Prices. A thing we wrestle with. But it is important, so wrestle and above all charge what you’re worth.

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. ❤

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Welcome Home

Since we moved back to Los Angeles last August, it’s been a process of figuring out what old things that I wanted to pick back up and finding new things to take the place of stuff that no longer quite fits. One of the things that still fits, happily, is the Renaissance Faire. Which is unsurprising, given that it’s my 30th year.
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Instead of running my own show, I’m tucked into a corner at the OrtFaerie booth this year, at the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California, with a few of my pieces up for sale. It’s nice to be working for someone else and helping them with their booth instead of worrying about all the details of my own. We have magic wands, faerie lures, wind chimes, flutes and magical hangings… it’s pure enchantment. The artist, Joyce Nunamaker McCall is wicked talented and her husband Fred McCall is there playing his wood flutes throughout the day.

Plus you can see some of the lovely new pieces that are starting to roll off my bench…

 

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I did a thing.

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Its’ been a year and a half since I touched a hammer or pair of pliers. I have no new stones, no new metals, I’m missing supplies, I’m out of butane but by golly, I did a thing.

It feels good to be back.

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And so it goes

Today was a little bit demoralizing when I got a nice email from a well known health food store chain, telling me that I wasn’t qualified to work in their store as a part time bakery assistant and barista.

See. No. That’s where you’re wrong, well known health food store. I’ve been self employed for 8 years. Managing client needs and expectations, producing inventory on a timetable, with meticulous attention to detail and customer satisfaction. Before that I was an ACTUAL BARISTA and also worked in a specialty food store. I’m basically PERFECT for your store, but let’s get real, I think it’s more that you won’t hire me because I’m 47 and I’ve been out of the “working for other people” sphere for 8 years. So a little ageism there and maybe some worry about entrepreneurs as employees?

So demoralizing and frustrating. Because I could basically do that job standing up and asleep (not that I’d sleep, I’d be so wide awake) and they would LOVE me, but I can’t get in the door for an interview. Online job applications are horrible.

I would say “This is why you need to go to college, kids.” except so many of my friends who did go to college are also under employed, or unemployed and hustling as entrepreneurs when all they really want is a 401k and health benefits.

On the up side, after some Facebook whining, I was reminded that I am surrounded by an amazing and supportive tribe of women in the doula and art worlds, and I felt really lifted up and not so scared and alone. Community is great. We’ll all get through this together. I’m grateful for tribe today. When my fire was low, they helped relight my match.

I’ve been at the bench all day today, in between bouts of resume updating, LinkedIn figuring-out-ing, and job searching. Writer’s strike is looming and our primary income is from film production. I just don’t make enough as a doula yet to cover the gap and jewelry sales haven’t picked up yet. Part time work for The Man it is. Sometimes that’s necessary too. Sometimes your side hustle has a side hustle and it looks like a real job.  To that end, I’m going to keep applying for different jobs at that well known health food chain until someone lets me in the door for an interview.

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Long live the Queen.

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Honey&Ollie was a rockety ride, completely exhausting, and it took me over some very rough road, I loved it, hated it, it taught me so much… it was hard. It spanned some rough years in my life, was bookended by the ending of one life and the beginning of another. I’m really glad I did it…

…and I am glad I let it all go because I needed to make room for new things to grow.

I’m launching a new venture.

Maia Rainwood Design

It will be launching sometime this summer, 2017.

Things evolve. People evolve. I’m ready to get back to the jewelers bench after stepping away for a while and I’m super excited about this evolution. Pure creative expression as my time and birth work allow. No pressure to sell, though things will be available periodically, as the spirit moves. No stress about branding, selling, marketing, blah blah blah.

I just get to show up and dance.

But why Maia Rainwood Design? That’s… well that’s a weird name, right?

Maia:  μαῖα (maia), a term for older women related to μήτηρ (mētēr) ‘mother’. I’m 47 years old and let me tell you, I am finally feeling like I’m stepping into my own power. I feel centered and clear for the first time in a long time. So here I am, right in the middle. I’m not a crone, not by a long shot, but I’m a far cry from the fecund mother iconography of the triple goddess.  There’s got to be something between the mother and the crone. Something that sits right about where I sit.

Maia also means “midwife” in Greek and let me tell you, I am ready to birth some powerful, epic, spirit-filled change and shit.

Rainwood? Well that’s me. Rain. Wood.

Smith. Doula. Artist. Grandmother. Queen.  Why the hell not? The road goes ever on, as the song says. Evolution is good. Buckle up, buttercup, this is going to be one hell of a ride.

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Paradigms shift.

Boy do they ever.

Earlier this month I took a fantastic labor doula training with Rena Koerner, and started my labor doula certification process again. I feel better prepared, with a better understanding of the physiology and psychology of birth, which is just huge when you consider that as a doula you’re a part of what is one of the most important events of a person’s life. Several people’s lives, really, the birthing parent, their partner, and the baby!

But the sad truth is, I just can’t afford to also retrain/recertify in postpartum right now. I want to, but I spent so much money on trainings with T-O-O-T-S-N-B-N* last year, there’s just nothing left. Which frankly, really SUCKS.  I just feel like there’s a lot more to learn so I’m trying to get in to skills workshops as I can. TO that end, I took advantage of a one day training with Giuditta Tornetta here in LA today, an advanced pp skills workshop. It really shifted a lot of my paradigms around new babies and their parents. She reframed so much for me.

I think the biggest thing I took away from today’s workshop was just a sense of reconnection to the humanity of it all. The spiritual and emotional sides of birth-work. The fact that babies are tiny humans and the importance of respect and connection in the way we relate with the people we serve. Which was always why I wanted to be a doula in the first place.

I think it’s not surprising that I completely lost my desire to make art and sunk into such a deep depression last year, it was kind of like I cut myself off entirely from everything rich and soulful and real, in some attempt to make myself over into… hell I have no idea what. But I see the connection and I’m glad to see it. It reminds me that I have a choice about who I want to be and what I want to bring to this work.  It reminds me that there’s something a lot deeper and I just forgot that I could tap into it if I wanted.

I feel so humbled and grateful to have essentially a second chance, to start over, and to be making connections with such amazing people in my local birth community.

(*the other organization that shall not be named)

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The rain rain rain came down.

Well, except today the sun came back out here in Southern California, and the plants all began to perk up and my mood got an instant +5 and that was basically amazing.

I’ve been rethinking my focus with work in the wake of some upheavals in my doula world. After the infamous Buzzfeed article (which has cost me, to date, 3 prospective clients) and some other things, I pretty much just unexpectedly went BOOM (like one of those science fair volcanoes), it ate up all my bandwidth for about a month, and that’s when I realized that I’m just… done.  It’s been exhausting, and it’s taken way too much of my time and focus away from studying and getting clients. Time to disengage, get a little distance, and refocus.

I start retraining with another organization this weekend. It’ll give me some other letters to add on top of the original trainings and I think that’ll help. Plus, it’s been a year, I’m happy to get a refresher of some skills. Expensive to pay for all the trainings and memberships again, but, it’s worth it to just… keep moving past the stuff that doesn’t support my goals.

I just want to work. Show up. Have professional credibility. Support some folks while they have some babies. Get paid. Give back to my community where and when I can. And at the end of the day, have enough room left over for my marriage, paint and cats and time to tend my little garden.

Which by the way? Succulents are awesome, hard to kill, and I might have a new obsession.

Sometimes keeping your eye on simple pleasures in the midst of upheaval is the only way to go.

 

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