Pricing has always been one of the things I’ve always struggled with as a designer. Believe it or not, it can feel really hard to charge money for your work. To ask people to pay you what something is really worth can bring up all sorts of stuff. It’s been seven years since I began designing and selling my jewelry and oh, what a process that has been. I make better jewelry than I did when I first started, of course. I make better jewelry now than I did when we were at the shop at Crafted and I make better jewelry than I did even a year ago on the Northern Faire circuit. Why? Practice. Doing. Making.
The more you do something, the more you explore a craft and your process within it, the better you become. It’s a pretty simple numbers game.
But that’s all really hard to explain when you’re standing there at a show and someone is holding your work and staring at it like it just grew legs, and sniffing, “Too expensive.” or asking you, “Can I get a better price on this?” No. No, you can’t get a better price on that.
I tell myself that those people, the ones who are not willing to pay me what I am asking for my work, they’re just not my people. Experts, other jewelry designers, the internet, they all tell me that too. And yet. And yet… there’s still a crazy clutch of fear that comes and settles in my gut, when the time to price my work comes around.
I raised my prices when we re-branded and re-opened. By quite a bit in some cases. Why? Because the work is better than it was a year ago, two years ago, three. Because it’s luxurious and gemmy and freaking fabulous.
Because it’s worth every penny.
Everyone used to tell me, “Oh my gosh your prices are so reasonable. You’re so cheap!” and they’d buy and feel happy because they were getting a great bargain and they knew it. I knew it too. It made me happy, win/win, right?
Not really. Not so much a win/win.
I should have listened. I should have heard and thought about what they were saying. I should have listened because the truth is, I was under-charging like, whoah. My prices were only reasonable if you were standing on the other side of the table. When it came to me, they were unreasonable. It’s the main reason why I burned out, why I got so damn tired and depressed, why I lost the joy in making. I was losing so much money on each show, bleeding out with each online sale, each transaction. Undercharging was the reason why I had to stop, because after a while, it just wasn’t worth it, it wasn’t something I could sustain. We didn’t have the resources or time for me to keep doing it, not financially and not energetically. Materials cost money. Each pair of intricate earrings takes several hours to complete, start to finish. Time costs money. Marketing costs money. Each sale on Etsy, you bet, it costs money. Shipping, taxes, website, accountant, gas, hotels… you get the drift. I love doing this. But it has to be something that sustains itself, my family and my life. I can’t lose money on it anymore.
Honey&Ollie was an amazing experience. Honey&Ollie also almost drove me into bankruptcy. I made bad choices, and those bad choices put me into a real financial crisis.
This time around, I’m being a little more fearless when it comes to asking people to pay me for my work, for these beautiful creations. It scares me. I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose a few customers. I’m also pretty sure I’ll keep some others. And new ones will come.
I guess what I’m saying is this: don’t be afraid to make big changes if something isn’t working. Don’t be afraid to claim the value of your work and your time. And don’t be afraid that you might lose people when you assert that worth. Those people aren’t your people. They may be someone else’s people. And that’s really okay. Yours are out there. Or they may still be your people, but due to resources and reality (we all go through financial tight spots), they can’t afford your new prices. That’s okay too. They’ll remember you when things get better.
If you are one of my past customers, and the new prices are just too much, I just want to say… thank you. Thank you so much for supporting my work in the past. Thank you for buying my work in the past. Your support really mattered. It was important. Thank you.
If you’re a past or new customer, looking at my stuff and thinking, “Girl, it is about damn time, hell yes I want those earrings.” (actual comment received yesterday, re: new prices) Well, the store is open. Welcome. Welcome back. And thank you too. I’m so excited to work with you. ❤