somer sherwood

the true cost of handmade

I recently did my first craft fair.  And at that craft fair, one woman picked up every one of my hats, tried them on, and made a sort of a noise in the back of her throat indicating disgust. Then she muttered, “I don’t really like these hats” before looking at the price tag for one of them and looking at me over her glasses: “Do you really charge this much?”

Ok, I managed a retail store for many years, so I’m used to this type of customer. I’ve met hundreds of them, and I know it’s less about whatever she is looking at and more about what is going on in her own crazy brain. Some people just have this need to be nasty. But this was a little different. What she was cruelly and callously saying to me was that what I created had no value. My art has no value. It is worthless and ugly. And I won’t lie — it stung a little.

 

But back to her question about the cost. The particular hat she picked up was $150 and it was this one:

The offending freeform crochet hat: Lettuce Go to the Mothership. $150.

 

You can’t see from the photos, but it is made of thousands of tiny little stitches, all folding in on themselves and creating a pretty elaborate underwater sea creature type effect. It’s made of hundreds of yards of very nice wool in colors that I carefully selected and put together in a way I thought would be pleasing.  I spent probably 18 to 20 hours making this hat.

 

So let’s do the math.

 

Without accounting for the cost of materials, at $150, I would be paying myself about $7.50 per hour for this hat. This hat that I created. This hat that is my art. This hat that is one-of-a-kind, that evolved from a tiny little round of crocheted stitches into its own Thing. This hat that I made with my own hands, that I kept working on until my hands began to hurt. $7.50 per hour. That is less than minimum wage.

 

Let’s add in the cost of materials, which were probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 for this hat. I used a combination of a handspun wool and some other more commercially available wool. That drops my wage per hour to about $5.50.

 

Now let’s consider all the other costs: sales tax, for one, which I don’t charge to customers (too messy), but I must pay on every item I sell. Sales tax in most places near where I live & work hovers right around 8.75%. So on that $150 hat, I will pay $13.13 worth of sales tax. My hourly wage is now $4.84. Is the customer paying with a credit card? That’s another 3%, or $4.50 I don’t get to keep from the sale of  that hat.

 

How about the cost of the tags I make and print out at home? The tissue paper I wrap the hat in? The bag I put it in? My business cards?

 

I could make two of these hats per week, assuming they are all this intricate. Even that is pushing it; 40 hours per week of crocheting would be pretty hard on my hands and wrists. But let’s assume I make two such hats per week, priced at $150. My income? $193.6 per week, or just over $10,000 per year. And that’s before all those pesky other business expenses,  like licensing fees, the cost of office equipment, gas, my craft fair booth display, and self-employment tax.

 

Can YOU live on $10,000 per year? If anything, I set my prices too low. And I acknowledge that. I do it because this is my art. I love it, and I will continue to do it, even if no one ever buys one of my hats ever again. I’ll just be that crazy lady who compulsively crochets a bunch of weird stuff. My future grandchildren can inherit all those bizarre things that crazy Nana Somer made back in the olden days.


If you are still reading this, I ask you: please. Next time you are at a craft fair, or on Etsy or another handmade site, think about how much work, love and time went into handcrafting that item you are thinking of buying. If the price seems high, I assure you, it is not.

 

EDIT, 11/23/11 9:22 a.m.: Due to the surprising, overwhelming response to this post, I’ve expanded on it here. Thank you to everyone who has commented so far! What a discussion! Lots and lots to think about.

 

 

Comments
819 Responses to “the true cost of handmade”
  1. I *love* this post. Thank you so much for breaking down the math of your operation in such a succinct and clever way. And that woman needs to sit in retail time-out!

    • Sabrina says:

      This article is written based on the assumption that knitwear & crochetwear designers figure out pricing by the hour, which is usually inaccurate – pricing for these items are figured out by the yard, for the most part. To not state otherwise kind of misleads the reader.

      Secondly, not everyone is into spending money on handmade, which is why people react they way they do to this sort of pricing. The Walmart mentality does not apply to these purchases, and us artisans have learned to grow a thick skin to these comments and ignore them.

      Lastly, I wonder how many artisans/crafters/etsians etc are actually SUPPORTING handmade – you know, those of us who actually are TRYING to sell our wears and hard work. It’s one thing to sell it, it’s another to support it. I’m willing to bet that the majority of these people (and maybe, possibly even the authors of articles like this) spend more money on department-store-made-in-China gifts over handmade this holiday season.

      • Julia says:

        Wow – what an unpleasant post.

        • olivia says:

          which, the reply or the original article? I think the reply is just a perspective on pricing justification, not everyone works on an hourly-wage mentality maybe?

          • cmb says:

            That doesn’t invalidate it as an illustration. What is your REAL problem?

          • Mary G. says:

            It’s a nasty-gram, now quit trying to justify unkindness.

            No matter HOW you do the pricing on this, the item is well worth the price, probably more so.

        • Neno says:

          I both make local art and buy from other hand-crafter/ artisans if I’m not making it myself for gift giving. I support green and/ or sustainable companies w/ as much as a local foot print as is possible for my budget and for what I need. I I shop local organic farms as well.

          So to answer your question, Yes, there are those of us out there that support our fellow artist/ artisans.

          • Christina says:

            +1 to this. I buy handmade whenever possible.

          • SLW says:

            It did my heart good to read your blog. I find many people don’t understand what goes into a piece of art. They can either “do it themselves, or do as the lady did with you and just be nasty/ignorant. Either way it’s not pleasant. The hat ROCKS by the way :-D

          • art says:

            Ditto!! As a long time handcrafter, I also know what goes into making and selling a craft and therefore buy and support as much as I can my fellow artisans by purchase or trade.

        • Pj says:

          Reality bites.

        • Ellen Romano says:

          Don’t see why Sabrina is being criticized for respecting the ideas represented enough to continue the conversation. Somer Sherwood is an artist and rightfully proud of that fact. But when she complains that she is not able to make a living from her art, she is ignoring the fact that an extremely small percentage of artists in this country can. As a crafter she sees more income from her art than a painter, sculptor or musician probably would. And if she expects people to not balk at a $150 price tag then she is living in a different world than I am. That being said, it was inexcusable for the customer to be so rude.

          • penny says:

            I don’t think she was complaining, I think she was venting. I imagine it must be frustrating to have someone huff and puff, at all the time and effort, and love you put into your work. I didn’t feel she was complaining…

          • Nancy Young says:

            I am also a crafter and artist. I paint, knit quilt, etc and I sure can relate to the problem of getting a fair price four your art. One thing I have learned that You cannot figure the price of your article and try to get a “living wage”. The rule of thumb I was given several years ago is figure the costs of all your materials and double that to get your price. On very small objects you might triple it. Using that formula the price on your had would have been around $80.

            When you are doing crafting and art from home it is extremely difficult to really support yourself. And it may take years to build up a following that really appreciates your particular art. You will make less per hour because you are working from home.

            You also have to deal with people’s perception of what a hat should cost. You poured your heart into it, but realistically how many people are there out there who would pay $150 for a hat. You have many more people who would be willing to pay $80.

            I have found that you do better if you have some pieces in a lower price range and a few of those wonderful pieces that truely are a work of art. You can whip out some $25 hats or scarves that draw people to your table and get to know you and your work and then have some more expensive items that you put more creativity into.

            Best of luck to you!

          • sara terry says:

            somer is not complaining about not being able to make a living from her art… she’s pointing out the ignorance of someone who was cruel in her comments about a beautiful hand-made hat and had no idea how much cost and time went in to making it.

          • Jess says:

            I agree whole heartdly with Ellen and Sabrina. How ever i don’t feel that the customer should have been so rude about the pricing. It may have been better to ask if she had anything a little less entrict with a smaller price tag after all the economy we are in doesn’t really allow most people to buy a 150 dollar hat. But at the same time anyone making any type of homemade good weather it be a craft or food item. Should be prepared for people to disagree with their pricing. Not everyone can afford such things. I recently stated i could make a hair bow for a third the price someone was charging but in that fact its true as she is charging not only materials but also her time as well as she should yet she took offense to my comment. I don’t think she should take offence i wasn’t rude didn’t mention her art nor did i say anyones crafts weren’t worth their prices just said i could make it myself for 1/3 the price. As for me, I am a stay at home mom trying to start my own baking business and if someone told me they could make my goods at home for a third the price i would tell them they probably could but they would also have to put in the time and energy it takes to make that.

        • I hope you meant unpleasant on the customer’s part because the artisan was right on. Pleople who hand craft anything never get there money out of it. Most of us artisans love what we do and if we can also make some kind of living off it, that is a plus. I would rather pay an American craftsperson than some other country that makes cheap junk.Perhaps this customer enjoyed saving tons of money on chinese made items full of lead but did not want to think of that.

        • Deanna McFarland says:

          I agree, unnecessary

        • wendy says:

          really unpleasant and quite on the attack too.

          • Helena Swords says:

            Crochet like everything else nowadays can be produced very cheaply in the Far East and it is usually handmade. So that is what we are up against and we should bear that in mind. Having said that, there is a lot more knitted stuff made there than crochet stuff and crochet is on trend at the moment, so the niche is there for good well made crocheted items at reasonable prices. But not a great margin as we all agree after taxes are taken into account. One thing I would query is whether mixing handwoven yarn and cheap yarn is a good idea from a washing point of view. Rule of thumb for me is….you can either bung it in the washer or you can’t.

            Lets not quarrel about the craft we love. I

      • I don’t shop at Walmart. EVER. And though I make relatively little as a pre-school assistant, and even less as an artist, I generally buy from my fellow artisans and craftspeople, what I don’t make myself. With a few exceptions for storebought…so I respectively disagree with that assumption, Sabrina.

        • Sabrina says:

          Sarah I didn’t say everyone does, but I do know that most do. There are always exceptions to the rule. And let’s not just crucify Walmart either, it’s chain and department stores as a whole.

          There’s nothing inherantly WRONG with shopping at department stores, I’m not knocking that either. The point I was trying to make was just to point out, was to not simply justify our pricing as artisans, but IN ADDITION put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. :)

          • There are lots of things wrong with buying from department stores, chief among them the poorly paid laborers that make most things you’ll find in a mall/dept. store, not to mention poor working conditions. And as long as people do buy from such places, the trends will continue. I do crucify Walmart – who has been sued and investigated numerous times for their suspect hiring behaviors and employment practices.

            I disagree with your assertion that ‘most do’. I feel you underestimate ‘most’. And rather than be snarky about the idea, what if you were about encouraging and reminding people that it is a good thing to do … for all. Your point had little to do with the original post . . . imho

          • Jenni says:

            But Sabrina, you were saying it in a way as if the author of this post GAVE you the assumption that she DOESN’T support other artists.
            And you were also speaking as if you totally skipped over the part where the customer at the craft fair was extremely rude and even had the nerve to put the author down for her work.
            Your reply was not informative, in my opinion completely off subject, unnecessary, and snotty to say the least!

          • suzanne says:

            Department stores have their issues, but it’s Walmart that came up with the buying practices that have made their products so inexpensive that other stores have started to adopt their purchasing practices. Look to Walmart for causing manufacturing jobs to be moved offshore and and Medicare picking up the tab. One day, Americans may see the monster they have created by their consumption of cheap crap. Until then, sites like etsy and your craft fair remain safe havens for true craftsmanship and artisans. I say poo-poo to the woman. I get what you do and why, and most of the people who attend the events at which you seel you hats are in the same boat. At least next time that someone poo-poos your art, you can come back with numbers and maybe THAT will put things into perspective for them.

          • Sharon says:

            How do you “know” this, Sabrina?

        • Ernie says:

          What the hell does Wal-mart have to do with it? Handmade everything died before Wal-mart was even founded, because factory made everything was astoundingly cheaper. See also, this post.

          Noone is interested in paying $80 for a pair of socks. Noone ever was. The moment people could buy socks of equal or greater quality for $5, they scrambled over each other to get them.

          Some of us want things that are creative and unique. Most of us just want to be able to afford to keep our kids in socks.

          • Ruth says:

            Exactly.

          • Patricia says:

            Some of us who love our art would like to to be able to put food on our table for the sake of our art. we take pride in our art and want to share it. I am sorry you have a problem with that. we are tired of factories and companies getting all the money and have done something about it by sharing our work with you so you can appreciate it and not complain because someone charges $80 for a one of a kind pair of socks.

          • Ingrid says:

            Hit the nail on the head!

            In this economy it is easy for people to be shocked to see the price of handmade. The suggestion above about have smaller/easier items available for cheaper along with the more expensive/detailed items.

          • Maire says:

            Ahh, but it does mean something… Walmart was the first in recent history to sell handmade items (mostly from China) cheaply. Women from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, and other impoverished nations were learning to knit and crochet to make money at pennies on the dollar for what Walmart sold them for… If Walmart could sell a “Handmade” sweater for $20. US, the person doing the handwork could make maybe $.50 per piece. They could essentially make nothing to make a piece of art. The faster and better the knitting (or crochet) the more money they could make. In 1980 terms, they could earn more than they could at other jobs, but far lower than poverty rate in the States. Basically slave labor. Now, they do sell a mostly machine made… but, the damage is already done.

      • Steve says:

        @Sabrina: You’re an idiot. I have the feeling you were the raving bitch looking at her hats and bitching about the prices of them. or related to her.
        Rude people like you are just rude.

        • Sabrina says:

          I didn’t mean to come across as rude, sorry. This isn’t a critique AGAINST her work, I think it’s actually fantastic. And, I applaud anyone who makes handmade AND prices it accordingly for both labour and materials that go into making them, because there are several artisans who don’t.

          Calling someone a bitch, on the other hand, THAT is rude. :)

          • Linda says:

            There is an amazing lack of comprehension of the English language here. Sabrina, my understanding of your comments, (listen up, people) was that you were simply stating the sad fact that people will shop at Walmart rather than spend the excessive amount on this gorgeous hat. Times are STILL tough! Do we WANT to shop at the cheaper stores? Absolutely NOT!!! But some of us don’t have a choice. I, too, am a crafter; I quilt, machine embroider, crochet, knit, et al. But, I now go to thrift stores for ALL of my clothing shopping, and often find really good deals on vintage fabric bundles, usually quilt materials from Grandma’s “stash” that Grandma never finished. Back to the nasty cow that looked at and commented rudely about the hat; she was either a younger person who has no concept of tact, or she just never learned kindness and good character. She’s a classic example of people today. Look at some of the comments here: using offensive language because they don’t know how NOT too. A female dog? Good grief!

        • Kristi says:

          WOW. That is completely unnecessary to begin name-calling or demonizing someone whose opinion is one that is slightly dissenting, perhaps. (If it could even be called that!) I was (am) enjoying this discussion (Sabrina’s comments actually gave me pause and caused me to reflect on my own need as an artisan to be a little more supportive of my fellow artisans when I am spending my hard-earned dollars.) There is no need to reduce anyone’s comments by a verbal assault.

      • Jenn says:

        Full time artist here. Been so for about 7 years. Last time I was in a Walmart…5 years ago. I don’t support chain stores, or for that matter chain restaurants. How can I expect my customers to buy local or handmade when I do not? Once you’re a full time artist, you see how the circle flows, and like the cliche saying, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

      • Laura says:

        Sabrina – you said “This article is written based on the assumption that knitwear & crochetwear designers figure out pricing by the hour, which is usually inaccurate”. Um, no. Actually this article is giving you a PERSPECTIVE on the VALUE of handmade work, by illustrating an hourly wage. The point is she DOESN’T figure out her pricing by the hour. Did you read it? If you are actually TRYING to make a living selling your hard work, why would you poo poo an article defending the selling of said “hard work”?

        • Tracey says:

          I wanted to leave two brief comments:

          First, I believe the article that Somer has written does give an interesting perspective on the breakdown of the cost of handmade. It’s not something non-artisans always realize.

          Secondly, I don’t think it’s very fair to attack someone who has commented on this. This clearly is Sabrina’s OPINION not just on this article but on the industry.

          The reality is, because of the popularity of department stores, and the fact that we’re still in a recession right now, a lot of us are watching how we spend much more than usual. We’ve been hard-wired to look for a good deal, rather than really appreciating the quality and quantity of work that goes into each product we buy.

          I’m sure the comment Sabrina left (and others have left similar comments to this one) was more about being aware of the general view of how much we spend, how much we actually buy that’s quality made, and the perspective of non-artisans. This isn’t a “poo-poo-on-you” comment, just a different perspective, is all.

          • Sarah Belham says:

            So just to make sure we’re on the same page:

            Being rude and condescending to a person for venting on her own blog = “offering a different perspective”

            Calling someone out for being rude and condescending to a person for venting on her own blog = “attacking and demonizing”

            Okay.

      • Eden Miller says:

        I must support Somer on this one:
        First: any ordinary business model requires figuring ALL costs (time, labor, materials, overhead, taxes, etc., and a margin for contingencies/profit).
        Second: people who are “not into spending money on handmade” wares should consider skipping the craft fairs and going straight to Walmart.

        • knitbunnie says:

          Eden Miller said: “people who are “not into spending money on handmade” wares should consider skipping the craft fairs and going straight to Walmart.”

          Well, Eden Miller, aren’t you a speshul snowflake??? Do you think only you and other speshul snowflakes should go to craft fairs? You sound like an artsy-fartsy snot-bag who thinks you’re above those you obviously consider to be lesser beings. You should be ashamed of yourself. Perhaps you should revisit Orwell’s Animal Farm. You may see yourself among the swine.

          • carol says:

            Are you kidding me? If someone is not into buying handmade, why in the world would they go to an art fair? Would a vegetarian browse through a butcher shop and derisively declare all the meats there to be disgusting? It doesn’t make any sense. If you don’t want handmade stuff, don’t go to places where handmade stuff is sold. Duh.

          • A sane person says:

            seriously?

            I don’t drink much, so I don’t hang out in bars.
            If I did, and was insulting people, and someone told me “Hey, since you don’t drink, maybe you shouldn’t hang out in bars and make snarky comments to the people enjoying themselves” I would hardly call them an elitist “snot-bag” for giving me good advice.

            Also, your extremely nasty and virulent response makes me think you are taking that comment WAY too personally. It’s ok that you shop at Wal-mart, just don’t make nasty comments to the artists at the craft fair.

          • Alice says:

            “Special”. The word you tried to spell, before ‘snowflake’ is ‘special’, not ‘speshul’. There’s no such word as….that one.

          • Deborah Caldwell says:

            THAT was hurtfully, over-the-top, beats-them-all offensive and reversed prejudiced, knitbunnie. It’s interesting to note, so far, that most of us have not responded to the perceived negative with negative, and that is the best part of this rather excellent discussion. Knitbunnie, in my opinion, your response puts you in a vacuum, a real deep hole. Too bad.

          • Maire says:

            Honestly, when someone comes into my booth, griping about the cost, I want to ask them why they came to a craft faire. Why on earth would you go to a place where artists are selling their wares and expect to pay so little… Walmart is a better place by far if you want a bargain. Or a garage sale. Don’t be so snooty if the only reason you go to a craft faire is to either get ideas to make on your own or to just browse and complain… Orwell has nothing to do with it. You are embarrassing yourself as well as the creative person you are insulting.

        • Mellany Witt says:

          I agree with you. Anyone going to a craft fair, I would assume knows how expensive hand made items are. So. Either be ready to see those types of prices, or go look and, go home and make your own. I believe a piece of any type of art has many different values. Depends on who’s shopping!

      • Jen Kuhn says:

        I am a felt, glass and jewelry artist who sells her wares. I work at a fiber mill as well. Last year I spent most of my Christmas money in our store on fiber items for people (alpaca hats, socks, blankets, etc), and this year I have pledged to buy all handmade items. This of course is on top of my own pieces I have created. Just because perhaps you choose to shop at Walmart does not mean the rest of us do.

      • luna says:

        Sabrina: i highly doubt that somer’s purpose with this post was to educate the craft-buying public about figuring out the value of art. in fact, THAT was her point…about the intrinsic value. next time try reading a little deeper before you snark off.

        • Sabrina says:

          I’ve been on etsy since pretty much when it started. I’ve been knitting & crocheting for over 25 years. I’ve sold at craft fairs dozens of times and have had dozens of patterns published. I, like many other crafters and artisans, understand the quantity of work that goes into anything handmade. That is something that Somer illustrated in her article, and that many others have also commented.

          Because I’ve been on etsy and other handmade-selling sites for as long as I have, and sold at many craft shows, I’ve talked and dealt with dozens if not hundreds of artisans over the years. Based on all these conversations, when I stated ‘most’, I meant ‘most’ based on all the people I’ve talked to and dealt with over the years.

          Yes, there are many artisans who support handmade, and do so as often as they can. In a lot of cases, many of their gifts are from other artists & crafters. In some cases, a lot of what they even have in their own homes is handmade and locally bought.

          In my experience, I’ve known a lot of people who of course buy handmade when they can, but it often was a case of “if I have paypal money, THEN I’ll buy handmade for the holidays” – but otherwise, if they’ve got a list of ppl to buy for, for the holidays, and they haven’t been making etsy sales, then handmade doesn’t get bought.

          The comment I left honestly wasn’t made to be snarky. All of us artisans & crafters have, at one point or another, encountered a shopper who thinks that our items are overpriced. And we realize how much work goes into handmade. It’s a given that a handmade item costs more than something factory- or machine-made.

          I suppose my point is, I’m wondering how much of this article is REALLY about defending somer’s own work and pricing justification, OR if it’s really an article making a comment on people who are used to department store prices and looking for a bargain.

          • Carla says:

            Where to begin. . I’ve got a friend who does the same thing as somer, fine art knititng and crocheting. Thing is though, she knows that her $200 hats and scarves are not likely to sell in the craft fairs to anyone but those who have the disposable income and desire to collect highly unique ‘art’ wear…. . . . . and she needs to make a living while trying to help the customers buy something made her in America by an artist. So, she eschews the art wear for these events, and concentrates on making a line of more basic, highly functional yet beautiful handknitted/crocheted hats and scarves. She can keep the pricing much more accessible to the customers, while giving them entree to the joys and lost appreciation of local art/craft. She sells much more since she’s presenting a more marketable line, and sometimes artists need to take this approach in order to realize actual sales that can support themselves. There is no shame in providing a more basic product; it is the handmade aspect, and beyond that – the APPRECIATION of handmade – that is achieved by bringing it into the price point that the consumers can more readily swallow. It comes down to understanding your venue, and having product there that fits it. It sounds to me like somer is not doing that, so complaints about her prices should tip her off that there is not a match between the venue and her art. The customer probably would have bought a nice well-made and designed basic hat for $20. If you aren’t selling enuf to survive, then try presenting a version of your art that is geared to the finances of the venue. You’re not ‘selling out’ doing so; you are making sales, and being practical.

          • Mellany Witt says:

            I agree with you. Anyone going to a craft fair, I would assume knows how expensive hand made items are. So. Either be ready to see those types of prices, or go look and, go home and make your own. I believe a piece of any type of art has many different values. Depends on who’s shopping!

      • Jemma says:

        This isn’t a rude comment or a cruel one, or even that far out of line. The simple fact is that we live in a world where being able to spend $150 on a hat is a luxury that most people don’t have, no matter how lovely the worksmanship or justified the cost.

        And that is why department stores and WalMart still exist, because people who can’t buy $150 hats and lack the skills and time to make them themselves still need to have warm heads. :)

        It is a lovely hat, too. If it was purple, I might even spend $150 to own one — but then, I’m extraordinarily lucky to have that kind of disposable income. Most of my dearest family and friends only wish they had $150 free to do with what they want. It goes to feed their kids, to pay their bills, and maybe a little extra to treat the family to pizza or a movie or something.

        It’s not necessarily right, but it’s reality. I’d love to see more emphasis on crafts and useful skills like knitting and crochet in schools — the more we as community members work together to build the infrastructure needed to support our artisans, the less our artisans will have to struggle to create (and live well) off of their art.

        • Christina says:

          We (as in society as a whole, particularly North Americans) as terrible consumers have created all of these problems, and are the reason why there are people that can’t afford $150 hats. We have this perception (partially due to massive marketing machines) that we all need the biggest, the best, and LOTS of it. Big Box stores like Walmart exist because we enable them to, and it all just feeds this huge, vicious, inflation-prone, constantly-growing-economy driven cycle. FYI, a constantly growing economy is not sustainable folks, and only serves to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, especially in those areas of the world where these ethics-lacking companies move to in order to produce their cheap, cruddy goods.

          As a hand crafter as well, I charge what I think is fair for my products, and rarely take into account my time. Instead, I take solace in the fact that I have done my little something to not feed this vicious cycle, and have spent my time doing something that I enjoy. :)

          Thank you, Somer, for pointing out to those who poo-poo “high” prices for handcrafted goods that they ARE worth what we are asking for them. Remember everyone, you get what you pay for. :)

          • Mellany Witt says:

            Has anyone stopped to think…. How much to make, and why that price??? Cause someone was willing to pay that and from that moment on, everyone else had too also. For instant……. How much to actually make a speedy 25 from Louise? And the price IS! Wow. A diamond, a rock, clear yes, but all in all a rock. The price is. So. I know as an artist, if someone looks at something I have created, with that just special look in there eye. Heck with the money, the item is theirs………. I believe as a true creator , the worth is from your soul. Be blessed everyone. And all of us human beings have a hard day and need to release, I know how she felt. But get real it’s art!! Not rocket science or a reason for ya”ll to attack each other’s comment. Be peaceful and joyful, even cheep grumpy people need art too….

        • Lora says:

          Well said. When I was in jr high taking home economics was mandatory. We learned cooking, sewing and knitting, crocheting etc were optional classes offered. This is why “my” generation knows how to cook from scratch and sew on a button. School budgets are stretched, and unfortunately basic skill classes were some of the first to go, instead of sports programs that only last until graduation for most kids …

          • P.l.Coderre says:

            I am a Home Ec Teacher. The basic skills are being lost due to these skills not being taught in schools. Parents have to ask for these classes, because the School Boards will not spend money on unwanted programs. It is up to the next generation to ask for craft skills to be taught in Schools.

        • cindy says:

          This is totally off topic,and I am probably opening up a whole new can of worms, but I don’t believe that luck has anything to do with having “disposable income”. Generally people who have “disposable income” work extremely hard to be in that position.

          • Momof3 says:

            You are right, your comment is both off-topic and as unthinking and rude as the person this blog post is discussing. So, by your logic, since I don’t have the kind of disposable income available to me to make these kinds of purchases I am then lazy or don’t work hard? Tell that to the multitudes of families in our country working multiple jobs and still barely scraping by. Wealth, affluence, and disposable income these days has very little to do with how hard one works.

          • Miranda says:

            It’s interesting how many people are looking for a fight in comments, isn’t it? One person mentions disposable income, and another person will interpret that comment as “I don’t have disposable income, therefore you must be calling me lazy because I’m not one of the hard workers that have disposable income.”

            No one can win for trying. Sheesh, let’s not overthink a comment on a blog people.

      • Karen says:

        You obviously do not know this poster and are unaware of most of the people I know. homemade handmade reduce reuse recycle. create with love and do well. <3 to Duffy and I love the hat and so dislike people with such lack of love in their heart.
        evil and ugly are 99.9% about them and nearly nothing about you or your beautiful hats!! xo

      • lulu says:

        I’m another artist who supports other artists. We know the value in handmade and design that comes from the heart. I only wish I made more money from my art so that I could buy more art from others!

      • lorraine says:

        As to the “lastly” I create and sell and am barely supporting myself on my art(print making,all hand carved and hand pulled) i only buy brand new a few items and only for those people in my life who I have identified as People who don’t enjoy/appreciate/”get” the hand crafted thing. Personally I buy second hand and only some electronics and art supplies are brand new for me…

      • CAITLIN says:

        People who have “the walmart mentality” and who don’t want to pay for handmade should not shop at craft fairs. I was taught at NSCAD to always think about hourly wage when pricing my crafts because to do otherwise undercuts the value. Thank you for the original post Somer.

        I for one always support other crafters, either through purchases, trades or just spreading the word.

        In most cases craft involves skill. People are accustomed to paying for skill. How much does an accountant charge per hour or an electrician? Around $80. Why not a ceramist or a weaver?

        • knitbunnie says:

          “Walmart mentality” – seriously, stop being so pompous. Consider this – a young mother on a limited budget with four children who all needs hats. This same young mother loves beautiful things, so she buys hats at Walmart to keep her kids warm, and she goes to craft fairs to warm her inner love of beauty. Would you deny her this? It sounds like you would. What is your problem???

          • jayne says:

            from the comments, “Walmart mentality” applies to those people who go to craft fairs expecting Walmart prices. It’s not a denigration to poor people who go to craft fairs knowing how much these items are really and truly worth. It’s used on those who go to a craft fair complaining about the pricing not understanding that the true cost of the item is underrepresented by the price.

            A large flat screen television, if made by one artisan, by hand, in America, would be beyond the reach of even some wealthy people. It’s all relative.

          • A sane person says:

            If she loved handmade things, she wouldn’t have a “walmart mentality” would she? She also wouldn’t insult the artisans. So, your point, again?

            As I said before, no one cares that you shop at Walmart. Get over yourself.

        • JacQueline says:

          I was taught the same!

          It’s not that I disagree with folks going to Walmart to get the things they need because that’s what they can afford! I do think people need to expect higher prices when they go to craft fairs. The value of many handmade objects (definitely the object in this post) is in the process/concept!

          If you can’t afford an original painting or don’t really really love it enough to buy it, then DON’T! But don’t look the artist in the eye and say “you’re charging too much”.

          It’s a work of art that just happens to also be a functional hat. It’s not just a hat. And I want one sooo bad.

      • Kathy says:

        What handmade item do you make and sell. If you did such thing you would understand were she was coming from no matter how she explains herself. I know a lot of crafters that buy as much stuff as they can from other crafters instead of places like Target, including me.

      • Ivy says:

        I’m a fiber artist who supports small business crafters. The fact that I work hard on all of my art makes me appreciate other peoples work, and I know I’m not the only artist who feels this way. You see the discussions all over Ravelry about buying from other crafters for hand dyed yarns and local yarn stores. Sure, some money has to go to big business. I know I don’t make enough to buy all things handmade, but that doesn’t mean I don’t contribute what I can. I know for Black Friday small business crafters like Sweet Libertine will be having sales, and I’ll certainly be buying more from those than anywhere else.
        Secondly, while we may not be able to reasonably price by the hour, we still would like our work to be respected. This post illustrates how upsetting it is when a person undervalues our time, skill, and art. It hurts. I do not think it’s unreasonable to ask the customer to realize what all goes into that beautiful handmade hat they want for $20.
        Finally, the woman was at a crafting fair. If she wanted to pay Walmart prices, she should have gone to Walmart. What she did was rude and hurtful, and it was not okay.

      • knitdiot says:

        When an artist is getting pay $5/hour, we won’t be able to afford anything else other than Wallmart.

        As long as “Wallmart pricing” exists(which does not capture the ture cost of selling,include just salary, social and environmental responsibility), public will shop for the lowest common denominator.

        As a knitter myself, I face the same issue when it come to selling. I try to support handmade as much as possible, and if I can’t afford an item I would consider trading my work with others.

      • Julie Coash says:

        Actually, I totally support handmade and purchase at all the craft shows that I, myself, am a vendor. As well, I seek out selling on ETSY for most anything I want/or need. I also do alot of “trading” with my fellow talented sellers. In addition, I’m teaching my own kids, who spend lots of my money, to purchase this way as well. Lastly, I purchase alot of my supplies that are Made in the USA, from one particular vendor, whose prices are higher but much much better quality that the unpredictable-China-made supplies. I’ve simply adjusted my pricing but it is well worth it.

      • Yann says:

        Sabrina,

        I totally understand your point (after you expanded on it though) but wouldn’t it be difficult for someone to live accordingly to their beliefs if they don’t make the minimum wage?

        It is indeed a very tricky situation and yes, i believe that walmart and such are greatly responsible for the situation. Customers are making political decision when they buy from them (though they are manipulated to buy more, to buy the latest…).

        I avoid buying made in … (please put the name of a poor country exploited by the greedy westerners) because someone’s being exploited, underpaid and made unhappy for our summer 2011 flip-flops or an ipad.

        It is a difficult problem and i have no solution to solve it. I think it’s an individual decision. And even I don’t sometime stick to my principles.

      • I totally feel your pain! I was recently selling my jewelry at an art fair and had a woman come up to my booth. She looked at my jewelry and then wanted to know how much I wanted for the candle sticks I was using for a prop (after she eeked and said she didn’t like my mascot – a skull – on my business cards). Just when I think I’ve been insulted by a potential customer in every possible way, someone always comes along & surprises me.

      • Rick says:

        The spending habits of the author have nothing to do with the validity of the content of the article!

      • clare says:

        have to disagree sabrina. as an independent artist for over 20 years, my home and studio are filled w/other artists work – all originals. those w/wal-mart mentality aren’t really our customers. we cater to an educated supportive audience who realize the difference between hand-made and mass-produced. they are willing to spend more to get something special. finally the rest of the world is coming around, buy local, buy handmade, buy original – save our economy and our planet!

      • Erin says:

        But if it’s made in a factory with a machine, then you don’t have to factor in the hours 1 person spent on a hat, or piece of knitwear, or whatever because in a *factory* or assembly line, an employee would only spend a few seconds, a few minutes at most, on something like that. We’re talking about something that is made by hand that also takes several hours to complete.

        My father was a carpenter for years. His hourly wage for working on projects was probably close to $21 an hour. And these were projects that took weeks and months to complete.

        I’d say the same thing about crafting, or really any piece of art that someone has to put time into: you deserve to be paid for the time put in.

        I get the same complaints about my own art. “But why do you charge so much for a drawing?” Uh, because I put a lot of time and effort into that drawing. I used supplies, and my own personal time really, considering I work full time.

        Bottom line: we are talking about people who want to make a living as artists, and the world around us doesn’t want to pay us what we’re worth. The world around us doesn’t want to admit that art goes into everything around them, and that someone somewhere got paid for it. They think art is just a picture hanging on the wall that they got from Ikea for $10, so we should all as artists charge $10.

        Just take a moment and look around whatever room you’re sitting in reading this. Everything in your room- the chair you’re sitting in, the paint on your walls, the curtains on your windows, the very room you’re sitting in- it was all designed by someone. That someone got paid for it. And it’s because someone else decided that their idea was good and worth something more than $10.

      • shoveoff says:

        just so we don’t mislead the readers…”

        1. you are an idiot. this is business, pure and simple. time(rate)+materials+costs=price. also, as this article is written for buyers, not sellers. Does your CPA convert hours to yardage when he bills you?

        2. you are an idiot. think of the “craft fair” context. Think of the words for a moment and you will realize that craft implies cheap, as it is not ART(to the general public), and a fair is a place where people go to have fun, cheaply. hey, I just realized! walmart=cheap… cheep… put a bird on it! But I digress… so, at a “craft fair” you are at a booth next to some kid selling marshmallow guns and some old guy selling wooden candle holders that transform into dish racks… the majority of people that attend such events likely think they are “swap-meets,” probably do shop at walmart and most likely have no money. If you were in a gallery or Mall setting with the same object, no one would question the price.

        3. you are an idiot. If you think your backup target demographic is a group of people that only make 10k and are still wondering why you don’t $ell $hit… sigh… Just because we make stuff does not mean we want to buy or can even afford to buy. When your artwork does not sell, don’t come begging or start blaming artists in the community, that is just tacky.

      • Holly says:

        One. If the person doesn’t support or understand what hand made is about they shouldn’t be at a craft fair, which the very point is to support hand made things.

        Two. Even if most people do pricing by the yard on these items, she may not. However, an hourly rate is a concept that much more people would understand in her explanation, if they are not into the fabric arts and do not know the yardage cost of materials.

        Third. I make hand made items, I do not have a lot of money, and I support hand made things by buying from Etsy or the store by house where all the items are locally or Independently made.

        So what exactly is your argument?
        We can make up facts about what the MAJORITY do or don’t do, but unless you are running polls in the community of hand made things, what you say is just your opinion and not actually factual.
        Just because YOU don’t do something, doesn’t mean everyone else is on the same page as you.

      • Michelle says:

        Just trying to figure out how the person writing the response assumes that the writer of the article doesn’t buy handmade items? The bitterness in this person’s reply is severe and undeserved.

      • Liz says:

        First I must say to Somer what a great article, well written and from the heart.

        Sabrina, I don’t think we as artists and self employed can make assumptions about anyone’s pricing or their shopping practices, no matter what their craft. Somer is simply telling her tale and how she felt that day. Price per yard maybe what some do, but there is a whole array of artist creating handmade and I believe Somer is addressing that. If your not taking into account the other costs that where mentioned in the article such as booth costs, taxes, credit card fees, packaging, etc. then you are doing yourself a disservice. I guess I just don’t understand your somewhat attacking rebuttal to her article. As far as what other artisans are doing to support the cause, well I think you are the one possibly making assumptions. Do I shop at malls and Walmart, yes. Do I support other artists, yes! And not just from buying, but from contributing to the community with hours/weeks/months of voluntary work to local art projects, etc. There are many was to contribute to the community and I feel the above article is just one of many ways to do that.

      • Floboe says:

        I am lucky in that I have the means to shop handmade a ton. Like her post points out ratherly blatantly. She is not making much at all off of her wears but does agree that the pricing is fair. These two points butt heads in reality due to the fact that she cannot afford to shop handmade. (High prices of goods + low profit margin for her on her goods = inability to spend reasonable prices on handmade goods). Just didn’t want someone stating misleads, which assuming she can afford and should buy solely handmade, is. Also, I don’t think once she trumpeted up the idea of handmade over mass-produced – I believe the writer is simply defending the prices of these goods, a price I am willing to pay time and again.

      • Karla says:

        Sabrina:

        “knitwear & crochetwear designers…. pricing for these items are figured out by the yard”

        Most likely they do it for hobbie.. If you want to make a living you have to pay your self a fair wage.

        “I’m willing to bet that the majority of these people (and maybe, possibly even the authors of articles like this) spend more money on department-store-made-in-China gifts over handmade this holiday season.”

        You are clearly speaking for your self as there are many of us out there who truly support the handmade community.

        Go to your negative vibe somewhere else.

        Way to go Somer!

      • Teresa says:

        Dear Sabrina,

        Please do not assume you know me, my craft or my purchasing practices specially when it comes to holidays or birthday gifts. 95% of my holiday gifts are HAND MADE usually by me from supplies purchased locally in the near by town as my village only supports a corner store.

        Also apparently you have never attended a craft fair with your wares or festival. I can not think of a single market that I have attended that I did not make trades with other crafters or purchase goods outright.

        The fact that you are coming across as extremely judgemental and angry tells me that some where a long the lines you were treated exactly as the author of this article was, having someone under value you or your work that now all you can do is spit venom at crafters and making unjustifiable blanket statements.

        I hope that you see a brighter day, enjoy a hand blended cup of tea, while reading over a private authors book and enjoying the soft scent of a pretty soy based scented candle. I think much of this would help your demeanour and perhaps start the next day off on a far more cheerful note.

      • falynette says:

        wow Sabrina, bit harsh and to assume that those who wrote the article probably dont support handmade. . .how dare you, you know nothing about the people who post on here. You price yours how you wish, and leave the rest of us to price ours . . and anyone of us has the right in this democaratic world to comment as Somer did. It was purely her experience in this instant, not how we all should work out our prices

    • Valerie says:

      Your artwork is beautiful! It certainly belongs in a different demographic than that particular craft fair. Move up. . . Truly, these should be selling for $500 each. . . at least. Find a better market, your hands will thank you!

      Whether or not something sells is not dependent upon the pricing, it is dependent upon the demographic of people who attend that particular fair. I strongly encourage you to research it and be selective . . . your work really is wonderfully creative!

      • Joede Brown says:

        I concur. I have realized targeting the correct customers make a world of difference.

      • Malinda says:

        agree with Valerie, I myself make hand carved candles (also crochet, make cards, sew and other hand made crafts/arts)and my dad is always saying its not the price its who you are selling it to.

        Comment on other comments me personaly would love to buy hand made all the time, but I cannot as there are more importmant things such as food and bills for the money to be spent on. People need to educated about hand made products and the value of them and hopefully more people will spend there hard earned money on handmade and give money back to the people and not the big corporations. By the way your hats are wonderful creations.

      • yuko says:

        I also agree with Valerie, and now that you’ve said it, 500$ sounds so right!!

        Another element I noticed through sweating over pricing my “wearable” pieces is that, because they come in shapes of dresses, purses, etc. there’s an additional hurdle for charging fair amount at times. Meaning, it seems harder to come across as art pieces.

        So, choosing market is definitely one important thing, and also, I think, as the Original post is doing a great job of, informing the non-crafter/artist population the why’s of the “higher” pricing.
        Also, as earlier comments recommended, to have pieces in a variety of price range seems like a great idea, too.

        Thanks to Miss Somer for the post, cool hat, lots of detailed work shown even in a photo … I can see it being LOVED by equally cool customers out there. And thanks to those of you leaving insightful comments. Good education for me.

    • Alix says:

      I love how you’ve broken down the costs in this post. I have the same problem. I am happy to make my bears/hats/nappy cakes as a gift from me but often get asked to make them for others to give as a gift. When I tell them how much I charge (which usually only just covers materials as I’m not good at charging for my time – I know, my bad)I don’t hear from them again. I’m going to do a breakdown like this for the things I do just to show myself what I should be charging. I’m thinking £30 for a handcrafted, jointed mini bear is probably not enough. x

    • Jan says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Somer Sherwood’s article. Personally,I blame the ‘carboot’ mentality. My Hubby is an artisan who makes Shamanic drums – similar to a bodrhan but many sided instead of round. They take the best part of a week to make allowing for drying. Anyway he was once offered £5 for a beautiful 23″ diameter drum. His reply was that he would put his foot through it first!!! Unprofessional? maybe, but understandable.

    • Carolyn Benes says:

      Kindness dictates that the rude woman should have kept her comments to herself. Obviously, she did not like the hat. If it had been $1.50 she still would not have purchased it. I find it easier to give handiwork away to someone who loves it than try to price it for sale!

    • John Clayton says:

      I am amazed at the vitriolic comments here. It is hard work to do something you love, and to try to make a living at it. If someone doesn’t like the product, cannot see the value, or dislikes the price, have some class. Something this country lacks. If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 hat.

      • knitbunnie says:

        I have no idea what a $10 head would be but many people have a $10 hat budget. Get a clue – $150 is a week’s worth of food for many families. Just because someone can’t spend $150 for a hat doesn’t mean they should be run into the ground. You suggested that certain people should “have some class”. Take your own advice, because you are sorely lacking in that department.

    • Karla Jenkins says:

      I always think when I look at lovely handmade items like the hat you show – would I make it for that price? NO! Could I even make it at any price? Probably not for most things I look at, certainly not this lovely hat. There are times when I felt I could not afford the beautiful piece of art, but certainly none when I considered it overpriced.

      • Cathrine says:

        Being a ceramic artist, and having done numerous art and craft fairs, as well as gallery exhibitions, I’ve had pretty much every reaction to my work imaginable. Among them is the ‘Oh my god, how can you charge THAT MUCH!’ and the nasty sneer (like they have something smelly stuck under their nose) indicating their disgust at my work, often followed by a very audible whisper about how much they dislike my work.

        Reactions like this hurt. Of course they do – you’ve put your heart, soul and time into making objects you think are beautiful, only to be put down in such a rude way. And for the pricing – yes, I have the same problem. A lot of my work is far too cheap, considering the time it takes to make. There is only so much people are willing to pay on, say, a tealight holder. But I try to balance it out with making bigger, more sculptural work that I can charge much more for, and that people are willing to pay a lot more for, too.

        My husband kept telling me I should price my work based on a calculation of time, materials, firing cost, studio rent, overheads etc etc, but when I pointed out to him that some of my smaller pieces would then have to cost about three times as much as they do to pay me a reasonable hourly rate, he quickly realised that wasn’t the way to do it. Pricing hand crafted objects is extremely tricky, and no matter what prices I put on my work, there will always be someone who thinks it’s too expensive, or will comment ‘I can get something like that for a fraction of the price at IKEA’.

        As for supporting other artists and crafts people, I try to do that to some extent. However, living on rather a small income myself, I could never afford $150 on a hat, no matter how much I liked it! In fact, I could probably not afford to buy a lot of my own work! But I do buy hand-made as often as I can as a treat for myself, or presents for friends and family. And I trade with other makers, which is a great way of aquiring beautifully made art and craftwork.

        Don’t let nasty comments from ignorant people stop you from creating your unique work. Just think that as well as people who don’t appreciate the time, effort, skill and love involved in making your pieces, there are also others who would happily spend their entire monthly clothes budget on one of your hats, simply because they love it.

        • Ian says:

          Question, Catherine: why do you make the lower-priced items at all if you don’t think people are willing to pay a fair price for them? Why not *only* make the larger, sculptural works? I’m genuinely curious because I’m fairly new at my own crafting business and am struggling with pricing myself.

          • Victoria says:

            I make many different style bags at different prices points. I can tell you from experience that I may sell one $80 bag in a month of doing 4 crafts shows. At the same shows I will sell thirty three $10 bags. People who like your work may not be able to buy your most expensive pieces, but they want to support you. It can be in your best interest to offer lower priced items, because they can really add up. The trick is making something that you can sell at a price that is worth the time it takes you to make it.

    • Joe says:

      My wife is an artist and I understand the time, materials, effort and prep that goes into a work of art. Great article.

    • kimberly says:

      When you own your own business you can’t count hours! There is not enough money in the world to pay half the people what they “think” they’re worth. Whether your product is worth it or not you CAN’T base your products value off of that. You must also evaluate perceived value, supply and demand etc. I’m also an artist with a small business and often times feel short changed for my talents but I’m realistic about other factors such as perceived value and what the market can handle!

    • Supareal Doll says:

      I’ve read ahead as far as I could and I think people got a lot off track as they tend to do in online posts…

      This didn’t start as a blog about Box/department stores or consumerism in general but as the holiday season is upon us, perhaps that is just where the mind will tend to go.

      What I’d like to point out is that when considering gifts they must be given from the heart. Handcrafted gifts give that feeling. The crafter the gift-giver and the honored recipient all get something that rewards their hearts and makes them feel loved, that is why we “craft”.

      I am a baker. When I do my small local farmer’s market, I don’t do it for the money. Sometimes I luck out and a new regular customer comes out of the woodwork there. (We also cater and do meals delivered to busy families who want home-cooked meals in no time without all the mess!).

      I also have always made (or bought handmade) for every gift giving occasion. And since I was a child have eliminated (with the help of my mother’s guidance) Christmas from the list of gift giving occasions… Yeah, that’s right I eliminated the “gifting” part…

      Think carefully before you react to that and then ask yourself WHY do you “have to buy them something?”… Who told us that this was a holiday about buying, giving, selling etc… It all started with the stores in the first place didn’t it?!. -Look up history of Santa Claus in North America and see who created his current identity- (If you don’t believe it ask some old-timers they’ll tell ya! They used to get an orange (cause they were a novelty with the new reffer-trucks on the road don’t ya know) and a few simple home-made items like knit socks or mittens or they’d get an item they lent a while ago given back from the borrower; and that was it. Above all they got to spend “quality time” together with loved ones and they were always glad because Christmas means the sun is coming back and days are getting longer!)

      I believe you can have a better holiday if you put all that consumerism behind you. Start a conversation with local crafters and find out what goes into their work. By all means BUY from them before you buy in a box store. Bring something you made to people you visit over the holiday season even if you aren’t the most crafty person you CAN make something you know your friends will like (Mom and I always make soap, jams & jellies, and platters of baked items. We even make our own cards some years or we buy UNICEF cards) And if you really aren’t the crafty type make a donation!

      How you love and cherish your family and friends isn’t measured by what you bought, or where you got it; it’s how you felt while giving and how you treat them all year. Show your appreciation to loved-ones and forget the nonsense that we have to “do it for the kids” start teaching kids to be great adults with upstanding character by instilling non-commercial ideas about the world they live in. You’ll be giving them something that truly is priceless.
      I’m in my Thirties now and what I remember about the holidays most fondly is making soap, canning and baking with mom or Gramma. Also I recall thinking about the idea of giving these items as we prepared for them all year round which always helped keep me motivated when we were working towards these things in the garden for example.
      I never think of all the plastic toys that people bought me at stores over the years. Funny though I still have my quilt made by Gramma, and handmade creative toys from some of our friends.

      I hope no one has any negative comments in response to my post but just know this if you think you have something to say. One of the best ways to show someone respect is to follow the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet!” and that is what the lady shopping at Somer’s Craft booth in the first place should have done! Maybe the more we participate in the emptiness of consumerism the less we are aware of the true value of our words and intentions.

    • Clayette says:

      That is a fact. when I sold my pottery I set a wage of $20 an hour, wholesale, at which point I could ignore all the other expenses. It worked for me since I didn’t have to make a living out of it. but thought I needed to be respectful of art/craft and price for what it is really worth.

    • What a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing. If artisans did not love what we do, there would be NO fun, funky and awesome creations to enjoy.

    • I totally agree with you! I’m a local Texas Jewelry Artist, new to the area and It is a hard for me because you can find Jewelry in most stores for cheap, but people often times seem to forget that we make these pieces by hand, and the work we put into them is priceless!

    • Katrina says:

      Thank you so much for posting this. I didn’t want to do any craft fairs this year because people would “gauk” at the price. I truly was not making any money. Even if you put $20 on a hat they would say “wow that’s expensive”. What? I just spent 3 hours working on it + materials + and so on and so on…..I just signed up for a bazaar yesterday because I just love the Thanks for posting and hopefully it will make a difference to some people.

    • Pat says:

      You are an artist and I can see a lot of work went into your creation. Breaking down your pay for this unlady like person was not nessary for only people who really understand others who make products will understand your price. It is one of a kind I see a lot of work, a beautiful hat and scarf that goes with it. I can only see the picture but I did look as close as I could. I have started knitting and crocketing and I know the work it takes time and the time you pick out to find the right matieral to do this. I can just see you in the store looking at different wools trying to make the right choice, it takes time, then go home and start working, takes time, besides the money you spent buying the wool. Your right the unlady like person was just in a bad mood and decided to pick on you, been there I know. Your an artist at heart keep creating.

    • Cindy says:

      Of course we’ve all heard this at retail or art fair environments. Why do these people need to say something so hurtful? Because they have no lives compared to those of us who think in 3 dimensions, and in the steps to make anything we desire, and we can make the supply list in a minute, then separate it into what we have and what we need to find. While at goodwill, standing in front of a pile of wool yarn. We “creatives” are the lucky ones. No matter what, I don’t want it written on my tombstone “she kept a clean house”. I would prefer “she made as much art as she needed”!

    • Wanda says:

      My first thought when reading this is….” wow! That’s an excellent way to spread head lice”. I was really turned off by the buyer trying on the hats…and then not to buy! Insult to injury. This is the reason why I’m not doing crafts/trade shows to sell my garments.

  2. Miche says:

    I shared this in a post of mine, thought you’d like to know.

    Craft

    • somer says:

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Rona says:

        Hello Somer – There are people who create, and people who don’t. Both groups will buy crafted goods, no matter how they were made. Crafters will recognise and appreciate the effort, care, invention and skill presented by other crafters. Non-crafters will exhibit a range of responses according to their level of empathy and appreciation of aesthetics. They are ‘the public’, the people we present our goods to, for approval, desire, and possible purchase. It therefore follows that those people with a purely practical and pragmatic view of life will have less, or even no, interest in how or why someone would create an item for decorative purposes. I make a variety of non-practical but, I hope, appealing and pleasing items. I sell them at Craft Fairs.
        The buyers are those people who want them – for themselves, or to give to others as gifts. There will be admirers who don’t buy, and non-admirers who don’t buy. If someone is tone-deaf, they cannot appreciate or understand the pleasures of music. The same applies to the small number of people who can’t see the point of creativeness for its own sake.

  3. Ludd says:

    The moral of the story is that when people buy hats, they want a HAT and they want it at HAT PRICES. Only seriously pretentious douchebags need to have elaborately overbuilt clothing and they deserve to pay ridiculous prices for it.

    I see it all the time here in Eureka – people who knit items or do other artsy-craftsy stuff, and they expect to charge incredibly inflated amounts of money for it. Every time I see a pair of plain old silver earrings priced at $375, I just remind myself that these earrings only exist so the artist can say they make high-end jewelry, and they only *continue* to exist so some trout-package with more money than brains can say their earrings cost almost four hundred dollars.

    It’s nice that this person makes hats. There are too many cold heads in the world. But if they *need* to spend 20 hours (seriously?) making a hat, they’re not making hats. They’re making fluff.

    Her customers deserve to pay such ridiculous prices, and she deserves the scorn of everyone with enough common sense to scorn a $150 hat that doesn’t stop bullets.

    • hmmmm says:

      By your logic, we should all wear uniforms, have the same hair cuts, read the same books, and eat the same meal. And also, anyone who can afford a $400 pair of earrings is not going to brag about it.

      I personally would not pay $150 for a hat either, but that doesn’t mean this person should be made fun of for making it. I applaud her art. It represents a time when we made things as opposed to importing them for a lower price and at a higher cost to our country.

      • judah says:

        THANK YOU, Hmmm.
        Personally, I’m hoping this hat, or one similar to it, is available, because I know someone who would LOVE it for its “overbuilt” aspects, and appreciate the time, craft and vision that went into it’s creation.

        I’d rather live in an “overbuilt” world rather than a “well it serves it’s purpose, that’s good enough” one any day of the week.

      • judah says:

        THANK YOU, Hmmm.
        Personally, I’m hoping this hat, or one similar to it, is available, because I know someone who would LOVE it for its “overbuilt” aspects, and appreciate the time, craft and vision that went into it’s creation.

        I’d rather live in an “overbuilt” world rather than a “well it serves it’s purpose, that’s good enough” one any day of the week.

        • Pj says:

          I have to agree with Ludd. I think you missed what he was saying about the hat not being able to stop bullets. I’d bet he had some war experience for our country, has a family for whom he is responsible for and is generally struggling in a job he’s not so happy with but goes to out of responsibility and the needs for those under him. The saying “crafts don’t pay” wasn’t made up yesterday. Many people have to give up those ideals, get a full time paying job and be crafters for their own pleasures – some even do it for churches, the poor, or make war bandages(yep, that still goes on – I believe it needs to be pure cotton for certain applications).

          Because you have the opportunity to do what you want in the craft field, expecting payment on a hourly basis is seldom met. Expecting lower that material cost is stupid. How hard, how much and why you can’t get things sold at a certain pricing means you need to move out of that price range – go wholesale…then the hat would cost at least $300 and you’d be working you’re fingers off. This is the reality of crafts. Is there hope in this…probably not in an economy where people are loosing houses, can’t find work and are barely managing. “A hat priced hat” is exactly what some people want…for the cold – anything else is a pipe dream they don’t enter into for a good reason. To stomp your feet about your product not commanding the price that you think it should means you’ve missed a few points in coming to terms with what you do. Why do you think they are called “starving artists”? This is nothing new, failing to see these truths may make you feel good about yourself and the concept of supporting artists, but at that price…no matter what it is…many people aren’t going to be able to afford it. The hats show nice work, but don’t blame those who don’t plunk down their money for it…a lot of people just go for the show. I agree that the hat is fluff, something that doesn’t feed, heat or pay the
          bills. Right now there’s a lot of fluff – to some its food, sometimes its anything that doesn’t save your butt in a trench built for you to hide from bombs in. No disrespect to the maker, but no disrespect to Ludd either…maybe a thank you though.

          • I didn’t hear/read any one stomping their feet.

            There is plenty of money out there . . . people make choices about how they spend it. Creative work/business IS the new economy. It is how more folk will be responsible for the results they want to create in their life.

            I think your realities PJ are fairly skewed and based in ‘old thinking’ that isn’t playing well for people any more.

            Good luck with that

          • mouthsmadness says:

            If you have read other posts of her’s she goes out of her way to thank customers who buy from her. She also states that while some may think the price is too much, she doesn’t agree. This is an argument over opinions, which I have to point out, no opinion is wrong. While her art is not traditional, neither is the set up of her booth. She has a whimsical set up, and most people would approach out of sheer curiosity, or because they like different things. Just because someone is a war veteran or has bills (imagine that, an adult with bills?? Don’t we all have those?) is no reason to make snide and demeaning remarks. Her blog is not the front page of the internet, no one forced any of us to read it, so why be an ass?

          • Craig says:

            If you can only afford a hat at hat prices, don’t go to the craft fair, go to WaMart.

            The whole point of going to a craft fair is to get something handcrafted, and you pay the price the artist asks. Otherwise, you’re being a dick and insulting the artist (unless it’s an absolute piece of shit object that looks like a spastic squirrel created it). Don’t be a dick.

      • Pj says:

        Where did he ever say anything about all wearing, reading, etc the same? I don’t think he was knocking her work as work, more knocking the thoughts that what he needs is a hat and anything at that price is laughable. A view point on the costing needed to provide a profit, not a mock and ending in a categorization of where he believes this product falls.
        For most these are not hats that one would give to those on their Christmas list because most people don’t spend $150 for any item. Art or craft is nice, but I don’t see many people buying it these days…even at much lower prices. To put the love of art or craft over the needs of the living is best left to those who can afford it. Historically it’s been supported by the ruling class. I don’t rub elbows with those guys but I know most of my friends would have to pass at that price themselves. We might try them on, admire them and appreciate the work, but purchasing is certainly out of the question. As a hope, I know one maker who is trying to get her product worn by a celebrity so she can reach deeper pockets for her fluff product (and she calls it “fluff” as she’s been though slim years herself and wouldn’t have bought her product either). Its a good mechanism and I wish her luck – beautiful stuff but out of the price ranges for many people.

        I hardly think of this as art that “represents a time when we made things” in the meaning of that saying used today. Unless this art can be popularized to the point that it becomes as well known as “the arts and crafts style of building” or something that can employ others and be sold at a profit, this just doesn’t meet criteria for that loaded thought.

        Ludd may have been rough, but I liked his delivery. I saw his incredulousness right away, knew him and liked him by his “doesn’t stop bullets” analogy. My father would say “we don’t have flowers in our restrooms”, I learned the meaning of that thought the hard way. Fluff – flowers – arts – crafts – food – housing – bullets. I don’t have the answers but knew the problems with crafts from the beginning.

    • Justin says:

      A talented jeweler once told my wife “the metal is free, you pay for the artistry”. This was his answer to people who nitpicked about materials costs.

      If you don’t want to buy the hat, don’t. But why imply that others shouldn’t buy a hat that amuses them, or speaks to their soul, or makes them smile?

      • kirk sullens says:

        Beautiful answer, Justin!

      • Hazel says:

        I like your comment Justin. Yes there is alot less money floating around right now, so people like myself, who love unique created things (preferably useful and beautiful) think before we buy, or buy smaller or fewer. If an individual doesn’t want to pay the price, that is fine, but to be rude about the work is just bad manners. For me personally, I like things around me that make me smile.

      • I had to laugh at “the metal is free.” Where was this guy getting his sterling silver? I am a jewelry designer, originally from the States, now living in Scotland. The artisan community over here is incredibly supportive as are a great number of the public. Underselling is something everyone does if you break it down, but what upsets me are people who are selling at such a low rate you KNOW that the materials are not genuine and that the work was bought in and not made.

    • Debra Hamilton says:

      First off I also crochet and enjoy it. Secondly sir you seriously need to get a grip. There is a lot of time, money, love and yes even suffering(meaning personal pain)that goes into making anything by hand and it is a dying art. That is what it is ART!!! If this is how you view the artsy world as you put it then stay the hell home and keep that kind of opinion to yourself! Personally I thought the hat was beautiful and wish I had the time, patience and experience to do something that elaborate. The hat pictured is beautiful. Thank you for allowing me to be apart of this

    • jen says:

      there’s a distinct difference between a pair of “plain old silver earrings” and the hat the author described in her post. yet somehow people think that precious metals are worth far more than one person’s creative (and dexterous) skill.

      if you don’t like the hat, then fine. say “i don’t like the hat and therefore i wouldn’t pay $150 for it.” but if you saw another handmade hat in your favorite colors and design features you love, then you might think $150 wasn’t such a bad price after all. don’t dismiss her talent and hard work just because of your bad taste in hats.

    • Gorloc says:

      Dear Ludd, the next time you are at a craft show please look around and see if there is someone selling custom knives and mention this post to them. If they are anything like me (Or I get lucky enough to actually run into you.LOL) I am sure they would be happy to give a knife to the next customer that walks up so that they may stab your dumb ass with it and just write it off as a loss.
      I know that I would most certainly give one of my fine handmade blades to anyone willing to rid this planet of such a sad and pathetic waste of flesh such as yourself. I think it would be good for you as well seeing as you cannot possibly be happy with yourself or at least have some serious insecurities as you have felt the need to be such a , hmmm, polite word, hmmmm, JERK, to this woman who does what she loves and has been kind enough to share it with the rest of the world.
      May all your dreams be destroyed and your life be miserable my good sir.
      Oh, and that little pill you take daily, it doesn’t actually make it any longer, sorry you had to find out like this. ;b

    • Megan says:

      Do you know what constitutes a hat to be ‘hat priced’? Cheap and undignified, dangerous and inhumane foreign labor.

    • cyndi says:

      First off: I can understand why you would need a hat that would stop bullets. Secondly, Many pay much more for paper replicas of other art works. Who are you to judge. At least what she enjoys doing is not hurting others.

    • Michelf says:

      Dear Ludd,

      In the words of William Shakespeare,

      “You are an ass.”

      Moving on.

      A friend of mine linked this article on Facebook and after reading it here’s my thoughts.

      I would also out that the woman tried on every one of her hats. And while she SAID over and over that she didn’t like the hats, what was ACTUALLY HAPPENING was that she did like the hats but she didn’t think she looked good in them for whatever reason. According to the description, she didn’t say anything about not liking this or that hat until she put it on and looked at herself. (Not everyone has the same size/shape/color head.) Maybe the shape of her head doesn’t quite work with the style of hat you specialize in, maybe she’s U G L Y (she ain’t got no alibi), but the point is that she wouldn’t try on very many hats if she didn’t like them. So instead of owning that she couldn’t carry off the hat, she blames the hat and the price.

      This is known as sour grapes.

    • K.B. says:

      Hats are only “hat priced” because of massive externalization of costs for the cheap stuff at WalMart: cheap synthetic yarn, ultra-cheap overseas sweatshop labor, fewer environmental and worker safety regulations on the factories. There’s a huge cost to those low, low prices, and it’s paid in environmental degradation, worker health, and fewer and fewer domestic jobs. Enjoy your cheap hat, because you’re paying for it in so many other ways.

    • Alix says:

      Did you read that before you posted it? She doesn’t “make hats” she “creates hats” and her price-tag is totally justified.
      Read it again.
      x

      • Yes, these hats are wearable art and Somer is entitled to charge as much as she wants for them. If she wants to SELL as much as she makes, she’ll either figure out how to speed up her work, reduce her material costs, or something.

        While I respect the concept of hourly wages, sometimes you also have to acknowledge the market forces of supply and demand and return on investment.

        Too often people think of knitting projects as just something done in a person’s spare time, while they’re watching tv, so a $150 price tag is enough to cause severe sticker shock.

        My advice to Somer is to scale down her designs to fit baby heads (they would be absolutely adorable and make very special baby gifts from doting grandparents) and put together a book of these unique and whimsical knitting patterns to sell at these craft fairs. Or print out an individual pattern and stick it in a zip lock bag along with the materials to be able to make it. The important aspect is Somer’s design work. After that, she needs to figure out how to make a living from her art and sharing it with the world.

        A fellow artist passed along a quote which made my husband and me wince, but also made us think and acknowledge the truth inherent in it: “If you make for the masses, you’ll eat with the classes, but if you make for the classes, you’ll eat with the masses.”

        Hard, but true.

    • Ludd, clearly you are blog troll and someone who doesn’t create much, beyond discord . . . yup, I’m judging you big time, which is not really good for me . . . but hey.

      Really, it’s this backward kind of thinking that is holding many back from a fulfilling, financially successful life as creative entrepreneurs.

      You just keep buying your hats at places like Walmart and your food at McDonalds . . . do they have those in Eureka?

    • Rain says:

      I respectfully have to disagree with your opinion here, as well as the way you decided to phrase it. Why do you have to make it a personal attack? If I buy a hat, personally, I don’t *want* a plain old “hat” at “hat prices.” I can already make amazing hats. If I’m gonna shell out for a hat someone else made, it is precisely this kind of fabulous, over the top, handmade piece of art that I would want to buy. Because it is nothing like what I can make for myself. That’s what makes it special.

      My opinion. No more, or less, valid than your own. You don’t value handmade, that’s fine. Don’t hate on those who do.

    • annijanni says:

      You obviously didn’t get it!

    • annijanni says:

      RU-UDE! It would be nice if people like Ludd could be prevented from enjoying museums, concerts, fine foods etc. The moral of the story is that Ludd should just walk their little heiny down to the nearest mega mart and buy a $2 pair of stretchy gloves to go with their %4 haircut. Then again perhaps we should feel bad for you that you seem to have shut your brain down to enjoying anything out of the ordinary or made with love as an ingredient. Poor you Ludd!

    • Malinda says:

      Ludd,
      You should not have a go at Somer’s creations. Handmade ‘fluff’ as you put it, is made with love not machinery, and you know what, the ‘fluff’ you are talking about puts SMILES on so many peoples faces…. which is PRICELESS……..
      Ludd, I don’t think you get it

    • knitbunnie says:

      Well said! I’d have to be paid $150 to put that silly thing on my head.

    • Fellow Handcrafter says:

      aaand the moral of Ludd’s story is this: Ludd only wears clothes that are tubes, and hats that are cubes – because the fine touches of details that change a T-shirt into something more than casual, more than an undergarment, into something that says “‘thank you for inviting me/or I’m glad you came to our gathering’-so I dressed better” is well, just not worth Ludd’s money, or our time. Folks!- take a moment to look up Luddites on Wikipedia – there is a bizarre metaphor/parallel to Ludd’s handcrafted backslap here…

    • A sane person says:

      And you are here reading a blog by an artsy-craftsy person why?

      Just so you can be nasty?

      Get a hobby. Perhaps knitting?

    • Leslie Todd says:

      When is a hat not just a hat? When it’s this one. This hat is a work of art, and I think it’s worth $150.00. Not everyone will be able to afford that, but so? Some will. At the same time, it’s a good idea to have articles at different price points for those that like your work but can’t afford to drop $150.00.

      And the rude lady who complained about the hat–as someone else said, she has a 10 dollar head. There’s no excuse for that sort of rudeness.

    • Lori says:

      Ludd, how long does it take you to make a hat? Because, as an experienced knitter it may take me about 10 hours to make a pretty basic hat. So, since you think 20 hours is too long to work on a complicated hat, I’m curious how long you think it’d take you to make one.

    • Cindy says:

      Ludd, why do you not know the difference between art and craft and crap? Do you shop at Wal-mart and expect to pay slave rates for everything? Do you prefer people getting killed when their factory collapses, or getting locked in after someone finds a fire? Do you know the price of silver currently? YOU ARE NOT OUR CUSTOMER! We don’t need your negativity. If you have no need for our fabulousity, move on…

  4. Rebecca V. says:

    Why do I think Ludd didn’t even read the article?

    I’ve seen the same thing with my own crafts. I used to do craft fairs to sell my lampwork beads. Unless you’re a really big name, it’s hard to make a living from your own art, for exactly the reasons you’ve set out here.

  5. Susan C. says:

    I so understand. I make beaded snoods. I had one woman misread a price tag for one. It was a lovely purple turkish metallic cotton with 200+ amethyst beads on it. The tag said $100.00 (Which in all honesty is a steal!) She read the tag as $1.00 and was upset that I wouldn’t sell it to her for $1.00. Luckily, however, I do have a group of people and an ever increasing following on Etsy who do value my work. But I also understand the frustration of people saying My grandmother could make that. Why do you charge $100 for it.

    • John says:

      Hmm… From the sounds of it, I guess this person doesn’t think much of her grandmother’s work either.

    • who has time to make everything they THINK they can make. I used ot do that to artists all the time…”i’m not paying THAT, because I can make it.” It’s a lie and I have 100 different projects in my shop to prove it and my grandmother’s dead. NO ONE should devalue their own work, or the work of others because they are not willing to spend the money on it

  6. Susan C. says:

    Oh yeah and I shared this on my FB page….

  7. lydushka says:

    I completely understand this concept. Problem is that, ok let’s face it. either the customer wants an outfit that you just made that cost you over $200 to make for $40 bucks or goes “window” shopping on etsy or ebay or any other creative site, and has a crafty friend make it for them…
    how many of us…let’s be honest, have actually sold something on etsy in the past year? I have sold nothing…this site has been totted as “if you see something on here, you can probably do it yourself..it’s the inspiration website…
    So i say to myself, if that person is disgusted with your work, why is she bothering to stop at your stall??? she is a sad little soul that has no creativity bone in her body or she’s looking it over to see how she can reproduce it for herself.
    this is all i have to say on this subject.

    • Melanie says:

      It sounds to me that that woman who complained is one of many people who probably don’t have any talents, and live a miserable, unhappy life, and feel the need to make other people’s lives miserable. I would just ignore such folk, and be happy when you have happy customers willing to pay your prices for your hard work! I too work at craft fairs, and have been lucky so far, if someone thought it was too expensive, they kept it quiet. Keep up the good work.

  8. Maya J says:

    I agree with a couple of people in here.. I make hand woven shawls that take me anywhere from 4 hours (for a child sized one) and 8 hours (for a adult sized one) and that is IF i sit and weave straight with no breaks…and I make other woven creations as well as beaded jewelry and i have gotten the comment of “My mom could make that” , well if your mom could indeed make that, go ask her what she would charge for them… and I am sure the person that said “my mom could make that” would be very surprised at what the mom would say… and also I do not think that Ludd actually read the article…

  9. gina chalfant says:

    You’ve forgot †o include the cost of the show fee, insurance, gas/travel expenses and any food that you need to consume that day!

  10. Justin says:

    Thank you for this explanation of what is involved in the prices of handmade goods. I can see from the comments that some people really do not understand artisan crafts; it is probably too hard to educate those who refuse to learn. But for many of us the opportunity to grace our lives with things that are a joy to use, as well as useful for a practical purpose.

    As my wife (an artisan jeweler) tells some potential clients: “if it’s mall jewelry you want, go to the mall. If price is all you care about, go to Walmart!”

  11. goprairie says:

    You made that hat and you market and sell the hats. You, the artist, would sell that hat wholesale to the retailer for half the retail price. Therefore, you the artist would make about $2.40 an hour and you the retailer would have to do some separate math.
    I have a little art gallery and sometimes people ask if I can ‘do better’ on the price. I ask them who should get paid less, the artist who put hours into making it or me who has to work the shop hours and pay the utilities and property taxes to keep the store open? Most of them get the point then.

    • KayJay says:

      I have been asked often enough at craft fairs if I would take less than the price I’ve marked or quoted for a handcrafted item. My stock response has become “Oh, would you want me to walk into YOUR place of business and ask YOU to work for half your pay?” I’ve come to realize that the ones who want and appreciate your work won’t act as if they’re at a tag sale, and the ones who act that way weren’t going to buy in the first place.

      • CrochetGirl says:

        First of all- as far as the original post. I totally sympathize with the artist that anyone who comes into look at your work and openly scoffs at them is rude and insensitive. That woman was wrong and there is no changing that. If the artist believes the hat is worth $150, then the price should be $150. HOWEVER- if it doesn’t sell- that doesn’t mean she is a victim in the situation. She is paying herself an hourly wage of $0. And guaranteeing that she takes a loss if she never changes the price and that hat doesn’t sell. If this is how she supports herself, then that $2/hour seems better than nothing. (I know that isn’t a warm and fuzzy view that we all like to take of our creations- but if it IS a business and the argument in the article was based on business and wages, then this is the logical conclusion).

        As to the comments, I have to say that I am confused as to why so many in these comments seem to want to sell their hand crafted art when they obviously hate their clientele. Personally, I value handmade works, I crochet and sew pieces myself. However, if I see a piece that I want but I am unwilling to pay the price for- I will usually ask if the vendor will take less. This isn’t an evil thing I do for nefarious pleasure- its an honest attempt to buy an item. I’m not trying to “stick it to the artist” I’m trying to make a purchase. (a purchase- I may add that is for my pleasure) If I get a snarky response from that vendor (a la “who should make less?” or “oh you want me to walk into your place of business and…”) well then I can guarantee you that I’ll just walk away. And I can tell you, I am a CPA and if a potential client thinks that I overprice my services then I too will be asked if I can lower the price or else I may not get their business. People DO tell people in the business world the exact same thing on a daily basis- everyone wants to pay less for things and everyone wants to make more for their time and effort. Do not forget that an item is only materially worth what the buyer is willing to pay. It may be sentimentally worth more to you- in which case if you don’t nee the money of course do not sell- but recognize that you could lose the sale and don’t gripe about it. But if it isn’t worth the sticker price to me, the buyer, I am certainly not going to buy it if you make it an unpleasant experience. Seriously, I work hard on the things I create but you can’t always project that onto others. And this is just as true for some item at WalMart that I think is overpriced. Don’t think people who don’t buy something from you go and just get something equally overpriced from a chain store. That’s just not how people’s budgets work.

  12. Dana says:

    Many good points made here. Just one thing to keep in mind when people ask “is this the best you can do” or offer you a different price – in many, many cultures it is disrespectful to the artist NOT to haggle. In some cases, they may not be making a statement about your artistic ability at all.

    • Janet says:

      Yeah, I agree, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a cultural thing, many people are raised to haggle. If I only have $50 bucks in my pocket and your [whatever] is priced at $55, and I explain that to you, you have three choices: take my money, politely decline to come down in price and probably lose the sale… or choice #3, be a total dick and say “Would you want me to walk into YOUR place of business and ask YOU to work for half your pay?” I hope you were being overly dramatic and that you don’t actually say that to people. This is how business works. I make my living working freelance, I sell my art and labor and negotiate on almost every job I have.

      Really, it doesn’t matter how much I want what you’re selling, if I ever heard an artist say that to a customer I would walk away. There’s a way to say “no, I can’t negotiate on price” without being a douchebag about it.

  13. Lynn says:

    This was a post that needed to be written. There are many people who do not realize the work that goes into a handcrafted item. I think your hat is beautiful and worth every penny you are asking for it. I love having one of a kind items and only buy commercial items when I have no choice but to. I also create jewelry and just recently loom knitting. The jewelry I sell off and on, but the loom stuff I make for us. It is a lot of work either way and I do enjoy it! I applaud you for writing the article that needed to be said.

  14. Jade says:

    Ludd: Old English for “troll” or “supercilious wanker”. Also see “all-around d***head”

    Regarding the post, this is the sort of thing I always have to explain to people who tell me, “Oh, you should make a bunch of those and sell them; you’d make all kinds of money.” No, I wouldn’t, because if I charged what something I make is truly worth, no one would want to pay for it. It’s not going to stop me from making things and occasionally offering them up for sale, but that’s just how things are.

    It’s also why I do shop at craft fairs, although much of the time I can only admire and not buy: because I know the things I do buy there are not something I can find in a retail store–I may be able to find something cheaper and similar in style, but the store items have nowhere near as much time, effort or love put into them.

    • quiltcat says:

      The original post and this comment are so spot-on! I am a quilter (as a hobby) and if i had a dollar for every time someone told me “oh you should quit your job and make lots of these”…i could quit my job! But i wouldn’t get rich from quilting. When a small wallhanging has over $100 worth of fabrics and embellishments and 60 hours of time in its making…you really should be able to charge $2000 for it but you’re lucky to get the cost of your materials. And then are those people who say “my mother could make that better”…good, more power to her!

      I love making…and buying…handmade gifts. They are made with love and soul. That said…please don’t let this one ignoramus spoil things for you. I bet there were a fair number of people who said “ohhh that’s so cool!” “wow, that’s gorgeous!” I know when i go to a craft fair and find beautiful things that i can’t possibly afford, a) i look for something smaller at that person’s booth that i am able to afford b) i give the one thing that’s free, and that’s praise and a smile.

      • tambo says:

        I’m a quilter, too, and I could not agree more. I have a teensy – 12″ square – embellished wall hanging that surely took more than 100 hours to make, plus all batiks, copper, foiling, custom threads, and beads… The price I’d have to put on it would be astronomical!

        Mostly I make baby quilts and table runners but they, too, would run at least $125 for the simplest patterns, just to make sub minimum wage.

        I’m proud to support artisans whenever I can and the author of the original essay is absolutely spot on.

    • Declan says:

      Ironically, the Luddites were a group of English workers in the early 1800s who smashed machinery in cotton and wool mills that they figured would destroy their traditional way of work. They were probably right too, but that’s another argument. But certainly ‘Ludd’ is an ignorant troll and best ignored. Anyone that buys woolly hats to stop bullets probably has little to protect up there anyway. But I completely sympathise with the artist’s main point. Most people simply do not understand the value of crafts, and some of this is down to marketing (if we sell our stuff on a stall, it must be cheap, right?) and, at times, (let’s be honest) some of it is also down to poorly-made products, so the good stuff gets lumped in with the bad. I have a particular affection for hats and buy hand-made as often as I can, so I say “well done you” and f**k the begrudgers. They are simply not worth bothering about.

  15. David Larson says:

    I would tell that lady “may hat IS worth that much… YOU aren’t. You probably should move on to the other booths so as not to bother real customers

  16. Jim Davis says:

    My fiancee is an artist. She does watercolors, prints, pen-and-ink drawings, and the like. It’s just not worth her time to try and sell the originals, so she sells prints, note cards, and the like, and some [insert appropriate descriptors here]think THOSE cost too much.

    It sounds to me like this Ludd person would rather buy some half-arsed piece of crap from W*lM*rt.

  17. James Hays says:

    Thank you for breaking down the costs. Myself, I generally look at the price tag and assess whether I can afford to pay the amount, not try to haggle (which is what this woman was doing in the rudest possible manner).

    Blessings to you and yours.

  18. lisa peters says:

    You also forgot to include to $/hour it took you to write this post about it.
    The hat you made is beautiful. You did not need to justify your prices because right now I am thinking — the hat should be $200..and I cannot afford a $200 hat right now! But the hat, the materials and the artistry speak for themselves.

    Why is it that we give time and effort out of our day to worry about the nasty person who insulted us through our craft… I bet there were so many people who told you that hat was gorgeous and they loved it, but they are not mentioned here.

    This person probably went on to insult the artistry of every other person in your row that day without even giving it a second thought. There is always going to be “this person”..it is how they deal with not understanding or seeing the beauty in things like others, or like you said – had something else going on in her brain that day — or maybe she has horrible people in her life and her only outlet is to be horrible to someone else., Who knows? but if your hat was $150, $300 or $15.00 — someone is going to have something negative to say and lots of people are going to adore it.. As someone who creates handmade I have really learned not to internalize anything said by people like that..unless someone was offering a proper critique and their comments were supported by something I didn’t see or a mistake..but otherwise let the positive comments by admirer’s fill you up so that there is no room for this person and their nonsense. People who know good craft, KNOW GOOD CRAFT plain and simple and no one has to do the math for them, they know what it cost and know how long it took and that is who you want to own your beautiful hat anyway..

    I wish you many more successful craft fairs without “that person” in attendance! ;)

  19. lydushka says:

    Just so that you can all feel better about this artform, I have a little truth to tell you all.
    Recently My sister-in-law wanted me to make her a dress, A very expensive dress. She took me to NYC to the showroom of this designer that she had fallen in love with but could not afford his prices…Understandibly, I wanted to help and was curious as to what kind of work was done in the “fashion world”. When we walked into this designer’s showroom, I was floored! the designs were simple, the coutiur was hand done and the prices were astronomical…in the ball park of $2,500.00 for a halter top style dress made out of tiedye silk. I was shocked. Looked the dresses over and the handsewing was awful, the machine sewing was atroucious (sorry, spelling is not my strong suit) and the dresses were all model size…not a single one over the size of 8! They had a “clearance rack” of accessories that had a beautifully patterned scarf…still had the name tag from the local Claire’s and priced for a shocking $300!!! Excuse me??
    After much perusing, I walked out completely disgusted with the out of reach prices that only the ultra rich could afford, barely wear but pose in, but as a seamstress, i wouldn’t let my customers walk out of the showroom wearing this tripe because of the shoddy workmanship!!
    I went to the fabric district, bought some beautiful silk in colors that would become my sister and made her a “big name designer” style dress that fit her perfectly, made her happy and radient that she could now wear this to all her special occasions and was a decently well made dress that will NOT fall apart first time she either danced, moved or posed in any position.
    This is why I do this art, it’s called pride and self satisfaction that the items I make are done well, fit well and I try to price them accordingly so that I am paid for my time and they pay for thier items and are affordable….

    as to those dress “big name” designers?? We are watching you, and we will report on your actual workmanship…personally, If I see your item, I can copy it to any size and make it better!!!

    So Fellow artisains, remember…big names are what brings big prices, but it’s pride that makes it better, last longer and beautiful!!! Your reputation and your craft are what matter!!

    • Alex says:

      Sorry, but doesn’t that make you just like the customer that Somer was talking about in the first place?
      I’m not making a comment about workmanship, design or anything else – just that you walked into a store and valued this designer’s work differently than the designer did themselves (and you don’t care about their overheads like factories, store space, rent, employees, insurance, electricity etc).

      • Poet says:

        Alex, I take your point, but I think I see what lydushka is trying to say. She is assessing the workmanship of the garments in question from the standpoint of someone who has at least a working, perhaps even professional knowledge of garment making. I do not yet have even a working knowledge, but am able to appreciate that there is a BIG difference between indifferent workmanship and capable craftsmanship.

        I’ve read through the article as well as all the comments thus far, and I believe Somer’s hat is a piece of quality workmanship and that she has the perfect right to set her prices as she wishes. I would not choose to buy that particular hat because it is not to my personal taste… but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate its being well-made. Should I be able to attend a craft fair at which Somer is vending at some point, I may well choose to buy another of her hats if I am then able to afford the price (I currently am *not* able), because I recognize that she does quality work.

        I admire those who devote such time and energy to crafting items by hand. When someone knows what they are about and puts real effort into something, the result is not only high-quality but also long-lasting if cared for properly. A hat such as the one pictured above will last for quite a while if the customer is willing to take good care of it — and that is only one very good reason for its price tag. Even if the price were $300.00, it would pay for itself over time given that it is well made.

    • Michelle says:

      Lydushka-your post is the story of my life! Since I was a kid I have looked at things ready made from retailers (beginning with Barbie clothes!) and found myself abhorred by the shoddy workmanship and high prices. Because I was crafty (hand sewing since age 3 to make said Barbie clothes) I could often buy the materials myself – or use my mom’s fabric scraps in this instance – then make it for a fraction of the cost and with a much higher quality and unique spin.

      There are craft fairs, too, where what is on offer looks like a kindergartner made it…and they want a lot of $$ for their things…because they are trying to make a living from sales. Rarely are there people actually shopping at these booths. But some people do like all kinds of crafts and will pay for them.

      Then there are crafters/artists – once in a while – who are selling things at too good a price. This fall I knew I wanted to buy a beautiful pottery bowl from an artist I had seen the previous year. I was prepared to pay $40 for the bowl I wanted, when he was only asking $20! I told him he should charge more. I love a good deal, but fantastic artists should not be giving their work away so cheaply. But, at the same time, he was selling like crazy!

      As for the hat…it’s cute…and if I were to buy something like this I would understand I am buying a piece of wearable ART. It is an investment and something I will make a point of appreciating for a long time. Also, if I am going to be paying $$$ for something it will likely be an item I would never be able to make myself…so it has to be pretty unique.

      I also see crafters who are buying their supplies at retail prices…then passing on that cost to their customers, so that something I could pay $20 for and make myself has a $50 or $60 price tag. I think it would help a lot of crafters to buy their supplies wholesale, if possible. That way you have less invested and can make a good profit while keeping the price lower. I think if you are going to be successful you have to build a biz slowly and start selling things on the side, find your niche market and stick to your guns on pricing. Then you usually build up a name for yourself and people will want your products.

      We live in a department store society and it’s hard to hurdle over most people’s perceptions of what things should cost. Crafts and art is a niche market. As an art customer you either have to have a lot of $$$ to buy things or make a commitment to pay more and have fewer things.

      There are always people who will poo-poo someone for spending money on art when they could run to a store and buy a cheap facsimile for pennies on the dollar. But it’s all a matter of what is important to you and where and how you want to spend your money.

      I know crafters and artists have a tough job. I would find it difficult to work with the public and ungenerous customers. But some people love it. I also know I’ve come across booths that made me feel like I was a reprobate for NOT buying anything. This has happened all too often. Just because you put your blood, sweat and tears into something you are selling does not mean I will like it, want it or buy it…or that I, somehow, have to buy so you can pay your light bill.

    • Cindy says:

      EVERYONE”S VALUES ARE DIFFERENT! I remake designer stuff for decent, not ‘crazy’ money. The sister didn’t need to pay for a hoity-toity showroom and shoddy workmanship when she had a custom dressmaker handy. QUALITY is more important. Custom-made is more important, fitting the actual body, changing hems or where certain seams hit by one or two inches in crazy important. If you fit into “regular sizes”, good for you! But for those of us who are two inches too tall, or short-waisted, or whose shoulders are sloping, we will continue to make our own, better than what we can buy.

  20. Wendy says:

    This is the reason I will not knit socks for money. How many hours go into them? And then I would have to deal with “They are how much!??!?!” No way. I admire you for continuing on at that rate of pay, but I couldn’t do it.

  21. Chris says:

    Doing my first sale this Sunday with my father’s hand woven creations, and this post was extremely helpful. Thanks

  22. Delia says:

    Every piece of jewelry I own, every scarf (except the ones I make myself), every hat, and many pieces of clothing, come from craft fairs. I love talking to the people who make beautiful things and (most of all) having a story to remember and tell about the beautiful things they let me take home, once I’ve gladly paid them whatever they’re asking for their time and skill.

    I love the hat, by the way.

  23. Kate says:

    This is one of my real arguments against the 99% ‘decree’ that we should stop all imports. (I know, they don’t really have a ‘list’ but that seems to be on many of the things I’ve read). If we stop all imports we would have little to no clothing coming into the country. I can sew, but, I don’t think there are even textile mills left. My mother spins and weaves and estimated that an inch of fabric is worth about $100 if she is going ‘cheap’. Same story as the hat, you are making art but what if we HAD to make all our clothing? Imagine the cost….

    • jen says:

      there’s another side to that, though. when i get multiple orders for one item (like some hats i’m doing now), i can lower my price a little bit from what it would be if i was just doing one as a custom order. the first one i sell covers the cost of materials, assuming i had to buy specific yarns or colors. every hat made after that just pays me for my time.

      if we stopped importing all our clothing, domestic textile mills would pop up almost immediately simply because of demand. we would still have to import many of the materials, and it would cost more than it does now, but i don’t think we’d be paying $100 per inch of fabric.

  24. JoAnne says:

    Yes, craft fairs are NOT flea markets! It’s appalling how many people think that! I love your hat by the way! Keep on keepin’ on. :)

  25. Sarah says:

    i always have this problem because i cross-stitch. and it’s not rocket science…anyone can do it! but i design patterns and it takes a long time to stitch a piece. at one of my shows, a woman came up at said, out of nowhere, i’ll give you $15. it was priced at $40. when i told her no, she said she could do this crap herself. luckily, i had just made kits. for $15 she could have a kit and do it herself! well, she didn’t like that answer. the best part was that the stitch was a very bad certain four letter word beginning with C. it sold 20 minutes later to someone who didn’t think twice about the price. some pieces just need to wait for the right person. and it’s the same for a $150 hat. i have no need for it. that hat isn’t really my style. but sooner or later someone will see it who can’t live without it!

  26. Ibarrumah says:

    The same problem applies for people who play live music, and we’re always fighting that same battle. “What do you mean, you charge more than $100 per person for an evening performance? That’s $400 for the whole band!!!”

    Yep. It is. Let’s break that down. $100 per person for the three hours of performance: $33 per hour. Not bad! But I need to get there 30 minutes early to meet the promoters and do sound check; I need an additional hour before that to load in the sound gear and set it up, and I need an hour of hard work at the end of the gig to pack everything up and put it in the car. That’s now $100 for 5.5 hours, or $18 an hour.

    But I also have to get to the gig. If I’m lucky enough to play gigs in my area, we’ll call that an hour of travel each way, bringing my hourly wage to $13. However, I’m more frequently traveling 3-6 hours each way, which puts my hourly wage between $7.40 and $5.12 per hour–assuming that you paid me that original $100.

    Then there’s gas. My car will go about 400 miles on a tank of gas, which costs $50. So if I’m originally paid $100 and I just count gas prices, my pay has now dropped to between $6.66 and $2.56 per hour. I should probably also eat something during my twelve hours of driving…

    And then, of course, people generally think we sound better when we practice once in a while. So, time for practice… travel… food… occasionally a piece of sound gear breaks, or an instrument needs repair…

    But people are sure that we’re getting rich on their $100 per person for three hours of skilled work!

    • Boy, is this the truth, Ibarrumah! My husband is a professional flutist as well as a flutemaker, and normally he gets paid for his musical work by “service.” (One evening rehearsal is a service, one performance is a service, etc.) He had to stop working with one promoter who refused to understand that the pay for her gig broke down to $25 a service for him, and he couldn’t afford to lose half a day’s work for that. She went away mad, but at least she finally went away.

  27. Oscar says:

    Dirty capitalist craftworkers!

    ;0)

  28. Anna says:

    Thanks for this post. Yes, for most people, offhand $150 seems outrageous, because we don’t realize how it breakds down and all that goes into it. That said, it’s nonetheless too much money for most people to afford. But if one can afford it, it’s a lovely hat. I’d definitely buy it if I could!

  29. NC Narrator says:

    I have definitely been there! I finally stopped doing anything but special orders, where the price had been explained and agreed upon up front. I still remember the first time someone picked up a pure white baby blanket I’d crocheted at a craft fair (with dirty hands, I’ll point out). It was made of very high quality material, and had an extremely elaborate, lacy trim that was literally six inches wide all the way around. It was meant to be an heirloom piece to be handed down and treasured. The lady (who, I’m very certain had never created anything more complicated than a ham sandwich), looked at what had taken me over three weeks of effort and said, “I can get the same thing at Wal Mart for ten bucks,” dropped it carelessly back on the table, and walked away before I could kill her.

    Of course, she can’t get it at Wally World for ten bucks. Mostly because Wally World doesn’t sell that sort of thing…they sell stuff that comes in lots of 4 million, so there are 4 million other blankets exactly like that out there, which is why new parents have six of the same blanket (that was probably hand-sewn by child slaves somewhere).

    You definitely have to do it because you love it, sort of like my hubby teaches because he loves it (and rocks at it). ‘Cause it sure isn’t going to make you rich!

    • jen says:

      this is one of the reasons i don’t sell at craft fairs (or on etsy). i prefer to make things as gifts for people first (like baby blankets and animals and full size afghans), and then they know they can come back to me for custom orders. they already know the work and detail that went into something i wanted them to own, and they generally have no issues with any price i throw out there.

      • Betty Ross says:

        I grew up with a Mom who made everyting for us, from out socks to my Dad’s suits and our winter clothing (old fashion “storm coats”). She even made mine and my sister’s evening gowns for proms and even a couple of them for some of her friends’ daughters who were in beauty contests (like Miss South Carolina).
        Now I do handcrafts, but I am not as good as my late Mom was. I specialize in Christening/Dedication Baby Clothing and making small business size flags, especially the American flag. I gave up trying to sell them, because no one wanted to pay for what I had to price them. I now make the baby clothing for friends and family as gifts; the flags I make, I give free to the military, law enforcement, and fire fighting personel. Would you believe it!!? These people who risk their lives for me always try to make me take money for these flags! But when I tried to sell them to civilians, I was treated as the artisan who made the beautiful hat.
        I also make most of my articles from my own patterns; I am now in the process of finishing an outfit for my neice who is expecting in December and also making myself a shawl and costume for a Confederate reenactment group.
        When people do not do their own handwork, like they used to do in the old days, they do not realize what goes into it. You all have been “dead on it” when you say that it is all made with love and perfection in every stitch/stoke/etc..
        When I shop, I only buy it if it is made in America, unless it is an emergency item that is needed right away. I needed a watering can for my plants that I had brought in for the winter; it took me a while, but I finally found a small watering can made in America.

  30. mousie momma says:

    thank you for this article! i sometimes forget that i should include my time and skill into a price when i make something to sell, and when i do remember to calculate it in, i’m pretty sure i underestimate the time involved…this is part of why i don’t sell most of the items i make. i’ve thought about doing local craft fairs and shows but haven’t because of the added expenses…the booth fees alone in my area don’t make it worth it for me personally. when i’m creating something, i’d much rather be inspired and make something that makes ME happy or create something with a specific person i know in mind and just give it to them as a gift. that way i know that it will bring them as much joy in wearing, using or displaying it as it brought me in creating it. i know i’ll never make money from my art this way, but i’m ok with that because i know my art is with a friend who will truly love and cherish it.

  31. Grant says:

    Why are you selling ART at a CRAFT fair? Your work is beautiful and belongs in a gallery, not sitting next to a booth that sells $12 mittens or corn-dogs on a stick. When I go to a craft fair I am always taken aback by the prices of the high-end arts. If I want to spend that kind of money, I’m not going to do it standing in a parking lot. Upgrade your sale’s outlet and you will never have to deal with morons who can’t tell the difference between a piece of Art and cheap junk. And yes, I would definately pay the $150 for your beautiful hat — because I work very hard for my Art too. Artists never get paid what they are worth, and I agree that it sucks.

    • Maiden Star says:

      I agree, this hat and others made by Sommer belong in a gallery. I’ve been told the same of my high-end jewellery pieces (“costume” jewellery, not “fine”). The trouble is finding a gallery that will take it, making the contacts, negotiating the terms… these things take time and distinct skills, and it’s not like galleries advertise that they are looking for artisan works by unknown or little-known artists.

    • Sabrina says:

      One sells at a craft fair because it’s often easier to make money from a craft fair rather than trying to land a spot in a gallery ;)

  32. Freydis says:

    WallyWorld mentality. I am a historical costumer, and this is the major reason I no longer do modern art/craft shows. Once a woman picked up one of my hand-pieced, one-of-a-kind tote bags and said, “You want $22 for THIS?” Most customers are not looking to buy quality art goods, just to swipe one’s ideas. At least in my specialty market I am developing a loyal base of return customers who appreciate the time and workmanship that goes into my pieces. My favorite reply to people who say “I could make that for half the price”? “You can??? Great! Make a hundred and if I approve the quality, you can wholesale them to me!”

  33. Freydis says:

    p.s. I love your hat!

  34. Gerene says:

    Very,well said Somer. I am a writer/poet/playwright it is how I make my living contrary to those less informed who describe my endeavors as “artsy craftsy” but will call me when they need some special words and say well we don’t have any money but…. could you would you? NO! I WILL NOT! You’d pay the plumber if you had a leak! If you need inspiration, a special card or whatnot be prepared to pay for that as well.

    I suppose as a friend (also a creative person) once said “normal” folks simply assume artist don’t need to eat, wear clothes or keep a roof over our heads. SMH I truly understand an appreciate your position.

  35. Lilith says:

    I am a crafter myself and I totally understand what you are talking about. I do hope that not every customer treats you like that. I have though ran across personalities like that. They do seem like just nasty unhappy people.

  36. T.S. says:

    Thank you for posting this – its a wonderful look at what really goes into art and crafts. I myself am an artist and have watched as folks have picked up every piece, praised me for how lovely it is, then put it down with some mumbled excuse about money. Only to see them a few minutes later with some cheap prints or a very cheap (not as nice) piece. (Not that I’m saying they shouldn’t buy something they like, just that its very hard.

  37. Val LaBore says:

    I’ve been in your shoes many times when I used to do craft shows. And I felt like I was in a second hand store where they offered me $5 for a $22 item. This isn’t made in China or Vietnam. Its made painstakingly by my own two hands, and that’s what you’re paying for. I gave up doing it after 8 years. Now I make my own historical costumes FOR MYSELF and refuse to do them for others because I know how much work it is. And I love buying handmade things and will pay the price they ask unless it’s something I can make. There are still people out there who will appreciate your art.
    Val

  38. Sidial says:

    I get similar push-back from people with website design and other graphic arts.

    But I do have a suggestion… it would take a couple of minutes more (total), but when you write the “price tag” for each hat, you can notate on one side “Yards of Yarn (or Material): XYZ” and “Time to Completion: X-Z hours.”

    Most people would look at the two, and the price, gulp, and think you’re giving them a steal. At the least, it would give prospective customers some perspective on how much effort it would take _them_.

    And, therefore, might help move some of the pieces. :)

  39. somer says:

    Wow, I came back from a weekend trip to find all these lovely comments. Thank you – I wish I could reply to each one of you! And my very own troll, too, how special.

    • I find your work fabulous, and wish I could see more of it, I’m sure you’d have something to fit a lil old guy that I’d LOVE….. and I also as a portrait carver/sculptor would rather sit on my butt and do nothing, rather than give my work awaay to unappreciative moronic walmart skeezing buttwipes without a concept of quality, and workmanship… Some of us do appreciate and understand, the love, sweat, and tears that go into a piece of “wearable art”….. Keep the faith….when the OWS creepoids bring down the system and all that walcrap garbage is no longer available, they’ll be thronging to your door to keep their stupid troll-heads warm…..

    • Lee Faye says:

      I certainly hope you aren’t referring to sabrina. She’s far from a troll.

  40. You didn’t even include the cost of the table, of gas to get to the show, or of food to eat at the show, or other incidental show-related expenses (postage, cost of a check so you could pay for the table, etc.) Nor did you include time to set up the table, time to be there selling things, time to pack things away, time to wash and block the work, etc. And, of course, you didn’t include the mental wear and tear of dealing with rude people who have to tell you that they think your work is ugly and worthless.

    Hopefully a few non-crafters will read this post!

    If you do try putting notes about hours of work that went into making things, I hope you post about the responses you get. I’m curious as to whether that will work.

  41. Carla says:

    Great post. Mind if I repost it on my blog….that can be found at my website? I will of course link it back to your blog.

    Carla
    a fellow artist

  42. Adaina says:

    It seems that some people are just addicted to mad. They won’t be happy or cordial no matter what…she just needed something new to complain about. We see the same nincompoops whining about our prices. Trouble is, I could make JUST AS MUCH money sitting on my couch doing nothing as I could selling you something at my cost. Hmmm…which would you choose? :)

  43. One Bad Chicken says:

    Please email me with how I can buy a hat!

  44. Laura says:

    I actually have a post where I figured out “how to price a bead” including the costs associated with selling and everything. So for those of you interested in such things, it’s here: http://www.torchsongsglassworks.com/2011/11/21/the-glass-ceiling-an-old-post/

  45. It’s an unfortunate truth that living in a world of cheap mass production has blinded us to the real cost of making things. A person who comes to your table has a mental model in which a knit hat — even a fairly nice one of conventional manufacture — can be purchased for less than fifty US dollars. Such hats can be (and are) turned out by machine in a stock of simple patterns, or farmed out to poorly-paid workers in developing economies.

    She presumably knows all of this, even if unconsciously — and so when she looks looks at your work — which cannot be done by a machine, and which requires skill, artistic insight, and attention to detail — she imagines that she could just walk down to a shop somewhere and get the same thing for much less money.

    Of course, she actually couldn’t do that, not least because what you have made does not exist in a sweatshop’s inventory; it is a unique product. But a modern consumer has been drilled with the lesson that nothing is truly unique — that anything can be stamped or pressed or drilled or molded, and that there are untold copies of everything. We no longer really have the ability to assess the value of a unique thing, because so little in the modern consumer’s world truly is.

    And really, if all she wanted was a cheap way to keep her head warm, she should just go buy something off the rack, and be done. The real tragedy here is that, in addition to belittling your fine craftsmanship, she remains blind to the fact that what you are selling is something you can’t get someplace else. And she, like so many of us, will carry on this curious blindness in her stories to friends and family and the larger cultural milieu to which she belongs.

  46. Perronelle says:

    Here’s what I used to say:

    A man came up to my display picked up a hand painted box and asked “How long did it take you to make this?”

    I looked him square in the eye and said “All my life”.

    He looked at me as if I was crazy and said “what do you mean?”

    I told him that it took me all of my life to become that good as an artist.

    He huffed and walked away. I knew what he was up to. By asking me how long it took me he wanted to figure out an hourly wage that he thought I deserved. The box was priced at $45 It cost me $8 for the wood, a few more for paint and 4 or 5 hours to paint. Obviously he thought I was asking too much. But hey, if he wanted to paint it himself he was going to have to put in a whole lot of hours. ;-)

  47. Sarah says:

    What she said and did is going to boomerang on her someday. “What we sew we rip.” No need for you to take it personally, or to waste any of your precious energy on it.

    Years ago I had a booth at a quilt show. A woman stood in front of me & pointed out all the mistakes and flaws she saw in one particular quilt. On her way out she bought the piece. Told me she was going to use it to teach her students about not making those mistakes. Ten years later I still find this highly amusing!

  48. Laura M says:

    @Sidial I think that is a great idea, let them know just what is involved.

    I love that hat and if I could afford it, I would without hesitation support you, Somer, and buy it. It not like I could make one myself, I certainly can’t crochet much beyond a chain.

    What I don’t understand, is if the customer didn’t like the hats, what was she doing putting her cooties all over them?

  49. Alex says:

    There is a lot of blaming-the-consumer going on here. Though Ludd stated it very rudely he does have a point. Somer classes her work as ‘art’, which I most certainly agree with – it’s not something I could ever hope to make. Having said that, don’t blame the consumer when said art is marketed as a hat, but priced far beyond what the huge majority of consumers would ever consider paying for a hat.
    Where do you draw the line? Yes, I could create a computer mouse out of solid gold, but I shouldn’t expect to be able to sell a single one and I shouldn’t be upset when people tell me they can get one off Amazon for $3. People are hiring these objects to do a job – one which they have subconsciously placed a value on. If keeping their head warm isn’t worth the $140 premium to them then they are the wrong customer ie, the product is being sold in the wrong place, with the wrong messaging, or the product was created (as Somer already mentioned) for the benefit of the creator more than the consumer.
    So with that said, Somer, keep creating cool hats – others, keep creating cool blankets, poems, jewelery, music – art of all kinds – just don’t blame the consumer for not valuing it as much as you do.

    • Cybele says:

      But they could NOT get the same one from Amazon for $3. They could get a plastic mouse for that, but not a solid gold one. And that is the same situation here. They could get A hat at the price of a hat. But they cannot buy a piece of art for the price of any old hat. And the two are not going to have the same customer base.

      • Alex says:

        But if the job that they are hiring the mouse to do is to move a pointer around a screen and interact with a computer then a $3 Amazon mouse is just as effective (more so) than a solid gold one. If the job that the consumer is looking to fill is ‘to keep my head warm’ then a $10 hat is just as good as a $150 one. Now, if they job that they want fulfilled is ‘to have an extremely well made, unique and wearable art piece’ then Somer is on to a winner.

        All I’m saying is that don’t be surprised if the consumer doesn’t value the object the same as you do. Quite honestly, I think that Somer gets this perfectly, but I don’t think that many of those commenting do. If your goal in creating these crafts is to make a viable business then you need to be a lot more pragmatic about what it is that you are making – you have to create something that the consumer will value, at a price point that they are willing to pay (and keep your costs in line with that). If you think that they ‘just don’t get it’ then it’s more likely that you, the creator, is the one that doesn’t understand your customer.

        • MGreer says:

          Trying to anticipate and meet the general public’s idea of value can result in such a dilution of an artists work that it becomes soul-less and joyless to make. The reality is that artists create luxury items that not everyone can afford. Some of these items may also have a practical purpose, but it is understood (usually) that if practicality is the only consideration, you’d go to Target or Walmart instead of an art or craft fair. So what are they *really* buying? They are buying creativity, and joy, quality of materials and time spent perfecting a craft or art. It is all about “perceived value” and finding the right venues for your work. Apple didn’t get where it is by making a cheaper product, it got where it is by creating as sense of value and *need* in people for the bells and whistles, for the apps. and features, the *extras* and then marketing them to people with disposable income. As a potter I have found “craft fairs” to be a waste of my time. Art fairs are consistently better with a consumer base that already has an appreciation and knowledge of the time and costs that go in to making art (as well as an understanding that an artist has the right to make a living too). If my other choice is to spend less time on my pieces then really, what’s the point? Why bother? Because there are a million potters out there making purely functional work, and the things that distinguish my work, make it unique and worth buying, are the very things that take all that time to do!

          Good luck Somer! Keep looking for your target market and your pieces will sell at the right price! (Your hands *will* thank you!)

          • Jenny Zoss says:

            MGreer:

            I am also a potter, and feel that what you’ve said here is bang-on. I am fed up with craft shows for many of the reasons others are stating here, and feel that I’d be likely to do better and feel happier about selling at an art show, instead.

            I recently attended a seminar with the famous Minnesota potter Warren MacKenzie, and he basically said that if you want to make a living as a potter, you have to throw on the wheel (no handbuilding), and sell for cheap. Doing that would be akin to selling out for me; I rarely throw, and would not be able to replicate the things I handbuild on a wheel. So thank you for saying what you said. It reinforces my feelings on the situation, and makes me feel less alone in my perception of the issue.

        • pjd says:

          I repeat, Amen!!

  50. Nicola says:

    Beautiful work and great article. Sadly to some people the word craft translates to hobby.

  51. I use a similar response to what Perronelle said. When asked “how long did it take you to make this?” I say “somewhere between 1/2 hour and 37 years” Hopefully this leads to a discussion of the difference between making an object and learning the skills to be able to make it.

  52. Lee says:

    Well said! I once attended a local craft show where one lady had placed a sign in her booth that said simply “I know you CAN make it, but will you?” I know it’s not exactly the same thing as what you said, but it goes along the same vein. People figure that because something is hand made, it has less value somehow, or that they could make it cheaper themselves. The hard reality is that creating such beautiful one-of-a-kind works of art, such as your hat, takes lots of time, energy, talent, skill, and resources. Those things don’t come cheap, and should be valued appropriately. And while not everyone can afford to spend that amount of money on an item, hat or otherwise, he or she should still be able to appreciate the value of work that went into producing that item. Thank you for the great article and the reminder to look at more than just the price tag.

  53. Sparks says:

    I think part of the problem with the consumer “outrage” at prices is that they are under the impression that they shouldn’t have to pay so much for something they assume you enjoyed making and would probably be making regardless of whether or not you wanted to sell it. This is wrong…I do a lot of sewing and while I love the satisfaction of having a nicely made finished product, I do not necessarily enjoy the process. Parts of it are fun, but it is really hard on me physically (back problems, and sometimes I get migraines)and all the pinning and cutting is time consuming and tedious. I do it because it’s something I’m good at, and DO like producing one of a kind items, but it mostly done out of necessity. I don’t charge nearly enough for what I make, cause I know people won’t pay that much, and my end goal is to sell it. And that sucks.
    And the person who made the post from a musician’s standpoint, I SO get that, too…

  54. Erin Good says:

    Thank you so much for this article. Pricing is often something I struggle with, as I’m sure many folks who create and design also do. I am half-tempted to print this and have copies available to hand out at craft fairs, but then I would have to factor in the price of printing… Your words are appreciated!

  55. Ava says:

    The hat is beautiful, but how many people have that kind of money to spend on a hat? If you’re going to make an expensive product, and you’re going to run a business, be aware that you may be pricing yourself out of the market. It doesn’t mean the hat isn’t worth $150, it just means that the market for it will be severely limited, and there will be people who scoff at the price.

  56. Rich R says:

    My wife is an artist also, and I would like to applaud nearly everything said here. She is an illustrator, and it is really hard to get paid well doing illustration because of all of new young artists who think it will pay off to take a pay cut “to get published” and get their name out there, when the truth is, as long as artists keep doing that, art of that style will continue to be undervalued in the market.

    That said, I want to specifically address one recurring comment I have a problem with, and that is people trying to throw gas/food/travel/taxes into the equation. The equation speaks for itself without them, and trust me, you probably don’t know ANYONE who works for a living doing anything other than maybe on-the-road sales, whose job pays for their gas, food and travel. I do wish they would, it’d be nice to get some bonus to those who travel 10 or 20 or 50 miles farther to get to work than those who live around the corner, but it just doesn’t happen. As a result, asking that it be taken into account undermines the argument of the original post, and does so unfairly because as I said, the post speaks for itself quite eloquently. Just something to consider when making this argument in your own crafts.

  57. Sparks says:

    I admit I was sort of guilty of this last night. I’m getting married next summer and was looking at candles on etsy. I came across a gel wax candle in a martini glass and thought “Oh, I could totally make that!” The girl wanted $12 for it, which I didn’t think was unreasonable, but I would need several, and am not too keen on having glass shipped to me, and figured it would be more cost effective (and reduce the risk of broken glass)if I bought bulk supplies and did it myself. So I researched the process of making gel candles…the supplies are attainable, and not expensive, but factor in the other things needed to make them, and the time you would spend…I changed my mind pretty quick.
    For all of their grumbling about “I could make this” or “My so-and-so could make that”, I wonder how many of them ever actually look into what it takes to make any thing they have said that about. My guess would be very few. And if I see an item somewhere and think that myself, I would NEVER say that to the proprietor. That would be incredibly rude.

  58. Brenda G says:

    Excellent post. As an artist I never get paid what my stuff is worth, but someone always wants a “deal”.

  59. Enid says:

    I’m sorry you had an ugly person darken your booth for that moment. But she inspired you to right this great post and hopefully like somebody else said some non-crafters read it.
    Today I was at a shop getting my glasses fixed and this horrible woman was on the phone and was speaking loudly and talking about the folks at the shop. Referred to them as stupid. I just don’t understand where people get off being so ugly.
    Good luck to you I wish you well at your future events. :)

  60. zoraida says:

    Wonderful article!!! It is very sad that this person made it a point of making you feel like you were somehow ripping her off with her flea market mentality. People like that are simply trying to get what they obviously know is unique by demeaning what you do. You’re creating art that cannot be measured and compared to the mass produced junk available at Walmart.

  61. Teresa says:

    She was just one nudge! Forget her, she knows nothing and has no taste for artistic class. I think your hat is brilliant and I CAN appreciate the time that went into it. You just keep doing what your heart tells you to do and you’ll be respected, loved and appreciated by those worthy of your talent!

  62. Cappy Walls says:

    I read through all of these comments. Ludd was totally rude and out of line, and Alex just does not get it. High end designer clothing sold in boutique shops is manufactured in third world countries by what amounts to slaves! The mark up is astronomical!! Like 500% just because the designer is well known. It has nothing to do with actual cost of creating the item. Anybody who creates items for sale at arts and crafts fairs is not going to expect to become a millionaire. They are lucky to cover their costs. If by some wild chance their “art” catches on and they become famous and can graduate to boutique retails venues, then they might expect to get rich. But probably they will no longer be making the item, just designing it!!

    • Alex says:

      No, I really do get it. And again, I think Somer does too.
      The designer stores are able to make a 500% markup because they know their customer. Customers who are looking for a quick turnaround between catwalk and store (or for fashion defining items), customers who are looking for exclusivity, exclusivity that is often defined by price alone, and who often won’t wear something for more than one season, so quality of stitching is less important. In these cases cost has nothing to do with price – in fact cost should never have anything to do with price IF you are trying to make a viable business. Again, I think Somer gets this, but many commentators here don’t.

      I get that it sounds like I’m bagging on Somer’s hat, or crafts in general – I’m really not. I support it wholeheartedly – any one of these people has more creative talent than I could ever hope to have, and the hat rocks. My point is that it is not the fault of the consumer if they don’t value the product the same as the creator does. This is the business view of the market – one where price has to match expectations (and costs need to be defined by the price the consumer is willing to pay).

      If you are creating art for the love of the process, or the outcome, then more power to you. But if you are creating it with the pure intent to sell it for profit, then understand your customer – and take rude comments with a pinch of salt, but also understand what those rude comments are saying about your business.

      • You know, I had this great conversation with a friend about what qualifies as art vs. pure business. We both agreed that if it’s something you would do anyway, regardless of it selling, it is art. If you are producing something with the specific intent to make money on it, it probably is not art.

        So with that in mind, I would say that my freeform crochet hats are art. I would continue to do it, even if no one bought one from me, ever.

        With that said, not all of my freeform crochet hats are $150. Just the one pictured in this blog. I have other, one-of-a-kind freeform hats that start around $50 (and I sold two of them at the second craft fair I did, just over a week ago).

        I also design and make non-freeform crochet pieces — “plain” beanies, scarves and the like. Now THOSE I would consider from a business perspective. Those I can price at around $25 because a) I can reproduce them over and over b) they don’t take as long to make. I can’t price them any less, but I price them as fairly as I can. And I’ve sold a ton of these things.

        So is it possible to approach my art (the freeform crochet, intricate hats) from a business perspective? Probably not. And that’s ok with me. My art is not for everyone, but the people who do love it, I think are willing to pay for it.

        • Alex says:

          I think that’s a great definition of art – one I will be sure to remember. And I’m also glad that you can find a viable outlet for your passion. Keep on stitching!

        • plcahill says:

          Always the issue of “balance” that every artist/craftsperson must wrestle with — doing the stuff that feeds one’s soul and doing the stuff that feeds one’s stomach. It’s a fine line, and the issue of balance never goes away. Anyway, I try to have a healthy mixture of both, and allow the customer to wear their own “sorting hat.” That way, the work at whatever level, goes to the right home. The woman you describe in your original post was rude and hurtful, and that goes beyond the pricing issues and goes beyond the art vs. craft issue.

        • MGreer says:

          Also I have found that sometimes the “business” pieces can be made to help fund the “art” pieces, that is, I can charge less that perhaps I should for an especially time-consuming piece, because the less elaborate pieces cover the overhead of the business, and have a proper markup (just like a retail store, so that I *could* wholesale it for half and still keep the lights on). But then sometimes I really price the art stuff at what it’s worth because I can’t bear to let it go for less knowing that I will be carting it around with me for a while until the right person comes along.

  63. Charis says:

    This post is brilliant and your hat is exquisite!

  64. Wal-mart has ruined everything……i support the handmade movement!!!

  65. Dori says:

    I won’t get into the insensitive “customer” or even some of the other comments. all I want to say is you make really cool hats!

  66. Acsentials says:

    I make jewelry and as we all know, time and effort goes into every piece and design. Some will pay the price I feel my time deserves and others will not. But isn’t that how it is in all art and fashion? Anything is only worth (in dollars at least) what someone is will to pay for it! For me, when I am thinking of buying something, I decide if I like it enough to pay the price. If I don’t, it just means that particular item isn’t for me. Perhaps to someone else, it is well worth it! Therefore, I don’t become offended if a customer decides not to purchase one of my designs! (I’ve have the sigh’s of sticker shock also…once on a $39 piece, with someone actually saying “maybe if I win the lottery”)! I want each person to be happy with their selection and feel they received value in what they purchased! Bottom line, price things at the price you will feel good about selling it! Whether you make money or not is a reflection on how many people like the work you do and are willing to pay for it!

  67. Leslie says:

    Very thoughtful commentary and I don’t need to be reminded as I experience this same attitude as well when selling. I wish that my mother had gotten a hold of them and told them what I was told, if you haven’t anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Where are people’s manners I wonder.

    That’s said, I love your hat and as I am a knitter and spinner I totally “Get It”.

    Keep on keeping on, as long as you are happy. That’s a wonderfully organic hat and if I had the spare cash I would so get it myself. The colours are so me!

  68. Just wanted to say, I crochet, do counted cross stitch, macrame, embroidery and needlepoint–but only for family and close friends who truly appreciate the “labor of love” put into the pieces.
    Kudos to you for breaking down the costs involved in preparing all your wonderful hats.
    I always comment on the many beautiful creations I see at the craft fairs I attend (I am a vendor of homemade truffles) and am so thankful to be able to enjoy the many works of art that make these shows so special. Without you crafters—-there would be no craft sales—Thanks for hanging in there—you are appreciated!!

  69. Rebekah says:

    There was a lady at the market I am a part of over the summer. She had no problem telling me that she didn’t think she should have to pay FIVE dollars for a hemp bracelet since it was for her grandson that was only eight. I said, “The cost is the same all around. It doesn’t matter how old the person is that will be wearing it or how big or small they are. This has a set price.” I mean, come on! I work hard on what I make and if you can’t spend five freaking dollars on something that will last a long time (unless it is broken by said person) then I don’t even want you looking at my stuff. People complain all of the time that my rosaries are too expensive. Really? $15 is too much? Okay. Go to your local Christian book store and tell me that you will find a better made one (which I doubt) and one that is less expensive. I have had someone special order one out of amethyst and she gladly paid $30 for it, because she knows how much work goes into it… she actually ordered two more. Give me a break, people. If anything, I don’t charge ENOUGH and that is only because I enjoy what I do in my spare time. The least you could do is give me the common courtesy and RESPECT the hard work that is put into it. *stepping off soapbox*

  70. I can so relate. You are an artist…not because you chose to but because you were born an artist. Living your purpose and using your talents is amazing. You are correct the lady had her problem….which have nothing to do with your uniqueness or talents. I know it is very frustrating because we all like to be appreciated for what we do. Let me just say that you are talented and special. Craft fairs are sadly looked at by many as something to go look at but we can’t afford. Or can only dream.
    Some go thinking it’s like a yard sale…something for cheap.

    I pray you can find a gallery to put your creations in. Or an art store of some sort. Or develop an online following of other artists that appreciate what time and creativity and living are all about. Keep your chin up and never ever think you are less.
    Prays your way. Hugs too. Brenda

  71. Karen says:

    Oh for heaven’s sake people, If you want Walmart crap with Walmart prices made in China by people making pennies a day – yes, if your conscious is okay with that and you can sleep at night – then by all means shop at Walmart and get the same mass produced, ill-constructed garbage as everyone else. On the other hand if you want a unique piece of art made with love and passion, then support the artist. Your choice. No need for insults.

  72. Karen says:

    And Somer, your hats are beautiful and worth more than every penny. Great post. :)

  73. Allison says:

    By this time it’s all been said. I agree that the Walmart mentality has ruined the value of work and money. Don’t get me on my Boo China, Buy American soapbox.

    I had a woman misread my signs at a show this year and thought she could buy one of my amigurumi plush owl charms for $3. I couldn’t help but laugh and tell her that it took me close to 1 1/2 hours to make and there was no way they weren’t worth the $15 I was asking for.

    Thanks for the insight Somer.

  74. Maryse says:

    What a go! I knit all the time, I know how much yarn costs plus the time you put into making it. I have people who want me to knit them things for nothing. My question is always, do you want cheap yarn or do you want more expensive….then add my time to this.

    All this to say, I knit for my grandson and family and love doing this for them. It`s my relaxation hobby. People just don`t understand the work involved in making things and then you design your own patterns….you are worth gold! :)

  75. Athena says:

    Ok, so I did read the article and I do get the point and can see valid points from several different viewpoints. What I don’t get is why people see it as ok to attack another’s comment and be rude simply because they disagree with or thought the comment they are attacking is rude. Before you critize another’s behavior, you should take a look at your own…

  76. kira says:

    You know, this actually makes me feel better as a creator of goods put on Etsy. I always feel like I’m charing too much, but, like you, I probably don’t charge nearly enough. I’m bookmarking this for the next time I feel like I’m charging to much or when someone else thinks I might be.

    The hat is gorgeous. If I had the money, I’d buy one! It’s beautiful and intricate and way cool. ;)

  77. Janet says:

    Great article. I saw it on Facebook posted by one of my friends who is a metal artist. I work in restaurants and recently opened a small bistro (40 seats) with my partner. We are trying to keep it casual and fairly priced…you would be surprised at the similar reactions we get here to your craft fair lady. I also crochet a lot as a hobby and give most of my things away as gifts. People suggest that I sell some of it but I really couldn’t face the negative cheap people in another line of work too! The cost of good quality yarn is crazy. I buy mine at our local MCC Thrift store 2nd hand.
    Thanks, Janet.

  78. jane says:

    BEAUTIFULLY STATED. I Love your hat – I am just not a hat person, but I know what you mean about all those hidden costs on top of the ‘mere’ materials. I often think that maybe my jewellery is overpriced and maybe thats why it does not sell. I make as a hobby really, its not a business, and I only add $10 on top of the cost of materials because of this regardless of how long it takes to make,, so I don’t think they are overpriced, and shall keep pricing them the way I do, and one day, the right person will see the piece that works for her, and buy :-)

  79. Josee says:

    There are even more fees then what you list. Mainly that you have to stand there at the craft fair at 0$ an hour, while you are not producing anything while you listen to people make disparaging comments..Plus of course time to set up and tear down your booth…and all the stuff that piled up at home that you will need to take care of when you get back to reality!!
    Can you tell I just had two craft fairs in a row! :-)

  80. Uthr says:

    A comment, in three parts.

    Part One

    Playing devil’s advocate here, but technically, an item is worth exactly what the buyer and seller agree that it’s worth. This is why haggling works (even in full-on retail stores, but that’s a story for another time). If the lady doesn’t think your hat is worth $150, she’s right – for her, that hat is not worth $150. For other people, though, the hat might be worth $200. It all depends on who you’re talking to and where they’re coming from.

    Part Two

    You could mitigate some of your expenses by getting help from others. It can take a village to raise a child, and a community to crochet a hat, so to speak. That gives up some of your control and ownership as an artisan, but it does reduce your personal cost in producing the item.

    Part Three

    I think discussions about the value of items is particularly apt in light of recent events. What exactly IS the value of that coffee I drank this morning? Or the car I used to drive to and from work? The sticker price is only one opinion.

    • Julie says:

      I just wanted to say, production pieces might help you pay the bills, but they also have value as skill increasing exercizes. Once you have mastery of your art, it would be a crying shame to spend all of your time and waste your creativity on production work.

      Kudos to you for pursuing master art works, because that is what this hat is.

      Just remember that handmaking items at this level is like making haute couture items. The vast majority of people will never appreciate or purchase a pair of $300 shoes, or a gown expensive enough to pay for a gently used car, but that does not mean that there is not beauty, artistry, and value in the items. Also know that depending on where you are putting up your craft show booth, there may not be a market for the awesomeness you produce.

      Made in China things have their place. They keep the masses clothed, which was not something historically easy pre-industrial revolution. But nothing mass produced for its function is considered an art, just necessary for daily life.

      Keep doing what you are doing, your work is gorgeous. For every Hrrmff you got for your prices, 5 people walked by and said “ooh, I would love to have that”. That includes me.

  81. Junie says:

    Oh, do I understand this one. I’ve had people pick up pieces of my jewelry, pieces that I slaved over, only to say “I could do this”. My response? Oh, I’m sure you could learn to, but WILL you? Then there are the people who walk by and mutter “crap”. Oh, thank you so much for your learned opinion. We work hard, and put a lot of love, into what we create. The least you can do is be polite.

  82. Jeff says:

    Hey Ludd, the moral of the story is because of vapid jackasses like yourself, 90% of the things we buy now is pre-fabricated garbage. There is NEVER a substitute for quality, and I don’t care if we’re talking about the house somebody lives in or the art hanging on the walls. A well-crafted, hand-made item made from durable material is worth a thousand of the same thing mass-produced. You may not like it or even need it, but it stands as something valuable and unique that can easily transcend its basic use or original intention (what the hell do you think ART is?) And it doesn’t even have to be art! Have you ever worn a custom, hand-crafted pair of boots as opposed to a pair of Sketchers (or your latest Nike Air Space Jam Jordan… shit, because THEY’RE really worth the price tag)? Ever ran your hand across a marble column as opposed to one made from Styrofoam, chicken wire and concrete? Have you ever gone to an art gallery and gazed at that Georgia O’Keeffe original on canvas rather than the wall-size print hanging at IKEA? There’s a difference, my friend. A HUGE difference. And by the way, if you think a $150 hat should stop bullets, then maybe you should test that theory out on yourself. The Kevlar alone would cost three times that. You PAY for quality, no matter what the hell it is. If we’d all stop buying cheap shit all the time, then maybe quality will creep back into our lives once again.

    • globalgirl says:

      Anger much?

    • Janet says:

      Now, don’t flip out on me, but sometimes cheap stuff *is* what you need! My puppy tore up two expensive hand-made doggy beds, so now I buy $1 pillows from the thrift store or the dollar store. I buy cheapo lightbulbs for the lamp I have that tips over all the time, and expensive ones for other sockets. Methinks that you yourself might own some “cheap shit.” (If not, then I apologize, but I’ve never met a person like you.)

      Deep breaths. I agree with you on the importance of quality and handmade goods, but freaking out with widespread generalizations and specific personal attacks is not the way to win the day.

      • Jeff says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I own and buy plenty of garbage (some of it I even like). But I also hold a deep appreciation for all labors of love and experience, especially the masterworks. I may not LIKE them, but I dearly appreciate them. Of course art is subjective, and we all have our tastes. I’m just saying to look beyond the veneer of disposable consumption and to admire those gems that shine through. Just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean you can’t THOROUGHLY appreciate it. That applies to Somer’s hat just as much as it applies to Honda’s ASIMO robot. It’s all about what goes INTO it…

      • Stephanie says:

        I do agree that freaking out over generalizations is not the way to go BUT unfortunately it is the majority of the time when people make rude comments about our prices or snub their noses at our products. I too own “cheap shit” but I also appreciate the value of a handmade item. I can see not buying handmade dog bed when the dog just chews it up but a nice handmade scarf or hat will actually keep you warmer then a cheap one. And if you keep it away from the dog that chews up every thing and take good care of it, it will last you a long time and you will get your money out of it.

  83. Katherine says:

    Oh, I’ve met that customer! I’m sure it’s her!

    I also magically stumbled across a magical way to handle her in the moment. She picked up a piece of jewelry I had made (a complex folded form of glass that is far from practical, but really rather interesting IMHO), and she said “What the hell am I supposed to do with that?” To my credit,I think, I did not get mad, and I did not tell her what she should do with it. Her comment was so over-the-top ugly in tone and content that I just busted out a little involuntary laugh and said “Well, that’s not for everyone!”

    I thought she’d sneer and leave, but instead she said, “Why not? Who is it for?” And I just cheerfully told her the story of how difficult it is to make, and how people who know glass art can see the challenge in it, etc. I smiled and was nice, and just pretended I hadn’t noticed her rudeness. Well, she just melted. She was a human puddle of thankfulness. She hung on my every word. I don’t think it was anything I said. I think it was the fact that I was willing to be a little kind to her.

    What I learned in this interaction is this: Probably she had no idea how hostile and cold she sounded as she made her way around the show. I bet she’d been thinking “Why is everyone so mean to me?” I think it’s possible I was the first person to smile at her in quite a long while. Did she buy that piece? No. But she dropped $100 on other pieces, and she stopped being mean to me. And, even more unexpectedly, she has come to my booth every year for four years with a new friend. She tells them all about my hard work, and sells them things at my booth. I bet I’ve made at least $2k from her now.

    But really, the lesson is worth more to me: There’s no need to cry, and no need to return hostility to the hostile. Sometimes if you’re kind, even those people will bloom. And meanwhile at least you’ve been kind. That can feel like a triumph, under the circumstances!

    • smorgan says:

      Great tale, and sadly not the usual, I’d guess. Most won’t turn around like that, or even shift opinion very much. But I wanted to really respond on the kindness aspect. There really isn’t enough around, given out these days. I think people have let it fade, like when you tare a scale. People have just assumed it being there. In reality, kindness has fallen off the top 10 charts. And even worse, I don’t think people realize this at large.

      Busier time, world, and more and more demands on our time and costs. The economy, wars, enviro-crises, it’s easy to forget. I think we all need to try and remember we’re all unwilling visitors to this world. Born into a system(s) not of our choice or making. That we’re all victim to ‘how things are done’, and that we can take a breath, and reach out to our fellows. Or we can shrivel and collapse under all that besieges us daily, dish out hate, vitriol, mean.

  84. tabitha says:

    Well said. This is a concept that is so hard to make people who do not craft understand. They simply have not concept of the amount of time that hand made items involve.

  85. In reading through your post and the comments, I have to say that the words written by my friend Lisa Peters (hi, Lisa!) are exactly how I feel.

    I love the hat you made. I love its artistry. I love that you put so much of your time and your vision into it. And I think it stinks that someone would be so rude and unfeeling as to make such a comment to you. Just know that she’s the minority, and that there are other people out there who will fall in love with your designs and honor them as they should be.

    And, as a few other people mentioned… you’re underselling yourself!

    Keep creating your art, and don’t let the little people get you down.
    :-)
    MaryLou

  86. Kerri says:

    I love this hat! As a fellow crocheter/knitter/crafter, I sympathize w/ the amount of effort put forth and that sometimes handmade gifts are more “expensive” than store bought ones. I can’t imagine trying to make money on them.

    Love it! Keep it up!

  87. sarae says:

    Whenever someone says to me “My mother (sister, aunt, friend) could make that.” I say “Wow, she must be really talented.” Then I smile sweetly.

  88. Reni says:

    I love this post and I’d like to share it on my facebook page! I also favorited your shop and liked your fb page!

  89. marcy says:

    as a creator of time consuming arty things my hertaches for you its so wrong that others get so much benefit and enjoyment from what we sell and we arent paid what we’re worth. WHAT ANNOYS ME MOST are those woman like this one who say the same thing “I dont like it” or “look how expensive that is” then as soon as your back is turn her and her friends are examining how its made and how they can knock it of and make it on “the cheap” themselves!!! WRONG WRONG WRONG CHARMA DO YOUR STUFF I SAY!!!!

  90. A unique and lovely hat.

    humankind (be both)

  91. Anne Kaelber says:

    I faced this very same problem when my wife and I considered starting a home-based business doing the things we love. I am a decent knitter, with perhaps average to slightly faster than average speed. I could crank out dishcloths pretty quickly, but who’s going to pay $5 or more for a single dishcloth? Even if I put 4 or 5 together and make it a $20 or $25 bundle — hey, maybe one for $5 or 5 for $20? — I’m still not making much money per hour.

    My wife has said, “Sure, but you’re working on these things while we watch tv in the evening and such.” Her theory is that I wasn’t going to be doing something which made me more money, so why be so bugged?

    I love to knit lace — Faroese shawls especially. A couple years ago,I knit one of these for a friend’s birthday. That thing went *everywhere* with me, because I’d never knit this type of project before and was worried I wouldn’t have it done in time. I spent two and a half months “lugging” (it was a shawl, so it’s not *that* bad) this project with me, knitting fifteen stitches here, thirty stitches there. By the end of the project, a single patterned row took me thirty minutes to complete, so I was struggling to find time and places to actually get a single row in. Two and a half months, fifteen dollars worth of beads, sixty five dollars worth of yarn which had been custom-dyed, not to mention my needles and stitch markers which I’d already purchased. What is something like that worth? Sadly, the more important question is: What would someone actually *pay* for it?

    We live in an era of quick, fast, and cheap. You can’t take handmade and have it compete with the Walmarts and Targets. This is why I still don’t knit professionally. And why I only knit for loved ones who will appreciate not just the time and skill, but also the base supplies. Wool needs special care, as does silk lace.

    Sadly, I’ve had to recognize I have a better chance of getting my science fiction published (note that I did not say “make lots of money getting published”) than I do of being able to live off the sale of my knitted goods.

    Anne.

    • Marion Downie says:

      Anne, what a pity that people cannot (or in some cases, will not) understand why your work should be priced to match the beauty and skill you have put into your craft. It is sad that others cannot purchase your works of Art simply because you ask a price that some won’t/can’t pay because they cannot appreciate the time/effort, and quality of your work.

  92. Bobbie Pene says:

    OUCH!!!!! Those comments do sting no matter how many times you hear them. I make jewellery and lampwork beads, and here in New Zealand where the market is somewhat conservative, I often receive comments about the price of my work. Like you, if I costed the materials, time, packaging, listing and other fees etc, I actually don’t make much at all. In fact I make just enough to re-stock my supplies so I can keep creating. I have to work at a “real job” to pay for my daily living. Keep doing what you are doing and charging what you are charging and block your ears to those hurtful comments.

  93. I’ve had this exact same conversation with people many times. Some people ‘get it’ but most people don’t. So we do what we do because we love to do it, but it sure would be nice if other people realized the value of our time and talent.

    MGM

  94. A friend posted this on my facebook page, and I applaud you! People assume that they will be buying items at the same cost as one can get mass produced items for, at a retail giant like Walmart or Target. They don’t care that they’re buying a quality item, that someone poured their hearts into, to ensure that the buyer of said item, is pleased with their purchase.

    I create jewelry, but I also do “easy” crochet items. I know the cost of yarn, and even SIMPLE scarves, mittens and hats that take only 1-2hr to make, end up costing between $5-15 depending on what type of yarn you’re using. You end up selling them for $20-25 and there are still some people who give you weird looks.

    I’ve reduced prices on my jewelry multiple times, trying to feel out my market. The only time people want to pay for something, is if it’s between $5-10. Somehow, there’s this misconception that if it’s handmade it should be cheaper (because after all, there is no middleman, and no laborer aside from the crafter!).

    As others said–and I do agree– the only thing you can do is smile and try to educate the person, so they realise that maybe they were slightly off base with their comments. Most people can’t begin to comprehend how long it takes to create…anything. I spent a lot of years in optical sales, before I lost my job and became a full time artisan; so I know that there are some people that are going to understand the value, and others need and are willing to learn, and then there are those that won’t listen at all XD

  95. Salvina says:

    If it was worthless ( ugly) y did she come to ur booth in the first place and y did she try the hat on? Obviously she was attracted to it. She probably couldn’t afford it and wanted herself to look good by being negative . Cx got to love their behavior.

  96. Sandi says:

    Oh, I can so relate to this!!! One year I made Father Christmas figures. Each face was soft-sculpture and then placed on a cone and armature added, then a red velvet robe and hat. I made a toy bag and then miniature toys to go in it. A tree branch was held one arm and a tiny wrapped package and a little knit stocking hung over his arm. Each figure had a personalized list of good girls and boys for the customer’s family. This was in the late 1980’s and I charged the staggering price of $25 for these handmade treasures. I will never forget a gentleman who said “I wouldn’t pay $20 for that. He was a well-respected teacher and I wanted to say……hmmm….not so sure I respect you too much anymore. On the other hand, many who bought those figures still set them out at Christmas and some have come back to have their lists updated. Keep crocheting those treasures. There is someone out there who will buy and treasure your work!

  97. Susan says:

    I will be the first to say that I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that hat. But I am only being that rude to make a point: I will also be the first to say that the artistry is evident & worth every penny of what the maker says it is, & more. Just because her art does not resonate with me does not mean that it’s worthless and it was crass & cruel of that woman or anyone to say otherwise.

  98. Melissa Hahn says:

    I shared this on my facebook page “Cast on for You” and will share it in a post on my website, if thats ok!

    Well written!

  99. Helen says:

    The hat in question looks like a delicate froth of seafoam to me, and I think should bring in as high a price as the market will bare. Please, please charge your customers sales tax, if you have to pay it yourself. Otherwise, you’re paying tax twice, first on your materials, gasoline, etc. etc. and then on the retail price of your art. I charged tax on items sold in my tiny retail store (It used to be called Mamma’s Closet, because the stock was in a closet.)and remited it monthly. People understand about paying taxes; after all, they pay them everywhere else!

  100. CDBEAR says:

    I am a photographer and I get this type of question all the time. “Why is it so expensive?” or “My niece/aunt/grandma takes really great pictures for FREE!” My response is usually something along the lines of “Oh that’s great! Everyone has their own way of seeing the world” but I never change my prices because my work involves (very) expensive equipment and time and money consuming experience gathering and education. My camera doesn’t take the photos, I do.

    However, I don’t really begrudge the average persons aversion to paying these kinds of prices. I am doing what I love by choice and my prices *are* very high if it’s not something a client would truly value. As crazy as it seems to me, there are people out there who don’t really care about creative, personal, moving images and that’s okay with me because they are not my target client. I think that hat (though neat and very unusual) isn’t *worth* $150…to me. It probably is worth it to someone else and I’m happy for you if you find that person. However, I think being defensive about this issue is off-putting and just generally seems whiny. If your chosen profession and skill isn’t lucrative enough for you, then find something else that is. Just because you love it doesn’t mean you can make a living and that’s not the budget shopper’s fault.

    • Not whining. Just sharing an experience.

      Art is totally subjective. I’ve seen paintings, sculptures (and yes, photographs) that cost thousands of dollars that I wouldn’t pay five cents for. I know my stuff is not for everyone. I was a little taken aback by this woman’s response to my hats and it started me thinking that perhaps some people don’t realize how much work goes into a handcrafted item. Just breaking down the cost, that’s all.

      • CDBEAR says:

        I didn’t mean to sound too harsh and I don’t think you, specifically, where whining. I do think this is a prevalent complaint among us creative types and I think it can seem whiny and entitled. I don’t love the pressure to lower my prices that some clients try to exert, but it’s the nature of doing business. Recognizing that the market value of your “labor of love” may not be what you want it to be is a harsh business reality.

        Also, to be clear: Just because I don’t think your hat is worth paying $150 (to me) doesn’t mean I don’t like it or think it’s cool. It’s just not reasonably priced for me. My priorities are elsewhere (usually photography equipment!). My point is *I’m* not the proper market for you, but I hope there is one for your work because the hat is very clever.

  101. Angela Thoma says:

    Thank you for posting…wow, what a lot of reading to get down here to make a post myself. I’ve been involved in vendor shows as well and I sure do understand how you must have felt when this woman not only tried on all the hats (she must have desired one), and then insulted your art (because she can’t make one herself) and then to add more insult to injury she thinks the price is out of line (she wanted you to offer her a cheaper price).

    I have to share my similar vendor mishap…I had created a dozen or so bracelets, made with silver wire and gemstones; the woman picked up each bracelet and scratched her teeth across them and tried to tell me that they weren’t gemstones. I was disgusted with her germy mouth and teeth chewing on the stones and absolutely did not know what to say to her, but I finally asked her to put the bracelets down and not to pick up another one, that the gems were real and that the prices weren’t about to change. I had spent a great many hours making the bracelets and shaping the wires. It goes to show that people want to try and get something (like a one-of-a-kind item) for nothing. After she left I spent quite a while carefully removing her germs from the bracelets. What a fiasco.

    I love your hats, they are amazing with all the work you have put into them and the designs are truly delightful. Keep up the great work.

    Angela

  102. Di ;) says:

    AMEN! :-) And I love the hat! :-)

  103. Courtney Prudhomme says:

    THANK YOU for posting this.. it’s so easy to undersell ourselves as artists. It really chaps my behind when ppl want my handcrafted items at walmart prices.

  104. I just adore your hat!A work of love, labor and mainly art, I agree with you and understand and feel your frustration. A crafter myself of so many different things and always learning, you didn’t include the time it took to get where you are today with knowledge, materials and practice.
    I love this piece you’ve written and say “hear hear!”

  105. CM says:

    I did my first few craft fairs this summer. I lost the local shop I had my beadwork in and needed somewhere to go to try and get rid of some of my jewelry. I don’t sell on etsy because there is so much jewelry there.

    I did for first craft fair raise the price of my earrings. 7$ or two for 12$ I did – ok. The second, third and fourth craft fair, nada, it didn’t help that the wind came up and killed everything those last two fairs.

    Everyone loved everything I had to offer, but when it came down to price, between 20 to 40$ from silver key necklaces to handmade beaded butterflys, everyone was shocked that I would charge so much.

    Sadly I can’t afford the higher in craft fairs that are 250$ for three days. So my necklaces and earrings sit – unseen and unused.

    I had thought maybe it was just a Northern Utah thing. But now – I think it’s just that people you don’t know crafts don’t realize how much time can go into something.

    I love beading and creating necklaces and earrings. But I haven’t touched any of my crafting supplies for months because I have no outlet for any of my items right now.

    Thank you for posting this. Word needs to get out that sometimes buying something that’s truly handmade is so much better.

  106. I just had to write here,as a Friend put it on her F/book site. I have read quite a lot of the comments here,(too long, and too hard on my eyes to read them all.) there are so many differing views from people. I would like to say, I absolutely love the hat in question and would love to be able to buy it, but as my Age Pension is only $460 a fortnight and my husband’s the same, I cannot afford the price unless I make special plans for it,(save up) As a person who has no talent in knitting, crocheting or sewing I admire the work of those who can, and who make it possible for me to be able to buy the beautiful items they create. I prefer to buy from the creator/Artisan for their products are made with love, talent and great creativeness, using marvellous colour combinations and styles. As for that totally rude woman who tried all the hats on, I think after her trying on half of the hats in her nasty manner, I would have asked her to stop and let me check her head for lice/nits before she tried on any more. Some people just want everything for nothing and some are simply born rude, ill-mannered and nasty. If people can afford to buy your hats then they are very lucky people, if I ever come into a lot of money I WILL buy one of your hats, or I may save my money to buy one. Good luck to you Somer and ALL talented people who produce all works of Art.

  107. Thank you for this post. I’ve been wanting to write something like this for some time, but when I go to sum it all up, I get so angry that I can’t finish writing. I’m reposting. Better for my blood pressure, and you’ve made the point so well.

  108. Dave says:

    Actually, $150 sounds pretty affordable compared to what they charge for hats around here. Check out the prices of $125, $175 or more at Dirty Billy’s Hats http://www.dirtybillyshats.com/

  109. Ginny says:

    Thank you for the commonsense article regarding the true cost of handmade. I have a difficult time understanding people (some of the members of my family are this way) who, if I show them something I’ve made and poured my heart and soul into, something that other people have admired so I know it’s not just me, who when they find out I spent the time to MAKE it look confounded and ask, “Why?” Well, gee, I don’t know, maybe because it’s a language of the human soul to express through art? I would rather send my cousin who suffered a miscarriage an afghan I crocheted while pregnant, cuddling the work with my belly until it’s done, and send that to her across the miles then simply picking up a piece of soulless fabric from Wally World. The cost of bringing anything to market is not well understood anymore, unfortunately. It’s a good thing crafters love what they do or it wouldn’t happen. And I happen to like the hat in the picture! I look lousy in hats but I like crochet and I can see what a ton of work went into that. Good job!!

  110. Lise Boyd says:

    Oh my goodness I LOVE your work! I am so going to get one of your hats from ETSY. I just need to save a little :) There is no real price that can be put on inspiration realized! Ask any artist facing ‘blank canvas’ fear, or a writer facing ‘block’ how much they would give for a nice big juicy bit of creative inspiration! And then to act upon it……marvelous :)

  111. DaisyJane says:

    I am an artist. I am also disabled with a rare,incurable and progressive disease that is a constant struggle.I create first and foremost because I love it.It is my passion,it keeps me going. That being said I’ve done quite a few portraits both painted and done in charcoal, pastel, etc.And recently my new neighbor saw some of my work and couldn’t stop praising my talents, which was nice. But then she sent me an email which included 4 photos of herself and her 3 children, asking me to create some PAINTED portraits for her..she concluded with (and I kid you not) that she has set aside $20.oo for me, to which she added that she knew how thrilled I’d be to get some ‘paying’ work sent my way, being that I’m disabled and on such a small fixed income..OMG! I was so hurt, offended, and discouraged, I cried for hours. And my art work is the only way I can supplement my income to support me and my daughter. I’ve even had some people tell me that I don’t ‘look’ disabled,mind you as I’m sitting in a wheelchair no less!But this woman’s attitude hit me hard. Maybe because she’s also made comments such as “if you can draw and paint, then why can’t you just get some kind of desk job?” Thankfully she’s at least stopped those remarks once I fully explained the nature of my disease, the chronic daily pain, and muscle weakness I battle with, and that there are many days, I simply can not create any work as much as I’d love too. Because my body just won’t allow me to barely even hold a brush on those ‘bad’ days. This woman didn’t even ask me what I normally charge and/or would I even be interested in doing some portraits for her. And when I tried to bow out gracefully saying I wasn’t sure when or if I’d have the free time. She actually responded with something along the lines of, “well since you don’t or can’t have a job, you must have too much free time on your hands”. And that “this could give me something constructive to do with my free time, and she’s willing to pay me something for them.” To say I was stunned and crushed is an understatement! As it made me realize that not only do I have to battle my disease, and the constant judgements and discrimination that goes along with being disabled. But I also have to battle with the same ignorance when it comes to being an artist as well. A dear friend told me I should paint one of the portraits she requested, and when she loves it, which most assurdly she will, give her my going rate, and tell her she can have it, and I’ll do the others, once we can agree upon the proper payment. LOL hmmm I’m considering it. tho I’m not sure its worth the risk of using up my limited supplies simply to prove a point?

    • Sable Jak says:

      Daisyjane: Simply tell this woman that as much as you appreciate her offer the cost of supplies exceeds the amount she wishes to pay you and you simply cannot afford to lose money that way. Quote her your price and let that be that. It sounds as this this is the type of person who will only understand this type of reasoning. if she objects give her a total based on the guestimated amount of the cost of supplies added to your hourly rate. Then state firmly that all businesses operate on an hourly rate and so do you. And if she still objects tell her you’ll pray for her and lay a little rubber with your wheelchair getting away from her. Do not give her the power to make you feel badly.

    • Janet says:

      No way. No no no no. I’m in the same situation– disabled, chronic pain, artist, no “visible disability” (even when I’m in my chair), and nobody understands that it takes us longer to do *everything*. I’m honestly surprised you even humored your neighbor this far! You’re an adult and a provider, why on earth would you do any unpaid work for someone who’s been so appallingly disrespectful to you? I mean, she’s not just underbidding you, she’s being actively insulting. Send her a professional quote for the project and tell her that you typically charge half up front. If you do one on spec, or give in ‘just this once,’ you’re agreeing that it’s OK for people to treat you that way. You’ve probably spent $20 of time already just stressing out about it! Jeez. Don’t let horrible people like that push you around.

    • Clancy says:

      OMG…..sweet jesus christ, some people!!!! That must have hurt like hell. Seriously though some folks have just such tiny lives, and they live them through even tinier brains…taking no time to consider their words at all.

      F**k I think I woulda killed her with my bare hands.

      Your restraint is admirable!

  112. Dixie says:

    I can relate. I tat and you think that you have hours spent in what you do….having a larger project done in a week would be heaven. People who have never done any needle work or crafts of any kind have no idea the labor of love that goes into a project. You might have your masterpieces on display, but I would recommend that you stick to the simpler plebeian designs that work off fast to keep those costs down for people such as this one. However, I think that she might be needing someone to pray for her….she must be a very lonely person if she is that critical of everyone.

  113. Stephenie says:

    This article is exactly what I’ve been telling other artisans for years. I’m a jeweller by trade, and in school we were givin a course on pricing our work for sale. I’ve got 10+ years of experience, and work in reproductions of my creations. My formula I give depends on the craft you do, as well as each artisan’s experience with their type of craft. I price my work as:material cost + $/hour, +40% overhead costs, x 2 = price or materials x 2 +$/hour = price.

    I’ll admit I’ve had this experience in the retail industry as well at shows, but I always show them what goes into my work, and if they are still nasty, I tell them to go find it chaper for the same thing; if they can! And I also sell on Etsy, so most of the feedback is really good.

  114. SewCalGal says:

    There will always be those that question the cost of what ever they are considering to purchase. Some will mentally do the numbers to see if it is a realistic cost, some will ponder if they can afford it. And some will blurt out what ever comes to mind. Don’t let those that blut out their thoughts ever challenge the quality of your art. Just realize they are not your target nitch, as they don’t have the skill to appreciate, nor the tact to appreciate and realize they can’t afford.

    Shame this person spent time on something they could not afford, not that they saw interest. While rude, they took out their ignorance on your.

    You are far too talented for this, but please don’t let it pull you down. Sadly, every artist, every designer, every creative spirit will periodically cross paths with a rude & ignorant person.

    You are worth more than this. Keep creating. Keep selling. Keep making this world a fun & special place, by pursuing your artistic talents.

    SewCalGal
    http://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

  115. bunny blumschaefter says:

    your work is beautiful, and if it were me I’d save that time-consuming stuff to give as gifts for people who really deserve ‘em, but if anybody ever gives you that kind of crap again, deadeye her and say “it’s your money and my hat – nobody’s twisting your arm.”

  116. Ana says:

    Firstly, while it is true that big commercial businesses can and do taint shoppers’ minds in regards to cost and value, we can also attribute customers’ unwillingness to buy our items at our prices by our own (perhaps subconscious) attitudes to our prices – do WE believe that our item is worth that price? REALLY believe? Or do we feel guilty about our prices and subconsciously convey that to our customers? I actually found that when I upped my prices at craft shows to match the Retail prices of stores I stock that I sold more. Remember: don’t feel guilty. It is worth what you say it is and that is the price. You don’t need to apologise to anyone.

    Secondly, I know that the author of this post acknowledged that they underprice their items and that she did a breakdown of her hat price – one thing that I constantly find with crafters/artists is that they see any money that they “get back” as a gain – it’s not. An hourly rate is not a gain. Material cost is not a gain. You’re merely recouping costs that you put into making your item. Neither of these things are profit. Profit is what you add in ADDITION to these things. To those who would argue that profit is price “inflation” I would say WHO gets an hourly rate? Workers/EMPLOYEES do. They get paid an hourly rate recompensing them for their WORK making items. Workers/employees don’t earn “profit” in this sense from their work because they are only being paid for their work – what they do. They don’t selectively and meticulously trial and then purchase materials. They don’t envision, design and bring items to fruition. They don’t spearhead all advertising and marketing and run their own business – they’re JUST employees on an hourly rate. Most crafters/artists are not just “employees”/”workers” they are sole traders, business owners – in addition to making items they are envisioning and designing them, they are meticulously considering and purchasing the best materials, they are in charge of all the behind the scenes side of businesses – finances, stationery, knowing and complying with the law, advertising and marketing – the list goes on. If anything they are working more than any other average person because they are fulfilling multiple roles, carrying out multiple jobs. What makes THEIR job(s) less of a job than yours? For the sheer volume of jobs that they accomplish I say that crafters/artists are overwhelmingly deserving of an hourly rate – a generous hourly rate at that, as well as recouping materials costs and certainly profit.

    Lastly, I would just like to say to those who sell or have their items on consignment at retail stores – if you are loathe to wholesale as you see it as a pay cut to yourself you are looking at wholesaling the wrong way. A wholesale price should be your base price – it should include renumeration for your time and the cost of materials required to make the item(s) as well as profit. You should be happy with your wholesale price for your item. If you are cutting out costs to yourself then you won’t actually be making anything from selling wholesale. Also match (as much as you can) the retail prices of the stores you stock – it just makes everyone happy and prices are more consistent – plus you get a little extra! Personally, I always tell stores that I cannot tell stores that sell my items what to price them – everyone has their own percentage and it varies from place to place. I can only be consistent with what I can control – my wholesale prices. How do I decide on retail price when different stores sell my items at different prices then? I match prices with the store with the highest markup percentage. What if a store queries you on your wholesale price? Then they’re not the store for you in my opinion, they have the wrong attitude and they won’t be motivated to sell your items. A good store will never query the value you place on your items and an even better store will let you know when you’ve priced to low and even insist that you increase your price – find a store like that you can be sure that they will certainly be motivated and have no trouble selling your items :)

  117. Maggie says:

    When I read this, I felt sadness. Why sadness? I can sympathize with the artisans who aren’t able to sell their wares because the general public can’t understand “why it’s so expensive.” I am not an artist nor am I remotely crafty but I know quality when I see it.

    I would gladly pay at LEAST $150 for such a cool looking hat. Granted, I don’t have really any expendable money these days, but if I did, I’d be sure to purchase from artisans as much as possible. I know several artists that are trying to make a living off their art but they’re making far under poverty-level wages and some of them do have day jobs, yes, but the point stands.

    I recently spent a fair amount of money ($60…that’s a lot for me, sadly) on commissioning a very special crocheted Hobbes (from Calvin and Hobbes) plush for one of my boyfriend’s Christmas presents. When I took the plush out of the box, my breath was taken away. So beautifully crafted, incredible attention to detail, and incredibly cute, too. Yes, I paid a lot for it, but what I received in return was well worth the money. I honestly would have paid up to $100 for such a rare, special item.

    So many people do not understand why the wonderful handmade items seen at craft fairs, flea markets and bazaars are so expensive…and it’s because they don’t understand the amount of time, effort and cost that go into making each item.

    Artisans, I applaud you. I only wish I had a lot of spare cash to buy more often.

  118. lisagems says:

    I’ve frequently responded to people who tell me “I could make this” when looking at my jewelry, “That’s great! You should do it.” Always in a very enthusiastic voice.

    I’m often heartbroken at the beautiful pieces of art and artisan craft that I, a fellow crafter, just cannot afford. But I will NEVER begrudge the price the crafter sets, and have more than once counselled someone to raise a price.

  119. kevin says:

    so you’ve done a cost analysis of your product . great! but cost is only 1/2 the equation, we are talking about sales and marketing here, is there a demand for $150.00 hats? if so are the customers at your craft show? if not what is the price point the customer is looking at, and what can you do in that price point? if you want to do art as a hobby fine, pay for it yourself, or don’t make the piece until you have a commission.

    sure its easy to bitch about nobody having an understanding of your art, but maybe you’re to busy doing art to understand the marketplace.

    say you wanted to make cars for a living.you could make a handmade finely crafted car , like a Ferrari, and sell it for half a million dollars. its artistic, beautiful , the materials are high end, and it has high labor costs….just like your hat, but most people can’t afford it, most people won’t buy it and you won’t sell many of them. you could also make a basic car mass produced with a plain plastic interior like a ford. it is not overly pretty, it ha very little artistic merit and it is very little labor. but it runs and is functional. and fords outsell Ferraris and actually bring in more revenue.

  120. Ruby says:

    …Okay, I’m going to get trounced for this, but here it is anyway.

    That’s great that you have a hat that you made and spent hours on. However, if you do not sell that hat, you don’t get paid. To quote Jayne Cobb, zero divided by zero, carry the zero is nothing. How long will you sit there with a hat for $150? Years? You must have more money than I do.

    Would I pay $150 for a hat? I’m much too practical for that, especially since I need a new coat more than I need something to keep my head warm. And since I do know how to knit, and have wool at home that was given to me, I can make myself something. Will it be “OMG!” like that hat? No, but I’ll have it and my coat. (And probably some hand made mittens and a scarf.)

    Would I love to buy handmade all the time? Eh. I’ll save buying the handmade for something I only plan on buying once in a great while – wood furniture, for example. A hat? Not so much.

    Sour grapes? No. Personal preference.

  121. Jacquie says:

    First let me say, welcome to the REAL world. Sadly you have just learned a valuable lesson on what it is like to be an artisan/crafter! You will NEVER sell anything for what you put into it! Secondly, If you did sell it for what it was worth, you would also have to pay MORE taxes to the IRS for SSI, wage tax, etc, as you would have to declare yourself as an employee! AND of BS license fees, a CPA would have to be hired, and so it goes!

    Next you have to take into account where you were trying to sell your wares. Was the venue geared to higher-end artisan type works, or were you at a local craft fair with the Church ladies, and tons of Imported crap and kids hair bows selling for $1.00? Just as in real estate, when you go out to sell your wares, you MUST know your venue, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. I know here I could NEVER sell a hat for $150..even with Mink trim and Silver balls!
    IN MI. I lived in a rural farm area. Crafts did not sell unless they were cheap and useful items, IE crocheted dish clothes! I made some homemade soaps, candles, herbal sachets, and such. I practically had to give them away when I sold in that area. I took the same items 1 hour south to Saginaw and the prices doubled. BUT then I took the same items down outside of Detroit and the prices tripled. I enjoyed sharing my wares with my small town neighbors, so I did not mind selling at a price I new they could afford. I just did not sell my WHOLE inventory there..I split that 3 ways..and made a nifty profit by doing so!

    I wish you luck on selling your wares in the future, but you must remember, “this aint retail”!

  122. Thank you for your article. It is so true…People will by loads of $1.00 gloves in the bin at Michaels…or whatever at Walmart or Target, because they are cheap…but cheap to whom? We eventually pay for everything. From the environmental impact of big factories, to the human cost of sweatshops…it is just that most consumers do not see the real cost of what they are buying. I won’t be a hipocrate ( I can’t even spell it, lol) and say I always buy handmade. What I buy is meaningful or special to me. I have the “love it” rule. This leads me to spend my limited funds on items I will have for years, rather than what I confess I used to do, buying a few pieces that I didn’t really love but they were cheap. Would I buy one really great hat to last years or 3-4 hats that I don’t really care about? I’ll do the former…once the one I have wears out:) My wardrobe is limited, but I love every piece. Less is more. I believe you will get the right “audience” for your work. It is magnificent. Keep focused on that and let the naysayers say whatever they like. Best of success to you and your beautiful, artful hats!

  123. I think your blog piece is an excellent reflection of a concern that many artists have.

    As someone who has done a few craft fairs and larger shows I can say that it’s always good to be in an environment where you decide, ‘oh hey, this isn’t the right place for my work’ I would encourage you not to adjust your prices down, to meet an audience. As with many things, we discover, eventually who is our customer … who has gotten to know us, like us, trust us, enough to see the value of our work, as well as the value it brings to them. Adornments are not just adornments. They are items that speak to those who buy them and speak OF the person wearing them/owning them.

    I love your hats and currently my money is prioritized elsewhere, however, I will start saving now for the gift to myself of your work :)

    You can make a ‘career’ of your creative, passionate work, keep doing it! Your story inspires me to move forward even more.

    Thank you for being so honest.
    All my best,
    Delia

  124. greg says:

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  125. Greg says:

    I do live on less than $10,000 a year. It sucks. I’m grateful for subsidised housing and I can only WISH I could support hand made crafts. Sadly, it’s impossible. This hat is not a practical hat one might buy for boating or keeping warm, it’s a luxury item, a wearable piece of art. Perhaps the people looking at it just see a “hat.” Yeah, even if I could pay that for a “hat” I’d buy something with a lifetime guarantee, like a Tilly or something… Which is fine, if you want a “hat.”

    The difference is, a Tilly is pumped out a few hundred or so a day. If you want a piece of unique artwork, whether it’s clay, fibre, jewellery, wood, whatever, made by hand… it costs to create. The disconnect is between what you see, and what they see. I believe everyone should have a try at pretty much everything at some point.

    I took up knitting as a post surgery therapy. I’m not great, but I can make a scarf. Yet I have a very different understanding of knit things than I did before. I had no idea what went into a knit item until I learned to knit. I think the same is true of all artforms. Without any visceral experience there is no way to truly appreciate what you are looking at. You don’t see the hours of skill, the pulled and re-knit rows, the hours of work, the failed projects that allowed the skill to grow… all you see is a “hat.”

  126. Sable Jak says:

    I do the craft fairs too and used to make crocheted water bottle holders. They were beaded and made from an extremely durable carpet yard and had vintage button closures.

    I charged, originally, about $35.00 which is the top that I could get. Eventually they dropped to $25 and I would still get people looking at them, “loving” them and then saying “$25? well, I could do $15.” Like they were doing me a favor. I once told a woman they took me about four hours to make and when was the last time she worked for wages like that.

    Then there are the people who say… well, you do this sitting in front of TV or something don’t you? Like that makes it any less valuable.

    Or my all time favorites, the ones who claim that they KNOW you have these done by little children in China or India. Even if you’re sitting there working on one while they talk to you.

    And then there are the ones who would try to sneak a peak how the bags were made. I’d walk up to them and say, “20 ’round, 19 up, string the beads first.” After all, anyone with half a brain would be able to figure out how to make this simple thing. Problem is, most would take one look at the beads and decide it was cheaper to buy.

    But even better than those were the ones who would sniff and say: “Well, I crochet, I can make this.” My pat answer was always: “then you should” and I’d tell them how to do it. They’d finally ask me about the yarn to which I would reply: “there are two ways to get this yarn, buy it by the ton because it’s a carpet yarn, or know the factory owner, who shall remain nameless.”

    Yes, I have my own mean streak.

    The best way to make money at this type of thing is to develop the pattern and sell that, or make and sell the kit.

  127. Rain says:

    Thank you for this. I’m sorry that some folks are being so nasty to you about it. I think your words have tremendous value and it’s something I’ve been struggling with and thinking about a lot as I come to the end of my first year in business as an artist. You said a lot of the things I’ve been thinking, far more eloquently than I would have been able to. It’s okay if someone hasn’t got the money for my wares. What I do is expensive, it’s not cheap, I am not making jewelry for every Tom Dick and Harry. It’s not Target. I make what I make because it pleases me to make it. It’s okay if someone finds my art to be not to their personal taste. I don’t take that personally. But that still doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to get shirty about it, just because they don’t get it. I think sometimes people are feeling defensive and so they just go to the nasty place.

    Also? I’m in love with your beautiful hats. I’m a knitter and handspinner, and your hats are exactly the kind of thing I’d buy for myself if I had the money – since they are something I don’t make normally. I think they’re marvelous and I hope you keep making them!

  128. Kathryn says:

    You are so right about the actual costs involved with handmade. Every time I buy a handmade item I think of all of those things you listed and know I am buying a very special item that you spent hours of your life creating and now I get a chance to put those hours on display for a very long time to come. To all of you hand crafters…thank you.

  129. Robbie says:

    What I find annoying about the original woman who was astonished at the price of that fab hat is that she tried on ALL the hats, anbd chose the most elaborate hat, obviously made of the most materials, as the one to complain about. I clicked the link of the hat to see it larger, and it took me to Somer’s Etsy site. She also has a nice selection of $20-$25 hats (and scarves too) for sale. Guess what? Those are “hat priced,” as Ludd (a previous commenter) above claims is the only thing people want to buy.

    As a rule, I can’t afford a $150 hat, and many people can’t; but if you like and respect an artist’s work, you can still support her or him by either buying a cheaper item or at least passing on the link so others who might like her work can be exposed to it and possibly buy something. Word of mouth is important to people in artistic fields such as this.

    Mostly, though, I’m shocked at the rudeness. If I go to a craft show, just like everyone, I have my own tastes and preferences. But you know what? If you can’t say something nice, why ruin someone’s day? Just say “thank you” for their time as you leave their booth, and move on to one where you might like or appreciate the work more. Granted, some of us seem to understand artistry and some just want cheap goods, and don’t care where they come from. I’m not sure if the latter could find anything at a craft show that they could imagine buying. It’s a shame for them that they can’t at least enjoy the art.

  130. Robbie says:

    (I apologize for typos & grammar atrocities in the above comment.)

  131. globalgirl says:

    Somer,
    Thanks for sharing your story and breaking down the cost it takes to make a handmade item or a work of art. Now, when I go to a craft fair, I will be able to appreciate the time and effort the artisans have put into their creations and I won’t mind paying a little bit more.

  132. BBF says:

    Delia… wrote…”…I would encourage you not to adjust your prices down, to meet an audience. As with many things, we discover, eventually who is our customer … who has gotten to know us, like us, trust us, enough to see the value of our work, as well as the value it brings to them. Adornments are not just adornments. They are items that speak to those who buy them and speak OF the person wearing them/owning them….”

    Careful, many artists NEVER discover the customer without tweaking their work… which is NOT an insult to the art. Sometimes an individual’s inspiration and craft has limited practical AND aesthetic appeal (meaning the hat is awesome as a work of art, but I would not wear it nor would I put it on my child or give it as a gift). Designers often show different clothing on fashion runways than the lines they actually sell… and there is plenty of criticism of clothing on the “red carpet” celebrities walk when they wear very expensive clothing which doesn’t seem to flatter or have any beauty off the runway… according to critics.
    Its a beautiful hat… I do NOT see it as a hat. But this is me, living where I live, where nobody else wears stuff like that on their head. Something similar with less fluff, maybe… a more “cartoony” spongebob version would probably sell (sorry). It follows that something unrecognizable in our chaotic world will only be appreciated by a few for the craft that it truly is. Most people don’t know how to knit or crochet, so they will not be impressed. The woman in the original story, was being nasty. Her viewpoint was probably not “that’s not my style.” Why try on every single hat? something must have appealed to her. So, in all the negativity, IS THERE some constructive criticism? Is there something about the hats (all of them) that leaves them less desirable when put on the head, compared to other hats? Compared to what one might expect? Balance? Symmetry? Weight? Comfort? These are all common things appealing to almost everyone (symmetry, in design, even if worn at an angle, is usually preferred over asymmetrical designs–dresses, tops, skirts, coats etc)
    As for price— has anyone ever seen what a really good cowboy hat costs? HAT PRICES are what the market will bear. Trends, Tradition. Art as headwear… you can’t describe that sea creature as anything else. I know people who would wear that. Only a few, though… that’s the point. The nasty woman should have counted to 10 before opening her mouth… she had a right to say something but maybe could have chosen a more diplomatic approach and thought about it a little bit first.

  133. neki rivera says:

    how long have you been doing your craft? that’s the point! not the minimum wage or the other figures although ,granted, they play a part.
    when i’m asked the ubiquitous how-long-did-it-take-
    question i always respond 30 years. that’s how long it’s taken me to hone my weaving.

  134. I get the customer not understanding why the hat is $150, I understand that she might not like it, everyone’s taste is different – what I don’t get is a.) Why did she try all the hats on if she didn’t like them? and b.) What on Earth was she doing at a craft fayre in the 1st place?

  135. Renae says:

    AMEN. Thank you so, so much for writing this. :)

    As an artist and crafter, I have NEVER felt comfortable with charging as much as the traditional crafters’/artists’ pricing equation demands. (The whole hourly-wage-plus-materials-plus-tax-and-overall-business-costs-equals-blank equation calculation that so many crafters very vehemently suggest). I recognize that it’s not good to undervalue your work, but as far as I’ve seen it, no one cares how long it takes me to make an intricate little polymer clay sculpture, or whether or not the semi-precious stones I use in my beadwork is 100% natural (and therefore MUCH costlier for me). Everyone compares handcrafted pieces and genuine artwork to mass-produced items you can get at the mall, and that leaves many crafters at a loss.

    I’ve been told I should charge more for my work a million times over, but in my experience, no one wants to pay $35 for a hand-sculpted ornament, a piece made out of real lapis lazuli, or even an original drawing that it took me days to make. For the longest time I tried and tried to sell my work, getting more and more discouraged and frustrated with myself and my art because of the lack of response over the years, despite being told a million times how brilliant my art is, about how much people think I should sell it, etc. But the fact of the matter is that few people outside of art gallery situations are prepared to pay what it costs most artists and crafters to break even, compensating solely for their materials and the like, let alone to earn this mythological hourly rate. And now that internet sales have become more widely established, crafters now have to worry about shipping rates, packing materials, parcel insurance, and beyond. It all adds up, and that’s something I don’t think many people realize (outside of the ones who’re actually doing the creating, selling & shipping).

    And because of this, lots of crafters and artists end up devaluing themselves and their work because something as simple and cosmically meaningless as their general lack of sales. Some even get so fed up they just stop creating all together. It’s hard to keep creating, (and at some point even just for the fun of it), when you stop seeing the value.. a that special bit of artistic merit, in your work. And that to me is insanely sad. And much of this, I’d wager, is due to people constantly comparing how cheap posters are in the mall, how easy it is to get a beaded necklace at a kiosk for $15, w/o realizing that some poor person in a 3rd world country probably made it for literally pennies on the hour. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have seen this article, because it lets me know that at least ONE person understands. I may not have the heart (or, perhaps the courage) to charge $300 for my drawings, or $80 for my little sculptures like so many people say I should, but it’s because I can pretty well bet that no one will PAY that kind of money for something handmade, even if they have been made aware of the time, love & attention that’s gone into it. I just don’t think our society is aware of that kind of thing anymore. No many people make clothes or other simple things by hand any longer, so we’ve just kind of lost touch with that aspect of “making.” Maybe with the resurgence of small businesses and buying things handmade, we’ll eventually get it back. :)

  136. I appreciate your post – I shared it on FACEBOOK.

    I agree that it is disheartening to produce art and have it devalued. I always find it amazing that people at Craft Fairs expect Flea Market or Garage Sale prices. They are getting ART not Wal-Mart mass produced merchandise. I am a knitter, crocheter and quilter and I don’t think people realize the HOURS that are involved ….. and the expense. Most quilts have HUNDREDS of dollars of INVESTMENT just for the materials and that doesn’t factor in the time. I am so glad that you wrote this – and hopefully it will be informative to those who need to be informed!

    sao in Midlothian, VA

  137. barb says:

    i must admit after about the 5th long response i stopped reading them. What i wanted to tell you is this – your work and effort should command a goodly and just price. But the next challenge is finding the market outlet or audience that will not only love your work but support your price. Sounds like you were in a show that did not value your work properly. Here are a few ideas:
    1. look for an art gallery that likes fiber.
    2, Consider doing juried shows primarily – your audience are art enthusiasts who are willing to pay the price for hand made quality and uniqueness.
    3. Remember that only 5 percent of all people buy crafts- so you need to move around and find where your niche is. it takes a few shows like you encountered to understand what your market is not to help determine what your market is.
    keep in touch- i would love to learn more about how you are doing.

  138. Alexis Ashworth says:

    Thank you for this blog. It made me cry. I love knitting and crocheting and really good fibers – people tend to be shocked by the price (and I don’t charge that much). Your hat is gorgeous! I would absolutely pay at least $150 – or more likely see if you wanted to do a trade ;-)
    I often have pieces that are more “knit for others” and then I have really fabulous ones that I just wanted to do – art. It seems in your case that woman didn’t like the “art.” Fine. That she voiced it was absolutely rude. Just chuckle and know that she’s the kind that goes to museums rather loudly tells everyone around she doesn’t understand the art there, either – and would never pay $1M for a picture of a vase with sunflowers. Or even better, this will be shared so many times in facebook, she will eventually read it.

    I am off to your etsy site, now. Thanks again. I am going to print this and put it next to my knitting needles so I remember to stay true to myself.

  139. Lynn Lomon says:

    I just looked through your creations and I think they’re marvelous! Keep it up and don’t let the bozo’s get you down! Some people just can’t appreciate other’s creativity. I once was sitting in the shade of a tree during a yard sale at our home. Our newborn son was in his stroller, bundled up in an elaborate afghan I’d made. One lady asked if I would make her one. When I told her it would cost $75, she freaked out (much like your shopper) so I also broke it down like you just did. At the price I would have charged her, it came to just over $1 per hour (not counting materials). Needless to say, she didn’t ask me to make her one.

  140. EMMA HARBOTTLE says:

    There is nothing worse than someone who doesnt appreciate the work that goes into hand made products. Your work is beautiful and as you say it is one of a kind xx Just send her on her way to a big department store where she’ll probably pay more for a sweat-shop made branded product that everyone has! shes clearly unoriginal and her head is not worthy of one of your hats xx I had the same problem with my jewellery. Its really original (sea glass, so each piece is different) and its ALL sterling silver…the market I did an older woman came up and said she liked one of my pendants and when she asked how much and I said £25 ($40) she said “HOW MUCH????!!”. I told her to take a walk to the art gallery that I supply to as they charge double that price and YES they do sell. My mum had to hold me back from her lol :D Its an awful feeling though and for the rest of the day I questioned whether my prices were too high. Theyre not and neither are yours xx take care and keep making,
    emma xx

  141. Jamie says:

    No matter how beautiful, I couldn’t afford a $150 hat – but I still need to keep my head warm. Art is art, though, and some people can afford it and some not. Also, people like different forms of art. This is wearable art. Even though I can’t afford much of it, I like to look.

  142. Kathleen says:

    Although I am not as talented as you, I love knitting and can appreciate all the time and talent it goes to making a wonderful one of a kind item. I was always amazed when “friends” wanted me to make them complicated knit wear for the cost of the material, like my time did not matter. I can only imagine how annoying it is for those of you are true artist to have such comments made.

  143. Jo Campbell says:

    I think this is a great post and was glad to see so many supportive comments (yes, I read them all). I split my time between being a jewllery artist (and it took me some time before I felt comfortable calling myself that), a shop assistant (in a wool and craft shop) and a mum & wife. It is sad how little value some people place on handmade items when most of the time they are of much higher quality than off-the-rack mass produced items. I love seeing the unique work of artists, even if it’s not my personal taste or I can’t afford it, and agree with the sentiments expressed above that if you can’t say something nice, or at least constructive, then don’t say anything at all. Why resort to being rude? I think the hat above is really fun and was glad to see on Etsy that it is reserved for a new home where it will be appreciated.

  144. Well, this was an interesting discussion!! As an artist, I am wondering how anyone can place a value on talent ? There is a lot more that goes into the making of a piece of jewelry, ceramics, glass, or painting than the actual physical process. Years of training, thinking, seeing, staying awake because you can’t shake an idea, or trying to solve a problem, all go into a finished work.
    And , as an aside, I was a sales rep in the beauty industry for many years. Has anyone had a perm,or had their hair colored? Did you pay $75 – $150 for this service? Do you know what a hairdresser pays for a box of perm solution, or bottle or tube of hair dye? Maybe $5 – $8. It’s all in the hands of the maker.

  145. for awhile, when i was still doing shows; i gave out pieces of paper to those in need of “education” about the breakdown in time that went into creating something handmade.

    made me feel better anyway!

    kecia

  146. Jenny says:

    That hat is awesome. I’m going to my very first craft fair this weekend. Last night I wrote out my very first price list and the whole time I felt sick. I was so worried people would think my prices were too high. I, too, put so much love into my sewing. I want people to love my work, because my work is a little part of me. I’d give it away (and regularly do, in fact) but it’s just that I want to keep doing it, and that costs money. Also, I upcycle sweaters and while they are generally much less expensive than yarn, driving all over the place hunting them down takes time and money! This is a great post. I’ll definitely be sharing it.

  147. Jane says:

    I make jewellery for pleasure, and for friends. I would love to do it commercially, but I would be selling at just the cost of materials. When I see something from a designer/artisan I like, I will buy it and believe it is worth the extra for something that is relatively unique … but I also buy from department stores. Why is this a problem … surely, it is buying what we like.

  148. Rachael says:

    A friend posted this on her Facebook page. I am a crafter myself, your hat is beautiful and I would love to learn to knit and crochet someday. As I would love to own one of your creations, I can’t afford $150 for a hat.

    I love your breakdown of prices and I fully understand why you have priced it as such. But as a SAHM with 3 kids and a DH just recently retired from the military, a hat that price would be out of my price range.

    Keep up the beautiful pieces, I love etsy and the like. And wish I could fully support more crafters.

  149. Kate S says:

    I understand what you’re saying in this post, but I just don’t think that with this economy the way it is right now, that many people are going to be partaking in $150 hats. Sucks, but it just seems like the way it is. I pull down a decent paycheck myself due to my profession as an RN, but because of things being the way they are, I have absolutely no chance in heck of being able to purchase one of these hats. And I don’t think that I’m the only one.

    • Chris says:

      Somer’s issue was not that the customer “couldn’t afford” one of her works of art, but that she was so incredibly RUDE. I can’t afford a $150 hat but oh, how wonderful it would be to experience the amazing creativity and beauty! Do you go to Art Gallery openings and tell the artists that their work is overpriced? Who determines “overpriced” anyway when it comes to one-of-a-kind art? If you can’t appreciate unique, hand-made work, you should buy your clothes off the rack and leave the TRUE art to those who appreciate it.

  150. Tom says:

    I feel like I have to step in here. Yes, I agree that the true cost of selling handmade items is not respected in our society, and because of cheap manufacturing, people now want handmade items for the same price as storebought ones because they don’t see the work that has gone into it.
    However, when you get below a certain income level, it becomes more difficult to justify paying upwards of $40 for a hat, because $40 would also buy more clothes for your kids this winter, or food for a month, or a supply of prescription medicines.
    I ran into this at a craft fair held at an elementary school where ~70% of the students got free/reduced lunch. I’d made knotted friendship bracelets, and rather than pricing them at $5-6, as I would for a different crowd, I sold them at $1-2 because I wanted to sell them and I wanted people to be able to buy something handmade without having to justify the price.
    When you’re selling to different crowds, you really have to consider how much you’re willing to lose in order for someone to be able to afford your stuff. Truthfully, it’s cheaper to learn how to knit the thing yourself.

  151. Chris Cassidy says:

    I shared this on my FB, it is very insightful, especially to those that don’t create. My rule of thumb for pricing has been cost of materials times three. So, $150 for a hat that it costs $40 or so in materials is reasonable. I agree that people just do not take in to consideration the time and skill in hand made items.

  152. Suzi says:

    That’s pretty much it in a nutshell… whatever the cost of our labor and overhead, it would be nice to see others appreciate the passion behind each creation, or for that matter, even the very goods of which they are made… keep plugging away though, for there are the few who truly understand… for those who don’t have never known the joy of creating… my heart goes out to them.

  153. Kerry says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I had one of my pieces (Old Fathers Survey New Ghosts) hanging at an art show and it had taken me over a month to finish. Not because I’m slow but when I paint I want all the details correct. A lady came over and looked at the $900 price and harumphed and said to her friend “is he nuts I can get a painting at Walmart for $30.” I’ve realized over the past ten years that I paint for no-one but myself. If someone falls in love with a piece and wants to buy it I am very happy, but, if they don’t sell I love having them on my walls.

  154. gary says:

    the real problem is you, u are undervalueing yourself, the hat is an incredible piece. 500 dollars is more like it. get yourself into the area where people have that kind of money

  155. Jude says:

    I shared this article on my facebook because I am a quilt maker. I know that I can’t get paid what my time is worth on a piece of art design in a quilt but I do it for my pleasure and for the person who may get the quilt as a gift. I learned not to, even give away a quilt to someone who has no idea, of just how valuable it really is. Those people deserve a walmart gift. I think the hat ‘Lettuce Go To the Mothership’ is a riot. I can understand the work involved in making and designing it and I would buy something like this if I had the money. So, art work is paid for by the loving beholder with the $$$$. Being rude is not acceptable at any time. A rude person is a low soul which means their mind and heart are close to hell.

  156. Ryan says:

    Nice write up. Im currently taking a break from my leather mask crafting due to same issue. I love doing it, but can’t afford to rihjt now! I could raise my prices, but then im just making display pieces for the rich, rather than the creative class that wears them on stage, raves, and mardi gras. Its a catch-22.

    Btw, nice hat!

  157. Jude says:

    regarding rude people…www.marytv.tv
    “Dear Children, today I call you to prayer. Especially when Satan desires war and hate, I call you again my small children to pray, pray, pray that God will give you peace. Offer peace to every heart and be carriers of peace in this faithless world. I am with you and I pray before God for every one of you. And you, do not be afraid because whoever prays has no fear of evil and has no hatred in the heart. Thank you my dear children for having responded to my call.” (Message from Our Lady of Medjugorje through Ivan, given at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna on November 17, 2011)

  158. Sarah says:

    There’s really nothing to argue about here.

    If you are looking for a hat and are on a budget, you need to go to a department store or a thrift store and buy a hat. It will keep your head warm. It might even look nice. It probably won’t “feed your soul,” if that’s one of the things you care about. But there are a lot of ways to feed your soul, and you’ll get by.

    If you have a little extra money after you pay for food and shelter and an Internet connection, and you love textiles, you will look for an artisan and buy a hand-crafted hat. It will give you joy and make you feel good about supporting someone who makes the world more beautiful, and supporting a world where such people can prosper. It will also keep your head warm.

    The key thing to remember is that you do not shop for a cheap hat from an artisan, any more than you look for handcrafted masterpieces at a department store. If you try to do that, you’re going to end up grumpy, and making the shopkeeper grumpy too.

  159. Pat says:

    I would pay $200 or more for that hat.

    The problem may be that you’re selling to the wrong people. The steampunk community has many people who love anything squid-like and would jump at the chance to buy that! Look into steampunk conventions, science fiction and fantasy conventions, etc … there are many artisans there who will appreciate your work and support you.

    And there are many others who would like what you make. Don’t discount your art or sell to the cheap-minded. Why not sell to people who have money and want to buy from you?

    Best of luck! <3

  160. Jen says:

    While I enjoy craft fairs, seeing everything that is made and talking with the artists, I simply cannot afford to buy most of it and you know what, that makes me feel bad, but I don’t have the budget for it. I spent years living on less than $15,000/year which was the high end. Many people live on less than $30,000 a year and to survive – eat, pay rent, clothe the kids, pay bills – they simply have no other choice than to shop at places like Walmart, Target, etc because they don’t have the budget that affords them the luxury of NOT shopping those places. Handmade, organic, etc are pricey in most stores and many areas finding local goods can be just as pricey! Even now that I’m married and the household income is higher, it’s still just not possible to buy needed things or gifts at craft fairs because how would we pay the bills? I truly appreciate the work and thought put into handmade items but I am not willing to pay $150 for a hat, one of a kind or not. That’s not being nasty, it simply is not in the budget. I spent years making jewelry and sold more of it because I priced it at a low level so that people could buy the pieces they really liked instead of walking away sad because they couldn’t afford it. Was I undervaluing my work? Possibly, but I wanted folks to be able to buy the pretties I made and enjoy them because I enjoyed making them and knew that they would be back to buy more another time. It’s the same for musicians, which I am; we are underpaid for a full time job. If many musicians charged according to the hourly wage x 4-6 members, no bar or festival would hire them! It’s tough getting just getting $300-400 for a 5 member band for a 4 set night at a packed local bar. Factor in gear and supplies that are routinely used (strings, polish, cables, picks, rosin, repairs, etc), rehearsal time, time spent finding & getting the gigs – emails, phone calls, negotiating; demos for the venue, rehearsal space rental if you have it, drive time to & from the gig, set up & tear down, food, gas and road gigs we have to pay for lodging, food & drinks, even more gas. All those receipts! No way are we ever paid what is truly deserved – we don’t charge the true value of our craft. Would you pay $30 to hear one local/regional band for 3 hours PLUS food & drink? Every week? Probably not, you would go to the venue where there is no cover charge or one that was only $10 or even $5, or worse, a dj, sports bar, juke box or karoake. Many festivals showcase 5-6 bands for that same $30. The more people at the gig, the more fans you generate, the more cds & t shirts, stickers sold. If the price is too high, not as many people show up, not as many fans made, not as many cds sold. If you ask too much at the door, not many people show up, the bar doesn’t book you again.

    • Simon says:

      well said. Is it better to have a couple $150 hats on the rack or dozens of $40 hats in the street being worn and talked about?

  161. Rahja says:

    I myself, being an atrisan have also found myself with the up turned nose at my work because of the price. Some of my pieces are only done at the behest of a commission and my passion and love for what goes into them are just exactly that… when they buy a piece of my work, it not only fulfills a dream of knowing that my work is appreciated, but that my love and heart go with it, never to return. To me, giving up that much of myself into a piece is priceless but I never give up. There is something just so exciting about feeling that someone appreciate’s your work and wants to show it off as well.

  162. Very well said. I was half of a step ahead of you doing the math and then I realized you were doing it too. Sometimes I just look at people and say, “Well, could you do this?” If so, then fine. They can go and do that and they wouldn’t have purchased anyway. And if not, I’ve made my point. It doesn’t bring a sale either way but it does make me feel better.
    Pat may be right. You may need to focus your market better. An indie art sale would more likely bring in customers that would LOVE and appreciate your work.

  163. Susan says:

    Thank you for the article. I’m also a self-employed crocheter, and I know exactly where you are coming from. I love your work!

    Thanks
    Susan

  164. Simon says:

    I don’t care how long it took you or how many yards of what material (unless its silk or gold) – $150 for a *HAT* is absolutely absurd.

  165. You know I’ve had this happen to me when we’ve done craft fairs. On one occasion We actually had a tee shirt that said oh Deere and had the John Deere deer with its head cropped off. We thought it was funny this one woman ragged on it for 10 minutes as she looked at it turned to me and said this tee should be burned as a matter of fact all your garbage should be burned. I smiled thanks her and politely told her she was rude and asked her if she had ever heard of the if you don’t have anything nice to say quote she quickly walked away … It’s sad but some people are just bitter.

  166. another Julia says:

    To this woman I would say; “I don’t like your snarly face. So I won’t spend any of my expensive time on looking at it further. I especially don’t want one of my exquisitely detailed hats near it so begone with you!”

  167. ChrisG says:

    I don’t have time to read all the posts- but let me just say I hope there are not too many unappreciative folks out there. I love going to art and craft fairs. I’m on a very limited income so I can’t buy- but I do thank the artist for sharing and take a card and someday either I purchase or I pass on my great find. I love the hat. Thanks for sharing

  168. Tabitha says:

    Somer,
    I simpathize with you.
    I have owned a knitting and crocheting business for almost 11 years now. I had to give up my website due to NO sales, thus the site was not paying for itself.
    Most people that do not do artisan work have NO CLUE the costs involved.
    Comments like “My Grandma can do that can I get a better deal?”, “Oh you’re just doing busy work.” “I can get this at WalMart”. YEA Good luck on that one, WalMart USED to be American Made friendly not any more. And this only names three of the absurd comments I have heard over the 37 years of knitting and 35 years of crocheting I have done (I started at 6 and 8 years old).
    Another cost is if you want to have a store carry your items. The standard charge a store will charge for consignment work is 50%, I have seen this as high at 100%. IF you are lucky there are also places that will charge 40%, 30%, or as low as 10%. This is a cost that you have to add to the cost of the item AFTER you have the price you charge (then if you are selling an item in a store, you have to raise your personal selling prices so you do not undercut the store(s) you sell in).
    Please do not Be discouraged. I make an average of $2 an hour on my work. If it is custom (specifically for someone) then I charge the client $10 and hour. Most people with 35 to 37 years of experiance in a field of work would not charge this little for their knowledge.
    Remember to put how many hours it took to make the item (test how many stitches per minute then average it out), also remember to add in end tucking time, or if you have to wind the hanks to make a working ball of yarn. I have done this and that is how I figured the working wage I make.
    HUGGLES to you and ALL Artisans trying to make a living in this economy.

  169. Sherry Stoll says:

    Stick to your guns. Your items are worth what you say they are worth. :-)

    I struggle with pricing myself. I’ve had to learn that I can in no way compete with the big box stores. So I don’t. I’m a frugal person and I finally decided that I wouldn’t price for what I would buy it for, but for the market I want to break in to.

    Shake off the negativity of the nasty lady and keep creating.

  170. Kim Harris says:

    I know everyone has thier opinion and I am leaving mine as just that no more. Crafters and Artist do what they do because they love the art and the making of it. I make purses and made to order items. At times people make comments about my pricing. I usually wind up selling something at about half the price it is actually worth in manhours. I do not live off my crafting. I have a job, but my crafts are the real me and my passion. In a perfect worls I would be able to live off the selling of my art.So I sell them and then am happy they are being used. If I were to have an item that I just had to price at a high level I would make sure there were other items at a more affordable price to choose also. We are in a tough economy right now, but there is money out there for some. Maybe the woman who did not buy the hat really wanted it but could not afford it or anything else she was desiring at the craft show. And she was acting out. I dont disagree with anything anyone has said, we all our who we are and are products of where we come from and our experiences. We should support artists and crafters as much as our pocket book allows and if we cant we cant. Hand made is usually more quality, not always but usually and is also usually one of a kind and therefore art. I shop at Walmart as little as possible. I shop as little as possible period. I do try to support small time businesses and artists as I can affford to. This world is not easy or fair and we all have to do what we can to make it a better place. My not buying my toilet paper at Walmart will not make a difference. It will make a difference if I buy toilet paper made from recycled paper, and I can get that at Walmart. I do not live in an area with alot of small quaint shops to choose from so due to time and gas I wind up at Walmart or Target or one of the others for basic needs. What I strive to do is not to use anymore of anything than I need. I recycle and reuse. I buy second hand when I can. And I am a crafter and alot of my yarn is second hand or recycled too.

  171. Oh boy what a can of worms this has opened with me..I feel for Somer and having to deal with this type of customer and her sour grapes..I deal with them all the time, I do henna tattoos ( mehndi) and I can’t tell you how many times I get people that flip through 5 design books and then randomly pick some design ( that I think they don’t really want they are just being nosy) and ask the price and when I say it’s $20 they act like I’ve asked them to give me their kidneys.. I have people that come up to me at Highland games and think nothing of giving me a $50 bill and say “paint me” and then when I do street fairs or work in Salem MA for halloween you get some white trash housewife that come along and scoff at my minimum price for a henna design, which is $10.00..they say ” I can go to Hampton Beach and get one there for $3.00″ and I say right back ” Right you can, but they use stencils and it will last you 2 days” I do everything freehand. And people think that setting up a booth and charging for henna just magically happens..It takes time to find shows, you have to pay your rent, if it rains then you make no money cus nobody comes out, you have to pay for your miles, cost of the materials, with me I give them aftercare instructions ( Staples loves me cus I’m there all the time) that cost money and I give them glitter. When you add all that stuff up it’s staggering. So for those of you that don’t have good taste and scoff at $150 hats or $10 henna keep your crude comments to yourself and get out of my booth. And let me make space at my booth for someone that will.

    • Rewolf says:

      I saw at the local Ren fair a henna artist, and other tattoo artists, usually printing the cost right next to the design in the books. Even tabs and sectioning the books by cost so they can flip right to that 20 dollars group they feel they can spend that day. That way you don’t get the 20 questions and they can pick something in their budget without embarrassment and everybody’s happy. Wishing you prosperity.

  172. Kathy says:

    Somer, your hats are beautiful and you should be adequately compensated not just for your time but for your talent. I’m an artist, too, and I’ve heard plenty of stupid remarks at shows over the years. My favorite was the woman who demanded I tell her exactly how to do what I do because “I’ve just retired and I need something to do that doesn’t require thinking”. My response to her was “yes…I can see where that would be a necessity in your case”. :-) In the words of Mr T (if you’re old enough to understand the reference) “pity the fool”!

  173. Rewolf says:

    As a ‘starving artist’ myself, If I see an awesome hat or crafted ‘etsy’ thing I MUST have because it radiates cool and weird and all the feelings I love feeling (like a certain bacon scarf I just bought for above $40 even though I probably COULD have made it myself), I save up for them, and let the crafter know I am interested in one. If it takes 2 years? So be it. It is something I crave to brighten the rest of my life. If I don’t like something, I don’t buy it. And I certainly don’t berate the artist. Maybe one day they will make an awesome thing and I don’t want to burn bridges.
    I only wish the Woman-who-hated-the-hat could read these responses and the other grinches that lurk at craft fairs too. maybe print and post them near your stall.

  174. Dee says:

    And then there is pricing yourself out of the market… $150 Crocheted Hats are probably not in any persons price range.

    I have to ask..do you crochet hats for your customers or just your ART?

  175. Lee says:

    1. Great article and responses.
    2. Your hat is creative, cool, and totally worth $150. Ultimately it will be purchased becuase it is different, intricate, and the person appreciated the creativity and skill it took to design & make it. That person is not interested in the $3 machine knitted hat at the superstore.
    3. Ethics people, ethics! I’m concerned with the number of people who seem to think it is OK to knock off artist/designer’s work because they “can” make it. That is stealing. Be creative and come up with your own design/art or pay for the pattern/kit. Part of the cost of art or designer goods is the creative process. How many sketches, pattern revisions, prototypes, redos did it take to work out that design? How many hours to decide upon and source the raw materials?
    4. This holiday season consider supporting artists & small businesses. Your gift receipient will appreciate it.

  176. cheryl says:

    If she doesn’t like it fine but don’t put down the item or the person who took hours to make it. She was rude and out of line. Like someone else said if you want to buy a Wallmart hat then do so don’t go to a craft fair. They are higher in prices in some cases but they are Handmade In AMERICA! That is what we want and someone will get a great handmade in America gift this year instead of a gift card

  177. Chelsey says:

    I also crochet my own creations and sell them. I sell baby hats mostly, which luckily people seem more inclined to spend money on a hat that a baby will wear maybe for a week or two before they outgrow it, which really seems odd to me. I hate when people contact me on Etsy, asking for a discount. I JUST started selling my stuff after hardly knowing how to crochet for more than a year. I do it for fun, and I sell my hats for nothing. $20.00 for a baby hat that I spent an entire day on. I have had people ask for adult versions of my hats (my popular seller is a steampunk aviator hat) and I tell them the price will be $50, and they get mad. A baby head is tiny compared to a full size adult, and requires much more yarn and labor. Luckily for me, most of my yarn is donated to me or found for cheap at tag sales. The only thing that I buy is the packaging for the shipping, and the Thank you cards I include in each package. I have yet to invest in business cards. I have worked at renaissance faires for a chain mail maker friend of mine, and we get a ton of people in the faire that are rude about pricing. If I have a rude customer, I tell them: “here is a website teaching you how to do this, and here is another one to buy the materials, good friggin’ luck”. Its sad this mentality that people have. I enjoy what I do, and for the most part, let it roll off of me, but it does hurt when people say they wont pay for your handmade art when they can pay some cheap crap from the dollar store. I make sure to support hand made things. Hell, I even sew my own clothes, and refuse for my children to have store bought halloween costumes. If I had a big enough yard for a farm, I would be totally self-sustaining.

  178. Ms. Salti says:

    Great post. Thanks for breaking it down. I think it really helps others to understand what truly goes into making hand-made crafts!

  179. OT, ReWolf, I do have some designs categorized by price at Halloween where I need some sense of order ..I don’t like putting prices in my books cus I think it mars the pages a bit..

    However I think that Somer should maybe try to get into more high end craft fairs where you won’t get such harassment and would attract a high end clientele that has $150 for hats..Working with the public is hard, sometimes you have to deal with assholes to let the angels come through…and buy your hats!!

  180. Lorri says:

    First of all, Somer, I think your hats are incredible. I crochet myself, have for years, but my brain does not think up imaginative things like that. I’m willing to bet my right arm that nobody has thought up the same exact idea as you, and that is why we call it art.

    Secondly, being intrigued by the ‘offending hat’, I checked out your Etsy shop and noticed that someone did indeed think your hat was worth the price. I didn’t have time to read all the posts above but in the ones I did read, nobody with negative comments to offer mentioned (or looked deep enough into) the fact that you worked with your customer to find a method of payment that fit both of you, namely a payment system. If I want something bad enough, I will find a way to get it and if that means payments, lay-aways, whatever, I’ll try to work it out.

    Having done the craft fair myself (collage jewelry, polymer clay & seed bead jewelry), I’ve run into my fair share of rude people. We do come to expect people who want something for nothing, but rude comments still hurt. Don’t let the negativity deter you! By the way, I shared your post on Facebook, as well.

  181. Forgive me for not reading through all the comments in case this has been stated before. I highly suggest visiting any show before booking it to see if it is a good demographic fit – otherwise, all of the time and effort you spend getting ready for a less than optimal show could have been spent creating and/or performing valuable administrative tasks.

  182. Cliff says:

    Well, I think you should charge more.
    A friend of mine who runs a guitar shop got a rarity in and stuck it on the wall with a £350 price tag. No one touched it for two months. He raised the price £450 and a couple of people tried it out. He stuck another £100 on top and suddenly had three people who wanted to buy it.
    I think your hat looks great. I couldn’t afford it, but if I could afford to spend that much on a fun item of clothing I could probably afford to spend twice as much just as readily.
    At $150 what you have is an overpriced hat that doesn’t pay you for the cost/time/effort/skill of making it.
    At $350 it is clearly art and valued as such.
    At your next craft fair give it a try, double (or more) your prices and see if it makes a difference one way or another to the amount you sell. For the right customer you can always negotiate and $50 off would still leave you with more than you are getting now and they’ll feel like they’ve got a bargain too.
    It might sound like I’m being mercenary but if we, as creators do not value our work then who will?
    We all have to make a living: go for it!

    • plcahill says:

      I agree with this! The person who wants that hat will not complain about the price at all. They will not haggle. They’ll just buy it.

      The person who complains about the price will complain even if it were priced at $40! So price it correctly and it will go to the right home. It might take a while, but it’ll happen for sure!

  183. sunny says:

    Unfortunatly. I think that people who go to craft fairs, or art festivals or even your church bizzare, those people are not lookign to buy “hand made items” they are looking to buy… cheap gifts to give at christmas. I know when I tak emy mother in law it’s just to go looking and maybe we will but something if the price is right. We dont usually leave the hosue with hundreds of dollars in our pockets. So while I understand your break down of why you put a price such as that on your art work, please understand the mentality of the shopper coming into a craft show and seeing a “hat”. She is not at a high end fashion department store, she is at a craft show.
    And.. for the record. My grandmother worked at Wal-Mart, never had an quips or qualms about the people or company she worked for. And when her husband of 50 years died, she was told not to worry, take as much time off as she needed and her job would still be there when she returned. She took about 2 months off, went back to work and then retired for good about 7 months later. Before she left they told her she had an open spot for her any time she wanted to come back.
    I think the bad stories you hear about that particular store are from people who have been fired or let go for whatever reasons and they are bitter about it. Just my opinion.

  184. Deni says:

    I just had to laugh out loud at the audacity of that customer. My husband and daughter are artists at art/craft shows and we’ve heard it all. Some of these comments are quite jaw dropping, like “I love your work. I’m going to go home and make these.” And “Why would someone pay good money for glass?” Astounding. Sometimes we just shake our heads in wonder at the lack of kindness; sometimes we get our feelings hurt. Your blog writing is wonderful and your art is beautiful. Keep up your spirits and keep up your exquisite work.

  185. aneva says:

    I LOVE Crochet. My mama taught me many years ago, and I am just getting back in to relearning everything. I SO admire, and am jealous, of those with all the beautiful creativity in their thoughts that they can put out with their hands. YOU do that beautifully. Your work is creative, thoughtful and looks to be impeccably made. I think in general everyone’s comments are made to be encouraging, except for the guy that calls people names, any man who does that isn’t worth giving any attention to. Thank you for your post, I really do not see how artisans ‘make a living’ if that is their only income to sell their creations. I was shocked to see what some people pay for a table at a craft show alone. Thank you for sharing your creativity with the world!

  186. Shiborigirl says:

    As a self supporting crafts person/maker for my entire life (over 30 years of making and selling so far), I offer the following thoughts:

    It is the responsibility of the maker to educate the consumer as to the value and quality of their product/ art.

    Not everyone is capable of learning this nor do they care or want to.

    You will never escape these types of comments or non customers at craft shows so just come up with your best positive approach in dealing with them and move on.

    If you intend to make a living from your work, make sure you figure all your costs. If the bottom line isn’t working for you there are only three possible solutions: raise your prices, lower your costs, or get a day job.

    You might consider writing up your pattern designs and selling them as a download for those who want to make their own (or have “granny” make it for them). Just sayin’.

  187. Bill Hedrick says:

    artists and craftspeople can not be compared to robots and slave laborers. OTOH, while I may love your $150 hat, when that is a major part of my monthly income and I need a hat for winter, I will probably go to Target and find a warm $15 hat. I can not afford art.

    But again that being said, I make and sell craft myself. I have to keep my prices lower than I should in order to compete, but will not cut my throat to make a sale. I had a guy ask me for a custom piece and, knowing he was strapped for cash, low-balled him a price. I didn’t hear from him for a couple months so I sent him a “Hey I can still do this for you” note. He replied it was a lot of money. I informed him it was 30% less than I usually charge, he replied he had a lot of expenses (including some discretionary ones he incurred AFTER my first bid), While I understand poverty, if you are more interested in spending your free money with other people, I won’t beg you.

    Also I am somewhat ambivalent with sharing how I do things with competitors. On one hand, you want people to do good work, on the other hand I don’t want them taking my customers away

  188. Very informative. Of course, I already basically knew this but, still it is helpful to read your clear explanation of everything that goes into your hand crafted products.
    As a musician, I can relate to having my excellent work undervalued, by purchasers.
    You have convinced me that it is better to buy one handcrafted item per season than investing in any mass produced crap from china, even though, I myself, am a starving artist.

  189. Kathleen says:

    As a business owner (photography) and personal hobby crafter (knits and such) I say AMEN AMEN AMEN!

  190. Shuttermom3 says:

    Your post made me think of my Grandmother. She made arrangements with artificial flowers and people would travel from miles away to pick up her arrangements. They would come into the flea mall and place orders with her and “ooh” and “aah” over her work. Her wreaths were amazing.
    My son had a blast for years making wreaths for family for Christmas. Every year I get emails from friends when they take his wreath out to hang it and how it’s a tradition in their homes now.
    I admire the artistry. I wish I were more creative. I love going to the craft shows and watching the artist create. It’s beautiful. And when something jumps out at me, I take it home.
    I was saddened by the comment of the lady trying on the hat. I thinks it’s disgusting that this is where our society is headed. Yet as I scanned the replies from readers like myself, I was not surprised. This is the world we live in. One response was to tell another to stab themselves. One “man” called a woman a bitch.
    Maybe someone needs to blog about decency, common sense and Prozac. The decency and common sense are totally free. I checked and the generic brand for Prozac is $4 at Walmart. Yep. Walmart.

  191. Olivia says:

    As an artisan myself, I can appreciate wanting to be paid what you’re worth. Without complaint I have paid cash money for a resin dragon pupet at the Renn Faire, I have paid for hand knit items and hand sewn dolls because I see the value of artisan work but in each of these instances these artisans had a range of items priced from the afordable up to the extravagant because they understand that not everybody who appreciates their work can afford the “real” price.

    As a consumer, I am willing to pay $50 for a fully lined wool hat made in the USA via machine knitting – these hats are made with USA union labor, are of high quality and I help the local economy because they are not available in department stores. I also think hand fulled/knitted/crochet hats close to that price range are reasonable but even the bestest hat in the world isn’t practical at $150. I have 4 heads to warm and some of them go out in the morning only to come back soaked head to toe but want to go out again after lunch (requiring at least 2 hats per head).

    vanGogh painted portraits to pay off his bar tabs. Even though these paintings are worth millions today, had he tried to charge what they were “worth” for his work, he would have had to give up painting and get a job mucking stalls to pay with actual cash. By “undervaluing” his own work vanGogh was able to do something he loved (painting) while having his needs met (food and wine). One of the reasons his works are so valuable today is because he was so very prolific (because his paintings were used to pay ordinary people, not just the wealthy).

    This is not a sum zero equation, you are simultaneously under AND over charging for your own work. Then again, as a cubicle monkey you are both over and under paid for your work. Meaning only people like Paris Hilton are paid what they’re worth – but I’m sure you would disagree it’s worth $50,000 to have her show up for Thanksgiving at your house.

    If you make art for yourself and you love it – great! – but admit you are doing it just for yourself and are using the sale price as a way to get positive feedback from wealthy strangers. If you want to see your wearable art on people’s heads, being enjoyed and used on a cold day don’t expect everyone to meet your price.

    The 99% may love your hats dearly but you are making hats for the 1%. Don’t be surprised when the 99% scoff at the 1% prices. Save yourself and those customers from the 99% a lot of grief, travel twice a year to craft shows frequented exclusively by the 1%.

  192. fae foxfire says:

    This gave me a clearer oersoective on why some things at craft fairs are so expensive! I have been taken aback at prices sometimes, but man. To be that ugly, says a lot about that particular person and those like her. Walmart mentality even if the are loaded. I’ve been to many craft fairs, one of my favorite things to do. I usually can’t afford many things, but when I stubble upon vendors eho have truly handmade items of extraordinary beauty like your hat, even if I can’t buy one I always make sure and tell them how amazingly beautiful the work is. I end up getting to talk with some pretty interesting artists while this doesn’t help the artists pocketbook, it does help them know they are treasures and I think that it is important to do this. And the times when I can afford to but a little sonething I am excited!

  193. Debbie says:

    Think we’ve touched a nerve in people here? :)

  194. Zoey says:

    I like the hat you made. I don’t like entitled consumers, who act haughtily. The type of person who uses the rule, “the customer is always right”, in order to dump on us service people, for some personal payoff that I can’t understand.

  195. Sam says:

    The price is absurd.
    I appreciate the time that goes in, but if you want to justify price based on that, then this ought to be classed as not cost effective.
    Or not cost effective enough to base a living on.
    Personally I think an item like this should cost no more than $30 to $40 more than the cost of the materials. So that would be $70 to $80, half the price you’re currently charging. If it’s too time consuming to be considered enough of a profit, then look to some other way of making a living, rather than charging ridiculously high prices for a hat and trying to justify it.

    Oh and by the way, if you charged less for the hats, you’d be paying less sales tax. So that point is pretty moot as an excuse.

  196. Sam says:

    The price is absurd.
    I appreciate the time that goes in, but if you want to justify price based on that, then this ought to be classed as not cost effective.
    Or not cost effective enough to base a living on.
    Personally I think an item like this should cost no more than $30 to $40 more than the cost of the materials. So that would be $70 to $80, half the price you’re currently charging. If it’s too time consuming to be considered enough of a profit, then look to some other way of making a living, rather than charging ridiculously high prices for a hat and trying to justify it.

    Oh and by the way, if you charged less for the hats, you’d be paying less sales tax. So that point is pretty moot as an excuse.

  197. Sam says:

    The price is absurd.
    I appreciate the time that goes in, but if you want to justify price based on that, then this ought to be classed as not cost effective.
    Or not cost effective enough to base a living on.
    Personally I think an item like this should cost no more than $30 to $40 more than the cost of the materials. So that would be $70 to $80, half the price you’re currently charging. If it’s too time consuming to be considered enough of a profit, then look to some other way of making a living, rather than charging ridiculously high prices for a hat and trying to justify it.

    Oh and by the way, if you charged less for the hats, you’d be paying less sales tax. So that point is pretty moot as an excuse.

  198. Sam says:

    The price is absurd.
    I appreciate the time that goes in, but if you want to justify price based on that, then this ought to be classed as not cost effective.
    Or not cost effective enough to base a living on.
    Personally I think an item like this should cost no more than $30 to $40 more than the cost of the materials. So that would be $70 to $80, half the price you’re currently charging. If it’s too time consuming to be considered enough of a profit, then look to some other way of making a living, rather than charging ridiculously high prices for a hat and trying to justify it.

    Oh and by the way, if you charged less for the hats, you’d be paying less sales tax. So that point is pretty moot as an excuse.

  199. Bill Hedrick says:

    I can not begrudge an artist for asking for a price reflective of their time and skill. That being said, there are market forces, even in the art world. I cannot charge what I wish for my stuff, I have to be somewhat competitive, so I must offer more for the dollar.

  200. Mary says:

    Love your article Somer. I think many of us have had this experience especially when we have created something we love and someone else criticizes it. I also appreciate your calculations of business costs. Many people are not really figuring out what their items cost to make and I believe sell their items at a loss and feel great that they sold the item. Comments such as the price also personally bug me when they are comparing prices to something made by prison labor in China. Of course it is cheap. Maybe making a profit isn’t the point but many of us need to buy food. When customers, often men strolling with their partners comment on how much work the artists have put into their work and to shows I thank them for noticing and acknowledging their observation.

    As far as shopping for the holidays. I try to find a balance and also to educate others on the importance of shopping locally. So many of my daughter’s friends want American Girl dolls for Christmas. I point out that they are all made in China and the sales people can’t afford to buy one plus they only create minimum wage jobs here in the U.S. I try to buy my daughter clothing and toys made from local vendors. I also try to buy family members soaps and other locally crafted items. I would never shop at Walmart – they sell guns. An occasional lego set shows up at our house but we try to find balance and support our local community.

    Look forward to more of your blogging. Happy Holidays.

  201. Jenny Craig says:

    I have had people like this lifting my work up at craft fairs and poking, prodding, seeing if they can find anything wrong with it and then throwing it down as if it’s not up to their standard!!!! Well that’s what they think! I said ‘Mrs if you can’t afford to buy it and you know the price, you obviously can’t afford it so have a bit of respect to the work that has gone into it, not that you would know as your dress sense is horrendous and do one!!! (as in, get out of my space otherwise i’ll punch you in the face)!!!!

  202. Jenny Craig says:

    And i forgot to say, whoever that Sam is from November 22nd @ 10.24am you are just an absolute prat.
    You obviously don’t make anything but a bad taste in my mouth!!!

    How come all the well known pieces of art all over the world have sold for millions??? And where did they start out? In a small studio in the back end of nowhere!!!!!

    That just shows what a fool you are SAM

  203. Tonya says:

    As a seamstress, I completely agree with her pricing. She is using 100% natural fibers, which costs more. She is hand crocheting, not using any machines. The design of the hats are a unique pattern, not commercial. She has every right to ask $150. That being said, the lady had every right to refuse to buy the item. She didn’t have the right to be insulting and rude. If something is too expensive for my budget, I complement the item, and walk away.

  204. Mya says:

    What a wonderful article from a person who actually takes pride in her work, makes a unique product, and presents a buyer with a decent, well-made product. There was a time when most humans did this sort of work- well-made, thought-out, crafted with pride, skill and dignity, products to USE, and to do otherwise was considered to be less than ideal (lazy trash). Until people understand that they have dignity as humans and can respect and honor the same in others, and that what they create sends out a huge amount of energy, we will continue to see the thoughtless, rude, and offensive comments Somer’s article received.

    It would seem that rather than elevate the 99%, the writers here wish to simply reduce the 1% so that we all live in a poverty-driven society. When we all begin to act with dignity, the 99% can elevate themselves, have the guts to really stand up to the actual villains here, rather than attack a young woman who is doing exactly what the rest of you fools are doing, trying to make it in a difficult world.

    When people feel free to verbally attack others, with no respect or class or even minimal compassion, how on earth can we even hope to improve the situation in this country? Aren’t all of you who are writing these insults in the same boat? Aren’t you also worrying about being paid what you are worth? If you considered history and were capable of simple mathematics, you’d know that the middle class worker of today should be making roughly $35 an hour to be considered paid on a middle-class scale, but who of you are making that wage? I would guess that most of you who are so quick to be so judgmental barely get by and bitch about it whenever you get a chance, so why attack someone who is just like you? Look in the mirror.

    Hang in there, Somer. There is a market- it WILL come to you if you are tenacious and patient. And you can always respond to the rude ones with, “Your opinion is none of my business.” That usually shuts a person up right off, because they might have to think a bit on that one, lol!

  205. Seth says:

    What Ludd and Sam and the other detractors here aren’t mentioning, is how Somer not only apparently pushed their grandmothers off a cliff, but put a gun to their heads and forced them to buy one of her hats.

  206. Dave says:

    I to get these types at fairs and at first it really bothered me. But after a while i came to the conclusion that these people will go home, look for the same thing on the internet – won’t be able to find it and either settle for something OR will eventually understand its hand crafted and one of a kind in it’s own right. I LOVE those (very rare) that say – oh i will just build one at home…. I usually offer them my card and say if you need help email me i will walk you through it. They do not understand the set up costs, the labor and knowledge that also goes into it. These people are the same people that have instant gratification syndrome and will walk blindly into the have it now, need it now and want it now, BUT im only willing to pay what i want. Get over it – go buy foreign and support sweat shops. Ill see you next year when your wanting to get something :)

  207. Meredith says:

    Thank you for taking the time to work out & write about the personal & practical costs of hand crafting beautiful things… If you add the hours you spend on your craft stall it would break down to even less per hour, I am sure! I love nothing more than to wander through craft markets seeing the amazing diversity & quality of work people have done, & I never, ever make disparaging comments… even when the work is poor quality (which sometimes it is) but I always tell people if I enjoy their work, & never querie the cost – even if it’s way out of my league! Thank you for bringing your beautiful work & your thoughtful break-down to our attention! Best wishes! ~M x x

  208. Sarah says:

    That is the coolest hat I’ve ever seen!

  209. Julie says:

    Now, I didn’t read all the comments, but I read the first good chunk of them and want to say something.
    My only problem is that in the comments people go off on “the real cost of making things” and the two people who try and distinguish a hat for utlilty and a hat for art get called trolls. The piece is certainly amazing and well-worth the asking price, but it’s art, not a hat. The real cost of making a hat, time and materials, a simply designed, well crafted knitted or crocheted hat, not the amazing piece of work the sea-creature hat is, isn’t near 150.
    And, it should be understood that not everyone gets art and some people just see a 150 hat. I think sommer taking the remark a little too personally, like some how her work has no value because one old bat was just looking for a hat, not a piece of art.

  210. Beautiful hat. Charge what you feel you deserve. Those who think it’s overpriced, don’t buy it. Those who made absurdly cruel and rude comments, I wonder what sort of upbringing you had.

  211. Terry says:

    I have been in retail sales for many years. I have sold clothing on the retail level, as well as second hand clothing, and helped my friends sell their art at bazaars, etc. Selling IS all about the customer! If you want to make things that customers wouldn’t buy, then put them in a museum, or art show.. where you art can be appreciated. If you want to sell to customers, then you need to (1) make them feel good (so that they want to buy something), then (2) offer them something that they would want to buy. They work you are doing is wonderful, but if you are trying to sell your pieces, then you need to make things they would want to buy…

  212. sallie loftin says:

    Fascinating discussion. Now, I’ve skimmed down a bit and don’t believe anyone addressed this item: Craft hats are not the only ones priced as art as well as craft. And there are people who plop down what for me would be ridiculous amounts of money for items to wear to the Derby, etc. As someone else remarked, one has to find one’s niche and market. Best of luck to you all.

  213. Connie Casey says:

    I make “art” aprons(super functional but lots of beads and pockets and handmade buttons) ….and make sweat shop wages. I do it because it makes me happy. Thanks for your post. A friend of mine posted it on facebook-thats how I saw it. I have encountered this myself and decided they either like it or dont. Dont take weird comments to heart.

  214. Pat says:

    Geez, folks… What an angry bunch of posts about a blog that was nothing more than an interesting exercise in the love and dedication (v. profit motive) that goes into handwork. Somer, your hats are lovely and unique and you just keep on making them for those of us who appreciate fine work. Walmart shoppers, carry on; we will not get in your way. Snarky posters… chill, fer cryin’ out loud!

  215. Connie Casey says:

    I want to add one more comment….I had a show this past weekend and had record sales to the point that Im back in the sewing room madly working for my Dec 3rd show. I nearly ran out of product. I think a good part of sales depends on your venue. Good luck to you!

  216. Connie Casey says:

    @ PAT….I COULDNT AGREE MORE!

  217. Hil says:

    You cannot break down the costs the way you have if you consider your work to be art as anyone can charge what they like for art. I can (and sometimes do) sell a drawing that may have taken me 20 minutes for $200 dollars. The cost of the pencil and paper is negligable. The buyer neither knows nor cares how long it took me to do nor how much the materials cost, nor where I went to college and how many years it took me to learn how to make my art. They simply want it enough to pay for it. I have often heard people make rude remarks about my sculpture but that’s not a problem for me as I believe that if you exhibit your work you are putting it out there for the public to see and make their own judgements about it and I consider they are perfectly entitled to like it or hate it though I think it is not necessary for anyone to be rude and insulting to the artist or maker. My advice would be if you
    get upset that your work is not appreciated do not expose it to the public and if you cannot sell it at the price you would like to get then sell it for what it will fetch.

    • BZCrafter says:

      But why is there often less value placed on hand knit or hand crocheted items as pieces of art than say your pencil drawing?

      I was recently at an art exhibit featuring local artists. Even the people operating the venue stated that the “real art” was on the left wall – these were the paintings and sketches and photographs. The hand knits and hand sewn and hand crocheted items were labeled as “handicrafts” and were not promoted as “art”.

      Why do people spend $200 on a sketch that took you 20 minutes while scoffing at spending even less on a hat that took 40 hours to complete?

      Far too many people consider something they hang on their wall or display on a shelf as the “only” form of art while dismissing other forms such as these hats or someone’s hand knit shawls or another’s hand stitched quilts.

  218. What beautiful hat! What an ignorant non-customer. If I wrote down every hurtful mostly stupid things people say as if I weren’t even there or weren’t the maker of those things you’d be shocked. But I’ve been setting up for several years. What an artist must hang on to are all of the sincere compliments and all of the sales (which are the biggest compliment). You set up one day and that day unfortunatly may have been one of the sucky days. We all suck somedays and we rock on other days. Hang on to the days in which you rock and they will carry you through the day in which you don’t. Keep plgging away and doing what you love. It shows in thanks for the great post.
    Kathy

  219. KTK says:

    Thanks for this post. No matter anyones opinion on the subject, it’s a great perspective that is not often seen by the consumer. Buen hecho!

  220. Julie says:

    I did a search on etsy for hats priced between $150 and $500, and there were thousands. When I narrowed it to crocheted hats, there were over 90.

    It’s a matter of the venue. There is a very wide spectrum of craft/street fairs, it’s just finding the right ones. My only point of disagreement is to say, be professional, charge the sales tax.

  221. Cheryl Wood says:

    Thank you Somer for giving us perspective about what it takes to craft your wares. I like to sew but have not had the chance these last few years. I could not afford a $150 hat, but I would LOVE to have one and in purple, too! I can’t say for sure but I am willing to bet that as a business woman you have different “levels” of hat. Some at $40, some at $60. And a few at $150. Diversification is the key. And now that I wrote that, I looked on your website and I see that it is true. Your hats and scarves and neck warmers are beautiful! Thanks again for writing this. I am sorry that there are people out there who do not appreciate your crafting and I’m sorry there are people out there who will attack you for putting your heart out there. A little debate is good for us, nastiness is uncalled for.

  222. Kristin says:

    Thank you for breaking this down! I recycle textiles and create wild yoga pants, skirts, scarves, armwarmers, and the like, and after doing 9 craft shows, I can tell you that people are saturated with the notion that everything should be available for 19.99, made in china, and packaged in plastic. It’s abhorrent. I see people squealing over items that yes, were designed by a local artist, but were actually produced in Indonesia or Vietnam. That does not equal handmade by the artist, folks. I truly believe we can improve our quality of life and local economics if we buy local products made by local people, if we support handmade and green, and stop buying crap from Walmart. Thank you for breaking down the reasons why handmade is more expensive than machine made–people need to realize that handmade pieces are going to last them far longer and be more unique than Walmart crud. As for “living local”: I have my own vegetable garden, get my materials from re-use centers less than 10 miles away, and borrow a friend’s car for craft shows instead of renting a car from a corporation.

  223. sharon says:

    very interesting and thought provoking post. i think i fall somewhere in the middle of the discussion…i love handmade things and make and sell myself. i support local craftspeople by buying their wares for friends and relatives i know will appreciate them. i also shop walmart occasionally for food ann other incidentals i can’t get from local farms or raise myself. when i make jewelry or other things to sell, i try to take into account the cost of materials, the time it takes to make the item, cost of the booth to sell it etc…but i also consider the customer i expect to sell it to and the enjoyment i get from making it. i have many times had people comment on the cost and that is their right. if you want a handmade item, buy one, but if you prefer a walmart item, go there. i wish we lived in a society where everyone appreciated handcrafted things but we don’t…i do the best i can to support other artists, but sometimes it’s just not possible, and i must buy store bought things. it’s not always someone’s fault, it is just the reality of the time in which we live….cell phones, laptops, tvs, ipods, ipads the list goes on and on. if we all stopped purchasing items from big box stores, none of us would be on this site making these comments. it’s reality. it is, however, a pleasure to have the opportunity to buy local and buy handmade whenever possible and one that probably we all could do better in supporting. the original post was eye-opening in principal whether speaking of a hat or anything else. different people have different tastes and to insult anyone’s work especially when trying it on is just plain bad manners…and we certainly don’t need more of that in today’s world.

  224. Laurie says:

    I’ve been an artisan for about 34 years now. My work was, at one time, juried, in order to qualify for Canada’s top artisan show, “Signatures”. An artisan’s work must be considered not only top notch in quality supplies, but unique and the artist’s own personal creation. These are but a few of the prerequisites behind acceptance at Signatures Artisan shows. For anyone who has a passion, desire and dedication to becoming a full time artist, making a living…it’s best to disregard the ignorant and focus your energies on what brings happiness in creating…and eventually your patience will shine through in the arts market. Mine has, in part, because I refused to bother allowing ignorance to affect my dreams. By the way, there is a standard pricing for certain artisan works, depending on the nature of the item.

  225. Courtney says:

    You’re not making much money off of your craft projects. So get a job.

    What that woman said was rude. But at the end of the day how do you expect others, who work very hard for their money, to spend $150 on a hat. If you’re going to continue this venture, you’re going to have to either look at your market and charge appropriately or get a job and do this for fun and for the pleasure of those who like intricately woven hats. In the mean time, this was a waste of time that you could have been weaving hats, because you did not pull on my heartstrings.

  226. C says:

    To the folks saying this is overpriced.

    Yes…and no.

    For a hat, yes, I would say this is expensive. Wal*mart, chain stores, et al. are vastly underpriced, thanks to slave labor and no concern for environmental ramifications. Still, it is possible to machine knit a basic hat that serves the purpose of headwarming in a very short amount of time (<1 hour), and to get the materials required for less (even if you are buying ethical, locally produced wool, you can typically get enough for a basic hat for under $20 retail, and if you were to produce a lot of hats you should look into getting wholesale prices for your materials). It's possible to get a beanie at a store like American Apparel for under $30, even if you were to upgrade to nicer/more ethical materials than they use, I would say that a basic, 100% ethically produced hat should retail for no more than $50. So, yes, if you JUST want a hat, this hat is too expensive. Go to American Apparel and get a beanie, or buy yourself some yarn and learn to knit/crochet. Personally, I think trying to make a living wage off of handknit/crochet for items that are mainly utilitarian is a lost cause, because adding a machine into the mix speeds things up SO MUCH, handknitting cannot even compete with ethical, fair-wage machine knits.

    However, the author is classing this hat more as "art" than a hat. It's art that just happens to be hat shaped. When you consider how much people often pay for art (sculptures, paintings, etc.), $150 for a piece of art is pretty cheap. Frankly, if I were the author I would probably stop making hats and instead sell "crochet sculpture" or something like that where there is no utilitarian aspect at all. If you sell and item where the main purpose can be fulfilled by an automated, machine driven purpose (in this case, produce and item to protect and warm the head), you will always be compared to that item and your ability to price fairly will be negatively affected. If you move away from any sort of utilitarian function and make your work 100% art, I think your ability to price fairly goes way up.

  227. Esther Roe says:

    I agree with Cheryl. Your work
    is beautiful and your article thought provoking. I also have trouble selling my fiber arts for a price that I can live on. And since moving south, have found it impossible to even find craft shows that show professional work. Thank you for sharing your work and your thoughts. We all have our own experiences in life and questioning someone’s feelings is not called for.

  228. Chris says:

    I make my own jewelry, and it has been a long hard road to figure out a formula which allows me to make a living from it and is acceptable to my customers. Someone told me twice the material cost plus 12.50 per hour, but that put it at too high a price. I currently use 3 times the cost of materials and 6 per hour and it still allows for a profit as customers now buy in larger numbers.

    It is more of a retail store mentality that it is better to sell 10 necklaces or earrings at 15-40.00 than to wait to sell one at 30-80. I also keep my costs low using twitter, facebook and other social networks instead of paying etsy. Printing my own business cards and combining my orders with other artists for packaging in order to get a better deal. For example, one company I deal with lets you order Swarovski crystal for about 0.20/crystal for 100, but if you order 1000 it drops to 0.15 and 10000 it’s about 0.04, so we combine our money and order lots to get them at 0.03 cents and our packaging too and just affix our own labels using our personal computers.

  229. Magical Realist says:

    It’s interesting, the folks who claim that $150 for one of your hats is too much, unrealistic, absurd. What they don’t seem to get is that some people do see hats as something other than a practical garment to keep their head warm. There are people out there who would gladly buy these hats at twice the price, or more, because they want to wear an eye-catching piece of art on their heads–practicality has nothing to do with it. It’s not part of their decision-making process when buying a hat.

    The trick is to find the right market, so those folks can see and buy your hats. It definitely exists.

    I no longer do craft shows because I’d rather make my handcrafted items as gifts for specific people who I know will love them and appreciate the effort that went into them.Trying to earn my living from crafts took all the fun out of it. But it did wake me up to what it takes to do that, and keep doing it. So when I look at other people’s work, I’m usually astounded by how cheap it is, given the materials and time it took to make it.

    Great post–thanks!

  230. It’s interesting the number of people who have told me to get a job! I have one. Four, actually. A day job (saying “hi” to you from my cubicle right now), a child, my freeform crochet art pieces, and an online vintage clothing store. So, yeah. Got the job thing covered.

    I’m also totally shocked by the response to this. My, but does every one of you have a strong opinion! I have some additional thoughts on the subject, and I’ll probably put those into words at some point, but right now I’m just sort of enjoying the show.

    Cheers,
    Somer

  231. Heidi says:

    Somer I appreciate your candor in this article. I have read some of the comments and just can’t believe how people are picking each other apart! I do know that as an artisan and etsian I do have to have a thick skin with my pricing. I don’t go by my hours but rather by the price I’ve paid for the supplies. It is hard to know when and if I’ve truly covered all my expenses especially since this is my first year doing jewelry and have had to buy all the tools and basics and made business cards etc…. So I really appreciated your venting session!!! Hang in there my friend and remember the source of the complaint and that you can take plenty of pride in what you do!!!!

  232. cat says:

    I am a food artist and I get the exact same problems. sure you can go to walmart and buy an apple pie for six bucks, but made with low quality ingredients, flat and slapped together in a cardboard tasting shell in a tiny tin pan. I charge $15 for a good homemade pie. I charge $30 for a nice cheesecake and $5 per dozen for my hand painted christmas cookies. i dont use lard or margarine, real butter, fresh eggs from my very own chickens, really stinky super fresh yeast for the bread items. all these things cost more than the shit you get at walmart. One good thing about baking though, is its usually all made to order so there is no haggling on the prices. I do understand that some cant afford $15 for a pie or $150 for a hat… then SHUT UP and dont buy it! but you dont have to trash the person who put their heart and soul into creating it. i think the hat is beautiful! i probably couldnt afford it, but i would try it on, show myself to my husband in it and would linger over it before i sadly moved on.

  233. Wendi says:

    There is a difference between not being able to afford, or willing to pay, for a hand-crafted item, and the item not being worth the asking price.

    I went out looking for a handmade corset a few years back. My reaction was “the hell if I’m paying THAT much!” – and that reaction is budget-based, not value-based. The corsets were all certainly worth every penny.

    So, instead of expecting the corsetieres to accommodate my lack of budget (they don’t owe me anything!), I went out and learned to make them. I invested the time, and energy, and much less money, into making my own corsets.

    I also cannot afford to spend $150 on a crocheted hat. This in no way reflects on the *value* of the hat. If I want a hat like that one, I’m going to have to learn how to crochet one. I’m going to have to invest about 500-750 HOURS of my life in learning to crochet and design, with all the materials that that takes, before I can make myself such a hat.

    Certainly the hat has a comparative value of $150 compared to spending that much time on it, myself, and that goes for any other art or craft as well.

    …I do not understand how this is complicated.

  234. Jason says:

    Bravo! I too love my craft/art/choice of career and don’t charge enough and you have helped me further realize that I shall begin charging more than I currently do. A 33% increase to be exact :-).

    PS: I’ve even been told if I charge more, the perception of my work would even go up. Who cares about the nay-sayers, we don’t want them as customers in the first place.

    • I agree. had 3’dreamcatchers I made with all found materials and on the East coast was able to get 10.00 each. Then I moved to Oregon!i could not get 3.00 for them.So I decided that I would raise the price as a sort of retaleation and BANG ! I could not make them fast enough! The mentallity is that if it is too cheaap,then something must be wrong with it.on the other hand if it is priced too high ,then it ain’t worth it. I have figured that after 35 years in this business ,that i only listen to the general public when and only if it is a benefit to my business.

  235. Shannon Ford says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I design and sell purses and totes, as well as crocheted winter scarves. I get the same reaction when people look at the price and then I have to explain all the hours because the beading is one bead at a time, triple stitched to keep from wear, tear and falling off. It is nice to finally see someone who understands the situation

  236. Svitlana says:

    hey! I’m really very sorry, that there are such people.. They just don’t understand that you put all your heart into every single step of doing such wonderful pieces! Just wish you success and lovely customers!
    p.s. your pieces are really stunning! like them a lot!

  237. Chantal says:

    That woman Somer describes sounds like my mother at a craft show once (very embarrassing). She moaned about the price, but in the end she bought the hat!

    Kudos to anyone who takes their art to the next level by trying to make their living doing it. It takes balls and an entrepreneurial spirit to do it and persist. Blood, sweat and tears, baby.

    I’ve been a full-time letterpress printer and illustrator for the past 3 years and most of that time I’ve lived under the poverty line. But you know what? I’ve done the government 9-5 job and I wanted to kill myself, so I’ll take this lifestyle over the 9-5 mentality ANY DAY.

    Being an entrepreneur in the craft business is hard. You have to develop a thick skin to take all the bullshit. But if you love what you do, just keep doing it and eventually it will pay off. One thing I learned very early on is to KNOW YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC. Letterpress stationery is expensive precisely because it is entirely handcrafted and we understood early one that not everyone is willing to pay those prices, just like not everyone will buy a $150 hand-crocheted hat. So instead of doing any ‘ole craft show or wedding show (in our case) we targeted the ones that featured artisans with pricier goods and was advertised as such (so the attendees knew what to expect). Lo and behold, the customer eye-rolling at the price tag pretty much disappeared. Perhaps Somer should consider being more choosy with the craft fairs she exhibits in?

    Also, if you want to forgo irritating customer interactions altogether, go wholesale. Then you’re dealing with shop owners who are much more reasonable people, understand their market and will place repeat orders with you. And THEY are the ones dealing with the annoying customers.

    I know all too well that artists like us are sometimes the worse at selling our own products because we are much too involved with them. We want everyone to know how costly and time-consuming it was to make it, but the truth is nobody really cares. Those who love it will buy it and those who are cheap will not. And the cheap ones will always place a priority on price, so don’t waste your energy trying to sell to them.

  238. I’m so sorry: mean people just suck. I make my own jewelry – for me, and only occasionally as gifts. I tend not to make it for selling because I know I’d never recoup my costs in time, even if I get enough back to cover materials. Instead, I just wear my own work and randomly hear people rave about a focal point or the coolth factor of a particular piece, at which point I’m usually astounded…since the pieces I make typically don’t take days to put together. Still, between the potential rejection from the aforementioned sucky mean people (and I’ve worked retail, so I know them too!) and the lack of cost recovery, I just can’t imagine doing it for a living.

    BTW, that hat is awesome and gorgeous and that woman was clearly off her rocker. It’s obvious that a lot of care and effort was put into it. She doesn’t deserve to wear it.

  239. Darlene says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I make handmade chainmaille jewelry and ornaments, which are very labor intensive, and I always hesitate to price them so that I make profit because I already get so many complaints that my prices are too high.

    One comment I’ve been getting a lot of lately at my shows is some variant of “You shouldn’t be charging so much because gas prices are so high now.” Or because people are losing their homes, people are out of work, fill in the blank with some other problem with the economy.

    The thing that kills me about this is that they don’t seem to realize that *I* (and other crafters) am paying those same gas prices, many of us are out of work, and we too could lose our homes if our income grinds to a halt. We too are affected by the economy.

    Not that that’s a reason to buy something from a crafter, but I guess I don’t get why the buying public thinks that crafters aren’t subject to the same financial issues as everyone else and don’t deserve a living wage! Maybe it goes back to the way some people believe that if you’re doing something you enjoy, it doesn’t count as an actual “job” and therefore you shouldn’t make money off it because work should be painful and miserable?

  240. As a fellow artist who has dealt with this type of customer, who by the way usually won’t buy ANYTHING no matter the price, THANK YOU for this blog post! I’m with you sister! :)

  241. kate217 says:

    That hat makes me wish that I had $150 to spare. I adore it!

  242. Sercee says:

    All I have to say is, that’s an awesome hat!

  243. Cat says:

    I love this post. I partook in a craft fair for the first time last December, and had among other things, hand-made felt ornaments, decorated with embroidery, beads and ribbon, knit hats of all sizes, and baby leg warmers. I am too thin-skinned for retail, I decided, when customer after customer picked up my ornaments, dug through the once neatly organized baskets of them, mixed them up (I was offering two sizes/level of difficulty-simpler ones for $3, more elaborate for $5) and they all remarked loudly “Oh, I could totally make these for far less than THAT!” and not ONE sold. Now, at a nation-wide fabric and craft store, I see cheesy, machine made-to-look-like-hand-made ornaments selling for more than twice what i was asking.
    I want to open an online store.. but I’m afraid of how to price things!
    Thank you for this post, and sorry for the rant ;)

  244. Lia says:

    Yeah, I totally understand. Everyone’s so used to paying 50 cents an hour for asian children to make all their clothing that they don’t understand the real costs of making things. Everyone just wants the cheapest thing possible…

  245. You should be selling in higher end stores and you should be getting 1000.00-1500.00 per hat minimum. If I had that kind of money. I would buy them. You need to market to movie stars and musicians and rich people who wouldn’t blink twice on paying a couple thousand dollars on a gorgeous one of a kind amazing to be seen in hat. Sell on rodeo drive. That rude small minded arrogant woman doesn’t deserve your art. Believe me… You just need to find the right market.

  246. Rachel says:

    I think your hats are cool!!!

  247. Francie says:

    Truer words were never written. Sorry for your experience. People truly do not appreciate hard work. And to the one who stated that this type of work is measured in yardage, well duh…of course it is, which is a measure of the time it took to crochet as well, if you knew anything about physics. ;)

  248. a says:

    I dont think its smart to try to sell a knit hat for over $100.00 I would never be so cocky to think my work was so good I could ask a normal person who works a normal job walking in a craft fair to pay so much no matter how much time and money it cost me. If you like to make them for yourself thats great but if you plan to sell things you make you need to find something you love to make thats affordable for you and the shopper. The women was rude and maybe a bit nuts but was she shocked you would ask so much? Hell yes!! and Im sorry but so am I. Yes it was an incredibly hard and time consuming project but you cant just sell things for what ever you want and truly expect to get it. In business you need to know who your shopper is going to be and make things for that type of person. The type o person who walks a craft fair might have $50 in his pocket. The type of person to wear a squid on his head might have $5. haha no offence its a silly creative hat and I appreciate the work you did but I really think your a bit uptight about what seems like an obvious solution .. find something else to sell that will actually sell. Good luck

  249. a says:

    I dont think its smart to try to sell a knit hat for over $100.00 I would never be so cocky to think my work was so good I could ask a normal person who works a normal job walking in a craft fair to pay so much no matter how much time and money it cost me. If you like to make them for yourself thats great but if you plan to sell things you make you need to find something you love to make thats affordable for you and the shopper. The women was rude and maybe a bit nuts but was she shocked you would ask so much? Hell yes!! and Im sorry but so am I. Yes it was an incredibly hard and time consuming project but you cant just sell things for what ever you want and truly expect to get it. In business you need to know who your shopper is going to be and make things for that type of person. The type o person who walks a craft fair might have $50 in his pocket. The type of person to wear a squid on his head might have $5. haha no offence its a silly creative hat and I appreciate the work you did but I really think your a bit uptight about what seems like an obvious solution .. find something else to sell that will actually sell. Good luck

  250. Hydrophoenix says:

    I would have said, “Yes dear. But if you’re interested, I’ll gladly teach you to crochet for $25/hr.” In reality, it would take almost four hours for a newbie to learn the stitches. Learning to follow a new pattern alone takes an hour or two. What an insult she paid you.

    • M says:

      You are joking…right?! I put in about 10 hours of work learning to crochet and NEVER got it completely right. I call BS on this “four hours for a newbie to learn the stitches”. Not everyone is as talented as you, apparently. Yes, the woman was definitely insulting but c’mon!

  251. a says:

    I dont think its smart to try to sell a knit hat for over $100.00 I would never be so cocky to think my work was so good I could ask a normal person who works a normal job walking in a craft fair to pay so much no matter how much time and money it cost me. If you like to make them for yourself thats great but if you plan to sell things you make you need to find something you love to make thats affordable for you and the shopper. The women was rude and maybe a bit nuts but was she shocked you would ask so much? Hell yes!! and Im sorry but so am I. Yes it was an incredibly hard and time consuming project but you cant just sell things for what ever you want and truly expect to get it. In business you need to know who your shopper is going to be and make things for that type of person. The type o person who walks a craft fair might have $50 in his pocket. The type of person to wear a squid on his head might have $5. haha no offence its a silly creative hat and I appreciate the work you did but I really think your a bit uptight about what seems like an obvious solution .. find something else to sell that will actually sell. Good luck

  252. Ericka says:

    Hello the hat is beautiful. I have done many crafts and it does take alot of time. I will never look at craft fair articles the same way again. I would love to buy homemade however, I can’t afford it. I am sure there is some who can afford to.

  253. Margaret says:

    I love your hat. And it is worth $150. One of the nice things about craft fairs is that you can get really original things for far less than you would pay in a boutique. The pricing of things is always a difficult decision. Why would your hat be worth less because it is a craft fair? There are some remarks here that seem to think because of the venue you should sell cheap. These are the people who will buy from a designer and pay $$$ stuff made in China. They want the brand, not the originality or craftsmanship. Someone is out there who will gladly pay your price and appreciate your art. And a big Bronx cheer to those who think a craft fair should be cheap.

  254. John Rehm says:

    The woman who tried on all of those lovely hats is to be pitied. I have a friend, who walked into the Off Center Cafe in Salem, Oregon (Yes, it still exisits and has customers who would feel the same way that I do about your subject)….wearing a frog beanie, with the legs and tongue out beyond the bottom. That is a great hat.

    “To be pitied”, I say, because that woman will not be wearing the “offending hat” into a cafe ten years from now when she is feeling casual or just having a happy sun-lit morning. I am sad for her.

    Sell for how your customers will feel.

  255. Bearmaker says:

    I can’t believe you can turn out something as exceptional as that hat in only 18 – 20 hours!
    Beautiful work, truly beautiful.
    In my neck of the woods (UK), we call ‘people’ like her “Tire-kickers” – These are people who will waste vast quantities of your time commenting about imaginary, non-existent flaws in your work, because obviously that will then lead you to offer them the product that they so vocally don’t want at a discount!
    I’m lucky to have a salaried job to underwrite my passion for making things, as I am currently just about able to cover the cost of the materials I use on the odd occasion I sell something :/
    The World needs more people like you, doing what you do xx

  256. D. Markham says:

    After reading the article and the comments it becomes apparent to me that most of the arts and crafts people need a lesson in marketing. The problem is that they don’t know what business they are in or who their market is.
    The Chairman of Rolex was once asked “how’s the watch business?” he replied that he had no idea because Rolex is not in the watch business, they are in the luxury business. This woman is NOT in the hat business. She is in the art/luxury business. 150 dollars is way too much for a hat, but IF she has people looking for wearable art/luxury items then it becomes worth what the buyer and seller agrees it is worth cost of materials/amount of work having little or nothing to do with the “value”

  257. Mala says:

    OK, I read the article, and I read a bunch of posts, so I apologize if I am reiterating anything here. But I have to say, I do love hand made products. They are unique, artistic and a sign of our modern artists. However, because they are handmade, I think they are often taken for granted. The mean lady in Ms. Somers article probably assumes any one could make it (and if she tried to herself, she would certainly know better). Hand made items are often more expensive because of the time, effort, materials and love put into them. So, although it is not always feasible or affordable to buy hand made, it is certainly my preferred way to go. However, if we had more stations of hand made items, with more availability, we would soon become little “hand made” Walmarts with the same corporate corruptions that we see in the news. And from what I know of the people I surround myself with, hand made is always a favorite, but sometimes you just need some thing inexpensive and functional. That said, I tank you Ms Somers for the article! More people should know of the efforts and expense of those one of a kind items, such as your own and that of other artisans. <3

  258. Mala says:

    I tank you, teehee! Sorry! :) We all know what I meant lol

  259. Well I am not sure what to comment on first here, I will totally ignore all the ignorant crap from the non- believers and say a few things here. I am a jewelry designer, I design many different styles and use many different materials for jewelry, I do not stick with one style, I simply make stuff that is relatively in style or for the most part the real unusual stuff you almost never see online or in stores. I started with basic beading and took off from there. As to Somers post, I think it was very informative and to the point, time, money and love of doing something you really enjoy.(Worth the price I say) My jewelry is a hobby and I chose to keep it that way because it is hard to turn it into a business,especially in todays economy, so I keep a day job for support. My passion is jewelry. By the way Somers.. you create wonderful hats and don’t ever stop doing what you love the most, do not be deterred by people with rude comments. I fully support other artists and have bought from many of them as gifts. From my experience as a an artist and supporter of the artists, I find when I give handmade gifts the reaction from the receiver is amazing they love it because it is handmade, and yes if I was at a craft fair and had found a hat that suited a family member or a friend I would definitely buy that hat for the price without question, and if it means putting a big smile on someones face and seeing the appreciative look in their eyes. @KayJay I totally agree with you on the market circuit, I used to do many vendors and I got the same damn thing from people trying to haggle a price from me. I really hate that, so I send them on thier way and tell them “oh there’s a booth over there with plastic and cheap items you may be interested in”. It gets them away from my booth so they do not cloud up my area,as to make room for other potential buyers that will pay the price and be done with it. I do not shop for supplies at places like Walmart or even Micheals. I am an online shopper and can get great quality supplies at a better price. I find shopping on etsy and artfire is a better way to go, there are plenty of great artists and wholesale suppliers on that site worth shopping for. @Eden, Craig and Justin, very well said comments. To other artists who have posted here, your comments mean alot to us and it is great to see so many people with a passion and love for what they do. If someone wants to pay what is labelled it means they understand the artist and quality and time it took to create it and will have no problem purchasing it because it is unique and original which is what I stand by. As for that lady trying on all the hats, Somers you may want to get them dry cleaned…LOL! I think that lady was trying to get a cheaper price out of you without saying anything and clearly she did love your hats, She was lingering around far too long and if that were me behind the table I would have sent her on her way. Just my few cents worth.

  260. Adelaide Lowrey says:

    I like this article. As for billing for the yard or hour, doesn’t really matter. Some people just don’t honor the time it takes to do the work. My question to people is often, “and how much to do you make per hour? Would you work for less? Go ahead, volunteer your time to your employer s/he only gets richer!

  261. Joy Corcoran says:

    The fact is, most crafters, artists & makers either have other jobs or live on less than $10,000. a year. Really, really they do live on it. It’s hard and most are very frugal. I wish congress was run by these people. A young man asked me recently if I made a good living at my art, I answered no. But I make a good life. I don’t buy at sprawlmarts, but I don’t get to buy much art. I’m glad people make art, make prints, make cards and make the world more beautiful and engaging. Great post! Great discussion.

    • Julie says:

      “A young man asked me recently if I made a good living at my art, I answered no. But I make a good life.”

      This is just….a lovely, lovely sentiment. Thank you for sharing it.

      (And I have also shared the original post. :))

  262. Seth says:

    To everyone accusing Somer of over-valuing her work or marking-up her products to give them worth– go take a look at her actual etsy shop. Her free-form hats are niche items for sure, but she also offers a wide variety of completely reasonable priced scarves and hats that are as cheap as what you’d get at Target, yet hand-made, and dare I say it, still artistic.

  263. Jo Theodoras says:

    I totally get it!! I feel the same… made a gorgeous ring and sold for $150 – after 12 hours of silversmithing classes at $40/hr and the cost of the materials………. it’s the love of creating wearable art that keeps us going!! bless you – and I do buy from fellow Etsy artisans…

  264. Tiffany says:

    That is a great post! As a fellow happy hooker I’d love to suggest a really excellent book…
    How to survive and prosper as an artist : selling yourself without selling your soul by Caroll Michels. Really fabulous book for us artists!! Keep on hooking!

  265. doug Steley says:

    My wife sews the most exquisite heirloom baby clothes form the best fabrics she can source ( often imported voiles silks and linen costing up to $150 pre meter )

    She puts huge amounts of time skill and effort into individually hand smocking and embroidering each piece individually.

    She cannot charge anywhere near what it costs in time for these pieces as the market is accustomed to cheap machine made clothes from china.

    Occasionally she will take an order from someone who understands the workmanship but so many people have no comprehension of the time and effort required.

    We pay people who move money about huge amounts
    We pay people who actually create beautiful things a pittance

  266. Dana says:

    Amazing. I really appreciate this post and the detail you went into.

  267. Nancy JWM says:

    There’s no point in going on about your costs.

    Some buyers appreciate workmanship and quality materials and others do not (personally, I usually do). But perhaps there are no buyers who value what’s on offer. No creator (be it artist or manufacturer) can force buyers to pay a price that covers costs. A lot of restaurants go out of business for this reason.

    I’ve been self-employed for two decades, quoting small design projects to dozens of clients over the years. One of the best pieces of advice I got (at a seminar years ago) was this: The market value of something is what a buyer is willing to pay. Period.

    If a prospective client objects to my (seemingly high) hourly rate, I don’t tell them about my costs (computer, software, workspace, insurance, marketing, etc.) They NEVER care and they see it as whining. If they tell me can get “the same thing” cheaper, I say (with varying degrees of cheerfulness), “That’s nice. Go for it.”

    All we can do is seek out buyers who value what we offer.

    Also, there are things that simply are not valued by humanity enough to make the necessary expenditures (say, getting to Mars… it could be done but at a huge cost).

    There is no human right of “getting people to value [an object or service that I'd like to provide] enough to cover my costs.”

  268. M says:

    I LOVE handcrafted goods and wish everything I purchased could be handmade. Unfortunately, that is not in my budget. I simply can’t afford to buy ALL handcrafted everything for my family of 4 (including 2 small children who grow like weeds!). There are people who struggle to buy $5 gloves and hats from places like Wal-Mart. They are working their asses off, probably at a job they don’t even like, just for the basic necessities. It is frustrating when I see handmade goods priced out of reach for most people, even though I know the crafter made it with their own hands. I get irritated to hear people complain about others shopping at places like Wal-Mart rather than buying local, handcrafted goods. I understand having some expensive fancypants hat or whatever sometimes but why can’t crafters also make a habit of trying to sell to poor folks? Why not have a “budget” line of basic, warm hats/gloves/scarves for cheap? Set up outside a poor school and charge just enough to break even. Surely that would be doable…right? Why judge people who shop at places like Wal-Mart without giving them options? Have you ever considered the fact that they are proud to even have those $5 hats and gloves?!

    Anyway, this is a huge issue for me. I see people in these ignorant bubbles where they think EVERYONE could be able to buy handmade shit. Not everyone can! I grew up out in the middle of nowhere, poor as dirt, my parents worked their ASSES off. My mom was at work all the time and tried to keep up with the house, so she couldn’t make stuff for us. Where did we turn? Did we buy handcrafted stuff for $20 a hat?! Hell no, we didn’t have that kind of money. We bought cheap stuff from Wal-Mart because that was the only store around, there were no people out selling their crafts and Wal-Mart was cheaper anyway. I STILL have family like that, to this day. They live in rural areas and have no other choice. They drive 30-45 min JUST to get to a Wal-Mart. It’s sad but unfortunately not everyone has a choice in the matter!

    Just for the record, I would admire your $150 hat but I’d never be so rude as to ask the question that lady asked. I’d nicely say something about it like, “Wow, beautiful!” and then look at the price. My eyes might get wide but I’d politely put it back down and smile. Some people have no tact.

  269. Shannon says:

    The one thing I don’t think anyone’s bought up yet is that no one is trying to force anyone to *buy* the hat. An artist/maker/crafter has every right to charge whatever price they feel is appropriate.

    The artist isn’t complaining that no one buys her work because it’s too expensive. She is explaining her process, time and materials and trying to educate a non-maker on how she prices handmade goods. And she’s right. She doesn’t charge enough. But that’s her choice.

    I’m pretty shocked at how angry some folks are by the price of an object that no one is forcing them to buy. Is it really so impossible to just appreciate someone’s work even if you don’t have the means or desire to purchase it?

  270. Wild Kat says:

    Wow this is a great discussion but I don’t even have the time to get through all of the comments. I do understand Somer’s viewpoint (as an artist myself) completely, but you can’t expect that everyone will unfortunately. I also like Doug Steley, Jemma, & John Clayton’s comments. What I always think it comes down to is Americans wanting more for less. Who else wants products from the USA but doesn’t want to pay the steep prices/good wages? I am a designer so I know the quality difference, but cannot afford to not shop at Walmart(mostly groceries). Itry to choose wisely and always support local/handmade/artist when I can. I think we shoukd go back to the bartering system, that would shake things up!

  271. Great post, even greater hat. Keep up the good work.

  272. Your creations are beautiful works of art. Some people will never be aware of the hard work and creativity that goes into a piece. I liked all of your points about actual cost of a piece and it is true. Keep doing what you do and don’t let snarly people ruin your day. ^_^

  273. An interesting article and point well made. I always worry over my prices – and if I’m honest I have to ‘undersell’ myself – or I would have no sales at all. On Etsy and Felt (our New Zealand equivalent) I think that sellers sell to each other most of the time – because as fellow artisans they appreciate the creativity and work that goes in to making a piece. I think it might be a case of giving up on the craft stalls where crazy people want something for nothing. And just don’t go near Ebay!!!!

  274. Pinkie says:

    I love this post for making clear the value of the author’s work. I also love the comments for making clear the smug, self-righteousness of the crafting world.

  275. Bev Williams says:

    I don’t care what that woman thinks. Your hat is gorgeous!!

  276. Ellie says:

    As a fellow crafter/artisan the general public can’t seem to appreciate the time and thought we put into each article. Most are so used to buying the cheaply made, stinky, fall apart items that come from China (sad but true). We LOVE what we make and take PRIDE in our workmanship. If we didn’t we would not be trying to sell it to someone else! Why would you even bother trying on something you didn’t like? If it’s something out of my price range I can still appreciate it’s beauty and the work of it’s creator. The old adage still stands true…If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”. And yes, I love to buy from other artisans!!

  277. Monica says:

    Hi all! and hello to the lovely artist. :)

    This article really struck a chord with me. I have long struggled with the pricing of my work – back when I did hand-written calligraphy wedding invites, when I made knitted and handsewn items, hand painted yarns, and more recently with painted and calligraphic artworks. It’s hard to put a price on what you do, especially when so many hours go into. I have also reckoned about $5-$10 per hour as an approximate.

    I’ve had people I hardly know ask me, “If I buy the yarn will you knit me a sweater?” and when I’ve replied, “well taht’s about 30-40 hours of my time, what would you charge someone for a week’s contract work?” I’ve had the reply “yes, but you enjoy it”. I’m sorry? because I enjoy it and do it as a hobby I should do it for free? Wow. Um… next time I hear someone tell me that they like their job, perhaps I’ll ask why they’re not working for free. I wonder what reaction I’ll get? ;) LOL – I have to laugh, what other response is their but pointless anger?

    What really drives me crazy, though, is that so many other artisans underprice their work horrendously. It makes me proud to see someone put a decent price tag on their work – I’m shocked by the local handspinners who charge only a tiny bit more than massproduced yarn for their beautiful hand crafted skeins. Why???

    And why does this make me so angry? Because it undermines every brave, talented artist out there who has the guts and integrity to ask what they’re worth.

    I applaud anyone who is able to put the real value price tag on their work, and keep their cool when someone (often through ignorance) puts it down. Good on you, Somer Sherwood, and keep doing what you’re doing. I acknowledge the value of your art, and the delight that it brings for those who are able to see that value. Bravo.

  278. Monica says:

    oops. ‘scuse my typing errors – teh, taht, there, they’re, their. LOL ;) My fingers (at about 80-90wpm) are faster than my brain sometimes! (though after this working week anything’s faster than my brain…)

  279. I can so relate. Imagine how I feel when I spend 2 years creating a CD and can only manage to sell a few at $9.99 a pop. People don’t value the creative effort it takes to create something original. That’s why we import so much garbage from other countries that is cheap and has no soul. When for a few drachma more we could have real artistry… Sigh…

  280. On the other hand, if someone who shops at Walmart goes to a craft fair, maybe they’ll see one hat that they simply MUST have and be willing to pay more than they usually would for something of VALUE to them. Keep creating QUALITY works of art/craft. What else is there but your own satisfaction. Everything else is gravy. http://cdbaby.com/cd/phantomcity2

  281. Maria says:

    If I had a nickel for everytime I heard someone tell me “I can get that at Walmart for cheaper…”. Don’t most intelligent people know the true definition of “cheaper”? I suggest some look it up. I usually reply with, “Yes you can and you will also get what you pay for”. Cheaper doesn’t mean less expensive, it means lesser quality. I could be rich…. I should put a jar on my table, like some have everytime they exclaim the f-bomb, and make these “Cheaper” offenders put a nickel in it when they misspeak.

  282. Joy says:

    I <3 this post. I actually saw a post on tumblr just above this one where a young woman was selling her crochet beanie hats for $5 each. She did character hats with extra which ran about $2 a piece. I was agog. $5?? This is why I've had negotiations break down over orders I've made. People want everything for free, & there's always some hobby crafter out there willing to oblige.

    Anyhoo, /rant. Nice post^_^ I find pricing the hardest part of selling my items.

  283. Marlene says:

    Oh, my….Just goes to show you anything you write on the internet will spark an argument among the readers. I read as much as I could take and decided I didn’t have any more time for the bickering and name calling. I only hope Somer decided to use her valuable time and talent to make another hat rather than waste time reading all of this. Best wishes, Somer. Keep up the good work. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

  284. Vicki says:

    Thank you for sharing pictures of your beautiful hats. They are a wonder to behold.

  285. Allie says:

    As a fellow crafter, I thank you for this. Very well said.
    When I first started doing craft shows I would get so upset when someone made a face at a fragrance I blended or mean comment about something I sewed. I’ve learned to accept that some people are just mean.

    I shared this on my facebook as well. :)

  286. PaulFox says:

    Thanks for this article! There is a real disconnect people have between the mass-produced stuff we are so addicted to and buying real stuff.

    I totally feel for you for your first Craft fair experience, having to encounter the worst type of ‘shopper’. Unfortunately they will seem to outnumber the really nice, good people who’ll buy your stuff and support us artists and artisans. (But the good people ARE out there!) You can have ‘fun’ at the asshole expense, you’ll start to form a running list or book of idiots and annoying people you’ll be comparing with other artists. With time & experience you’ll be able to spot them within seconds and will learn ways to deal with them, diffuse them, or just ignore them. Her getting her grubby mitts all of your stuff and then being an asshole is totally inexcusable. Hopefully that’ll be the rare exception in the bad behavior department.

    I was once in an CoOp Art Gallery where someone walked in, started amassing a bunch of artwork totalling in the hundreds, if not a thousand dollars, and THEN started to HAGGLE for a bargain price! Either the person came directly from the Flea market, or had been watching too much “Pawn Stars”, “American Pickers” and “Antiques Roadshow”. It took the attendant a lot of careful explaining that haggling was not appropriate behavior in an art gallery. We laugh about it now.

    I hope you’ll develop a tough skin with the more shows/fairs you do, and not take some jerk’s “analysis” or justification of your pricing. (I really hope they shut their yapper and just move on if they don’t like your work or pricing, like they SHOULD do!) There are some people out there who feel it’s their purpose to tear others down, and to be sociopathic dicks, there are others who are just clueless on how insensitive they can be. But there are also the awesome people who come to see you at several shows, buy your stuff and help spread the love. Word of mouth is your friend! And being an always cheerful, polite and appreciative adult will help build a good reputation.

    Good Luck! And keep on making your stuff!

  287. Alexandra says:

    Great article; awesome hat!

    I agree with the commenter who made the point that the Steampunk community would be a good place to market this–they, and some sci-fi/fantasy fandom folks in general, have some serious squid enthusiasts! :D

    (& I do see that the hat in question is worth at minimum what you are charging!)

  288. Evelyn says:

    I support Somer’s statements. We who attend craft fairs and shop in department stores don’t always have a clear picture of the time,skill and materials that an artisan has put forth…that includes me….and I am her aunt!
    Great going Somer :D

  289. AB says:

    “If an individual doesn’t want to pay the price, that is fine, but to be rude about the work is just bad manners” As someone summed it up aptly. I agree that the woman who asked “Do you charge THIS much?” was rude. It is an arts and crafts fair, the items are all unique. The artist was NOT selling a hat. you can get those at Target for $3 and in plain gray color (like I do- i am a guy). But the artist was selling a UNIQUE piece of artwork, which happened to have some function too.
    If the (non) buyer did not understand that and is comparing that to hat prices, that is just plain stupid and classless of the (non) buyer.

  290. Kerri says:

    Don’t forget to factor in the cost to sell! Your stuff doesn’t just miraculously sell itself as soon as you show up. It takes time/money to stand there and sell your goods. I sell tie dye and sewn goods at my local arts market and I sometimes get people who make rude comments on price. Someone once told me to say ‘It’s not for everyone.’ Meaning, if you can’t appreciate the value of the item, it’s not for you.

  291. plcahill says:

    Wow! Good post — I think it brought out most all the issues involved in the creative process. I like your hat just because it’s obvious you made it for no other reason than you had to make it. Just keep doing that — what you want and how you want, and price it what it needs to be for you to make a living where you live. This concept in and of itself is a “sorting hat,” and your work will find its way around the world to the right home — the work and the future owner will meet and fall in love and live happily ever after. You would not want to sell the piece to the rude woman you describe in your original post.

    The cost of a less expensive, mass-market “hat” costs just as much. Whenever you (collective you, myself included) buy something cheaply made with lesser quality materials it’s expensive because it is made by folks not being paid a living wage, with materials not harvested from the earth in a responsible and sustainable manner, and winds up as garbage somewhere on the planet because it did not last. So how much does that “cost” in terms of dollars I wonder?

  292. Janet says:

    People only reflect the ugliness in themselves. Remember a fantastic philosophy from Toltec wisdom “Don’t Take It Personally”.
    You never know where the other person is coming from, what kind of day they had, their upbringing, etc. If YOU know you’re ok, then
    D-TIP!
    P.S. I am an artist and many years ago at one of my first art shows, a woman and her daughter perused my work. I heard the mother say, “Oh, you could do that at home”
    *sigh* well, who knows, maybe she could do better :) Go for it!
    Love & Light……..pass it on!

  293. dragonfly says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of comments to read! And I’m mostly responding to the comments –
    I don’t want to reiterate a lot of things already said, but:
    I am not someone who shops at Walmart. I am willing to pay more for a lovely and handcrafted item, and I often do.
    I own a handmade hat I paid over $100 for! ;-)

    BUT – I have to say that as a customer, based on the comments here, I am really disillusioned and disappointed by the number of artisans who seem to really hold all of their customers in contempt.
    If I’m buying something, YES, I’m going to pick it up, look at the quality and how it’s made. (There are many exquisitely crafted things at fairs; there are also a lot of poorly made things – sorry, but it’s reality.)I’ve never considered that to be offensive.
    I also consider bargaining to be expected and par for the course at such events, especially for high-ticket items. If someone doesn’t want to come down on a price, that’s fine, and no hard feelings – but it’s truly weird to me that people would be offended at the attempt to bargain when, to me (and many others) this is a normal and expected thing. If I can’t afford something, I’ll make an offer! I’d never imagine someone would take offense! (And no, I’m not offering 50% of the asking price or anything insulting!)

    Also, part of the shopping process is commenting on the wares. Personally, I’d never make a negative comment to an artisan or in their hearing – but people ARE going to comment on the items for sale, both positively and negatively. That’s just part of selling to the public.
    To me, getting upset by a potential customer’s negative comment is like a writer getting upset by a negative review of their book posted on the internet. Once the product is out there, people have the right to voice their opinion. Sometimes that opinion will be ignorant and based on a lack of understanding, sometimes people just won’t like the product. It’s unavoidable. There will be others out there who DO like it.

  294. KeiHawk says:

    Thank you for this.
    I taught myself a number of handicrafts around the time I started losing consistent functionality in my legs. Had to be able to do something useful, and handicrafts seemed a good option.
    I make gifts, and have considered selling things, but the cost I would need to charge seemed so overwhelming compared to the fast-food culture that is so prevalent.
    I wish you luck, and I understand.

  295. Linda P says:

    Been there, done that, and couldn’t have said it better. If we had to live on the money we make from selling creations we love and have a hard time parting with, we would be in the bread line at every free mission we could find.
    Bravo for your post!

  296. Anyone can offer to trade for anythibg I have created. In my world money is secondary.my bills always get paid and I shop where I choose. the greatest thing about working for and by myself is that I don’t have to accept any bulldung from any power hungry sob and worry that I could lose my job.
    As for the article I will say that it was right to the point and that it successfully has you all responders showing your true colors! NAMASTE

  297. Zoila says:

    Your hats are UGLY and OVERPRICED, holy shit.

  298. Knights2 says:

    I work in a limited niche market, in that my medium is deer and elk antler that I carve. I sell at craft fairs and art shows and I’m always being asked how much time I spend on a particular piece. My stock answer is “Oh, about $50 worth” (or what ever the piece is priced at) I really don’t get the comments that something is over-priced. Usually it’s “I wish I could afford that”. My most expensive piece is priced at $1500 and nobody has objected to that price…just that they can’t afford it! I’ve had people say that “I/My Dad/My Friend can do that too.”and my response is something to the effect of “Great, there are a lot of talented people out there”. My best customers are other artists, but I sure don’t want to insult ANY potential customer. (They might have $1500 to spend!)
    Pricing any hand-crafted item is difficult and has to be based on the artists/crafters value he or she places on their creation. I like to think that I treat my customers, both real and potential by the golden rule.

  299. Melinda Jade Shaw says:

    Thank You, for taking the time… to “break it all down”… I BUY handmade, and DO IT; because… “I KNOW… the TRUE VALUE… that “went” into HAND CRAFTING… whatever, the item in question might be!” Also, “buying HANDMADE”… SUPPORTS artists, WORKING “their craft”; to THE BEST… of THEIR ABILITIES and SKILLS!!! The “average” consumer/shopper ONLY KNOWS, from: “poorly wrought”, MACHINE “knitting”… (done, in a “slavish sweatshop environment”, by “unskilled” factory workers… at, “sub-minimum wages)… NOT… from “ONE-OF-A-KIND” HANDMADE… (much, to their loss)… NOTE: “Had “I” the “skills” and “time”, I’d “make it”… myself… but, that NOT being the case; I “buy” and “pay for” those, that HAVE THE SKILLS (that “I” lack)… at, “their FAIR PRICE” pricing!!! Happy Holidays, and PROFITABLE SALES!!!

  300. Clement says:

    When I first saw this article and thought she has an interesting view. Then I continue to read the comments and I just couldn’t read them all. Surprised to see how nasty some of these comments can be. I think it is good to have open discussion without calling names. The world would be so boring if we all have same perpectives. I think it is always interesting to discuss the difference between art and craft. Sometimes it is good to be open minded, hear others opinions and not just living in our own world, which most of the time is full of fake polite opinion, and a lot of people who don’t understand art.

  301. Lisa says:

    I can’t possibly review all of the comments and if most of them are like the first several that I read, I would rather not. I left off on Knitbunnies comment, because I decided to quit reading on an “up” comment instead of a downer. What is wrong with people that everything has to be so black and white?

    First of all, I am a crafter/artisian. I wish I could do it all the time and actually afford to live. But that is not possible for me, but so be it…I just love to do it for fun and enjoyment. This is my opinion:

    The hat is gorgeous! It is absolutely beautiful and absolutely “worth” $150.00 I don’t think the artist’s attitude is wrong at all and she is just telling it like it is. Can I afford it? No. Would I buy it if I could? Yes.

    I shop at Walmart and I will never feel badly for doing so. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate art and the things that people make handmade. If you say otherwise, then you have proven exactly what you are…a stranger who doesn’t know me.
    There is nothing wrong with shopping at Walmart. They have great prices and offer what people need. Almost no one that I know can afford to raise a family without shopping a Walmart. So unless one of the complainers out there have a better solution for ones who need to feed and clothe their families, pay their bills and put fuel in their car, don’t complain about it. Businesses (even Walmart) have a right to make money.

    The jealousy that people have against big business is beyond me. Handmade has to be more expensive, and that is just the way it is. Smaller volume=costs more. Why should it not be that way? That does not make Walmart an evil entity. If Walmart didn’t exist tomorrow, I still could not afford to buy all handmade items for my family…and actually could afford to do so even less often than I can now.

    Do I think that handmade should be cheaper? Absolutely NOT! It is art! There is somebody’s heart and soul that is poured into each item and, really, that makes a piece priceless in my eyes. Therefore, I feel that whatever an artist/crafter feels it is worth, so be it. I could never argue the price of someone’s art!

    Do I love handmade art? Yes! Can I afford it? Usually no. Do I love to look at it and appreciate what someone has made? Yes! Do I shop at Walmart? Yes! Am I ashamed? Absolutely not.

    Geesh! As knitbunnie pointed out in her own words: Why in the world would it have to be one way or the other?

  302. Cecil says:

    I feel like through frustration between all of these comments the point is being over complicated. If you don’t want something don’t buy it. If you make derogatory insinuations to the artist you are a bitch. If you disagree with Somer’s post read some other one, if you leave derogatory comments well… I was happy to read how you broke down the costs. I have not seen anyone attempt to rather than to say “It’s art.” I understand this post is not affiliated with any obliviousness to “Real world statistics” as far as department vs. handmade goes. It was simply a breaking down of why that lady had no right to ask such a ignorant question. As well I agree, If you are so accustomed to wal-mart prices that you would take offence to a artists price on her own dedication, avoid the craft fair. It’s not a segragation between artistic folks and everyone else, but a conflict of your own interest to go somewhere that you don’t want to be to look at things you don’t want to buy.

  303. 1. That hat is adorable, and I know how much work it would take – intense.
    2. Some people are in a lovely category of their own, which I shall name BatshizzleNasty. She can be safely pigeonholed in that category.
    3. Those people should be completely ignored. Yes, I’m in retail, and yes – I said the customer isn’t always right. Those people aren’t worth your time.
    4. Thank you for this awesome post – really good breakdown of the REAL story of how we figure out costs!

  304. Irene says:

    I loved reading this. Looking at the photos I thought it was wicked, its definetly one of a kind and like you have said made with your own hard work. I loved the fact that you had managed to break down the cost and the price of the item and explained it all to everyone (or anyone else like me who wouldn’t have a clue) that actually how much goes into a handmade item to even pay yourself any wage at all out of it. I think people have said that $150 can be way too expensive for some and affordable for others and I do agree with that, but that is just a fact of life. There will always be people who wouldn’t dream of spending that kind of amount on anything in one go just because they like it or would like to do so. And there are others for whom that amount of money is nothing they can go and get 10 of them if they like. All in all I really enjoyed this and will be popping back to read some more :) x

  305. Shame on that rude woman she just doesnt have taste or the knowledge to realise how much work goes into making your beautiful hats.

  306. Ambur says:

    I see your point in the how little you are making, but it is true that not everyone can afford a 150 dollar hat. I would not snub you because you charge that much..I understand the world of crafting, but you are up against retail and that is a reality…non crafters are not going to see the value and time..maybe you could put time to make on the tag??? just my thoughs…

  307. Karen says:

    If I may point out another difficult quandary us hand crafters are up against, it’s this: what do we do when a store wants to sell what we make? If we are selling something to the public for $45 then it’s because we need to get $45 for it – and that’s assuming $45 is even enough for our work – the stores don’t understand why we can’t suddenly make it for $22 so they can sell it at the same $45. “But I’ll buy a dozen!” They say. As if making twice as many suddenly makes up for making half the money. The fact that you can’t buy what we do in a store makes it all that much more special. But guess what – you’re not even paying for the exclusivity, or the fact that it’s in limited supply due solely to fact that our little hands make every item. I suffered severe nerve damage last year in both hands to the point where I literally couldn’t use them simply because I was doing what I love. I never knew it was coming until it was too late. The cost of fixing them? $26,000. The cost of the belts I was making that ruined them? $28.00. Was that ever figured into the cost of the item? Of course not.

    • Mary says:

      Wonderful point Karen! I was a horse trainer for years and many many people wanted to put multiple horses in my barn for a discount. The thought running through my head was so you think if I have more of your horses they will take LESS time individually? NO- same amount of feed, time, hay, shavings, lighting, utilities, etc. and additional paid labor that I had. Not to mention I had to cover my own medical expenses for one of the most dangerous sports (compared to hockey). After suffering from two bad falls close together I threw in the towel and went to work for a business for a while. I now ride horses again, but only for myself. No one can pay me enough money to get hurt on theirs.

  308. Tony says:

    Sorry to be the one to break it to you but knitting\hat making is not an art. Knitters\hat makers are not artists. Look up art in any reliable reference book and I promise you not one will list knitting/hat making as one. Knitting\hat making is a craft not an art , you are an artisan not an artist.

    • king daddy poodle says:

      What a load of crap Tony. Is that how deeply you look into art? What is a reliable reference book to you? Google? Ask Geeves? Wiki? Look deeper Tony.
      Here’s one for you -Knitting with loaded shot guns,(safeties off).
      Or any thing from Dave Cole.
      Can you believe it, a guy knitting?
      http://davecoledavecole.com/projects.php
      I’ll bet he also phones his mother regularly.

  309. Danielle says:

    My mother knits. She superbly knits. We have often told her she should sell her sweaters and she scoffs. Once, in one day, two separate strangers approached her and offered to buy the sweater she was knitting. One offered $500 and the other $1000. At least they had a better idea of the value, but it was still off. My mother used the finest wool available (which is quite pricey as you know). She also used at least 7 different colors to knit an intricate, complicated pattern. The sweater wasn’t even 1/2 finished and she had been working on it for months. The strangers were shocked when she refused their offers; and to be honest so was I. But she explained to me, as you did, the hours and cost involved. At the 1/2 way point she figured she would have already hit the $2500 mark, so she knew there was no one who would ever be willing to pay for her effort. So she only knits what she loves. Sweaters for my dad or my niece. Socks for family members who ask (and some for the charity drive at church); but mostly she does it for herself because she enjoys it.

    Now I enjoy beading, and the pieces I spend the most time on and attract the most attention are the pieces I’l never sell. Friends will ask me if I would make them one, as if I can crank one out overnight. I smile politely and say that they would not be willing to pay me for the time it takes to make it. A beaded, braided necklace I made cost about $20 in supplies, and took me 15 hours to make. Who would pay me even $5/hr for that?

    • In response to what Danielle said,

      When I was younger, I was a photographer and a writer. Two massive strokes and digital cameras have taken photography out of my life. I do what the Lord has left me and that’s my ability to write. Your mother does such fine work because, as you pointed out, she enjoys what she does just as you enjoy what you do. I used to wonder if anything I wrote or if any of my photography will ever be remembered. None of it mattered or amounted to anything until I realized that I did it out of love for the work and in time, I looked back and realized my work touched a lot of people. I never knew a thing about knitting, hats or any of the work that went into it until somer and you so eloquently woke me up. One day, you will look back and see many other beat up old guys like me proudly wearing such work and when I do, I’ll write about it. You’re a good kid for reinforcing the love of the work.

  310. Missy says:

    Wow, I have to admit, when you first said how much you charged for that hat, I almost gasped for air. But then when you broke it down, it made perfect sense.

    If a lady said that to me about my craft, after putting it on her potentially lice-ridden, hairspray-chemicalized do, I would just say, “If you don’t like the hat, why would you care how much I charge for it? People who like my hats gladly pay this much for them. I also wish you well, but your statements have really hurt my feelings and I want you to know the power of your words. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  311. Mary says:

    I will have to make a comment on this wonderfully put article. Being someone that worked for themself most of their life and as a child their parents had them assisting in their own way of living to help pay for expenses- entertainers, crafters, and those of this type of world rarely ever get paid their full value. Many of them slave away at well below minimum wage costs and many of the times, only get ridiculed and slandered for such. This is why when I see a tip jar for someone playing for tips I slip something in the pot. It may not be much but I can make sure their child can get a corny dog on the way home if it is hungry. I don’t quibble over prices with an artist. The reality of the old term “starving artist” is a real one and even though now I am much better off, I know how it feels to be on the other side. So no, there is no way you can put a price on handmade items, and many times, even though people think they are expensive- they aren’t near enough to cover your time. I only make my handstitched items for family and friends. I don’t think I could take the agony of selling them to the public day in and day out. The public is cynical.

  312. Julie Coash says:

    Wow. We could be here all day on this subject. First, my apologies to you and your talents for the offending shopper-with-no-manners-or-brains. However-I think that ETSY has helped us out a bit by uniting talented individuals like yourself. Showing us all, just how many are out there that can yes, still make something with their own two hands. DO NOT just price your goods “to sell” but price them according to their value. I see some items, like my own, on ETSY and I absolutely know that they make NO money, that they price their items so low just to get traffic and sales. I will not change my prices. I’ve calculated everything you’ve so painstakingly listed in your article as well, and if anything, I need to add just a little more. There are certain clients that are such a pain in the butt that I would like to charge them triple!! And yes, I had one person(only one)at my last holiday show that tried to negotiate on price and I about lost it. This is not “Let’s Make A Deal”. I carefully explained to her that I handmake each and every one of the 350 pendants that she’d just put her paws all over and no, I would not lower the price just for her(who, by the way, had the most gi-normous diamond ring on her paw that I’d seen in a long time………..disgusting).
    My own Mother crochets lovely blankets and she would never be able to sell them for their true value. She works for perfection and uses only the highest quality yarns. I have stored the ones she’s made for my children, away for safe keeping, as I have yet to ever see anything more beautifully made. Julie in Grand Rapids ChellasCollection.ETSY.com

  313. Val says:

    I wish I were so talented! I took my kids to a craft store this past weekend and someone was selling beautiful hand knitted socks for $30 each. I asked the seller how long they took to make and she said each pair took two nights (one night per foot I guess). I deliberated for ages trying to think of how I could justify buying them (Christmas presents? well my budget per kid is $100 and somehow I don’t think socks even beautiful ones are on their list). I did buy other stuff at the fair – small jars of honey for stocking stuffers, home made chocolate mice.. more expensive than store bought but in budget. I did tell my husband about the socks though so maybe I’ll get lucky!

  314. Semira says:

    I love your post, and am totally in accordance with you, I have the same problem with my freeform jewelry..I try to charge 10$ / hour Here’s a great thread on Etsy that discussed pricing not too long ago, that I think you might enjoy :: http://www.etsy.com/teams/7714/ideas/discuss/9214534/page/1
    I often get the reaction you got from that lady.. It’s heartbreaking, I wish they would just have the manners to move on and discuss later..But people don’t always have manners..What’s neat is when the next person comes in and says :: Wow! now this is ART!!! and says you don’t charge enough here’s a 20$ bill for that 15$ piece.. xoxo

  315. gfveg says:

    i sold hats. i sold pots. i once faced a man looking at my wheel-thrown (not slip-cast) little vase which was also hand-painted and hand carved and $15. he asked if it could be $10. i said no. the only way i escaped these folks was to sell the same work in a gallery for $160. no complaints. same with hats. very complex, as yours DEFINITELY are. sold for $50, they haggled. sold in a specialty shop on 5th ave nyc for $275, they bought them.

  316. ApacheMoon says:

    I make and sell custom jewelry – mostly sterling, some gold. I have AT LEAST one person a week who wants me to reduce my price on something I have for sale. It is still painful and I seldom tell them what all goes into the piece in question. Perhaps I will now. :)

    Amen Sister!

  317. Merrie Burnett says:

    Right on! I had to have that same conversation with a person at work about hand knitted baby items.

    I make crazy large peyote stitch like this:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/maegwynn/5094739593/in/photostream

    If I were going to sell it, it would have to go for upwards of 10K. That is a lot of tiny beads that are hand sewn together.

  318. Lee Anne says:

    I can relate to this article very much. I deal with it all year round from tourist. The funny thing about some people is that they don’t have a problem spending $300-$2000 for a hand bag which isn’t even had made, it just has a name. If you go to a craft/artist event then at least don’t affend the person making the product…would they do that to Calvin Klien (for example)or any other designer which in fact is an artist….just walk by.

  319. clpolk says:

    The problem is simple. The great unwashed who buy factory made clothes produced by children working for slave wages overseas don’t know the meaning of the words bespoke and couture, and so when they see the extremely reasonable price of $150 for a one of a kind handmade hat, they have absolutely no idea what they’re looking at.

    This is otherwise known as casting pearls before swine. They oink and squeal to the tune of their own nekulturny outrage, loving the sound of it, but it’s only noise.

  320. Sadie says:

    Okay I can’t read this whole forum, but I get the jist, and I do appreciate that you’re an artist, but from a design point of view, if you want to sell more hats try not to overwork your designs. This hat is busy and not very appealing. I think you have talent, but streamline it if you want to sell your work to people and actually make a decent living. Art is art, but hats are still hats. People wear them on their heads. They want something of quality. I’m not saying compromise on your ideas, but really, what a lot of work for a such a not very attractive hat. Only a few people or aliens on earth would pay $150 for that.

  321. Rachel says:

    I think your hats are cool and make me want to get out the crochet hook and experiment! Unfortunately I don’t have $150 for a hat (and in this economy I imagine I have a lot of company). I do try and buy handmade when I can but often it is a matter of picking the few items that I love and will definitely use and that fit my budget.

  322. I have been skimming over the tons of comments on this post I have been in business for myself for about 10 years minus one in 2005 to relocate. We have joined a project with a large company to get some of our cabinet hardware into home depot. http://www.libertyhardware.com/homegrown the challenge we had was how are we going to produce what we do normally so that the retail price stays what we want but the quality of what we do does not change. now I have been reading a lot of posts about how chain stores are bad this and that, believe me I thought that way up until we started working on this project. The work that liberty has done on their end we could not do being the size business that we are. They have made a deal with us to promote our businesses, purchase our product in high volume, provide the packaging, provide the displays, promote the product. I think that this business model could be very beneficial to the arts community. We are not a handle and knob factory, we do sculpture, architectural iron, furniture, etc. Now working with Liberty there was a challenge in how to get our prices lower. but we did it, because we thought about it and figured it out / quality did not change. That challenge enabled us to figure out how to make more for less. now our custom made stuff or our sculpture there is not to much you can do to speed that up and really the people that want that work don’t want it sped up. But if your buying custom work you have some dollars to spend. But for the maker even though it costs more in may not really be profitable. the challenge is and if your smart and you want to compete in this system is to have some things you make subsidize, so to speak, other projects you really love doing. So if your hats take to much time but you love to make them and you want them to sell, loose some money on them, make something else that is profitable so that your overall business survives. you have to be diverse. Insulting folks into feeling guilty about where they buy or what they buy or how much they want to spend accomplishes nothing, it doesn’t sell a thing. All people want Quality, affordability and style when they buy something. and all of us will compromise this or that depending on what our needs are or budget is. What I have been realizing working with Liberty is that the large retailers should have us in them, they do play a roll, people don’t want junk that they don’t know where it comes from and they can’t spend everything they make on a single purchase. The general retail market and the custom or high end markets are very different. If your going to be a part of it you have to know the game and you have to understand what your market wants and who your market is. That is not an easy thing to do. I struggle with margins all the time, that’s part of being in business and the general public does not give a #$%&.

  323. Jeanette Cruz says:

    I love handmade crafts because I have a particular taste for the unusual and the only way to get the custom jewelry I want is through craftsmakers. I have a latest custom order in mind, but as a student I have a VERY limited budget. I have several pictures done and even a 3-D model done up of the pendent I desire. I would pay around 25-35 dollars for just the pendent but I would feel as if I were cheating the maker if I only offered 35 dollar as it is a unique piece that has to be metal to be able to support itself on a chain and the labor involved is beyond my own skills.
    As for that hat, the typical browser wouldn’t see the beauty in it, but after you explained the labor and how it was made, I saw how beautiful it really was. It would be like wearing a little sea creature on my head. ^-^

  324. I love this article. People are so used to mass-production that they can realize how special it is to receive an item that has been made specifically for U. Handmade items have a such warmth to them.

  325. I love this article. People are so used to mass-production that they can’t realize how special it is to receive an item that has been made specifically for U. Handmade items have a such warmth to them.

  326. Ganna P says:

    Keep up your work :) I wish there would be more real people like you…

  327. James says:

    Well, be that as it may, you still shouldn’t be charging that price for something so ugly. I have little to no artistic talent. I know this. So with this being a given fact, would it be reasonable for me to draw a picture of some stick figures, call it art, and try to charge $50 for it? Absolutely not. To both things. It would NOT be ok for me or anyone to call such a drawing art, because it would not BE art, and it would be laughable for me to charge an exorbitant amount for it. If you’re complaining that making these hats doesn’t provide you with a living, you need to find something else to do or make nicer hats.

    • James, congratulations on hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. You have all the tact and manners of a 14-year-old girl.

      Somer

      • Leta Porter says:

        Bravo Somer, James (if that really is his name and he is really a he) is so off base. Variety is the spice of life. Your hats are as unique as you. Keep up the good work!! I am a jewelry maker. I do what I like and what I am capable off at this time. Have run into same issues at fairs. I know I work hard at making my simple pieces as well constructed as possible. My husband thinks I don’t charge enough. That woman is an idiot. Some just want crap.

  328. Machelle says:

    I totally and completely understand the hurt in the heart when someone callously attacks your handmade work. I have developed, and have had laboratory-tested, a revolutionary organic, whole-food, species-specific parrot food. It is truly unique to anything on the commercial market. There are some parrot-lovers who swear by it. But there are others who continually attack my product and call it the worst food they have ever seen and can say nothing nice about the food or me. When it comes down to it, I believe it is nothing but pure jealousy on the part of these bitter people. When, if they would just look at the wonder of the product itself, and take their own ego out of the equation, they could actually enjoy the benefit of the products we are offering to the world, understanding that many of us are only attempting to help the world we are living in. Isn’t it wonderful that this world operates on diversity? I think so. Don’t stop what you are doing! You have something wonderful to offer to the world, those who do like what you have to offer will come back for more!

  329. Deb Koehler says:

    Somer –
    Your hats are great! I agree with your post entirely!

    I do a lot of knitting, and frequently have people tell me ” you should sell your stuff!”. No way. For,the very reasons you write about. They would never be willing to pay what the item is worth. A few times folks have tried,to buy from me what I was making. When I gave them a price that wouldn’t even pay me minimum wage to make it, their eyes get real wide and they look at me like I was crazy. Even when I explain to them that the sweater might take 40+ hours to knit and have $150 worth of materials in it, they still look shocked. It is the Walmart effect.

    Walmart, as a retail model, is both good and evil, a true double edged sword. There are many out there where this is all they can afford. There are many more still who can afford more, but squeak when they walk. It is a fact that Walmart, through it’s shear size, has forced the outsourcing of many previously local companies, as these company’s cannot sell to Walmart for the price that Walmart demands and produce in the U.S. Levi jeans is an example of that. So, in a way, The very people Walmart serves is also harms them but outsourcing jobs. And, where these jobs go there is no such thing as worker safety, minimum age, or environmental concerns.

    So, for all those who only need the utilarian function of the hat – the local second hand store has things even cheaper than Walmart, and many are even new with store tags still on them. You would even make your money go further there, and may be able to get higher quality items, and actually benefit the environment by re-using what already exists, and not add to the misery of child laborers.

  330. Faye says:

    Brilliant blog post! It’s so difficult to put a price on handmade…hubby agonizes over it all the time. I, on the other hand, can only admire anyone & everyone with the talent to create such ART.

  331. Excellent blog. I just wish more people understood all the work and creativity that goes into handmade pieces. I honor you and any artisan who is still willing to devote so much talent and time into keeping these skills and human creativity alive. I’m posting the link to it on the Facebook page for my American Hands narrative portrait project. Thank you for stating what should be obvious, and doing so quite clearly.

  332. Erin Brennan says:

    I’m glad some of the commenters brought up the value of Walmart goods. I would rather have one well-made attractive durable item than a dozen shoddy cheap ones. How much cheap crap does a person need? Look in your closets and cupboards. Look in your garage– a double garage is roughly a $25,000 structure, and people fill them with boxes of junk that might get a couple hundred dollars in a yard sale.

    The real cost of inexpensive mass-produced goods is slave labor, pollution and waste, sub-standard products and sub-standard user experiences. We don’t save money with this stuff– its true cost is higher than quality goods, and it’s a long-term expense we’ll be paying years after its dumped in landfills, taking up real estate and leaking toxins.

    Unique, wearable handmade art like Somer’s isn’t for everyone. I appreciate good-quality handcrafts, and in a society drowning in Stuff it’s easy for me to forego wasting money on Walmart-ish crud and save up for stuff that is worth having, and that will last.

  333. Erin Brennan says:

    The differences between “value” and “price” are well-illustrated in “The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart” http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html

    Snapper lawnmowers are made in Georgia, and are famous for their ruggedness and quality. Snapper’s CEO told Walmart no, and this article tells why.

  334. Thanks for your blog post and the stimulating conversation it elicited. Art is such a personal thing – I wouldn’t give you two cents for most abstract masterpieces that hang in a modern art museum, but I’d pay plenty for handmade Native American art. To each their own. I sell in galleries, where the customer mindset is different than what you find at craft fairs. My husband laughs at me when I spend the money from my sales on someone else’s art – but it takes an artist to truly appreciate the work and effort that went into some of these wonderful, handmade creations. I still meet people that are shocked by the prices on some of my pieces, but most are polite enough to say “it’s lovely, but out of my price range”. There is never a need to be rude. If you can’t say something nice, then just move on.

  335. Judy says:

    I didn’t read all the comments – so so many! But I wanted to comment that your 18-20 hours is also dependent on how quickly you crochet/knit.. imagine someone slightly slower taking another couple of hours to knit a comparable item? That hourly wage keeps going down.

    I love the hat and while I can’t afford $150 for a hat (or most any garment/accessory), I do respect the price tag.

    Kudos and awesome breakdown. Maybe you should print this and have it ready at your booth (oh, there goes that wage again, I’d laugh, but it’s just so not funny), just a few, for customers who are a bit snarky. ;)

    xo

  336. Becky says:

    I knit, crochet, sew, sculpt, paint, and pretty much have a myriad of skills, which are deemed essentially worthless in this society. I don’t try to sell my work, I make gifts for friends, family, and items for my own use. Many acquaintances once they see my work, which is of a high quality, insist that I should make them something, that they’d be willing to pay for it, but the prices they’d be willing to pay are not worth my time and effort, would barely cover the cost of materials, let alone my labor. I’ve had to be extremely harsh with these individuals, they often refuse to accept no as an answer, because they don’t understand the amount of time and effort that can go into one item, and will continually ask over and over, expecting me to “give them a deal”, even after I explain how time consuming it is to create an item. I find it extremely annoying and have refused to make items even for close friends who have asked me for specific items, then pestered me if it took longer than a week to complete the project.
    To me this article seemed to be about that, Somer seemed ever so slightly offended by one more person devaluing her skills as a crafter/artist, and felt the need to explain what goes into creating what she creates. Most individuals don’t get it, if they can buy a hat for $10, they value every hat they come across at $10.
    There’s my rant. It’s not about homemade being so much better than Walmart, or Walmart is evil. It just sucks to have skills that other people don’t recognize as valuable or worthwhile, when thousands of hours have gone in to gaining those skills. If corporations ever fail though, I am ready to pick up the slack.

  337. Stephanie says:

    I am so glad you posted this article. I am starting out at craft fairs myself. I’ve done them for the last 3 years and have not done very well at any of them. I sell hand made gifts from crocheted scarfs and baby blankets to hand painted tote bags and beaded bracelets. I also make ornaments. It truly does take a lot to start a craft business. I make more simplistic items than your hat which is very nice, but I still have trouble selling items. I price mine competitively with the nicer items that you can find in stores like target and mine have the added bonus of being handmade and durable. I use inexpensive materials just to keep my cost low. I still have trouble selling items. People look at my scarves and say $12 really? When if you go to target you get can get a shoddy scarf that is likely to fall apart after the first year for 10…. hmmm only $2 more for something that’s going to last…. I don’t see it being that expensive… and I’m actually making about 7.50 per hour on it since it takes me only an hours to produce 1. I have $1 ornaments that take me only an hour to make 12 of them and only cost about 15 cents each to make in materials. I make around $10 to the hour on those but people still gawk at my prices. I really thing people don’t want to pay for the work that they are getting and really just want it to be free. to all the other crafters out there I wish you all luck cause from my personal experience we all need that extra luck and strength to have a successful day at a craft fair. To all those who don’t want to pay our prices for OUR work then don’t go to the craft fairs in the first place. Craft fairs are there to help sell HAND CRAFTED items and hand crafted is always going to be more expensive than factory produced. BUT it will last longer and be more beautiful than factory produced.

  338. I write this as I wipe away my tears. Pricing is one of the most difficult things for me to do as an independent artist. I often think, “What would I pay for this?” Being a starving artist I often answer, “Well, I could not AFFORD to pay much for it.” I then am reminded that there are people who can totally afford to buy everything I have without blining an eye, so I price it according to what THEY can pay. I then ask, “Will others even see the value in this?” the painful truth is that many will not, many will scoff. Luckily I know that there will always be someone who will come along and not only see the value that I see, but that it will perhaps speak to them even more so. Hang in there my fellow artisans, your fans will come. Meanwhile, know your own worth.

  339. Rosemary Baker says:

    Not trying to be offensive…but in this day and time many people are struggling to hold onto their homes, much less paying the sky rocketing utility bills and putting food on the table. Perhaps in your case if you walked in the lady’s shoes you could also see her point of view. People use outings such as Craft shows and Art exhibits, which normally don’t charge admission fees, for cheap entertainment. Usually I keep these opinions (remarks) to myself in order to not offend people or create harsh feelings. Most people who are not artistic would not realize your labor of love for what it is. In reality you set yourself up for disappointment. When you stop and think about it our Grand-Parents performed these task as part of survival because they could not afford the machine/store bought items (Hats; gloves; quilts and home decorations). Their supplies were recycled, cost efficient items found in the home. Perhaps you would be better served to display your items in an upscale Boutique or to offer them to a retail shop with clients better suited for the expense. Maybe you are not doing justice to your craft. I wouldn’t peddle a van Gogh on the sidewalk and a jeweler would not display diamonds at a Fair as there is some protocol observed in business. Just an uninvolved opinion.

  340. Kasia says:

    Great post. Nice way of “letting it out”. Thanks for sharing.
    You will meet a lot of people like that all the time. Don’t let them get to you and don’t even try to explain it to them. They won’t even try to understand. They’re whole life is dedicated to being envious and thru that nasty to others.
    I also hope that the realization of the fact that your prices are too low won’t get you to stop making things because you are very talented!
    Good luck!!!

  341. Michelle says:

    Your hats are beautiful – people can be cruel.
    From a person with an M.F.A. in Design

  342. Anne says:

    It is hard to sell handmade goods b/c people are always comparing them to the retail counterparts, which is absolutely wrong. Such comparisons are like comparing apples to automobiles. I run into the same problems as a painter and fine art photographer. People want to compare costs of originals and custom prints to mass produced. I have limited income, so I have to balance my budget between handmade and mass-produced. I’d love to have one of your hats, but I would never roll my eyes at the price, even though I cannot afford it right now. My gut reaction to the picture is that the design is overwhelmingly complex, so you should charge accordingly to make back your time & expertise. I don’t know how to knit or crochet, so people who do beautiful knit/crocheted pieces are amazing to me.

  343. sheila says:

    When my four daughters were small, I could barely afford to shop ANYwhere! I would love to have dressed them in adorable handcrafted clothing and accessories but clothes, shoes and coats fell into the category with food and shelter, as necessities. I shopped where I could afford to shop. Time has passed; the children have become adults and I have different shopping habits and priorities now. I am now a consumer who can be more concerned about buying products “made in USA” as well as purchasing more locally whenever possible. I support Goodwill and still have a hard time leaving behind the handmade afghans that are always available there. I think of the hands that made them and the hours of time spent on them; I respect them as art. I think that artisans should understand that their work is appealing to a larger market than their consumer market. Art is so personal. I think that is why it is hard to put a price on creations of the heart and it is equally hard to accept criticism from those who do not create.

  344. cindy says:

    I’ve been doing shows in one form or another for over 25 years..first antique shows, then craft fairs and finally art shows. I’ve seen and heard everything you can imagine!! Currently, I do a show every weekend from May-Dec. I was a self employed artist for over 15 years and able to sustain myself and help with household expenses until about a year ago when I finally had to get a full time job. You definitely do grow and thick skin..In the early days I hand painted on antiques that I would fix up becuase I couldn’t afford the “good” stuff..people would say “oh I can do that it’s just stenciled” then when I did craft and art shows(I was doing glass and fiber) you’d also hear similar catty comments !! It’s that same type of person you see at all the different types of shows..She is only there to get ideas to make her own stuff and make jealous comments about things that you make to try to bring you down to her level..I can spot “those girls” a mile away and try to kill them with extreme kindness!!! If they persist in trying to devalue my things, I try to remind them that they would not want to work for pennies at their jobs nor take less for their work based on their bosses opinions of said work..

  345. melissa.mathie@gmail.com says:

    Bravo to explaining crafting and the market! I was an quilter and used the sewing machine to create a multitude of products. Every once in a while, there would be that special someone who had to complain about the price. They would pompously announce they would have purchased the item for THAT PRICE only if I had hand stitched every stitch. I would smile and just say, “BULL.”

  346. Kaaren says:

    I am reminded of a story that I will paraphrase. A well known early 19th century designer was approached to make a ribbon hat for a society grand dame. He did and she was thrilled till she heard the price. She then stated there were only a few yards of ribbon worth only 50 cents- how dare he charge so much.

    The hatmaker knew of the lady and her usual arguments and had deliberatly not tacked the final stitches, he swiftly undid the careful bending, tying and bows and handed her the ribbon saying well here’s your 50 cents of ribbon- the art and skills needed to create the hat are extra.

  347. dp says:

    Wow! I can’t thank you enough for this post and the one following it. Most consumers just don’t get the time and craftmanship involved and it seems futile to try and explain the why of it all. Your work is ART, keep it up, love your vision. I fabricate silver jewelry so I feel the “sting” too!

  348. Rhea Allais says:

    What a wonderful article! I also sell knit and crochet items, and I never even charge for my materials – just my time. I figure, I’m going to buy yarn anyway. But I make sure to charge enough for my time that I can still afford to buy yarn :)
    I love your hats, they truly are works of art!

  349. Neva Campbell says:

    Excellent. Thank you for this. My bestie and I , who are both artist who sell stuff on etsy, craft and art shows, etc., JUST had a conversation about how to price stuff to get ti to sell but make “enough” money. As I priced my paintings last night I considered what they were “worth”, it was disheartening to not even be able to consider what kind of time, love, passion, intricacies, layers of paint went into it. Just trying to figure how much someone would pay and I was willing to sell it for.

  350. julie haight says:

    i just wanted to say that i like your hats :) i think they are works of art and very creative :) while i cant afford to pay that much for a hat, i try never to imply that a hand made item is overpriced when i shop. i know the work and the time and thought that goes into these lovely pieces. most people i know create because they love it. some to save money. some for both reasons. but i grew up around people that didnt understand the value of these created pieces and implied that the prices were unreasonable. they didnt understand all the work and time that went into them. so early in life i decided that i make things because i want to. if i make a little money on it yay. but i make it for enjoyment and maybe some leeway money. budget gets kinda tight at times. i have learned there are many expenses that most people arent aware of when trying to sell things as a business. i figure all of those people must do it for love of the art. becuz you rarely get out of things what you put in to them. it is nice to ocasionaly get a person that truly apreciates the creative art of what you have made. soak in the joy. and im glad you know that when customers are so rude, that it is their problem. not a refleciton realy on you or your original pieces. :)

  351. Bev Moon says:

    Well, this article stirred up a lot of discussion. I knit and do beadweaving and have a tried selling at a few craft fairs. The very first one I did about 10 years ago a woman came up and picked up a beaded bracelet that was priced about $30.00 and said she could get the same thing at Walmart for $5.00–I really felt crushed but I also told her to go shop there!! Then another woman came up to me and had a bracelet in her hand that was broken–it was on that stretchy cord stuff–and wanted to know if I could fix it. I told her yes but it would cost about $10–“Why, that’s more than twice what I paid for it at Walmart”–why would it be so much? I told her that I would use good quality stretch cord and that I’d have to reweave all of the beads onto it–it was Right angle weave and not just strung. The bracelet she bought was made in Indonesia, China, ?? where they used inferior materials (the beads were terrible and color was coming off) and the people who made them were paid at the most 0.50 and hour and that I charged $10.00 and hour for my time plus cost of materials. She just walked away. Some people will never get it–why handmade does cost more for the most part. And as Sabrina said let them shop at the discount stores, dept. stores–my feeling is that you don’t want them as a customer anyway!!

  352. Jerusalem says:

    Sabrina, please shut up.

  353. Gina says:

    people ask me all the time if i sell my knitted items. i tell them that no one could afford them if i did. they don’t understand what i’m talking about but i would charge way way too much.

  354. Excellent blog right here! Also your site quite a bit up very fast! What web host are you the use of? Can I am getting your associate link to your host? I desire my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  355. Luna says:

    I am really sorry you had such an experience. I too have worked retail and the reality is that the customer had changed in such a manner that it can be for all involved. I will be honest, I actually came across your work a few weeks ago and feel deeply and instantly in love. I know there are many people out there who will cherish your work for years to come. Thank for sharing a really important story!

  356. priscilla says:

    Nothing left to say… spreaded…

  357. I agree with you. I am also an artist. Marie

  358. Chris says:

    Bless you, Somer Sherwood! You have just described the cost and hassle of self-employment. I sell ready-made treasures, antiques, curiosities, that I dig for in mouse-infested basements and attics, stand in line for hours in the rain to buy at an estate sale, endure a 5-hour auction to buy that one special thing at the end of the 5th hour, research every day so as to represent the item fairly and knowledgeably, wash/iron/repair/polish/clean/price/tote/display, and THEN try to sell to people like your snotty hat lady who want to pay what I PAID. I barely make a living, but I get to do what I love EVERY DAY. Keep creating, and selling your art to the appreciative buyer.

  359. Rebecca Yeakle says:

    I will by HAND made and AMERICAN made any day over everything else. Keep up the GREAT work and do not get discouraged by an individual who does not know QUALITY when they see it! :)

  360. Karin Alisa says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head and furnished it with a uniquely beautiful hand-crafted hat too!
    I’ve been doing craft shows for years. While it is a lot of work setting up and breaking down a full shop weekend after weekend, it is generally quite rewarding. I thoroughly enjoy meeting the many people who attend such events with a great interest for the art of craft and desire to “know” the artisans and something about what makes us tick.
    Once in a while there is that “bad apple”, but contrary to the old saying, that bad apple does not ruin the bunch.
    One of my all time favorites is when someone wants to purchase a piece and asks, “Can you do any better on the price?”
    I like to respond with, “That’s very kind of you. How much more would you like to pay?”

  361. Mrs. Miller says:

    I know this hurts your feelings. But so many other people commend your work, I am sure. I have been through this type of thing also, and have come to the conclusion that some people just need to be “educated”. They just don’t understand. The more educated people and those higher on the socio-economic level really do appreciate art.

  362. Jacinda says:

    I just wanted to tell you that this is beautiful! I wouldn’t wear it but I know a few people that would. If I really wanted something like this, I would pay for it being so original. Just like my friend who post your story, I paid her to do a one of a kind hat for me. She was scared to tell me what she thought it might be worth to her because we’re online friends and I told her do not undersell me. I will pay what she thinks it’s worth for the time she spent on it! I would’ve paid a bit more but then I sent her a present too, so it’s all good. If you’re getting good positive feedback AND people are buying your things, then don’t let the negative stuff do anything more than sting a little like you said. Cheers to you and I hope you have a happy holiday:)

  363. Cheryl C says:

    I, too, make hand-made items and try to sell them. I am very sensitive when it comes to what I make and present to the public. I usually just double the costs of materials and then add a dollar or two. This pays me about $2 an hour to make the things I make, if that. But, I don’t make stuff that is unique. Yes, it is hand-made. And, yes, it cost me time and supplies. But, other people could make it by following the pattern I used. But… I love making stuff. And, I love even more when people enjoy having and using the stuff I make. So, I continue making the things I make. And, hopefully, I can get a little money out of them. And, rarely, there will be someone who will purchase my little pieces of creativity who will realize just how much love and effort I put into it. So, really, it is unique. Because, a person made it with their hands and their heart. And, that makes it art. And, that is really priceless.

    Bravo to you for charging even a fraction of what your pieces of art are worth. You, and most other hand-crafters, really deserve so much more than they will ever get. In appreciation and money, both.

  364. Heather says:

    I love going to craft fairs, but I’m afraid that I don’t usually buy anything for the reason mentioned above; I don’t really have any disposable income. But I go because I enjoy the artistry and appreciate the creativity that goes into producing handmade crafts. I am a copywriter, and have experienced a similar attitude in several of the previous jobs I have held. Why does it take you so; why can’t you just write it – you’re writer. Well yes, I am but I like to take pride in my work, and besides even the fastest copywriter on earth still must take the time come up with the idea, choose the appropriate form and pick the right words. It’s the same process for any art form.

  365. d. says:

    great post. i am a knitter & have a bit of a stash problem. i’ve thought about selling my knitting, but the pricing issues you’re discussing here are exactly why i’ve chosen not to market my crafts. when looking on etsy and at craft fairs, there seem to be 2 different types of sellers: those like you who create intricate works of art/craft, and those who are trying to capitalise on the cool of buying handmade/crafty items. i largely look at craft fairs for ideas and inspiration because i can’t afford a lot of the items i like.
    but there are also the booths and online shops who sell basic knits, like a knit 2 purl 2 or moss stitch scarf for example, out of a thick gauged inexpensive wool and price it at $60. the math on this is ridiculous FOR ME to pay. a scarf like that would take at most 2 hours to knit, with the wool coming in at $15-$20 max. the rate these crafters are budgeting themselves is $20+/hour. hey, if you can sell it for that much, all the power to you! but i don’t feel good about marking my stuff up that much. and i certainly won’t buy something for $60 that i can make MYSELF for $20 and a couple hours of mindless t.v. knitting.
    the scale’s skewed on both ends, is my ultimate point, and it’s all due to a lack of understanding of the labour and material costs on the other side of the table…
    at any rate, best of luck to you! the hat’s gorgeous, and i hope your passion project pays off! i hope your encounters with the sort of ignorance you cited be few and far between. :)

  366. Loreto says:

    Somer, I agree with everything you said but sadly, I don’t have anything more to add to this conversation. I experience this kind of stupidity every time I sell at a craft fair.

    I just dropped by to tell you I think you’re gorgeous :)
    Keep smiling!

  367. Julie Adams says:

    As I read your post one thing came to mind… Its so hard to put a price on handmade items. I make hair accessories and although I feel they are worth 2 or 3 times what I price them at I have to realistically say that I know people wont pay what I think they are worth… Plus trying to figure out an hourly wage is hard to…I make a lot of my hair stuff while I am sitting on my bed with my husband watching tv in the evenings…I am spending time and keeping my hands busy….so in my mind Im not working….also, your items sound more high end….quality supplies were used…I would probably not pay $150 for a quality hat….but, that doesnt mean that someone who likes origional peices of art wouldnt….they would love it…=-)

  368. linda says:

    I think we all place value on items, depending on our own personal values and thoughts – what we cherish versus care nothing about… so pricing is all over the place as a result.

    I don’t think others should judge or ask in such a shame-inducing manner – it’s just rude! What happened to common sense manners, right?

    I do feel the struggle you’ve noted in figuring out the numbers and it’s something, I think many of us crafters are trying to figure out. We certainly want to pay ourselves a decent wage – but if no one buys then it results in no wage… it’s definitely a tricky game of balancing the value/worth of your work with what will actually get you sales and make a living.

    I’ve been reading about this topic for crafters and bloggers as well – there have been posts on the CraftyPod blog that I’ve been following. Seems we are all definitely facing these issues!

  369. Lyequeen says:

    Great post Somer! Whats lacking in America today is not a lack of appreciation for something well made or a ‘walmart mentality’ but alas just plain old fashion ‘manners’. I call it the cell phone mentality. You see it everywhere, this lack of respect for the person your handing your money over to: cashiers, waiters/waitress, even crafters. Sadly you cant buy manners.
    I make handcrafted herbal soaps right from scratch and sell at craft shows and have dealt with a few awful people over my 12 year career. Many a time an individual will pick up a bar off my table, smell it, have that look that there very interested, ask the price, I answer, shock comes over their face, they put the soap back on my table and walk away. I get it, they cant afford it. THAT’S OK. There’s many things I cant afford. But there is no need to be nasty about it. Many times when non-customers are unpleasant I just take the item out of their hands and say, “Obviously this product is not for you”. Crafters work way to hard for their money, there is no way they should have to take crap off of anyone.
    Mostly, dont take it personally! It’s their ‘stuff’. It’s their ‘lack of manners’. Their mama didnt raise them right.

  370. Mary G. says:

    And this would be why I refuse to sell my work. No one would begin to pay me what my time is worth. My art is a work of love.

    Instead, I offer to teach them how to make it for themselves, at $10 per one-hour lesson.

  371. Julie R. says:

    That outspoken customer obviously liked your hats. After all, she tried on every one. Her offensive comments were probably made in response to her disgruntled realization that she didn’t like the way they looked on HER !!!

  372. Kaye says:

    Perhaps the problem in the craft fair scenerio was actually a mismatch of product with customer. $200 artisan hats are appropriate for a market of wealthier customers looking for quality and uniqueness; this doesn’t include average Americans in a slumping economy. If this craft fair was upscale for such customers, then perhaps she was just in the wrong place for her pocket-book. If the craft fair was for all types of customers, then perhaps offering more classic styles with lower quality yard could provide options for all customers…unless perhaps making a name in the art world is priority over making sales at the present time.

    Please be careful about slandering this customer by making assumptions about her personality, thoughts, and motives. Perhaps she was accustomed to making such purchases, but was feeling incredibly frustrated and insecure because of a recent economic downfall which causes her to be unable to afford artisan quality now. She obviously wanted one of your hats, or she would not have spent the time to try them all on. More personally, perhaps she recently suffered a great loss in her life and hasn’t properly grieved…the fact that she wanted one of your hats but couldn’t afford them brought out her unchecked grumpiness…and perhaps others were victims of her behavior as well.

    Let’s not stoop to the same level of inappropriate behavior as this lady displayed by slandering her…we haven’t walked in her shoes, just as she hasn’t walked in ours.

  373. Tina M Brown says:

    You’re work IS a one of a kind piece of art. And art is valuable, but also subjective, some will love it, some won’t. BUT, she should have kept her comments to herself, out of respect for the artist. The world is full of assholes and bitches, sad little creatures they are. She tried them on so it wasn’t the hat, it was herself she does not like. Ofcourse her words had a sting, it would…But don’t let her words live on in your head, she is an ignorant, closed minded woman…I LOVE All YOUR CREATIONS, AND YOU ARE SO TALENTED WITH SO MANY TYPES OF ART. I LOVE YOU HOLLY, EVERYTHING YOU DO, YOU DO WITH LOVE. I AM IN AWE OF YOU, I MEAN THAT. AND, you are an inspiration to many people.

  374. Reality Check says:

    The bottom line is the majority of people takes pride in the work they do, whether you are an artist, self employed in another field or work for someone. In all reality are you going to walk into a store and pay $150 for a hat? Probably not, even the artist who created this hat probably would not. She got self indulgent and in her mind she created a master piece, which she shouldn’t expect others to love or buy. If her skin is that thin, she needs to find another line of work to survive off of and make her hats as gifts to family and friends who will appreciate them.

  375. I am just now opening a store in Spokane WA that is all about local handmade, if the artisan who made this hat came into my store with one of these hats I would not only drool, but would be amazed if the hat retailed less than $225.00 Lovely.

  376. I am just now opening a local handmade artisan store in Spokane WA, if the artisan came into my store with this hat I would not only drool, I would retail it for $225.00. Lovely. American Handmade it is the best.

  377. pinguino says:

    As much as I’d love to do art fulltime, I’ve done that math as well and can’t find a way to actually live off it. I had an artist friend ask why one of my necklaces was priced at $30 and I had to explain that it’s the time that went into making it (which, if I charged what I do for design, would have put it in the $120 range). That necklace sold within 30mins because I put more effort into the photo for it, and because it’s intricate and cool.

  378. Freda says:

    You just read my mind. That is all I can say.
    People look at me as I am from out of space

  379. THANK YOU for this. I own a shop in Fullerton, California – The Owl’s Lantern – and the retail end focuses on local and state artists and their handmade products. Most are on consignment with a 60/40 split. A few were purchased wholesale through a sales rep. The artists have to recoup their costs. I have to pay rent and utilities (not to mention myself). I also get such customers, complaining that this is too expensive or “why can’t they make them to fit” or wanting to know why I can’t order from mass producers. I don’t want to! I’m big on artisan products because I know what it is like to create unique items and I know the joy of matching the products to the RIGHT people! I’m printing out the post to show the nay-sayers.

  380. Bärbel says:

    *lol* I found this on facebook. The world is full of dumb people. You and me arent. Thats a fact. Forget about all the others. There are more like us, but we don´t argue that loud. Love

  381. Donna says:

    Wow, the negativity here is mind-boggling. Nice venting, author, and I totally get it.

    For one thing, the idea that a formula of “double your cost of materials should be your price tag” is ludicrous. I make photo-realism pointillism pieces with a .13 Kohinoor pen that take up to 450 hours per. They’re edge-to-edge, usually 10×13″, and it’s ridiculous that the most I’ve made off a typical piece is $1200 ($2.66 an hour). That’s School of the Art Institute of Chicago, expensive framing, art board and a shitload of ink.

    Looking to get rich? No way. But looking to have the craftsmanship and hours and hours spent AFTER work hours to create such a piece? At least say, “That’s awesome. Wish I could afford it,” and walk the hell away.

    • Maggie Joyce says:

      I make wearable adnorments that I sell @art fairs, fiber shows, and green festivals. been doing them for thirty yrs. There is no way to figure the “Gerneral Public” customers are as verriable as a flame in the wind. one never knows what one will say or who will pay your price. Art is a mystery. just keep on truckin.creating beautiful one of a kind handmades.

  382. Byron says:

    When someone in our shop says something inappropriate about our products or prices, I find it helpful to remember that while I’ve had years to consider the amount of time, materials, etc that goes into one of my brooms, the person who’s just gotten some sticker shock has had about 10 seconds. I also tell myself that they’ve probably never been in the presence of the artist before and likely don’t even realize that they are right now. So, I try to educate them as gently as I can, preferably with a little self-deprecating humor to smooth the scolding. And I usually succeed in not setting their hair on fire with my glare. Usually.

  383. tami says:

    What a great post! I, too am an artist. It is hard work, tough and expensive…. but we do it because it is rewarding, inspiring and .. really… True Artists.. We don’t have a choice. I have to create, It’s who I am.. I love your hat! There is definitely a market for it. Blessings to you.

  384. Melissa says:

    I feel kind of like a dick for pointing this out, because I COMPLETELY agree with and understand your points, but the Federally regulated minimum wage is $7.25 an hour (as of July 2009), and if you work a job that you make tips on, you are paid $2.13 an hour. GRANTED, this actually means that if you would be paying yourself minimum hourly wages (as per US regulations) you would be making less than you currently figured out.

    But as someone who DOES make minimum wage, the bolded “7.50, which is less than minimum wage” comment kind of bugged me.

    Again, sorry for being nitpicky. =\

  385. Frau says:

    Can YOU afford a $100+ hat? If the answer is no, then why do you expect that others can? The only people who will buy overpriced handmade items are wealthy individuals. In this era and day and age, people cannot afford to blow a lot of cash on something they can get at a Wal-Mart or Target. People who make handmade items are marketing towards a specific groups of people. The differences between those groups being the price range.

    I know I would never, ever pay over $100 for a hat or something that was handmade. You’re asking too much from this generation. Try marketing your expensive handmade goods to rich people and you’ll be more successful :-)

  386. Brenda says:

    Going back to the original post … I appreciated your breakdown – thank you!

    I support handmade and sell handmade of my own original design. I don’t base my prices by the yard (I’m a knitter). I calculate prices based on costs, overhead, salary and – god willing – profit. There are many who can’t – or choose not to – afford my prices, and I wish them the best. There are those who can – or choose to – do so, and those are my target customers.

    Handmade doesn’t have to – and perhaps shouldn’t – be the same as “inexpensive.” Walgreens and other chain stores can and should be inexpensive when the costs, including salaries, for any given item are a few dollars. Well made artisan made products don’t total a few pennies to a few dollars in costs and rarely earn the artisan a huge profit. If you can’t support it financially, that’s fine, but it would be great if we could ALL support the idea of handmade.

  387. Tracy says:

    Great post. You are completely right…her comment has more to do with what is going on in her “crazy brain” than with your item. The hat is beautiful, by the way. I could easily see that selling for your price or more in a boutique.

  388. Carmen says:

    I work at shoe store where UGG’s are sold and there are people willing to drop $160 on a pair of UGG mitts that are all the same and made from a factory so if it is something that you can afford why not spend $150 on a unique one of a kind hat.

    I have a friend who makes masquerede masks, which are beautiful, she recently received comments like this at a craft fair we were at and yes I agree with the original post there are many people that go to Craft Fairs and do not take into consideration how much time is put into making the item.

    I don’t think Somer was complaining about the cost of creating the hat, but the fact that someone would verbally voice a negative opinion about her art, we do not have to all like what people create but we do not need to be rude about it either.

    I am on a very tight budget but I love going to craft fairs and seeing the items people have created, if something falls into my budget then that is the first place I look at for presents so they are unique.

  389. daniel harvey says:

    OK people.. i stumbled accross this on facebook, its an interesting article.. then i read all the comments.. and what a bunch of shite.. honestly have you never heard of EXAMPLE?? i think what the women here was talking about is the example of how much it takes her to make something, as opposed to a huge commercial conglomerate in china for no effort at all and make 200% more profit per item… shes letting people know about the real cost of handmade, and why its expensive etc.. its a comparison of that and the fact that some people will even expect that something at a craft fair, and without a brand, could even be CHEAPER.. its an analysis of the distorted view of what people have come to expect an item to cost.. and how if (hypothetically) that was her fulltime job, that she could NEVER survive on such money, meanwhile globalist sweatshops make millions…

  390. panny says:

    3 things:

    – preach it, sister!
    – from one shoe lover to another, you have amazing taste in shoes.
    – damn you, now i’m lusting after those same boots.

  391. Lee Faye says:

    I honestly think most of you misunderstood Sabrina’s comment. It wasn’t snarky at all.

  392. Aldy says:

    I totally agree with this post,things like that happens everywhere. I work in yarn store in Vilnius(Lithuania) and there we have hand knits too,so peoples doing the same- looking for,measure and then says- ohh no it is crazy expensive. But really when you sell some garments it is not a big money for handmade.If I would knit and just selling it I couldn’t pay all my bills,so that’s life….

  393. Denise says:

    There should be a trap door that crafters could utilize when attacked by such a venomous, vile creature as you describe. Talk about a bully and a creep — yep, just pull the lever and zoooom, all gone, lovely day again.

  394. Virge Lorents says:

    I hear you, sister. I’ve spent 35 years as a product photographer. Loved it until the business crashed. Had time on my hands to check out my artier side. Some work is now in galleries (feels good!), though I’ve done enough “craft” shows to know I won’t do any more. I saw a quote in another artist’s booth. “A small purchase is more valuable than 10,000 compliments.” I, too, now hate compliments.
    Here’s what I don’t get. At my last craft show, raffle tickets were being sold for some baskets with assorted contents. The proceeds would go to charity. People stopped at my booth, oohed and aahed over my images, their hands filled with long stands of raffle tickets. They were willing to spend a lot of money on the unlikely chance that they’d win something, as opposed to spending a small amount on a card, that they were guaranteed to be able to bring home. I’m not a gambler, so clearly I don’t understand the high they’re on…

  395. larry says:

    Only a few artistsif any, ever get paid what they are worth. Please accept the reality that most of us do not know the value of art, we go to work everyday to make 12 bucks an hour and we think a hat that cost 150 bucks is expensive. As a artist, you choose your medium, you will probably never be paid what you’re worth, but then you have the joy of creating something new and unique. Please don’t expect me to understand your financial needs or self-esteem needs unless you are willing to understand that I am a shopper looking for a unique hat at a cheap price. But I do think it’s beautiful.

  396. Michael says:

    Your mistake is not charging enough. You should charge $300 and more. People who will buy your product will pay that or more. If no one will pay it then your product has no market or one u have found … Find your market. If u want to sell to this women find a cheap product ..

  397. Faith says:

    I have had to deal with people like this too. Sometimes people want custom orders and I go back and forth in emails with them asking me if I can do something cheaper. After a few emails with them I get tired and ticked and explain to them how much it cost me to make something and the time it takes me to make it. Normally this would mean I would lose a sale but some people you just can’t please.

  398. Denise S. says:

    Good morning everyone! Very interesting topic…. so interesting that I feel I have to put my “two cents” in. To be quite honest, there is NO way I can afford to pay $150 for a hat… handmade or not. I have to live within my means, and someone mentioned earlier that that $150 could go towards food shopping, paying bills, etc., which is exactly where my money goes. Now IF I have the monetary means of being able to purchase something of that cost… would I? Hell yeah… I would in a heartbeat :) But.. I don’t.
    Please remember this… we can always agree to disagree, but first and foremost is having RESPECT for one another… and that’s all I have to say about that :) Have a great day!

  399. Molly says:

    I enjoyed Somer’s article. As an artist who crochets and recently started selling my hats, I’ve had a hard time figuring a reasonable cost for my work, thank you for an informative article.
    I LOVE the $150 dollar hat and appreciate the time and effort that went into creating it, that takes true talent and the price is justified. If its not your taste, so be it and move on. Some people can’t appreciate hand-made work and have to belittle those who create it. Too bad people have to resort to name calling and cruel judgment to make themselves feel better.
    To sum up: love the hat, love the article, mean people suck!

  400. Well said about all the costs of Handmade!

    We all may do it as a labor of love!

    But in this case, your price is well-justified!

    And I saw that it Sold!!

    Yea for One-Of-A-Kind!!!

  401. Irena says:

    The organizer did a huge mistake. She should have done instead a “craft fair” but a “designer’s exposition” or any other “designer” word in them.
    Plus the campaign should have been emphasizing on the fact that the dezigners are proffessional and their work is unique and that they are buying a custom design. The “hand made” makes it sound like it’s grandma’s sweaters fair.
    Plus, the sellers (whenever they are designers or not) should have started a conversation with the customer. What use does the hat has (artistic and functional) which clothes you can wear with it. You can emphasize that the hat is “sophisticated but playful”.
    When the customer buys a hat with 150$ cost they expect it to give them another emotional function than a 5$ hat.

    • Patricia says:

      You are wrong with the word “Handmade”. They are not designer wear. Designer is what you put on there and add some fancy smancy label on there. Handmade is actually made by hand, and there is love a care put behind each item. Not only that, if you truly love something, you would buy it, no matter what the cost is.

  402. Irena says:

    By the way – remember that you’re not selling just hats. I bet this woman have already had a couple in her closet.
    The client wants to feel special when he or she buys that hat. That person wants this hat to express his or her own personality and to feel eppreciated because of that.

  403. Ana says:

    This is exactly why I don’t sell what I crochet. All the hours and hard work, and the materials. I just cannot get myself to sell what I make, because I don’t want to hear the grunts and whines about how they can go to Wal Mart and buy the same for a lot less. And yes, it is less, made in bulk by a machine run by some poor kid in China. :( This is made here in the US feeding a person (me) in the US.
    If they cannot appreciate your work, they can go to the next booth, no need for cruel sarcastic remarks.
    I will share your article, because more people need to realize the work that goes into this.

  404. Lori Ann says:

    I loved this. I sewed 219 dog coats this season and I charge $10 each, why? Because I would rather someone bought a coat to keep their friend warm than pass it by.

    I never take into consideration my time, I would never sell a thing if I did. To me, like you, it’s about the joy I get from creating and the joy I see in someones face when they can afford a piece of jewelry or a dog coat. I know Petsmart doesn’t care about that joy in their $29 coats.

    There is something to be said about that joy…it is to me, priceless.

  405. Ramona Quimby says:

    This is precisely why I have never tried to sell anything. I can’t believe anyone would pay anywhere NEAR what it cost me to even make it worth it! ( ◠‿◠ )

  406. Patricia says:

    I for one am thanking you for this breakdown. It gives me a better perspective on how to price the stuff I make. I have been crafting for 15 years, and just started this as a full-time business last year. To put into perspective, I started off wanting to be a actress, and was going to school for it. I changed majors several times since then ending with a degree in Marketing. I did this, because it was what my parents, especially my father wanted me to be in a corporate position. I was not happy with it, but it was what I had to do. I found my love of scrapbooking, making cards, and journals like I said 15 years ago, and I never looked back. This is called a passion for your love of something that brings meaning, and helps you sleep at night. I do not have to worry about dealing with bosses who want you to do some kind stupid hours, but you have to finish someone’s project. You sit it aside, because it is time to go to work. Next you have to deal with the employment policies about having your own business. I had to deal with that in 2009 when I wanted to start my own business. Oh shoot, cannot do that now, because employer does not want you to have the same type of business you are working for (I was working for a scrapbook store). I thought long and hard, and because I was getting pay for working only 4 hours, I decided to quit. These are some of the kinds of decisions you make when you are an artist. It is different for everyone who is one, and replied. The government is not kind, because they have get their fair share, even though they have not contributed to the making of an item. Yes, it is sad that people do not think of this when they thumb their noses at the price. I had people do that to me today when I was at a craft fair that I was working at. People do not want to pay $1.50 for 1 card, let alone $3.00 for a set of cards, BUT they will pay $4.50 for a factory made, looking like 50 others cards with matching envelopes. America has gotten spoiled to these kinds of things. Yes I am upset, but I will survive to see another day. Again, thank you for telling America what they need to hear.

  407. snoopingsuzan says:

    In the UK these kind of customers are refered to amongst artisans on the craft circuit as “The Four P’s”
    Pick it up
    Play with it
    Put it down
    P*ss off
    Their loss. Not going to get involved in the Walmart arguement as I am not too sure what Walmart is .. we have “the 99p shop” here – customers have often told me they can get what I offer on the stall for 99p, I kindly tell them if they pop in to the 99p store and find an identical item kindly bring it back and they can have my item for free. Strangely enough ive never had someone return …. I just have faith in what I do. People chose not to appreciate it .. fine by me!

  408. beverly says:

    You are right there,,,,,Crochet artwork needs patience and efforts…We put our love while doing this, like you said it was PRICELESS…But you cannot really please everybody,,Do not be affected, just keep continue what you are doing,,

  409. HI! I am a baker/cake decorator and more recently gotten into trying to sell handmade and crochet items. As far as baking is concerned I was always told to start my pricing at 3 times the cost of my materials…I have often gotten the wide-eyed,”You charge HOW MUCH?” when I have said that a cake for 100 would be prices at around $350. I usually then shrink back and lower my price because I love to bake and be creative and do the work…only then to stay up all night working and stressing over every detail of said cake so the person will have that “light up the eyes” reaction when they see it….would I pay the same for a cake? No, not because I don’t think it’s worth it, but because I know I cannot afford it…and because I know I can make a cake that will be (possibly more) flavorful and beautiful than the one I was looking at….I don’t want to insult the person by asking them to lower their price, because I agree that the price should be what the artist sets as his/her own perceived value for their work.

    I also crochet, and sew, and knit and embroider, and cross-stitch, and all sorts of stuff….I only started trying to sell items on etsy in May of this year….simple little headbands and the like, nothing major…and I have sold a few things.

    A friend asked me about doing a full-size afghan, and after figuring out that I would spend roughly $40 for the yarn, and it would take me the better part of a week to work on it between homeschooling my 4 kids and the various responsibilities I have, then I priced it at $120 dollars (3 times the cost of the yarn)….he let me know that there was no way he could justify in his own budget the price, he didn’t belittle my pricing, he just said, thanks, but I can’t afford it and I wouldn’t want to insult you by asking you to do it for less….I had already bought the yarn (my fault for jumping in, I know) and he is a soldier about to deploy, so I decided to make it and give it to him as a gift…no problem. Would I have rather sold it? Sure, my husband is not working right now, and every little bit helps, but I am not going to go off on him or insist that he buy something from me because I accrued out-of-pocket expenses before he had committed to the deal…

    Just this morning I was at a craft bazaar…beautiful hand beaded jewelery on display, not expensive at all (I mean $20 for a beautiful hand beaded bracelet and ring set???) but I only had $40 in my hand and even that was precious as my husband, like I said isn’t working right now, and I am a stay-at-home mom….so I had to ruefully decline, but I commented on how beautiful the work was and I hoped she would be able to sell…however I did get a great beaded bracelet, with mixture of beads and colors and materials, that actually fit my 8-inch wrist, for $1.50 from another vendor…nowhere near the level of artistry (just a bunch of beads strung on a stretchy cord), but something fun and hand-made that fit my budget. :)

    I buy at Walmart, and Kmart, because sadly that is where the small amount of money I have will stretch the farthest for my family, but I love handmade, funky, one-of-a-kind items…and though I would love to buy from all the wonderful artists I know, I cannot afford it. SO, if there is something I really love and would like to have (or give as a gift) I might end up making it myself, or some similar version as I am against copying anything exactly and passing it off as my own…..

    I think the posts ripping people apart are rather unnecessary as each is allowed to have his or her own opinion, and like one poster said no one put a gun to our heads and made us read the blog in the first place…I totally agree about the value and pricing of handmade items…I just cannot afford to support to the degree I might wish I could.

    Blessings!

  410. nicola says:

    I understand where somer is coming from, as far as the customer who complained about the cost, and yes, if the customer was me, I would’ve thought that $150 was pricey for a hat, but I would’ve asked more politely, why she charged so much, and I would’ve given the seller chance to explain the reason for charging that much. I would even ask if she had anything similar that was cheaper, depending on how much she spent on the item or I would even ask if she had any samples of the materials she uses and see if she could make an item in my favourite colour and use a design of a butterfly on the item and how much she would charge depending on material that I chose.

  411. Iris Wu says:

    Hi! I’m 16 and I also love to crochet and knit. When I started to read this post, I just got really angry when that woman said: “Do you really charge this much?” I actually I want to hit on her head and scream to her: “No! She is charging too little and she’s even making sales!” Later I made the calculations to change the amount to the currency of where I’m living. I thought that it was a really big number and you would really earn from that, but maybe because I’m still not an expert, so I can’t crochet such a beautiful hat like yours, and what I’m selling are easier hats or scarves, so they would be, of course, cheaper than yours. I just hope that one day I can knit and crochet like you and be able to really charge more money than now to the customers, but since my dream is to become a fashion designer, I think that I’ll actually be able to do that. Good luck with your business and continue with your beautiful and excellent work!!

  412. Randi says:

    I make and sell jewelry and have for about 7 years. I don’t look at hourly rates in my items but in the cost of the materials I use and do a mark up accordingly. I would be very sad to figure out what I make per hour. But I love what I do and I am able to make a lttle profit. I do support other crafters when ever possible. There are certain things I will not buy in any stores. I visit all the booths at the festivals I do and often times buy several items. But there are a lot of rude people out there and they either don’t realize their comments are hurtful or they just don’t care. My comback to the lady that asked if I really charged this much would pbrobably have been……”Yes, I do and I get it.”

  413. Amen. Thank you for stating the facts so gracefully!

    • Sharon says:

      I have been a crafter for over 30 years, making all kinds of items. When working with sterling silver I can multiply the cost of the silver by 3 and get a decent price for my time and effort. However, when doing a very intricate bead pattern with delica beads there is no way to multiply by 3 and get a fair price for the many hours it takes to create an intricate piece of art. Then using a reasonable hourly rate is the only way to figure the price.

      There is a lot of controversy about pricing on this blog. We have to value our effort and abilities enought to price our work so that it reflects both material and time spent. Bracelets made with big beads are selling for hundreds of dollars. Some of them probably take 30 minutes tops to create. When it takes 20 to 30 hours to produce a bracelet time has to be reflected.

      I agree with Somer and thought her article was quite clear. It is hard for me to understand some of the comments I have seen here that are filled with such personal negative comments. It is possible to read the same thing on 2 different days and come up with 2 entirely different reactions.

      Take it easy on each other.

  414. S Ann says:

    It seems to me that to be successful at any craft fair, it is important to have items of different prices to fit many budgets. Use your skill to create simpler easier items to draw everyone, and your artistic ability and skill to create the artwork you really want to do for your high-end products.

    My son is a glass blower. He refuses to do repetitive work such as making perfume bottles or marbles just to make money. If he is not rolling in dough, that is his choice. He teaches to make money and glassblows to satisfy his creative abilities.

  415. Ugly Shyla says:

    I’m a doll artist.My dolls run from 45.00 to over a thousand.I put so much time and money and heart into making my work.It’s one of the greatest insults to me when people ask us do you REALLY charge that much?

  416. I am no longer an artist. I’m just too old and beat up but I remember my harshest critics. They always seem to be the ones you remember most. The sad thing is that they won’t remember you 2 seconds after they insult you. Focus, if you can on the good people that cross your path. The rest can do it themselves and when they don’t get it right let them stick the needles where the sun don’t shine; sideways. The sad thing is that few people stop to consider the work and God given talent in any work of art. You, and others that replied have put your heart and soul into your work and it will pay off. I guarantee it.

  417. Yuki says:

    That IS one fucking ugly hat

    so the lady didn’t like it.

    Get over yourself.

  418. Paul says:

    Love this post, love your later response, love the hat, most of all love the fact it’s sold!

  419. Holly says:

    I love this post!!! Thank you for writing it:)

  420. Rainy says:

    Excellent observations, growing out of a shocking experience. My friend and I talk all the time about whether or not to try and sell our crafts, and the general conclusion is DON’T BOTHER.

    Love your hat, Sommer!

  421. Diana says:

    Oh my…. She made a nice hat and it was expensive for many reasons. A woman came up, looked at every hat (touched and tried them all on) and was openly rude about her talent, craftsmanship, designs and prices. That is frustrating! The woman was rude. No matter what her age she should have had enough manners to have just smiled and walked on to the next booth. That is what I do at a craft fair when I come across something that isn’t my taste…not insult the crafter/artist. Somer was frustrated and offended….rightfully so. Some of the comments here are equally rude and offensive. Is it really so difficult to be respectful of each other?

  422. Lou Ann says:

    I totally understand your fustration and I have seen it myself many times. People like this lady are funny. They put down someone who spent hours making a handmade item with their own bare hands, but will turn around and blow $200+ on a purse because it has a brand name on it. Making things by hand is an art form and takes alot of time and effort and no one looks at it in that way. I grew up with two grandmothers who did quilting, knitting and crocheting and I don’t have one piece of their handwork and I have learned to see hand made items for what they are-someone piece of art to be treasured. This lady might not have gotten the idea of the hats or appreciated their style, but was rude to insult the artist who made them. I admit that hat in the photo is not my cup of tea, but now understanding the workmanship in it and why it was designed that way, I can see the beauty in it.

  423. Healthylife says:

    I took part in my first craft fair this fall. I made items to sell and it was very time comsuming. If someone never sells in a craft fair they don’t realize the work that goes into having a product for the booth. I would much rather have a homemade gift that a gift manufactured in China. Most people go to craft fairs hoping to get some bargains but they really should go to the fair expecting to pay more since it is homemade.

  424. Wow, over 600 comments!

    Nice post. Passionate and articulate.

    I think part of the reason that this article touches a nerve is economic. There are so many price distortions in the economy (e.g. cheap goods from China and elsewhere due to currency manipulation, inflationary price changes in the US that make it hard to cultivate a proper understanding of prices) that many people have lost sight of what is fair and right in pricing a hand-made item.

  425. Thanks so much for such a thoughtful, concise and non-combative response to such arrogant rudeness. A suggestion (which I’m afraid might add to your overhead): a small printed version of this cost breakdown, for those of your customers who seem unable to comprehend the difference between handmade work done by artists, and similar-seeming goods either cranked out by machines, or by wage slaves half a world away. Education can be wearisome, but someone’s got to do it. Beautiful work!

  426. Donna says:

    I’m usually astonished at how low many Etsy sellers have their prices set. I buy a lot of my daughter’s American Girl clothes through Etsy. My grandmother made a ton of doll clothes-Barbie and Cabbage Patch kids and the like when I was growing up, especially intricate Wedding, first communion, Quincinera, Prom and the like gowns for dolls that took her HOURS upon hours of hand beading, lacework and the like.

    So, I wanted to support such sellers, because I can easily imagine my grandmother being one of them.

    Almost invariably, these very intricate, involved outfits, often with wonderful embroidery and trim work, well made, sell for less than an outfit of similar complexity from American Girl that’s not near the quality-and which will probably still be wonderful if my eventual grand daughter loves American Girl dolls-just as the Cabbage Patch and Barbie outfits my grandmother made are now adorning my daughter’s Barbies and Build a Bears.

  427. Quientell says:

    I used to work retail and encountered a lot of customers like this before. It really shocks me that this person would be so callous, and not take into account that these items are not made in some factory on a machine. Instead, it is a piece of art made by an artist. People are such idiots! I hope this person does not stop you from making art.

  428. Oldqueen says:

    Saw the link from a crafter on FB.
    This story is a crack up. I was a crafter going to shows for over 10 years. People are interesting.
    I am in the, “I would never” group… However you are so right about her rudeness and the one of a kind piece of art you are selling. So glad it sold. And the person thqta got it probly left filled with joy and delight over their fantastic find.
    Enjoyed the post.

  429. Rita says:

    thank you

  430. Lauren says:

    This is a wonderful post, I love it!! It’s so very, very true!

  431. Franklin says:

    Amen.

  432. deborah says:

    thrilled to find your blog! as a fellow artist, I appreciate your thoughts, as well as your creation of a place for discussion. This was a great article!

  433. Sarina says:

    Welcome to REAL retail. No matter how you look at it, that’s what it is. People aren’t always nice and they want the best deal possible. They may not think it’s worth the price and that is their opinion, but it’s what you are selling it for. The underlining problem here is that this woman did not appreciate your “art”. Not everyone is going to like it. GET USED TO IT!

    I KNOW how much it costs to make things like this because I do it all the time and people all have opinions. I decided not to price my items by how much I think they are worth, but by how much I think someone would actually pay for them if I plan to actually sell anything and make a profit. I love everything I make, but I have to be realistic about it. You aren’t going to find many people at a craft fair willing to pay more than $20 for a hat, hand made or not, made with more expensive materials or not. Just saying.

    • Kate says:

      This is just untrue. I happened to just finish a craft fair where there were basic crocheted and knitted hats. My hats are a range of 110$-260$ and I left 50% lighter in my hat department. People WILL pay for fantastic unique things. My craft fair was juried by the art council and is advertised as a high end market. People came and people payed. This is only one example of her work! I’m sure that she has a variety of styles appealing to a variety of characters. That’s just good business.

  434. coda says:

    You complain too much, soz but its true

  435. I think this Amanda Palmer blog post contributes nicely to this conversation. I am a (second career) professional photographer who portrait work, mostly boudoir, and I completely understand the idea that good professional work (at American wage expectation) is not appreciated and frequently scoffed at. I routinely hear – intended as a compliment, unfortunately – phrases like, “Wow, you must have a great camera.” Sure, and that excellent meal you had at your favorite restaurant happened because they have a great stove?

    Alarmingly, I had a conversation with a former coworker about her (cheap Asian-manufactured) shoes. During the conversation she turned and looked me square in the eyes and said, “And I don’t care if they were made by a child-slave making ten cents a day. I don’t care. They’re cute.” That’s messed up.

  436. Wow! What can I say!
    Beautiful…both your art…how you crafted something so beautiful, unique, and practical all in one, with such love and care.
    …and your words…how you broke all your costs and the heart of it all in simple words.
    I soak up all that beauty!
    Thank you for sharing.

  437. Kate says:

    Thank you for this post! Your hat shown, is worth so much more than 150$.
    I’m 24, and I’ve been supporting myself with all my different wearable art for 2 years now.
    I’m lucky to live in a small art supportive and flourishing community-your hats would do well here!
    I love that you’re shedding light on this issue and breaking it down with numbers- I like math :)
    When it comes to my intricate art pieces, I do a similar math break down, but in the end, I tack on whatever amount of money on the price so that when the transaction is complete, I feel like I have received every penny I deserve.
    In the case of your hat shown, I would tack on a minimum of 50$ for uniqueness!
    Some of my art cannot, or will not ever be repeated, and I believe there is huge value in that…
    Best wishes of success to you, and your creation is amazing!

  438. Mary says:

    Your hats are very cool and very pretty, but stop being so self righteous. Stop pulling the starving artist card. Sure, she was a jerk, but man up and stop being butthurt because some random lady was a smart ass.

    Your hats *are* very expensive. Instead of seeing a piece of art, they see a hat. Your work is worth it to some, and not to others. Like everything else in the world. Laugh it off and put your big girl panties on. Stop being so pretentious about your crafts–you’ll grow as a person.

  439. I know how you feel! I too am underappreciated! I make toliet paper wreaths and sell them for $50 bucks each. Many times people have said that I am overpriced! Little do they know the trama my body endures to make one wreath. Lets break it down….It takes about 50 rolls to make one wreath, I have to buy cottenelle which is about 20 bucks a pack. WHy cottenelle you say? Well I have to use the paper to get the rolls, thus forth many a laxative I take to poop that much. I have many a hemroid from all this. So 20 bucks a roll, plus 5 bucks for PrepH…we are already up to 25 bucks for one wreath! I still have to buy glue and thats like another 5 bucks. Then I just pay myself the difference. I feel your pain, and so does my butthole.

  440. Great article Somer, and not cheapened in the least by the legion of dunces whose comments have nothing at all do with what you had to say or the points you were making, and everything to do with their own ignorance, unfocused anger and bitterness.

    As you clearly and simply state, handmade items cost more because they’re more expensive to make; usually in terms of materials and always in terms of time, effort and quality of workmanship. Thus a hat you make by hand of high-end materials is not going to carry the same price tag as a hat sold in Wal*Mart that was made in a Malaysian sweatshop, nor should it.

    If people prefer the sweatshop hat, likely because it’s cheaper, that’s their choice and god bless them. But that doesn’t change the fact that your hats are more expensive to make, and people need to understand that when they see the higher prices you so rightly charge.

    99% of what’s being argued in the comments has nothing to do with your article, so pay it no mind.

    Great article, trust me, there are a lot of us out here who get it.

  441. Keith L says:

    FWIW I do make my living working as an artist. Yeah, there are cheaper sorta version of what I do available from other sources. But as a craftsman you simply have to make the choice to price things where you think they are fair and let the market decide. I frequently recommend people go buy the Chinese knockoffs if that’s all they can afford. Some don’t see the value of art. That’s fine. But keep in mind that the artist’s work isn’t just the hours that went in to the piece in hand. It is also the hours/days/months/years that it look to get to the level of ability to do it at that high a level. Not to mention simple aptitude for it to begin with. Many arts and crafts are dying out due to the pass produced/cheap product culture we live in. Hopefully there will always be people willing to devote the time to pursue those things they love. But I would never begrudge a fellow craftsman whatever they felt their work was worth. It is worth whatever it is they’re willing to sell it for. And if I’m not willing to pay that price I simply say “thank you” and move on. How hard is that?

    All that said the underlying point is that most don’t realize the amount of work, time, mental energy, focus, etc. that can go in to the creation of art. Or the same list applied to the time it took to get to the point where you could do it in the first place. Some arts are very difficult to learn.

    Good luck. Price your hats how you think they should be priced. If the market supports you, great. If not, well, you adjust. Or just do it for the love of the craft. Many customers simply have no idea what’s involved. So don’t let their ignorance change what you might do…

  442. Okay, first of all you have one he’ll of a lot of people who follow your blog! Good for you. But then I have a few comments as a jeweler who makes and sells only my own work. 1) Sales tax should NEVER be included in the price. Customers should always CLEARLY know what they are paying you and what they are paying the government. No excuse for that at all. It is not that big of a deal to deal with the paperwork. 2)It’s up to YOU to not only explain what went into making the piece but also romancing them on it. You may not convince everyone to like what you make but you have to at least try. 3)RAISE your prices. You simply aren’t charging enough!

  443. Thank you for the good writeup. It actually used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance complex to more brought agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  444. stephenie says:

    I am currently falling in love with you. ;) I think your work is absolutely beautiful! And your blogs are fantastic. BTW, read the second part of this… I’m now in love with the shoes… my significant other does not thank you. heheh

  445. Tess Mattos says:

    (I made it about 2/3 of the way through the comments and didn’t see anything like what I have to say yet, so here goes one more perspective. :D )

    My credentials: I am a knitter (25 years), designer and teacher (7 years).

    One part of the equation that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that it is only relatively recently in our society that knitting and crocheting and quilting have gone from being a necessity, if you wanted to have a hat to keep your head warm, to the point where we have the leisure time, ability and materials to turn it into art. IMO this is where a lot of the disconnect comes in between those who cry “utility!” and those who cry “art!”

    I wrote about this on my own blog 3 years ago, not from the selling aspect, but from the personal creativity aspect.

    “Historically, knitters knit because they had to, in order to have something to wear. This is what knitting has been used for throughout centuries: clothing the human body, usually for warmth. Before now, knitting has always had a use…

    “Our generation is one of the first to be able to treat knitting as a creative art form, as opposed to a practical craft of necessity.

    “While I’m never going to spend a single minute of my time knitting a Ferrari or a uterus: just think about that for a minute, and think about how lucky we are!

    http://tessknits.com/75/why-cant-we-all-just-get-along

    Also, one person mentioned early on, what if we had to make all our own clothing? My immediate thought was, We’d all have a LOT LESS clothing, that’s what! :)

    • Deborah Caldwell says:

      Yay Tess YAY Fewer clothes, all long lasting; less food because it’s natural food and thus it nurtures… etc. Point well made, finally.

  446. P Maxwell says:

    This is a great article, really, it needed to be said. Because there are too many people out there who don’t craft, and simply don’t bother to consider the time and effort that knitting or crocheting and so forth require. (…Hence why I do not knit for my family anymore.)

    And for the record: Your hats are freaking awesome, and that woman is clearly a moron with no taste.

  447. Elizabeth says:

    I agree that hand crafted items are worth the price I wish more people would appreciate our craftsmen (and women) and not fuss of the price of things. I say its better to have a few good handmade items then a closet full of things made with slave labor in China or India. As it is now I’m making a blanket and its taking me weeks to make not to mention I spent about $50 on materials. If I were to sell it, it would be a total loss.

  448. Deborah Caldwell says:

    Yay Tess Mattos,YAY!!

  449. Hoopie says:

    Clearly she did like your hats, or she would not have tried them on, or looked at the price. The RUDE lady should have been offered crochet lessons for 25.00 an hour, so she could afford to buy wearable art ! ;)

  450. Love this article – and that hat is fabulous.

  451. Patr Kitchen says:

    You are so right about what it costs and how people will not pay for handmade items, I started in craft fairs in the 1970’s, I used to sit and spin. I belonged to a group that did mosts crafts and we used to have a stall in our local village in all their activities. So many people looked but said too much. I helped out on a stall when the owner had to leave (child emergency), she gave me one of her paintings for helping her, its is lovely – she asked if she could have the frame (not my choice of frame) have now found out that her paintings are worth a lot of money – so glad for her, but I would never sell as it meant so much to me to have her thanks for help. I loved the craft fairs, but time, money etc meant I had to get a real ‘job’ on a computer – I now craft for fun and have retired from work. Hey-ho people still want handmade at £1 shop prices!

  452. Amber says:

    I’ve only sold at one craft/art show before where I brought quite a bit of my chainmaille items. I recieved more people asking prices for my plastic displays/tablecloth/promotional items then anything I had made. And the both next to me that sold beads that customers could put on silver plated necklaces had a line of at least 2-3 people at all times. *sigh* People are nicer via ebay then they are in person. It’s a sad sad world.

  453. kimberly says:

    This is why I gave up craft fairs. because $10 on a hand bound book is too steep when sitting next to an importer that scammed their way into a craft fair. their books, also hand made, but from india somehow seem the better deal.
    this is why I gave up craft fairs- but never gave up craft and to save myself I make things because I love to do it and I am thinking of the person I am making for and that keeps me un-jaded. keep making. your crafts are worth it

  454. Norsire Farm says:

    I feel your pain…so true. This is why I have quit breeding horses, it was costing me money to produce nice, quality, and sane horses to breed them and sell the to people who had not clue what it cost to breed a horse. When it is costing me money to sell some nasty person a horse, I decided it was not worth it anymore.

  455. Lea says:

    Great blog post – so very, very true. People seem to equate hand made with cheap. Never having done anything by hand themselves they have no idea the cost in time and effort. I’ve had people come up to me as I have knit (a hat for instance) and say “oh, would you make me one?” to which I reply, “sure, I’d love to – I charge $$ to make it”. I love the look that follows of shock and horror that I would charge them to make it. “You mean you don’t do it for free??’ I calmly reply, “no, the materials alone cost me X number of dollars and my time is worth something as well. I don’t do free anymore.” That usually ends the discussion and they walk off like looking like I just killed a puppy or something! I’ve also asked them if they would make something like this for free to which they usually snort and say “duh, no” to which I reply “well then, why do you expect me to?” No answer…

  456. Lisa says:

    I recently did an arts and crafts show. I was surrounded by pre-fab items, such as Scentsy and Silpada (which is very expensive silver jewelry) and I was not making many sales. People were constantly picking up the items I had painstakingly made with my own two hands, ooohing and ahhing, but not buying. Most often the reason was the pricing was too expensive. I make handmade copper and enamel jewelry and have priced my items well under value, even as low as $20.00, just to get some sales. The Etsy booth across the way was making a killing.

    Finally a very nice man came up to me and told me straight out that my products were absolutely beautiful and I was dramatically under-pricing them. His comment, “Make a thousand one-dollar items, make a thousand dollars. Make one one-thousand dollar item, make a thousand dollars.” My comment back to him, “I am more likely to make a thousand dollars with the one-dollar items than I am by sitting on a one-thousand dollar item.”

    While his point was valid and I was thrilled to have met someone who truly appreciated the amount of work that went into my items, the fact of the matter is that you simply have to be at the right venue if you want to sell the items. There is a big difference between a holiday market that anyone can get into and a juried craft show, where you have to apply and show your work to even be considered. And some people will ALWAYS think your items are too expensive.

    At another show a few weeks later that was literally across the street from the first one, I made a nice chunk of change. Many of the customers commented, “Weren’t you just at that other show a few weeks ago?” So we’re talking about some of the same audience. The difference? Juried show. Not exactly the same audience, but many people were just driving by, saw the white tents, and came over.

    I wanted to touch on a few things here:

    – Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue still exist and have been around longer than Wal-Mart. People still shop there and, guess what? They will willingly throw out $500.00 for a hat. Do the majority of people shop there? No, of course not. Most people in America struggle every day to make ends meet. And you know what? That’s okay!

    – I used to be a Neiman Marcus shopper. I am now a Wal-Mart shopper. And I have no problem with it. I support local artists whenever I can, but lets face it, sometimes you just need a cheap hat to keep your head warm.

    – ANYONE can go to an arts and crafts fair. They can be a Wal-Mart shopper or a Neimans shopper. You can’t tell, when hundreds of people walk by your booth, what is in their pocketbook. Sure, you can tell if they are wearing expensive running shoes or have had their hair done, but maybe those were a gift or their aunt is a hair dresser? What do you really know? You also don’t know who was saving the pennies from their paycheck because they knew you would be at that show with your wares and were excited to be able to buy something just from you.

    – Wealthy people love hand made, custom made items. They will pay to have that perfect dress made for that perfect party, or the beauty of a hand made cabinet for their 87″ big screen with surround sound for their carefully thought out media room. People with money tend to want to make a statement and handmade is the way they do it. I had someone order 50 of one of my pendants from me simply so they could tie them to invitations for their daughter’s sweet sixteen! That was a good day :)

    Like most artists, I’m struggling. I would love to be a Neiman Marcus shopper, but all I can afford right now is Wal-Mart. I do not think I am arrogant to charge what I do for my work. I have an entire line of items that are directed straight for the folks with ATM disease, meaning they cost $20.00 each. There are many artists who have had to lower their prices to make sales, which makes it hard for me to make my own sales because, simply, they are underselling me. It’s hard and I’ve looked at my own bottom line, but we adjust where we can and go from there.

    There is also an audience who will not even look at my items because they are priced to low, which suggests they are “cheaply made”. I was actually shocked when I heard this the first time, but yes, there is such a group of people in the world.

    I feel your pain, Somer, when it comes to people not taking your feelings into consideration when commenting on the prices. Most folks simply don’t understand that, were I being paid to make these items in a factory, I would at LEAST earn minimum wage here in America. They don’t understand that we give up so much to offer our art to them. Things like health insurance, car repairs, vet care for our pets, toys for our kids. We do this because we love our craft and we’re good at it.

    Do I expect people to buy my items? No. Expect is entirely the wrong word. I HOPE people will buy my items. I’ve made them with love, given a little piece of my soul to them with each and every item I sell.

    There are as many “mentalities” in this world as there are people who think. And while they might not think in the way we do, everyone thinks. We just have to find the people who think what we do is worth the price. They are few and sometimes far between, but they are out there.

    We just have to find them.

  457. Lisa says:

    I’m sorry, the Scentsy booth across from me, not Etsy.

  458. Lauran Mason says:

    I know you were venting as well you should! That was awful of that person! People will buy a item at a retail store and not think twice about the price but when it comes to handmade they think it should be cheap.
    There are a lot of times I would love to buy something handmade and can’t due to the price but I don’t think that the price is to high I just don’t have the funds at that time.
    Thank you for sharing
    .

  459. Jacqueline Thompson says:

    Great info, and I totally agree with you…..I think it is time for artists to take back control of our work and wares. Since there are people (nutters) that aren’t even truly shopping. Some people make a day out of projecting their own psychosis onto whatever environment they are currently attending. I say after the second or third hat someone tries on and you can tell where the conversation is going you should stop the customer and let them know you aren’t tolerating negative devaluing comments about your work. It’s okay to stand up for yourself. You don’t want someone like that in your booth area acting like that around other potential customers.

  460. Mischa says:

    Great blog post! I make dolls, primarily, and this is exactly why I stopped. I found the most common reaction was that the customers did not have a proper appreciation for something that they thought they could find at Wal-Mart for example. I’m not getting down on big chain stores, I wouldn’t be able to afford clothes if not for them, but I really hate that they seem to have devalued hand crafted items in the mind of the consumer so much.

  461. I am mixed media artist. My pieces starting with a photograph I selected from thousands that took, worked on computer to provide the effects I want, printed on canvas and then detail painted bas relief with heavy acrylics. Many of the paintings come from a 4 month, 22,000 km charity horseback ride and trek across Canada, about $26,000 in travel costs and lost wages. It has taken 0ver 65 years to develop my knowledge and skills, and thousands of dollars in equipment to produce that 18″ X 24″ painting. What is it worth? Is it “just a photo, a snapshot”?

  462. Sarah says:

    I am not an artisan, crafter, or maker of handmade items. I am an appreciator. I am also someone who works in a retail environment (not handmade). I think regardless as to how personal some people got with these posts, the author is trying to make a point about tact. Some people have it, and some people don’t. Ask anyone in the service industry, retail, or any other “below the standard” career. Im sure they have horror stories about being asked why they would waste their life doing what they do, or something similar. At the end of the day, your items are beautiful, they are handmade, and you take pride in that. Be happy knowing that people who are so miserable that they have to make comments like that probably have a lot of life to deal with that prevents them from having tact and being human. Keep it up, your stuff is great!

  463. Sarah Knoke says:

    Would I spend $150 on that hat? No, I have a family to feed and it’s just not my color. Your Nebula hat on the other hand is amazing, however I still have that family to feed, so I am wearing the same hat my mother got me as a gift three years ago even though it doesn’t match the coat she bought me last year- cause that’s how I roll. When I price my handmade items, I think about the cost of the materials used, the time making them, and everything else that goes into them. Other people don’t they want cheap. Other people see some of the things I make and think she charges too little it must not be as good as these things twice the price. I don’t understand that mentality either. This year I am supporting as many local businesses as I can- I should have done this sooner.

  464. kelly says:

    though I cannot afford a hat that pricy either, I do think they are beautiful and very well designed and if you think they are worth 150. then they are.

  465. Christina says:

    As a jewelry designer I diasgree with Sabrina and she seems VERY NEGATIVE about the subject at hand. VERY DISAPPPINTING!!!

  466. Ysa says:

    I try to remember to ask everyone at craft fairs how much time and effort they put into projects that appeal to me. It gives me a good estimate on the artist (how close they value themselves and the products), and if they have a reasonable price attached to the item. I’ve seen some wild discrepancies in prices for quality and time spent. And far too many people who under value themselves.

  467. Gala says:

    If it appeals to your eye and you can’t live without it. It’s handcrafted, unique and good qaulity. If I really want it…. I would pay well over a $150.00. I think this is what sets people tastes apart. Keep up the beautiful one of kind work!

  468. Bill says:

    I wouldn’t pay anything for that hat! It is ugly. It is ok to invest your time in something, but create a product that is easy to look at. This would allow you to charge a price that allows you to make a profit. This hat looks like a rotting octopus strangling a boys head. Just because something is handmade doesn’t make it better. That is just a more primitive way to create a product. Learn about technology, it will allow you to create things that are better looking for a better price. It’s called progress.

    • Jess Wagstrom says:

      I think that hat is amazing, and would not be remotely as impressed by it if a machine had made it. Some people like octopuses strangling their heads. Just throwing that out there.

  469. Caco says:

    She looked at my jewelry and then wanted to know how much I wanted for the candle sticks>> priceless. Had a similar experience when asked “how much for the picture frame” …I responded, “it’s yours if you buy the necklace.”

    There will always be these people. Anticipate, prepare and try to see the humor. Like Bill, ignorance is everywhere.

    Your hat is cool Somer, keep stiching and be amused :)

  470. Zach bullock says:

    Can i buy this hat or one similar? 215.353.6580. I love ur work!

  471. Christine says:

    Thank you for this post! I can relate as I’m an artist and hairdesigner. Unfortunately some people are very ignorant. I would have first asked her why she was at an artist fair in the first place, because it looks like the type of hat she would like is probably sold at Walmart after being made in china. Your work is beautiful!

  472. butterpony says:

    just because someone CAN make something, doesn’t mean they necessarily SHOULD.

  473. I am so sorry that you went through this, but so grateful that you shared this post! It’s a miracle that any of us keep plugging along in this crazy craft world!

    Your hats are gorgeous and underpriced!! Don’t give up! Just keep writing. We’re all here to support each other!!

  474. Wonderful and so true. Not many people can appreciate hand made…keep up the good work and I truly believe people will start understanding! Beautiful hat!!

  475. I read about 1/4 of the replies to your article/note/post, and then I stopped. Too many people argueing with each other, and most of them seemed to miss the point, being that YOU LOVE what you do, you are very proud of it, it is top quality, and because it brings you so much joy, you choose to offer it at a price that brings you little to no actual money, but brings happiness to the buyer, and then back to you as the artist. You have a very big heart, and to have a rude customer make a comment like that when she obviously has no idea what went into the project, is well worth writing about and justifying!

    I often face the same situation, working with expensive materials and time consuming details, but I also LOVE what I am doing, and feel blessed to have my talents and the ability to make some money from home. Continue to be proud of yourself and inspired by your talents!!!

    My great grandmother was 101 years old when she passed away. She had been legally blind since around age 65. Yet she continued to knit and crochet, making sure that every baby that came into her large, Mormon family, received a baby blanket. When she passed on, my dear Aunt sent me one of her rugs, in pink and white, which perfectly matched my bedroom. I was about 10, and it has been a treasure to me, and shared a time in my daughter’s room, before going back into the hope chest. She was featured in a Relief Society article surrounded by her blankets, doilies, rugs and other creations, and I got a copy for my scrapbook. I don’t think I met her, unless as a baby, but the time she took to share her craft and passion with her family was priceless and inspiring! No one would have dared to criticize her work, and I often wonder how she could afford her yarns and materials.

    God gave us a wonderful gift, and He is glad you enjoy it! your article was educational and informative, next time you do a festival, perhaps you could have a few copies made, put one inside of an envelope, and include something like a bookmark or other flat gift. Seal the envelope. If you get another customer/looker like this one, offer them this Free Gift when they leave. You can’t change the world, but you can educate them….my guess is she was someone who used to crochet and didn’t like her own work or talent, and gave it up. She was probably jealous and resentful, and should have kept her feelings inside, but bitter old people have a hard time with that…….let peace wash through you as you let go of her negativity, and hold on to all the compliments and appreciation you get from yourself and others!

    Happy Holidays!
    Diane Crockett – Spirit Artworks
    Custom Lampwork Designer Jewelry

  476. a says:

    what you are saying all may be true (and well put) but that’s the name of the handmade craft game, son. you can’t get so butthurt about it.

  477. I have boiled it down to this: in this world, there are “makers” and “non-makers”. Non-makers have NO CONCEPT of what goes into a creative work, whatever it may be. When I first became a handspinner, I spun the yarn to crochet an earflap hat for my son. A friend at work, an avid outdoorsman (but definitely a non-maker) asked, “How much for you to make me one of those?” After some thought, I said, “For you? $25.” He replied, “Twenty-five dollars!?!?!?! I can get one at REI for $20!” Needless to say, I was a bit disgusted, but I said, “No, you won’t get THIS at REI for $20. I started with A PILE OF DIRTY HAIR!!!” But that’s okay. You don’t want one.”

  478. Ashley says:

    More people than you can even conceive live on much less than $10,000 a year, while busting way more ass doing things they LOVE. Just be glad you live in a country where you can choose to sell your products at a price so convenient for you, when mothers in 3rd world countries HAVE to do it for pennies a fucking day. Not mention they have to slave for way for than 20 hours CREATING THEIR OWN YARN, then making authentic pieces that have much more creativity and love put into them. When you REALLY love doing something, then money should be your last concern about it.

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  480. Ringa Sunn says:

    Thank you for giving a voice to the handmade artists everywhere! It’s so hard to tell someone who is making those comments to us exactly what it’s like without coming off as rude. People don’t understand that no, handmade arts will not cost the same as a factory produced item at Target. And I’m also guilty of underpricing just to be able to sell things. I can only hope that with the word getting out online and handmade becoming increasingly popular, people will eventually see that what we do is valuable, unique, and absolutely worth every penny of what we charge. Kudos!!!

  481. Fran says:

    I too am an artist of many crafts, I knit, crochet, clay, wood, spin… etc.. whatever fulfills my fancy at the moment.

    If this letter was to change/startle anyone… even one person… you have busted me so big-time!!

    I am one of those people that walk through the craft shows, while displaying my wears and my prices.. looking at yours and thinking.. “I CAN DO THAT” while walking away grumbling about your prices.. Talk about busted… not once have I ever thought my supporting you would in turn support me… duh.. even though I know in my heart your prices are fair..

    Something about this posting has hit me square between the eyes. My new goal is… If I see something that I admire.. I wish I had it.. I have a purpose for it.. I want it… I can afford it (even if I feel I can make it) I WILL buy it!!

    From this day forth, I will not go looking for that all out bargain.. I can do that by going to my dollar store… I will now shop with a new eye.. I promise.

    Thank you for the awakening.
    Fran

  482. RandomGuy says:

    I like the piece, it’s a nice commentary about handmade goods.
    The only complaint I have is that minimum wage is $7.25. Which is less than $7.50.
    Nice hat, thought.

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  487. Carol says:

    Hello,
    I am linking our current blog post to your article because I really resonate with what you are saying here. There is a big difference between what a person gets when they buy handmade verses mass produced. Thank you for helping to spread the word! Carol

  488. Carol says:

    Hello,
    I am linking our current blog post What is the Price of Quality to your article. This is great information. Thank you for helping to spread the hand made message.
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  489. Coral says:

    What we must remember as artisans/consumers/business owners, etc. (of any kind) is this basic economic principle: “Something is ONLY worth what someone is willing to pay for it.”

    We all must understand and choose to belong to a particular market. We can choose to knock out something that takes no time and mark up by 400% and will likely get it on some items. On others, IF we are marketing to the same crowd, we will not get much more than over what the materials cost. So, it becomes a choice to find and cater to a niche market.

    I can string rosaries using lesser quality materials and make one in about an hour’s time and sell them for $25-30 each. OR I can choose to market my rosaries to a different crowd (a niche market), and use traditional methods and increase my time to make them by 5 or 6 times. Those who like that I will customize rosaries for them, are willing to pay $100-$200 per rosary. Those who are not willing can find somewhere else to buy or learn to make the rosary themselves.

    Oh, and on a side note: I am not Catholic and I sell them. Perhaps that makes me an evil capitalist. So, if you buy my rosaries, remember you will have to have them blessed. But then again, the cheaper ones made my Communist kids in China will also have to be blessed.

  490. Interesting post! It’s a tough topic. I guess I think that there are some things that it just isn’t worth to make handmade in today’s economy unless it is for your own enjoyment or as luxury items. A $150 hat-even if it is a steal compared to how many hours it took to make-is a luxury item for everyone I’ve ever met. I think there are two groups of people at craft fairs-one looking for artisan goods they can’t find anywhere else, and the other thinking that homemade=cheaper. When they end up at the wrong booth, they are bound to be disappointed!
    But there is no excuse for rudely sharing your dislike with the booth owner-just compliment the handiwork and move along!

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  492. lianne says:

    Hi, i’m from the uk and I get people tutting at the prices for my handmade dresses. I charge £62-£75 for a handmade dress and £50- £60 for a hand knitted jumper. I get a lot of people wanting my clothes but not liking the price. What the rude section of the general public fail to realize or are ignorant of, is that their tutting, is soul destroying and quite hurtful. It takes a lot to go into business, your putting yourself and your goods out there. I really do believe the general public want us to give our goods away for free. I’m in business to make some money, i’m using a skill I have developed over many years to create a job for myself because there are no jobs in my town. I know times are hard but some people are just unreal. I think your hats are great.

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  496. Nancy says:

    Gone are the days when you see something beautiful and your eyes light up, and not even the maker of a product is of initial concern. Now it seems it is the ‘price tag’ that makes our eyes light up first and foremost. Perhaps this is something to be said about ourselves. I’ve witnessed this myself as price tags are much more attractive than what’s on the hanger. I no longer see the quality of fabrics in our garments from department stores who used to have that quality. It seems everything I touch is of such poor quality, the fabrics are so thin, threads hanging, and yes, they say machine wash but who dares to. Giving us the better price but not the quality has been a double edged sword for many department stores in danger of closing. Reality is, if the quality is not there, it becomes a waste of hard earned money and that’s what one feels in the pit of one’s stomach when a product doesn’t wear well, doesn’t wash well, but fades well or tears well? When you realize you have to sew the buttons on tighter because you’re going to lose them, and why is one sleeve band a bit tighter than the other? The inevitable trip back to the department store (always in hopes for that lovely parking spot), and when waiting in that long line of returns, a little imp on your shoulder says, ‘ you have no one to blame but myself for purchasing this piece of crap they call a garment.’ And yet the sweetly garbed pixie on your other shoulder says, ‘ Too bad…it was a great price. ‘) At the same time, kicking yourself in the butt because it’s happened all too often. Frustration, time, gas, all wasted because of that beautiful, glowing, mesmerizing, teasing, winning, LOW, price tag. Never again. And so this department store is closer to being in danger of closing up shop because they just lost one more customer. I actually might have made a buck or two or three selling this rag at a yard sale rather than bother to return it, but my heart was not into it. Quality made, this is the very first thing I thumb through now, not even daunted by the price tag anymore. I want beautiful, I want different, I want my color and my comfort and I will pay for that piece if it fits me well and makes me feel good. The LOW price tags no longer own me.

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  499. Some people do not understand the value of a quality handmade, one of a kind, unique item. It is rude when people do that, but you must be ready to handle peoples criticism. Everyone has their own opinion, even if it is mean and rude you must be open to hearing them out

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  502. Jane says:

    Hi:)……I have been a creative soul forever. It does sting your being, your soul, when someone criticises your creation/s but this is the risk you take when you put your work, your creations out there into the market place to sell. I agree with gfveg and Rosemary Baker comments…..if you want to achieve craft fair prices then sell at a craft fair and if you want to achieve boutique prices sell through a boutique. If you slap a potential customer in the face with an unexpected price tag-inappropriate to the sale VENUE then you will probably not make a sale! It has nothing to do with what you are selling. Location.You should perhaps tell future customers like this that you are using the craft fair as a ‘showcase’ for your handcrafted hats-that you would not expect folk to pay or have this much money on them today. Offer them a business card/brochure/web address….ask for their email so you can send them pics/examples of cheaper items in a follow-up contact. THIS IS A ‘POTENTIAL CUSTOMER’!!
    Learn how to turn every negative comment from a customer into a POSITIVE:) ….this customer could have been ‘turned’ if you had the sales skills/knew what to say to ‘turn’ her….she hung around waiting for you to convince her that you DID have something that she would like-even offered her a piece of paper and a pen to draw her own creation for you to make!….)
    A negative comment from a potential customer is a STOP SIGN. So,stop- look both ways and guide this customer through their miriade of negativity to a safe and positive place:) Learn some sales skills
    The critical customer did not find a hat she liked….BUT she did like the work….because she kept trying on different hats. Perhaps she may not have been a potential customer-she may have been a creative type herself and was just doing some R & D of her own….’needling’ you for info as she progressed! Not all you experience is what it seems.
    Carry on creating….but to successfully sell at craft markets you do need good sharp sales skills-you are dealing with potential customers ‘face to face’ for a very brief window of time. These customers are ‘walking past’ as they peruse, they are not inside a four walled shop. You have to learn how to capture their attention and engage…..turn negs into positives……make them WANT a product and ask them for the sale. You have a lot of work to do:) Good Luck.

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  515. I run into this a lot with my business. What I tell clients that balk at my prices is that they are really buying is my time and skills. The costume I’m making for them is just the end product of my efforts.

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    wow…read about this blog on http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/it-happened-me-my-blog-went-viral-and-i-freaked-out and i could no longer read all the comments, there were just tooooo many! i do agree with Justin though, on what the talented jeweler told his wife–“the metal is free, you pay for the artistry”–and i do understand why Ms. Somer felt the hurt–there is nothing ugly when it comes to the arts–it is only a matter of perception. if i were the customer, i would have just commented that i could not afford the price, but not give any comment about the design, whether i like it or not. to do the latter is an insult to the artist, as every work of art is a reflection of the artist’s inner self, to emphasize that.

    the breakdown of the “cost” was not to talk about the cost itself or even to justify the cost, i believe it was just what Ms. Somer did because she was hurt with the “insult.” you know, she was telling us that the true cost of the hat could not even justify the price tag–it is priceless because it comes from the heart.

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  519. Michele says:

    I didn’t read all the comment but I feel I need to add my 2 cents. I too do crochet . First of all I want to say your hat is lovey and as a crochet person I know the time and the material that goes in… At first I was selling some of my crochet item quite cheap as I had some material that didn’t cost me a lot. Then I realized I am doing a de-service to the business and to other talented crocheters as I was making them lose value…I started to by new material and charge accordingly.. Now crochet is a passion for me I have done crochet now for over 30 yrs…If I decide to do a crochet gift for someone this is my right but if you ask me to do a work for you and upfront I tell you it is this much or that much . You have the right not to place the order and not say anything about the price if you don’t understand the work that goes into…What people don’t realize crochet or any handmade craft for that matter is an art..So even if you pay to have this product you should feel privileged as never specially in crochet never ever you will have exactly the same product… There is always a twist to make that crochet is a unique product… Don’t worry so much about nay Sayers for one they are jealous they don’t have the gift that we have, yes it is a valuable gift… I use to say the more jealous they are the more successful I’ll be…Somer just concentrate of how proud you are when you created any crochet item.(I know I am)Just fell sorry for them and let them be .. You have talent and gold in your hand. Rejoice.. hugs

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