Hello lovely makers! Kelly here, back with another Question of the Week after a little bit of an absence. Busy season hustle, am I right?
We makers are faced with a variety of challenges, ranging from molehills to mountains and everything in between. But this week I don't want to talk about the battles we are still fighting. Instead, I want to talk about those challenges we faced and managed to overcome. Nothing like a dose of positive self-reflection!
Ready to talk about conquering some maker problems? Let's go!
My maker life is basically a vast ocean of challenges that I'm constantly floundering around in, but the majority of them fall under the "business" side of things. Yes, I struggle with creating new designs and establishing my maker identity like I'm sure we all do, but that still feels like the creative journey to me. And even at the most frustrating of times, I love the creative journey. It's when I have to put on my big girl pants and get down in the nitty gritty parts of running a small business that I find myself the most overwhelmed. One thing I've always had a hard time with in particular, is pricing my knitwear.
I think pricing is a constant struggle with the handmade community in general. We as makers want to remain affordable, but we also deserve to be compensated for our efforts, our time, our supplies, and the blood + sweat + tears we all know goes into every one of our handmade pieces. How do we find that balance?
When I first started selling my knitwear in 2013, my accessories were under-priced. Like embarrassingly under-priced. I justified it by telling myself things like...
"Well, I would be knitting anyway. This way I'm getting paid for something I would do for free!"
"I'm just starting out, so I can't charge what others who have been doing this for years are charging."
"People wouldn't actually want to pay what this is worth."
"I love doing this, so I don't mind if I only get paid for supplies."
Let me just stop you right there, Kelly of the past. These "justifications" are a bad scene for a few reasons.
1) Just because you would be doing it anyway, doesn't mean you should do it for free. This is a common problem with hobbies that turn into business ventures, and a hard mindset to get out of.
2) Sure, you may be a newbie on the handmade scene. But your low prices take away the value not only of your own work, but of those who have been at it a while. Be careful not to devalue the community because you're insecure about your skills.
3) In the generation of Walmart lovers and knockoffs from overseas, the handmade world is fighting a vicious battle. There will be many who don't want to pay what you're asking, but there are also bushels of folks who understand the value of a handmade item! Find the right crowd and bask in it.
4) Imagine if you could do what you love for a living? You won't get there if your prices only pay for the cost of yarn.
Here are some things I did to help myself overcome the challenge of pricing my items:
Over the last few weeks, I've had some really good conversations with fellow makers and artisans about pricing. I was fortunate enough to receive a couple of helpful pep talks about the cost of my knitwear, and how my prices could better reflect what I had to offer. While my pricing may still be a work in progress, I'm happy to say it's a challenge I have at least started to overcome.
Here's what Jean-Philippe of @ateliercliche, Melanie of @mykappa, Gabrielle @gabrielleknits, and Zoë of @knitbyzoe had to say about their own challenges.
What is a challenge you have faced as a maker,
and how did you overcome it?
What is a challenge you have faced as a maker, and how did you overcome it? Tell us in the comments below, or tag us on our @ourmakerlife with #ourmakerlife with a picture of your maker life for a chance to be featured on our feed!
If you have a question in mind you would like to see answered by fellow makers, just send us a quick 'OML QOTW' email - we'd love to put together a QOTW with you.
Kelly, OML dream team
Kelly is the mind, body and soul behind @knitbrooks: handmade modern knitwear inspired by nature’s endless beauty. After completing a photojournalism program, Kelly used both knitting and crocheting as a way to relax after a long day working as a reporter/photographer. This hobby has since transformed into a way to combine her love of creating fashionable knitwear, with her passion for photography, a cozy lifestyle, and her awe and admiration of the untouched wilderness.