I'm involved in. We just celebrated our 1st Birthday as a group. (I can't believe it's been a whole year with them crafty folks!) I could (and should) do a whole separate post on the fabulousness of EtsyRain but that will have to wait a bit. For now I just want to give a hip-hip-hooray to our team for making the Teams feature on the Storque!

And in that Storque article my "Spring Forward Jean Vest" was one of the featured items along several other awesome EtsyRain artists. And then the next day, this AM, we all made the front page of Etsy. Wow! Such great exposure for all of us. And through that exposure I've been thrown into a business analyzing head spin --- I was contacted by a brick and mortar boutique for a wholesale inquiry. And I hadn't a clue how to respond.

First thing I did was to contact Betsy for advice - knowing that she has had several wholesale accounts in the past. She was super helpful and made me a little less freaked out about saying the wrong thing or messing everything up. I also went and read as much as I could from this forum thread on Etsy about wholesaling from the perspective of a shop owner. I basically came to realize that right now, my prices are pretty much already set at wholesale which means to pursue boutiques and galleries for wholesale accounts - which I already really wanted to do (it's on my to-do list in my journal - today's situation just gave me a nudge) I would have to take a loss. So I was faced with the decision of telling them no, sorry I can't at this time OR being upfront with them about just starting out and hoping they would be willing to work with me.

Pricing is something I know that tons of us struggle with. There are a ton of forum threads and discussions on Etsy about it every day. As individual artists we all want our work to be affordable. I hate the idea of making an item to sell at a price that I myself couldn't afford. It's especially tricky when other artists and other 20-somethings ARE your target audience. How do you price your pieces appropriately and still be fair to yourself?

I've just learned the hard way that I really have been selling myself short. I have been working with the mentality that if you buy direct from me I want to cut you a deal. Nice as that is, it isn't realistic for a real business and in the end I'm only hurting myself AND other artists. Too many of us on Etsy are doing that and it makes it that much harder for any of us to break out and actually make a living doing what we love.

It's hard to sit at craft show and watch your items sit with you with people over and over saying "Oh I LOVE this and ugh - it's how much?" It isn't fair to constantly be compared to Target just because I happen to be an artist who works on clothing. Just because it's clothing shouldn't necessarily equal cheap.

But it's also just as much of a stomach drop to read up on wholesale pricing and find out that stores expect to pay 50% less than what you charge. Seriously? That is common practice? There is no way. No way at all I can do that. So finding that out that my prices are pretty much already at wholesale. Which kinda puts me in trouble for this current wholesale inquiry. What to do? Is it necessarily fair to raise all my prices on Etsy 50% just so I can offer the standard discount to shops? Is it worth it? And since all my stuff is pretty much one of a kind can I even realistically sustain wholesale accounts? I probably couldn't produce much more than I already am without either a) changing HOW I make my art or b) quiting my day job.

These are all things my head is spinning with this morning which had me really distracted at said day job. I definitely don't have the answers yet, but this all is a good start regardless of the direction I chose to go in.
Anyone have any advice for this predicament??? (And here is where I get sneaky) In an effort to get as much advice as possible AND as a way to celebrate that I now have over 100 hearts in my shop due to all this commotion I want to offer a giveaway. Leave a comment with some advice and on Sunday I will pull a name out of a hat. The winner will be gifted with this print:
When Pens Fly
Because after all - all this hub-bub certainly is worth celebrating!

9 comments:

Dawn said...

Pricing is something that I really have a difficult time with as well. I was commenting on how rapidly one of my items had been selling while my fiance's dad was in town, and HE told me I needed to raise my prices... he doesn't do crafts or any think similar, but HE knew how to handle the situation. :)

Honestly, for stuff that is as brilliant as yours, and one of a kind, people should be paying more than Target prices. And people who appreciate artwork will understand that. It may involve catering to a different crowd than you have catered to in the past, but there are ways to cater to both, too. Smaller items that have less in material costs, for example.

I have to stop before this turns into a post of its own, from someone who also needs reminders to raise her prices. But give it some thought. :)

sara said...

Thanks Dawn! Sometimes us low-pricers just need multiple people telling us "raise your prices raise your prices!"

Part of the difficulty I've fallen into and you might have this issue as well, is that my material costs are pretty low. Because I upcycle for my clothing and use found materials for my art my actual material costs usually fall between $0 - $1. So then it just purely comes down to trying to price point my time and setting a value to your own time is a tough job!

Emma said...

I don't know how much help I can be on this subject, having no experience with wholesalers at all, but that green hoodie you've got in the shop is adorable. I could easily see that going for twice as much! (Cause I've..er..paid at least that much for a hoodie before..)
The other thought I had was about how your stuff is reclaimed & recycled, which takes additional time on top of just making the stuff. But it's also an added feature that makes you stand out and makes what you do more valuable.

Kayce said...

I'm surprised Marlo hasn't jumped in on this post! She is forever advising me on my pricing... and I have the same issue as you. I am going to be making over my store and increasing prices a little at a time (this is easier for me than making a huge leap).

But you are right, wholesale is what always brings up the pricing issue... I struggle with the same thing. I'm considering only doing wholesale thus eliminating the need to increase prices :)

Good luck!

Beth Lisa Goss, Wire Tree said...

I've thought a lot about this too and I still can't figure out if my etsy prices are high enough. I'm thinking you should be up front with them and view this one as a learning experience. That way, if they are willing to work with you, you've got the account. If not, now you know, adjust your prices, and welcome the next offer!

imakecutestuff said...

Hi Sara :)
You and I have already had discussions about pricing...and it looks like the light has clicked on and you "get" it now! I'm so happy for you!

Here's a little trick I use when I'm unsure about my pricing.

I figure out my "comfortable" price...the one that makes me feel like I'm being "fair" to the customer.

Then, I experiment with how it feels to add $10.00 or even $20.00 to that figure.

It usually makes me very uncomfortable...but I stick with that feeling for a while and ask some difficult questions of myself: Who's voice is telling me that it's too much? Is it my own? Is it someone else? How does it make me feel to charge that much? What if someone I respected charged as much (or more) for their work...would I agree with it?

Why do I feel like I'm not worthy of this higher price?

...and so on until I arrive at the moment when I can make a clear, decision based not on how I feel about the price, but on actual numbers, market value and perceived value.

Pricing is difficult mostly because the emotional hurdles are the highest. It's my specialty to help people over them if they want help. http://moourl.com/artsbusinesscoaching

Great job Sara :)
Marlo

julia said...

Hi Sara!

First, Congratulations!
Thanks for that thread on B&M owner perspective. Lots to consider.

Pricing is my struggle also. Like you, I recycle so my supplies are also just a dollar or two. It's a tough subject to tackle. Especially right now when people are holding their wallets so tightly. I have looked at stores who have similar items and tried to price somewhere in the middle. Bad way to do it, I'm sure.
I'll watch and see what you come up with :)

Julia

Sarah said...

Hi Sara!
I haven't had wholesale inquiries, but like you, I've had the same kind of pricing dilemma. My eggs costs me almost nothing to make, so it is all my time. What recently prompted me to raise my prices, is I timed myself making an egg, and it took me way longer than I thought! (9 hours) and I figured out that if I charged my normal price, I would be making a little over 3 dollars an hour! So I increased the price a little and that egg sold in 2 weeks (which is pretty fast for me) So I plan on putting the next one up for a little more (will be essentially 5.5 dollars an hour which is still lower than I'd like, but I don't feel comfortable charging more than that right now. For me I think slow price increases are the way to go, and don't forget that your time is valuable! sorry so long:)
Sarah

sara said...

Wow! Thanks to everyone who has commented so far - what a wealth of information we have amongst ourselves. It does seem that many of us do indeed struggle with this topic.

And don't worry Sarah - I'm not bothered by lengthy comments - in fact I'm encouraging them!