Independent crafters are undervaluing their products; selling at a loss means we all lose.
Today I overheard someone at a craft market saying she makes no profit from her goods -they’d never sell if she charged the real price. She does it “just for fun, ‘cause she “has a job anyway”. Another woman was selling tin-can lanterns that require at least an hour of time and 50p worth of electricity, water, wire, can, and tools, for one English Pound. Even if she values her time at minumum wage, this woman is donating £7 to each of her “customers.”
I get it; I under-price too. First, because I enjoy design and craft, so I’m prepared to work for less; second because I know we’re used to Ikea pricetags, so I feel like I have to charge less, and third because I have a few strings to my work-bow too, so I can charge less. But there’s a limit!
I sell my VHS Dual Timezone clocks for £39 (plug) and I agonised over pricing. But making one takes over a day, plus paint and parts; I’m charging half what it should be. So yes, I expect £20 would get me more sales, but I’m not going to do that, because there’s a responsibility here, surely?
I’m betting the workers in Chinese sleep-in factories don’t have many subsidised crafty side-projects on the go, so I don’t think that’s a model we should be trying to compete with.
Perhaps the tin-can lady intended her lanterns as a loss-leader, but what if someone else had arrived with mostly tin-can lanterns to sell? Please let’s not adopt cut-throat corporate tactics; we don’t have the economies of scale to cope, and we should have the heart not to.
If you deliberately sell at a loss, you’re letting the companies that pay shit wages in China set the price bar. Perpetuating the misconception that labour is low value means it will become less viable to ever make a living from independent production. Eventually, the only option will be to “have a job”- ie. work for a corporation, make money for companies who already have loads of money, doing something we are less connected to, less in control of, and find less rewarding.
I’m not saying be greedy; this is - obviously - a planet of finite resources. But don’t sell at a loss! And if you’re torn between two price brackets, have the confidence to go with the one that best reflects the value of your labour. Otherwise we’re complicit in the system that undervalues it.
We must charge a fair price or we are selling ourselves and everyone else short.
Reblogged from Motley Glue.