Thursday, May 13, 2010

On the Issue of Price

I got a convo today that got my grey matter whirling with questions, clarity and ideas, and since this is my personal blog, every once in a while I am going to get all diary on it.

This is one of those moments.

The general gist of the missive asked about the price of an already marked down item: could be marked down even further due to the fact that "mookaite isn't expensive" and the metal wasn't listed as sterling (it was in the tags, which aren't always what the eye is drawn to).?

This honest question got me thinking on the subject of price and the oversaturation of this particular style of jewelry on Etsy: it has some customers obviously thinking that perhaps those of us who are making a living from our stores are marking our pieces in a dishonest way to drive up our profits.

I don't buy my stones on the cheap: I want to offer something exceptional and rare as often as possible and I want to put it into a sterling setting that will last lifetimes.

I work very hard.
The price of a piece doesn't cover all the administrative work that goes into my business: the convos, the mailing, the promotion...

I am going for the long haul kind of bag/ring/belt/necklace/cuff.
I want archaeologists to find it in 500 years. Ok, perhaps that's a pipe dream, but still...

I have a formula I use with utter devotion: it means a fair price for the consumer and a fair hourly wage for me so that I can continue working in this medium in this way.

This is my joy, my life and my spiritual bread. When I am in the studio creating a piece, no matter if it is leather or silver, a little piece of my heart and soul are also mixed in with the fire, metal,stone, water, hide and hammering.

You the customer are receiving not only a well-crafted piece, but also my prayers, my Celine Dion vocal impressions (priceless, ya'll) and greatest wishes for the work: I pray for it to go to someone who will cherish it as much as I have in making it.

When selling jewelry or accessories it is so important to fairly assess the cost of your materials and the cost of your hourly labor. Even if this is a hobby, please honor yourself enough to compensate yourself for your time:
you are worth it.
Your creations are worth it.
The macrocosm of craft is worth it.



MrsLittleJeans said...

You are lovely and I hope you did not get offended by anyone's convo, I am sure it was just a simple question...I love pieces that someone made for me or for my loved ones, they mean a lot to me and I always hope that the recipients realize that...sometimes they don't : ( and then I ask them to return it (I was just kidding : ) )


Sunny Rising Leather said...

MLJ: Oh, heavens no: the convo was an honest question: the thing that causes me to write is that it is a symptom of a larger information:
so much on Etsy is marked down so low that a fairly marked piece is suspect.

MrsLittleJeans said...

You are right, I don't know where the range of prices come from, I think many different factors are involved...good, I am glad you clarified


Sunny Rising Leather said...

You know what I think it is? A lot of talented beginners who quite honestly don't KNOW how to price things:

it's such a hard thing to learn when you're starting.

When I sold my first belt to my friend Terra she asked how much and I kinda shrugged and said a tiny small number with question marks in my voice!

She yelled at me - YELLED at me (!) and told me quadruple the number mentioned was what I should charge. It was a huge education for me, one I've never forgotten.

A lot of people are not so lucky as to have a Terra, or a formula.


mme. bookling said...

what kind of retard would ask that.

(just saying)

you are a (jewelry) artist, and just because that particular genre can be acquired at any mall in america doesn't mean that real ONE OF A KIND pieces with soul should be marked down based on ANYONE's merit other than the artist.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Candace, you fiery thing ;)

I think there are a lot of people who don't really see the difference between mass produced jewelry and something made by an artisan.

All manner of stuff in the subtext of a convo like that about boundaries and haggling, but that's for another day.

I am just glad you're not that kind of person, nor are the nearly 1,000 combined customers I've had.

That number floors me :)


::mari:: said...

It sounds like this person just wanted a deal -- he/she was haggling. I would simply write back and say you feel your prices are fairly priced for the stone, metal, and work included, and leave it at that. No need to trouble yourself any more over it.

I own several of your silver & soulful stone pieces, and I can say unequivocally and firmly that they are worth every cent. And I consider myself a bit of a handmade collector.

You know how much you're worth. And we do, too. xo.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Mari Love,

Oh, I did.
It really got me thinking about the mentality of that thought, especially in the context of Etsy, for better and for worse.


InkyTonka said...

I have bought lots of jewelry on Etsy, at various price points. To sum up: you get what you pay for!! The more expensive pieces are investments and portable works of art - they are very obviously the result of alot of thought and love and talent. The cheaper pieces that I have bought from other Etsians are, in an effort to remain charitable, disappointing.

The person who sent that convo does not understand you or your art. I don't think she deserves to wear the jewelry you pour so much soul into!!


jessi sawyer said...

Pricing is something I've struggled with this past year on etsy. My family and friends urged me in the beginning to increase my prices. After struggling with formulas, reading what I could find on the topic, I've finally created a formula that seems to work for me. I commend you for standing up for your work - your prices are more than fair!

Whenever I've had similar convos I can't help but be filled with doubt over my work. It's a scary thing to put yourself out there.

susie said...

Thank you for this post. As someone who hopes to be in the business soon, I often see pieces on Etsy and wonder why some of them are in fact so cheaply priced (since I understand the cost of silver and stones and the time invested in some of these pieces). The stones you use are part of what sets your work apart and makes it unique, it is obvious they are chosen with love and care (probably many people don't realize how expensive quality stones can be). I do believe that most people who are shopping on Etsy are doing it because they don't want a piece from the mall, they are seeking out something handmade by an artisan and are willing to pay more and understand the difference (that's my hope anyway). Love the new pieces, hope you are settling into your new home and all is well. Take care.

Sunny Rising Leather said...


Amen: what a great perspective from the buying side:thank you for it!


Sunny Rising Leather said...

Jessi my dear,

I am so glad you've found a formula that works for you: it's always good to research and find the right fit for yourself!


Susie: I just know you'll do well. And you're so welcome: I worry when I spill my heart a bit here, it's so nice to know it's well-received :)


Michele said...

I have to agree that your prices are very appropriate.

There is a new kind of jewelry home party popular in Canada. The catalog calls the items "truly unique". Ha. They are mass produced. Would you believe that their prices are similar if not higher than yours?

I think that the people on Etsy who have frequent sales are doing themselves a huge disservice. If I know that a store has sales, I wait until a sale to purchase anything.

Jaime said...


I can't tell you how many times I have been asked for discounts, or got the reaction " oh wow, that is expensive!" when someone asks how much something is.
I, like you, have a formula I work with.
I, like you, source out stones of quality and original nature.
I, like you put my heart and soul and love into each piece.

I want my jewellery to tell a story, to be passed on, to be cherished. I take the time to write nice descriptions, take good photos, wrap up packages sweetly plus all the other demands of an online business ( online presence etc). That is all worth something.
But I do think that alot of consumers just don't know the work that goes into a piece. They don't realize when we say "handmade" we mean it!

Also, with so much under pricing going on in venues like etsy, it can make it so hard to get the message across to our buyers.They may be misinformed by purchasing products that have been undersold, and then look at fair pricing like a gouge.

Every now and then I will look at my pricing and say to myself - " am I pricing too high? " then I remember that my work is worth it. I work hard for the money I do make, and I am serious about this passion becoming full time. I have to believe in myself first, before others will after all!


&Hearts; Always

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Jaime Lovely,

"They may be misinformed by purchasing products that have been undersold, and then look at fair pricing like a gouge. "

Exactly :)

Also isn't it amazing how much work goes into sourcing stones? For me it is the ultimate hunt, the ultimate joy and so I cannot even count it as work, even though it is ;)


Jaime said...

Oh countless hours!! It is the ultimate challenge, creating something around a stone to match its beauty. To find a design that is worthy of it!

Not sure how I got two signatures before - but I meant both - xoxo and ♥ ;-)

jordan said...

funny how an issue like this can cross professions and genres...really reminds me of conversations i have with my colleagues about under-cutting prices in veterinary medicine!! makes life hard for those of us who want to provide (and get appropriately compensated for) a high quality service with great staff and awesome equipment and knowledge base. i agree that you should charge what you AND your jewelry are worth - everyone has to make a living, and if you were out there to rip people off i'm sure you would have been found out before now ;). love you ms sunny

Jeweled Blossoms said...

Goodness, how I understand your predicament!

It's a difficult thing, when you're first starting out (or just trying to stay afloat) to have the self-esteem, the confidence, the general sense of worth that you SHOULD charge what it takes from you to create it. I know it can be a scary thing for a lot of people, particularly in the economic environment of Etsy.

But really, think of it... someone once asked me what the cost of my pieces/business was. This is what I told them (over a year's time):

- 57 missed date nights with the boyfriend
- 14 still half-read books on the nightstand
- 43% less afternoon playdates with the pooch
- MUCH less Christmas shopping (though I'm not entirely sure this one is much to begrudge on)
- Countless hours spent scouring fairs, internet and Tucson for the findings, metals, gems I want to work with

There's a cost of creating - yes, it is often a labor of love, but sometimes it is just plain labor! - And people forget that part. That too, comes with a price and that too, should be compensated for.

Just because we as artists choose to do what we love as our occupation, it does not mean we should choose to be paid any less for it.


Andewyn Designs said...

Well said Allison! I've gotten questions like this in the past.... Pricing WAS something that was very hard for me in the beginning... but I've come to understand you've got to value your work, your artistry, your time.... If you want to continue to be able to do this. Hopefully your customers will value those things too. When a person comes back to me and tells me they love my work and understand that it's a special piece they are receiving, something from my heart and soul, it shoots me over the moon that they get it.

I appreciate this post!



Dave said...

you know I have to agree on the individuality of your craft... and 500 years... wow and I was just hoping to build you a fan base 100 years from now when that Church time capsule is open and they find a recording of your, So Much Grace....

Another one of your precious fine creations available at a mere $.99 on iTunes.


The Noisy Plume: said...

Sometimes it needs to be said!
Thanks for representing!

kerin rose said...

I second e motion!

Good Girls Studio said...

Well said! & your vocals are worth big buckage my dear ;)

Sierra said...

I've been following your blog and work for quite some time now and have yet to comment, but this got me thinking too! I've been smithing regularly for only a few months niw and recently put my first items on etsy for sale...big step for me, and pricing is an issue i struggle with! Wanting to make my items accessible and also to be able to pay myself a fair wage for dreaming up these beauties in the first place and then all the details that go with it! I admire your honesty, and think that your prices have always seemed very reasonable for the originality and beauty they posess! You are an inspiration to me as i begin my journey of silver and stone! Mahalo, (thats thank you in Hawaiian!)sierra

Nancy*McKay said...

...the fact that i can shop on ETSY is a huge discount in itself...i can talk & buy directly from YOU, the artist, which is amazing!!!...cut that middle man right outta there & i'm NOT FORCED to PAY the MARK Up $$$... so i bless the days i have with you, my favorite artists, here on Etsy...YOU listen/design/redesign/create for ME...because one day soon you just may be featured in the display cases of Barney's, Bergdorf's, Fragments or wherever the case may be & i will be looking at a shockingly HIGH price tag...that i could NOT afford...knowing that when a sale comes round at these stores, even THAT price is still too HIGH to not only are YOU worth it, we as an EDUCATED consumer are worth YOUR price in silver, stone & gold as well...XOXO

Michaela Dawn said...

I actually needed to hear this:)

It got me thinking too.

Sometimes all of us need an alternate perspective,
and a pep talk... sometimes we needs some kind guidance... a sounding board... a voice of reason:)

so thank you,


UmberDove said...


It takes courage and a huge sense of self-worth to determine pricing (and pricing is the biggest bitch of this whole creative process if I say so) and I can do nothing but applaud you for believing in your work enough to stand behind what you charge.

It's worth it.

Actually it's worth even more.

Absolutely and without a doubt.

Erin Bowe said...

I reluctantly admit that prior to immersing myself in metalsmithing, I was oblivious to the amount of time, energy, talent, skill, love, etc. that goes into a truly handmade piece.

Now I know better.

But even having been one of those people, today I find it difficult to relate to them. It's a struggle; it's frustrating.

It's a fine balance between wanting to educate and feeling like a smarmy salesperson. It's a fine balance between giving enough detail to evoke an "oh wow, yes that makes sense now" and boring the customer to tears with my enthusiastic babbling about handmade bezel settings and the fabulousness of ocean jasper. :)