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Saturday, August 27, 2011

What are you worth?

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Pricing and profit sometimes seem to be dirty words when talking about handmade goods. It's all about the urge to create, right? But what about the reality that in order to be able to create, we need to be able to sustain our business and ourselves?

It's funny--ask someone if the company or organization pays them what they are worth, and they'll probably readily admit "No! I definitely deserve to be paid more!" So why is it, when we are the ones in charge, we are so reluctant to give ourselves a living wage?

"Pricing and profit sometimes seem to be dirty words when talking about handmade goods."

I have been doing a lot of thinking about pricing structure lately. I've realized that if I don't begin pricing my creations like I am in a business, I won't be able to afford to keep creating. Making almost anything costs money, not just for supplies, but in my labor. If I am under-charging myself, I will burn out from the pace that I need to keep just to make cheaper items to sell (notice I didn't say cheaply *made*--there's a huge difference). I will certainly become frustrated, and most definitely working on my creations will become a chore--and nobody likes doing chores.

I plan on doing some research, and I will happily share my finding with you, though I know not everyone will agree with how I decide to price my creations. And that is OK. We all need to find that balance between allowing our business to not just survive, but thrive, while staying true to ourselves.

But for now, I challenge everyone to look at the hourly wage you are "paying" yourself. It may take a little bit of calculating if you haven't been breaking your pricing formula down already, but do it. See the number. And ask yourself, are you getting paid what you are worth?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Conquering Fear

At different times in my life, people have told me that I appear courageous. In some ways, yes, I am pretty fearless. But when it comes to being creative and putting myself "out there", I often find myself so frozen by fear that I look at the raw materials in front of me, and simply walk away.

That is really, really sad.

When we make something by hand, and especially if we try to sell it, it becomes very easy to identify one's creative identity with those things that others "approve" of through their act of purchasing. This is more than just a good business practice of producing what we know our customers want. Those who have the urge to create know that this urge doesn't give a hoot about what's trendy or selling well. But our egos do. And our egos can overtake our thoughts, telling us that anything new or untested in the market isn't worth our time. What if you spend two hours on this necklace design and no one buys it? What if no one else likes that color combination in your hand and that scarf sits in your shop forever? What if you try and fail?

If you fail? So what.

What if we all make a pact to step outside of our comfort zone? At least once a week, or even once a month, we choose different materials to create with, or try a new design or technique? Set aside an hour or two and just play. What you end up with may be godawful ugly, or it may surprise you with its beauty.

I've made this pact with myself recently. When I make jewelry, I tend to string beads in a nice, orderly pattern...which is classic, right? And boring. Really boring. So I am forcing myself to step away from the beading wire and finally try all of those wire-wrapping techniques, and to use other materials to compliment my lampwork beads. My first bracelet exceeded my expectations:


So stop letting fear dictate what you create. And start letting your creativity be your best friend--and business partner.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet doesn't mean without thought....

I've been taking some time to really think about this blog. I was thinking for some time that I wasn't sure what my readers would want from a blog. Then, I realized, I wasn't sure what *I* wanted from this blog.

The need to be creating something is a need I'm sure many of you recognize. This blog is as much a part of that need as crafting a glass bead or piece of jewelry. And, like many of you, my need to create is coupled with a need to share that creation with others. That's why many of us take it as a personal affront when a piece of jewelry doesn't sell, or no one comments on a blog, or someone walks past our painting without a glance to admire another; we are creating so we can connect. When someone doesn't pick up the lifeline we've thrown out to them, it stings.

                                                                   Source: michelleums.tumblr.com via RocĂ­o on Pinterest

This blog is an attempt to connect with other artists. I've been hesitant to put any of my own work up on this blog, because I don't want to abuse it as an advertisement. But I am thinking differently about this lately. I can't ask others to share if I'm not ready to do so myself. I need to take risks. I need to be brave. I need to fail miserably at some things, and discover those hidden talents lurking within.

This doesn't mean that this blog will no longer have "handmade" as its focus. On the contrary, as handmade should be about having a piece of the creative soul within whatever it is you are creating--otherwise, what is the difference between what you make and what some factory worker churns out overseas? Not much, really.

I would still love to hear from all of you. Leave a comment, write a guest post, just reach out and connect. Just don't make the mistake that this blog is all about me. It's about us.