Sunday, January 27, 2008

For What It's Worth?

Friday I got an email from a nice lady in Texas who wanted to order a purse. Friday night I emailed her my phone number so she could call me Saturday to explain exactly what she wanted. She called about noon time yesterday & we talked for about 20 minutes. She was very pleasant, & wanted a purse to use for her Rat Hat Society socials, something original, that no other member would be carrying. Could I make one & express mail it to her for her meeting next Friday?
Hmmm....next Friday? Well, uhhh, sure I'm off this weekend, why not?! So I started working on it. I'd emailed her fabric samples from my stash, & she liked 2 that I had on hand. I had luckily bought red cord that would work. I worked from about 1245 until 4 p.m. when I had to stop to make supper before my DH had to go to work. I had the body made, & the cord attached by this time, so then I quilted it. I spent about 2 hours on the quilting. The pockets & liner were next, then came the hand work. It was Midnight by the time I was as far as the picture below. I couldn't find a button or beads that would work for the closure, so I headed for bed, & would go out Sunday to get what I needed to finish & mail.
It has pockets for checkbook & Credit card on both sides.
A protective liner to keep things contained & clean.
Sunday at 1130 a.m. it was still below zero outside. I PLEDGE TO CLEAN AUNT ETHEL"S THINGS OUT OF THE GARAGE THIS YEAR SO BY NEXT WINTER I CAN PARK INSIDE.
I wish the windshield had little invisible wires running through it that could defrost the glass faster!
So off I went to Michael's Art &Craft Supplies. I found some beads that could work. I spent about $8.00 worth of supplies with the beads & wire & the tissue paper I needed for packing the purse. I took my case full of beading supplies with me so I could sit in the car & finish the purse, then take it to the Airport Post Office to Express mail it so she could have it in time for her function. I used about 1/8th a tank of gas on this trip (some of that running the engine to keep warm while I finished the purse). I spent 3 hours between driving, shopping finishing & mailing.
This is the final product, on the RED SIDE,

& the PURPLE SIDE.
Now I'd already had a price set on my web page of $45.00 for a small Reversible Purse, & I'd told her she would have to pay the shipping which amounted to $22.50 including the padded envelope I got to mail it in, but this seemed to me like a poor deal for both of us.
I figure I spent at least 12 hours of my time dedicated to creating this purse. Probably about $15-$20 in material costs, plus $8.00 worth of gas, not to mention the electricity cost for the lights, iron & sewing machine in my studio.
I think I better find a better retirement plan!
How would you, or do you set your fees? What would you pay for a purse like this?
Any input would be appreciated.

22 comments:

Sue said...

I also have a problem deciding what to charge for things I've made, but I definitely think you should charge extra for special orders & rush orders. The purse is really beautiful and it looks like it took a lot of work. It's a tough call, really, because what people are willing to pay can be a far cry from what you should really be making.

Elaine Adair said...

YOU are the artist - not just a draftsperson. While I have NO IDEA what to charge for that absolutely stunning purse, it seems an artist can charge a LOT more than $100.00.

Just my uneducated opinion. That purse is amazing. I especially like the little dangly doll thingys.

Elaine Adair said...

CRAFTSPERSON, not DRAFTSPERSON!

Vicki W said...

It's a beautiful purse and she got a major bargain! I hope you get your pricing figured out - I think you will have more orders once she shows this off.

Debra Spincic said...

. . . and that is the exact reason I don't sew for the public.

Linda Fleming said...

The purse fantastic and well worth way more than you charged. I would expect to pay at least $150 for a custom made purse with my choice of colors and fabrics. But then that is me- I am willing to pay for something special and unique, but I know many people don't realize the hours and hours of work put into hand created art, and are often not willing to pay what something hande made is truly worth. I'm afraid our culture places Walmart values on everything.

Lindah said...

Fabulous purse! I paid a friend $45 for a purse that was not half so nice nor half so functional. In fact is so un-functional that I must re-do it some day if I ever want to use it. No beads either. I learned my lesson. --Now I have no doubt that she spent that many hours on it, but unfortunately, when it comes to craftwork, we cannot charge what our time is worth. And our end product had better be quality work/design. That is the lesson that my friend has not yet learned. Your bag is truly beautiful and looks like it would be super-functional.

Rian said...

This is not just a purse. This is a work of art.

This was special order and you were given a tight deadline in which to work.

I think $200 would not be out of line.

When someone asks me if a piece is for sale (and this has happened), I quote a price 2x higher than I think I might get. You never know, you might just get it. If not, you can always meet them halfway.

Sue B said...

Pricing is tough! You have to price what you think the item is worth based on materials, time and workmanship. In this case for a custom rush order it would not be out of line to charge an extra 25% of the price to "rush" it. And whenever I take a custom order I always get paid up front first or at least get a 50% deposit.

I think you should always price based on what the item is worth not what you think people will pay. And I think this purse is worth quite a bit more than $45! A far as shipping - $22 seems high but was that for express mail overnight shipping? Could you put it in a flat rate priority mail box? It may seem high but if she wants it fast then that's what it cost!

P.S. It's a gorgous purse Deb! A real stunner.

Em said...

Hi Sissy.......I have to agree that you need to charge what it's worth! If they don't want to pay it then your weekend is free! You are an "artist" and you have the awards to say so. You're even published internationally (I just ran across that magazine with the Dolphin quilt in it.) A custom, rush order should also add to the price. Each purse you make is a custom piece of art. I don't think the $150 to 200 is out of line. Be sure to sign them!! (That is a fabulous piece by the way!!)(By the way, I'll be turning 60 next month.) No connection there! Talk to you soon!

StegArt said...

Wow, you really outdid yourself. The purse is great and you definitely didn't get paid enough for it and for your express stitching and shipping. I agree with everyone else's comments.

Kay said...

This is why I quit sewing to sell. According to a book I bought on this subject when I was doing it, you price your time at a reasonable rate, add materials, and TRIPLE it. After all there are hidden costs, inventory, taxes (unless you're trying to fly under the radar), time spent on paperwork, etc. So the $200 range is not bad. The problem is that outside of a few upscale markets, no one will pay that. So that's the trap. This lady got a deal, but I bet she doesn't appreciate it.

Kay said...

I forgot to say: this is beautiful. You outdid yourself.

mindy said...

Wow...beautiful purse. Was it really the Rat Hat Society? or the Red Hat? That cracks me up.
Anyway...I agree with all the other feedback here. So many people don't understand both the time you spend and also that its a unique one of a kind piece of artwork. You gave up a precious day off to devout to this purse.
This is why Irish dance dresses are often $2,000....they're unique wearable art....not just a dress.
This is also why I won't sell my fused glass bowls anymore...I'll only donate them to fund raiser silent auctions or give them as gifts. Its funny because people have no problem putting down $25 for a little glass pin made of scraps with just one firing to make it...and no thought process in design....but they don't want to put out much for a bowl or plate that is much much more glass, two firings and takes some design in making. People are odd.

The Calico Cat said...

I don't know, but I know that I would have added an express charge! When you think about how much "designer" bags that are made by the 100's go for, I would think that $100+ should be appropriate.

Gaia Quilter said...

The purse was beautiful, $45.00 was a joke!! You know your work and how much detail you put into it, it should have started a $100.00 and added on to with the short notice. Very few textile artist get paid what their work is worth, your lucky if you recoup your materials fees and expenses. Its a shame. Thats why I only sew for my family and friends.

ann said...

I agree with the others: this beautiful purse should cost about $200, but even then your hourly return is really low. I think you need to charge more like an artist, NOT a craftsperson although your work is well executed. THis is a fabulous piece. I think tahe problem my start from your regular work being priced too too low. People that have money can afford it if marketed correctly as WEARABLE FABRICART.

Nanc said...

Deb,
The purse is beautiful. You need to charge more! OK.....how do you find time to do all of this work?? Do you ever sleep??

Paddy's Daughter said...

No idea about pricing - but this purse is absolutely gorgeous.

jenclair said...

What a beautiful purse! I absolutely love it, Deb; it really is a work of art!

BLP said...

I'd set it up as time and materials contract. For custom work give them a estimate on the high side with some contingency built in, and let them know that they will be billed for the total cost of the time and materials (both direct and indirect)for that project.

Marsha said...

Very nice purse. Free motion quilting is a wonderful technique that gives design and texture. Very pretty and yes, a very hard item to charge a fair price for. An area I always have problems with and never feel like I charge enough for.