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Money, Money, Money....Pricing your work

So now I've got your attention:) Oh....btw....isn't our money pretty. I'm really thankful to whoever/whomever? it was way back when who decided to make it so beautiful.

Anyway, pricing your work. So much has been said on this topic, and I have read numerous books on the subject, specific to the jewelry industry. Common thread is pretty much multiply EVERYTHING by 2 to get wholesale, then double that for retail. (BTW, the number of people who don't realize that this just means multiply by 4 astounds me!!!!!...I'm just sayin.......)

Anyway, you run into problems when you're doing the type of work that I am. Framing your silver creations. My framing costs alone can come to about $50 per piece, so using conventional wisdom, this would add $200 to the cost of one of my pieces. Since in the $50 price I don't do a THING....(when I'm doing a bunch of stuff, my framer cuts my mats, creates the shadow box sides and frames and finishes), it would be ridiculous for me to expect my customers to pay me to clear $150 to say to my framer....."Here you go...let me know when you're done". BTW, she also packages up my stuff nicely so I transport it directly to the show.

What I've developed after much fiddling is a system I can live with. Yes, I start by adding EVERYTHING:
  1. My labour (hands-on time and design time)
  2. ALL materials (I weigh the silver I use and multiply by what it cost me, which includes all costs to me of acquiring it, etc)
  3. A percentage charge for overhead (use of tools, kiln, drive to the framers, blah, blah, blah)
  4. Framing costs
I've decided on a profit that I can live with if I sell my art to a shop...they would double that price most likely. THEN I double MY cost + the acceptable profit and that is what I sell my art for. The excess covers the costs of the show I am doing, and allows for a profit. When you buy at a show, please remember that shows are not free (The One of A Kind show comes to over $2,000 for the smallest booth once you've paid for your spot, purchased electricity, etc....that doesn't even cover what you may have paid for your display).

Obviously if I sell to a shop I don't have show costs, but that is why I had to come to a profit I could live with. If I started with my 'show price' then had to cut that in half for a shop (most will double the charge), I could actually lose money.

It has been pointed out to me that I am not charging near enough for my work, and I have had to rethink and reprice because that is true, but my customers do get to take advantage of one thing. I am FAST! I've noticed this my whole life...in exams I was ALWAYS the first done, and when I take classes I'm always done and waiting for other participants to be done before we move on. This does not mean my work suffers for this speed, it just means I have been blessed with efficiency of movement. Honestly, that's how I look at it....scientifically/ergonomically/whatever. I've read some posts by other metal clay artists who say they always charge for at least 2 hours when making anything. I couldn't drag out making a pair of earrings for 2 hours if I did it blindfolded:). My point is that the labour charge is less for my work than other people's cause I simply take less time.

Funny speed story. When I was in the investment industry I used to take exams for licensing all the time. One exam was allotted 3 hours (Operations anyone?), and I was done in 20 mins. I thought that for sure there must be pages missing, so I double checked, but no, it was all there. I did the entire exam again for good measure, but since only 40 mins had gone by they wouldn't let me leave. I did it AGAIN and was finally allowed out after one hour. I was hanging around waiting for a friend and was astonished that people did not start leaving till about the 2 1/2 hour mark. Yes, I passed with FLYING colours, but to this day I can't understand how it could have taken that long??? Also funny, I've told this story to my sister, and she had the same experience with the same exam:) Honestly, I feel certain that I have wasted 1/2 of my life counting out pages in exams sure that I'm missing some:). Please don't think I'm suggesting others aren't bright. I am smart, but NOT gifted....I'm just fast...I know what I know and I know what I don't know.

BTW, the fact that my stuff is in the kiln for 2 hours does not matter. I actually add in the 2 minutes it takes to load and unload the kiln, and the kiln use is covered in the percentage I add to cover my overhead costs. And really....how can I charge you for my Bloody Caesar/Young and the Restless break while my stuff is cooking????? (BTW....TWO plastic surgery psycho storylines at the same time!!!!!! REALLY!!!!!!!!)

Another btw...when I'm taking on something drastically different, such as my move from jewelry to framed mini's, I actually use a stop-watch and time each step in order to figure out how long it takes. You'd be surprised at how your perception of time in your head and the reality of it can be VERY different. And yes......I am also including the thousands of hours it took me to get to the final product that I now make so quickly.

I'd like to hear from other people about their methods. I must say, although metal clay is cheaper in the States (no duty and drastically reduced shipping, exchange, etc.) there is no way that many of the people I see on sites such as Etsy are making any money. Don't sell yourself short. Keep in mind as well that if you wish to basically give away your art it makes it difficult for others to stay in business. When you go out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant, they sure don't say:

"Here's your dinner, and some cash.
We feel badly charging for the services of our 'Le Cordon Bleu' trained
chef, so we'll pay you to take it off our hands."

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