Wednesday, 10 April 2013

What's so Special about Handmade?

Some of you will have read this on other blogs and pages, but I'm posting again as I feel it's something that quite often gets ignored.  It's quite long, but worth taking the time to read (I think so anyway). 
Someone recently asked here, "What's so special about handmade?"

 Among the responses were
 "Because people are putting their heart and soul into creating something special",
"Because you're buying something that you simply can't get on the high street" ,
"It's knowing that you're supporting a person, not a massive corporation".
People are not only passionate about SELLING handmade, but also BUYING handmade. Why then, do so many expect that because it's handmade, it should be cheap?
"I don't understand why a doll costs £35.00 when I can buy one in {insert cheap high street shop} for £5.00".

Here's why:

There is a basic formula in business for pricing:
Cost of materials + (hourly rate x time taken) + 20% = wholesale price
Wholesale price + 30-50% = min/max retail price

So, if for example a 16" cushion costs £4 in materials and takes 45 minutes to make and the seller has given themself a (very reasonable) £10.00 per hour wage, the costs would be so:
£4.00 + (10 x 0.75) + 20% = £13.80 wholesale price
£13.80 + 30-50% = £17.94 (min) / £20.70 (max) retail price

When you take these figures into consideration you start to wonder how on earth some retailers can sell these cushions for £8.00! Well, then you start to get into a whole new issue relating to fair trade / sweat shops, etc. which is a whole other issue and not really the point I'm trying to make! 

 My point is to highlight that the honest, hardworking small business owner in this wonderful cottage industry that has been born and nurtured in the last few years, simply cannot compete with these prices. We rely on YOU, the consumer, to place a higher value on the "Handmade in Britain" items. These people are your neighbours, your friends, your aunts, uncles who simply want to earn an honest living doing something they love. With government benefits being discussed daily in the press, and so many families having their helping hands taken away from them, these people should be applauded for actually doing something about it and creating a job for themselves! But we can't survive without YOU.

When you visit these wonderful businesses and see something you absolutely fall in love with, you fall in love with it for a reason - it's had someone's heart and soul poured into it. We're not trying to close the high street down - far from it! And we're not trying to make you spend money unnecessarily. But we are trying to educate customers on the costs we are faced with.

Designer fabrics which I must use to comply with the CE marking process is at least £12 a metre (some fabrics even reach £35 a metre). I have to spend time researching fabrics which goes in to designing each doll I make. I spend time discussing the intricate details of custom orders to ensure I produce something perfect for you that will be cherished for years to come.  This all takes time, and is one of the parts of the job I love the most. 
Then there's gas, electric and water, all of which are needed in the dolly-making process.  Not to mention the hours of time it takes to CE test a doll, produce declaration of conformity documents, print them out using god knows how much ink and store them in various files at additional cost to myself. 
Then there's the photography aspect... the expensive DSLR camera that I use, memory cards. props etc and time spent photographing dolls to give the consumer the best photos of my products that will stand up on a screen so they can see the details that go into to every piece of my work.
All of this takes SO much time!
There's also the little details that I put in, such as the FREE dolly birth certificates, the delicately wrapped tissue paper packaging, stickers, postcards, business cards....

So the next time you're faced with a quote/price tag that surprises you, instead of thinking "Gosh, that's too expensive", turn your mind to thinking "Wow, that must be really good quality and take ages to make!"

 My personalised, handmade, bespoke Little Sugar Plum dolls  that I sell for £35 'should' have a minimum retail price of £71.76.... Just saying....
Aimie ~ Hardworking mum of two
Little Sugar Plums.


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