Thoughts on Pricing Handmade Goods

Posted by Leonie McDonald on

Hello! Long time no blog. Apologies for the extremely sporadic blogging schedule but inspiration to write is hard to find. Fortunately, I have a lot of feelings this month - feelings make great blog fodder 😉.

Today's topic is a bit of a tough one because humans can be quite icky about money chat. But since signing up to do some markets in the autumn, I've been thinking about money - specifically pricing - a lot. I suspect many fellow makers share some of these thoughts too, so hopefully the following word vomit is helpful in some way.

Let's chat about the cost of handmade goods, and why artists and makers deserve to earn a living wage (at the very least)!

So far, so simple. 

Well perhaps not so simple. Because my brain - and society - loves to tell me I don't deserve to earn a living wage. Why? Because I'm doing something I love. Because it's not inherently 'valuable'. Because it's not necessary. Because it's fun. Because I have been told time and time again that it's not commercially viable. Because friends have suggested I sell at prices that wouldn't even cover material costs. And if friends don't think it's worth more, who will?

This all meant that as soon as I signed up for markets, I began thinking about how little I could sell each piece for. "If I earn £6 an hour, this can be sold for £28. I'll absorb the material costs because that adds another fiver and people won't pay more than £30 for something I've made."

£6 an hour, working a 40-hour week with no holiday or sick days would earn me just over £12,400 a year. BUT, this would be 40 hours of stitching time. I'd have to add 5-10 hours a week of unpaid work for admin and designing. Ah, but I'm absorbing those material costs, remember. Oh, and all the other costs associated with running a business; website fees, market stall costs, insurance, marketing, packaging and so on. Let's say at a conservative estimate I spend £3,000 a year on all of that... I actually end up earning less than £10,000 a year, working 50 hours a week with no time off. That works out at less than £4 an hour!

But 10 grand a year is still good considering I got to turn my hobby into a job, right?

Nope. Wrong. So, so wrong.

I love embroidery. I am grateful every single day that I get to do this and will maybe make a living from it one day. I understand that it is a huge privilege. That people are earning minimum wage for really tough jobs or are unable to find work at all. But these things don't negate the fact that I deserve to earn a living wage. I don't solve the problem of capitalism exploiting humans for labour, by underpaying myself. 

My work has value. I have value. I deserve to earn a living wage.

And so do you, fellow artists and makers. You deserve to get paid for that beautiful work you create. 

I have many more thoughts on this topic, so stay tuned for more rambling posts. And if I do find the confidence to charge what my work is worth, I'll report back on how it goes.

Thanks for reading, 

Leonie x

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