As the owner of an independent gift and homeware shop and also a maker, I’m very much between the two worlds when it comes to the topic of pricing handmade goods and the profit margin needed by a retailer. I know from the daily conversations with my handmade partners that it can often come as a shock how ‘little’ they are being paid for the thing that they have lovingly created and the profit that a retailer puts on top when it’s out on the shop floor.
It’s then equally frustrating when a customer is overheard saying “How much!?’ Or “I could make that myself for that price!”
Pricing anything handmade is challenging; how do you value time, creative thinking, the limited number made, and all the other little parts that go into the item you see for sale in my shop? If I don’t add some profit too - then my business will also suffer, in fact it wouldn’t survive.
For those that find it hard to understand the value of handmade, why the price is higher, or why they cannot get the quantity that they really want, I have a few points to make and I hope that these are helpful for you and assist you in making purchasing decisions in the future.
But first, let me thank all of the wonderful customers that happily buy handmade items, therefore supporting us and all our handmade partners. Without those purchases artists, makers, ‘kitchen table businesses’ and small businesses would not survive - pandemic aside!
Here are 7 reasons you should do your best to help and support our handmade partners
1) Through social media
We use our social media to share many of the beautiful items that are on sale both in the Insideout shops and online. We carefully pick an image, write a little about it and then hope that it is something that you’ll like and appreciate. It’s incredibly fulfilling for the maker to see the comments that you put on the post - even if you’re not making a purchase. So don’t be shy! Compliment it, share the post, follow their own social media. It all helps to increase the invisibility of that person’s work. But don’t leave a comment if you don’t like it. We all understand that everyone has different tastes. But it will damage the confidence of the maker and is often taken very personally, after all, they have probably put their heart and soul into getting it into my shop.
Ruthie Holmes Suncatchers
2) Don’t criticise the valuation
Exclaiming “How much!!?”, demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the time and effort that goes into hand-making something. Apart from the time, it’s the love that they have for their craft and the often fragile belief in themselves - especially if they are new to selling their handmade work. As I said at the start, it’s also a very careful balance when we support handmade partners of ensuring that they are being paid for their work, but that we are also making a profit (we are a business after all).
Button Jugs by Shelly Lee
3) Remember you’ve been drawn to something handmade in the first place
When looking around the shop, it’s the item with ‘a certain something’ that caught your eye. That’s because every handmade item is unique and therefore it stands out from the crowd. If you think it’s a little bit expensive for you at the moment, why not ask us if there is a slightly less expensive option available? Or save your money to buy the item you love.
Lemon & Rosemary Conditioner Bar by Dartmoor Skincare
4) It’s often a lonely but hectic process
Most of our handmade partners are one-person businesses, making day and night to keep up with orders. There’s often an ebb and flow of work and when things are busy - they can get crazy! Plus, they have to manage all the other aspects of their business; social media, website, packaging, posting, delivery, accounts….
Designer Dog Light Pull by Merryfield Pottery
5) Lack of self belief
It always looks odd as an outsider looking at someone’s beautiful work, that they should fear they’re not good enough. Trust me - it happens to us all! Putting your labour of love out there for people to judge worthy of their hard-earned cash is extremely intimidating! So anything you can say or do to ‘big them up’ is hugely appreciated! Let us know on the Insideout social media how much you like the purchase and we’ll share it, so that they (and the rest of the world) know how great it is!
Haytor Mug by Helen White
6) You’re not buying art from someone getting super-rich!
Artists and makers are acutely aware that so very few make enough money for a holiday home in the Seychelles and a couple of sport cars!! We do it because something inside us compels us to! We want to make a living of course, but only the very, very lucky are able to get rich! The message here is - those extra few pounds more than you expected are helping them to make a good life even better.
Honeycomb Soap Dish by Potting Shed Ceramics
7) Makers are your friends!
If you love it - buy it. If you don’t, move on. But if you do…tell the world! One more sale could make all the difference to that business. One comment or share on social media could be the difference between no sales and multiple sales that day!
If you really REALLY love it - then why not find out more about that maker. We can help you to build up collections, to know the story behind the item you bought, from that you may well get an even greater understanding of why they price their products the way they do.
I hope to share more about pricing and handmade work in our future blog posts. If you are enjoying our blogs don’t forget to let us know.
Cornfield Annuals - Seeds by Sylvawood Seeds