The Price of Handmade

I’ve just posted a status about my recent price increases on my Facebook page:

I felt it necessary to elaborate here a bit… Sometimes it feels that the majority of the general public are saying ‘I can buy that in Primark for a fiver – why should I buy handmade?!’ – I know this is not always the case, but after countless craft fairs hearing these remarks – they tend to sink in more than a lot of the lovely comments people make.  It feels like handmade needs defending –  it is popular once more – but we should be supporting actual handmade businesses!  Attitudes to handmade seem to have become so squew-ed with hobbyists selling their work for just the cost of materials, and the majority of shops are factory producing ‘shabby chic’ or ‘homespun’ looking items – it pushes full time artists and craftspeople out, in terms of pocket and in terms of the industry when they cannot afford to create things any more.  So here is why I feel handmade is worth investing in, and why it is better than anything else!

Handmade is SPECIAL!  It’s made by a person who cares – not a machine, not some overworked underpaid not interested factory worker, and certainly not in a sweat shop!

It is made with love! I have not yet met an artist/craftsperson who has neglected to pour their blood, sweat, tears, heart and soul into their work (not literally of course – that would look a right mess!).  The whole designing/making process is a long one, filled with joy, doubt and a range of emotions in between.  I have often stayed up long beyond 3am while I have ‘it’ – the inspiration, the overwhelming, all consuming NEED to get the idea in my head out and create its physical form!  It takes a long time from an idea in your head to become a finished product – there are tweaks to be made, prototypes to be built, and sometimes the end result is not as you expected and it can come to nothing after all the hard work… But, when it *does* work – you can be sure that it is the very best it can be – that it has been made to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible while being practical and fit for purpose.  This is all time we take, unpaid, to make beautiful things – we couldn’t do it if there was no passion or love behind it.

Handmade takes time.  I have just discussed the design process as a lengthy process – and I’ll say it again – that is unpaid time!  (And don’t be forgetting all the unpaid admin/accounting time, time spent promoting our wares, or time spent sourcing/buying supplies!)  Even after the initial product has been created – to then make another or a batch to sell takes considerable time.  I try to hand sew where I can – there are so many craft businesses making products with domestic sewing machines – and while this is great – I’d like to think that hand sewing is something that makes my work more unique, and also, while I am rather fond of my machine and I do like to use it, I am certainly more confident in my hand sewing.  This obviously takes longer, but it gives my work a certain look – and you can be doubly sure that it is made by hand due to the stitching.  On average, it takes 40 minutes to cut out, sew and stuff a keyring, it can take up to 2 hours to make a gadget cosy – this is all time that has to be accounted for with a wage if the business is to be taken seriously.  If I were to expand and hire someone to sew with me – they would be expecting *at least* minimum wage – and I would legally (and morally) have to pay at least that.  So it seems rational to pay myself that wage.  It seems being a craftsperson/self employed in any capacity is viewed as a ‘cushy’ job – no strict working hours, working from home, balancing your work life around any family/social commitments… but if you ask ANY self employed person they will probably tell you it is, in fact, the complete opposite.  Because we work from home our work is ALWAYS there, looking at us, asking us why we aren’t working.  Often, we feel extreme guilt when we aren’t working, and find ourselves working at least 12 hour days, most of it unpaid, no overtime, no holiday, no job perks…  and that social life? Um, what social life?!  Come to think of it – a crafts person is a *skilled* worker – the artsy equivalent of a plumber or a joiner – and when was the last time you heard of a plumber working for minimum wage?!

Small businesses help the economy.  I’ve not done the maths, but at least 75% of my raw materials – felt, fabric, buttons, thread, etc come from other small businesses – and 100% of my materials come from UK suppliers.  So in buying from a craftsperson you are almost sure to be helping other small businesses.  The money that I reinvest in these raw materials therefore goes back into the UK economy – and that helps everyone!

It’s fair!  How many of you buy ‘fairtrade’ goods at the supermarket?  I know I do!  But how many have also thought, “that’s far too expensive! I could buy it in *insert high street shop* for half that price!” when looking at handmade items?  Everyone deserves to be paid a fair, ‘living’ wage – from coffee growers in ‘less economically developed’ countries, to artists and craftspeople.  The point that handmade is more expensive than highstreet for a reason is one that I know a lot of people feel they have to justify when selling their work – which is madness!  Surely it should be clear?  Hand made is more expensive for all of the reasons above and MORE!  You are more than likely buying something that all your friends won’t then be able to go out and buy the day after – in actual fact, it’s probably a one-off and no one will ever have the same as you…

So – yes my prices are increasing – but you will still get the same quality goods that have been made with the utmost care and attention to detail.  It’s not often I blow my own trumpet – but I have to say that I really do put my all into my work, it really IS quality – my quality control is so rigorous that my own mother who taught me to sew refuses to help with the sewing because she knows how exacting my standards are!   I would never send out anything that I would not be happy to own myself, and I promise that my standards will never slip!
Some prices (mostly newer items like the ‘little handfuls’) will stay the same, some will change a little, and some will go up quite steeply.  There will be items for every budget, as while handmade *is* exclusive, I don’t think it should be exclusively for those with lots of cash!  I have LOTS of plans for the future, including more one off textile art hoops as well as some limited edition ranges – so that my customers can be sure they are getting something even more special than normal.
You can find my price list *here* – and as I’m in such a good mood with the heartstitch ‘birthday’ party tomorrow – the old prices will be honoured until Monday 8th April!

In other news – the ‘birthday’ party will be taking place at 8pm tomorrow, Saturday 6th April – we will rendezvous at the Facebook page and may end up going on a little journey 😉  There will be a competition, a new design unveiling and ooh who knows what else!  I hope you can make it!

P.S. Sorry for neglecting you Mr. Blog! I shall be back more often now – promise! ❤