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Welcome to the Workshop

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Much Is That Poppet In The Window...

Good question. 
I consider myself to be a business woman. But lately I've been wondering if I am in earnest. I think my work reflects it, certainly the time and energy I put into my enterprise reflects it. 
But my prices?
Consider this. I certainly have been.
When you start a crafty business, you're just so darn excited that somebody - anybody!- wants to give you more than $1 for something you've pulled out of your brain and turned into a product. So, so flattering. 
It makes you feel like dancing on tables and singing in the rain. It's gratifying and lovely and you could feed off of that initial flush of excitement for eternity.





Meanwhile, if you're lucky, your product and your 'little' business gains popularity and you start getting orders. Of course, you say 'Yes' to everyone (I mean, this interest could all just dry up tomorrow, best be making the most of it) with a huge capital "Y"! You might be featured on some blogs, take on some wholesale orders, get accepted into some major craft fairs. These business-shenanigans are addictive and your ego is being stroked and plumped and fluffed. You're continually doing happy dances (on or off tables).




Until you start to connect the dots.
You realise that the lead up to each exhausting craft market or wholesale order is a world of stress and pain and your family forgets your name. To be followed thereafter by total and utter annihilation, usually in the form of the flu. You haven't felt this sleep deprived since you had a baby. You are constantly running from 'A' to 'B', making things and selling things and marketing and chatting both in person and online. You are up into the wee small hours chatting to people on the other side of the world, discovering the powers of blogging and instagram, twitter and facebook. Your ideas file is BURSTING with all the gorgeous things you'll probably never find time to make, darn it. You have literally become a one-woman show.


 

But you don't have an understudy and you forgot to stick to the script. 
The one in which you are also a Mother and a Wife. Oh, and an Individual. One who needs to eat well, get enough rest and exercise, enjoy leisure time and maintain meaningful relationships with the incredible people who've supported your journey into the entrepreneur abyss. Life is short, it's very easy to wake up years later and realise how much you've missed out on while you were 'busy'.




There have been countless rewards from running my small and very popular business from home. But the lines between work and play and family are blurred at best, and more and more I find that I am craving delineation. Now is the time, I have a child in school and a whole week of potential work hours ahead of me. Yet I procrastinate, my attempts at multi-tasking (because I am Superwoman, aren't I?) result in nothing being completed properly. Last minute has become my mantra and it sucks. I want to be 'at work' or not, I want to be doing housework or hanging out with my 'peeps', or not. My days need to be divided more efficiently and I want to see something tangible for my time. I'm going to be gauche now and tell you that I want to be paid in dollars and cents, not just in satisfaction and creativity. My independent streak requires that I give this some serious consideration.



I have sought ways to make a better profit on my product over the past two years. This has culminated in the occasional nudge in prices, a few dollars here and there. But the message I've really been giving to my customer and myself is that I'm not worth much more than that, it's as if I've been apologising for charging anything at all.  I have put too low a value on myself, my creativity and (quite frankly) the insane amount of time and effort which goes into each and every piece I make. I just don't want to cut corners with my craft.
When a customer buys something from me, it's for a reason. My pieces are unique.
I don't repeat fabric combinations, which means it can take me an hour just to choose the four or five fabrics for one Poppet. I don't want to change that.
I put extra care and attention into the details because that's the only way I know how to do things. I don't want to change that.
I sew ribbon around the necks of each piece by hand to reinforce the seams because I can't bear the thought of that stuffing seam ripping open mid-cuddle. Nor do I want to change that.
I cut with scissors, carefully, I double-stitch the seams and I take a long time with the stuffing. If I haven't done my best there's no way I'm going to sell it. These toys are made with love (and the occasional blood, sweat and tears) and that's the way it should be. They're Handmade!



Here's the thing. If I'm going to pour that amount of love and attention into something which is not my blood relation then there needs to be remuneration. If I'm not making a nutritious meal for my family and myself because I'm making someone a Poppet, that should be reflected in the price. 
I believe my customers understand this, that is one of the reasons they buy handmade in the first place. If they want a quick fix they can just toddle off to Target for some Made-In-China 'whatever'. But they don't, they wait and they hope and they stalk. They try desperately to get themselves a Poppet. Just one Poppet, any Poppet! I love that. I am incredibly spoilt to have the most loyal and engaging customers around. I want to make a Poppet for everyone, but the guilty feeling that I should be doing something 'more important' is counter-productive. I just can't get motivated. Why not chuck it in and clean the floors or teach my kid the piano. It's not as if I'm making any money, anyways.



And so, it is with relief that I am writing this down and getting it off of my chest. I have finally woken up and taken a very long hard look at what I do, what I've been doing and where I want to go. I want to run a business. I want it to grow, truly grow. I want feel proud of each and every aspect of the way I run Pikelet Workshop. I want to be able to offer my customers the opportunity to place an order again and to FEEL like making. Making more than I am at the moment, that's for sure.
I sat down with the intention of writing a simple post about pricing. About the cost of materials, the costs of shipping (and custom duties, which are a whopper in Canada) and electricity and time spent designing and making and tweeting and posting. The $2.50 I probably make per hour. Blah blah blah. You've read it before. You know the score. And frankly, writing a post like that felt like justifying my work all over again.
If you've held a Poppet in your hands you just know. They're worth it.




What I seem to have written instead is a post about myself. About the true value of being me. I really like 'me'. It's taken me nearly 40 years to arrive at that conclusion. Pikelet Workshop should be an extension and an expression of that, because if it was taken away tomorrow I would most certainly feel as though my right arm had been chopped off.
Who I am is unique and special, one of a kind.
And so is what I sell.
I hope you will all stick around when you see that reflected in my prices come September. Don't panic, I'm just increasing them to an area in which I feel more comfortable. Here's to true growth, both in business and in spirit. And to an increase in productivity, herein lies the key to that.







PS. I stayed awake into the wee small hours working on this post. It would appear that that particular 'lesson' is a work in progress...

17 comments:

  1. You should never have to apologise for your prices....as an buyer of a Poppet, I would have paid double, they are true works of art. Great post.

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  2. I have a poppet (i mean my son has a poppet lol)and there is no way I could achieve results like that and similar cheaper (mass produced) items are of no comparable quality. I believe the amount I paid is worth every bit for the product I received. I am planning on buying another for my soon to be born daughter and will happily pay the asking price (I was getting worried as I was reading your post and was hoping it didn't say no more poppets at the end)

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    1. Oh Melissa, I wouldn't know how to stop! Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you're happy with your Poppet. Here's to many more.

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  3. beautifully written :) beautiful you :)

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  4. Perfectly written Jen, I can certainly relate to so many aspects of this as I am sure many a hand maiden can. Your poppits will last years after that made in china "whatever" has broken and been forgotten. Well done you.

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    1. Thanks for reading Donna. I'm sure there's a lot of us out 'there' who feel this way.

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  5. I love your work and will happily pay more for all your wonderful creativity, love and attention to detail which goes into each of your adorable poppets (hope I am lucky enough to get more). All your devoted followers think you're great. Remember that and value your creations as highly as we all do. A great positive post!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! I was so worried it wouldn't come off in a positive way, which is why I took a week to write it. That's very reassuring. My 'devoted followers' really keep me motivated. Thanks for being one of them.

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  6. I happily read through your post and agree with you 100%!! Your poppets are just so beautifully made, you put so much time and effort into them, that all I think about after looking at the pics you have put in your post was ............ dammit I hope I manage to get one next time lol :) You wont put me off Jen, I hope to own a poppet very soon, price rise or not. We love what you do, and thats why we are here xxxx

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    1. Oh that was me, not sure why my name didnt show up!

      Lol, Danya x

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    2. Thanks Danya, it can be such a risk of alienating customers. Means a lot to here that's not the case!

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  7. Just quietly- I think you're wonderful & you're an inspiration to me xo

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    1. Thank you. Just quietly, that means an awful lot!

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  8. You made me smile at;
    "I really like 'me'. It's taken me nearly 40 years to arrive at that conclusion." Maybe, just maybe I relate :)P
    Oh & on the topic of pricing ??? Charge as you wish "because you're woorrrth it "!
    love you work :)P

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    1. Thanks Anna! I think there's a lot of people who feel this way.

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