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I have temporarily stopped blogging due to jewelry work orders that has been keeping me busy. If you have a query for me about my blog, please direct them to me via email : oon.adeline@gmail.com

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why Handmade Costs More.

How often do you come across someone who is an independent crafter from home and tells you it is their only source of income? Perhaps not many of you have and realistically not something we can survive on in Singapore. I am privileged to be acquainted with a few of these artists who are mostly from the USA and Israel, where crafting can be a way of life. Personally for me, being a crafter is mainly to support my passion for jewelry making more than anything else.

I won't deny, the extras I have often come as a bonus for a stay-at-home-mom like me. It is usually more than enough to pay for my daughter's ballet classes. Something I told her that I would see through, as my way of contributing to the family's expenses. Not that we cannot afford it. It's just a sense of self-worth on my part to be able to do so - if you know what I mean.

8 years since I've been on the crafting scene, I think I may have heard it all.

"Your pieces are expensive."
"You must be some kind of tai-tai (a.k.a. rich) to upkeep this hobby of yours."
"I can get a similar one cheaper from elsewhere."
"Please quote a bulk price discount since I'm buying a few pieces from you."


Though these comments do not usually come through often (thank God!), it is quite enough for any crafter to remember them for a long time. After a while, it does get under your skin.

I can understand that such comments may have been derived from lack of awareness on running an independent crafting business from home. So I felt the need to come out with this post and share the general amount of time spent on my creation. (I briefly wrote in a previous post about what my handmade is worth. However, this post should put things better in perspective about the pricing behind a work you buy.)

Generally, we price what we feel is worth the time invested in making a unique piece. We also have to think about other hidden costs apart from the material cost - packaging and communicating. Communication is a provision of service too and generally, people do have to pay for services. For some, hidden costs may also be maintenance of a website domain, fancy packaging as well as paying for an assistant who may be working alongside with him or her, to cope with demands.

 STEP 1 : CONSULTATION / MOCK UP DESIGN

There are actually many things that crafters do not put a tag on before we work on a final price. Depending on what kind of work we do, some would involve sketching and specific researching of raw materials before embarking on a design a customer wants.

I don't charge for consultation and mocking up designs. Consultation here would mean receiving queries about how to dress up a particular outfit and share my opinions about what sort of jewelry will be suitable. Or give advise on a theme that my customers' can consider if its to gift someone else based on their description of that person. How do I even begin to charge for something that my customer has not seen?

This is a grey area and most time consuming step of all. I would only start incorporating extra charges into the acceptance of a design IF there's extreme and erratic changes from what was originally discussed. Usually I would also ask for a deposit to secure an order, depending how familiar I am with the buyer. There are some that disappear altogether despite being so close to finalizing it over many days of communicating. But thank God again, these encounters are of a minority.

More often than not, I do not charge for transport to various supply shops in Singapore to source for specific requests from my customers. I would usually take it as an opportunity to get out of the house for a breather and stock up some necessary supplies on the way. Imagine if I have to start charging for my time and transport, there will be no end!

Time spent on communication and mocking up designs before approval can sometimes take a few hours or even over a few days. I shall use the quickest time of about 180 minutes to finalize an order.

STEP 2 : PUTTING IT TOGETHER

This is generally the most straightforward part of my work, although it can sometimes take longer than usual if the technical part gets tricky. I take between 10-90 minutes to complete a creation, depending on complexity. I shall use 30 minutes as the average time of completing a piece.

STEP 3 : PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo taking is also another process you may not think I spend much on. It is actually the most important step to selling an item online because picture speaks a thousand words. I sometimes spend 15 minutes shooting 20-30 frames (with an aching back!), just to get that one ideal shot. Then there is editing time, the listing of the image to my store and uploading on social medias, which easily takes another 20 minutes.
 

STEP 4 : INSPECTION AND PACKAGING

When an item is sold and transacted for, I will do a final inspection before packaging it to make sure every single loop is intact. Though my packaging is minimalist style, there are still costs to factor :

- The name card that goes into every package with how to care for your jewelry
- the plastic pouch to store the jewelry
- the bubble-wrappers to protect the jewelry pieces from hard knocks during transition at the post office
- the envelopes, stamps and adhesives.

This step would probably take 10 minutes.

 STEP 5 : MAILING

I offer free mail for local packages via standard postage, which is a hidden cost in each item. The time taken to mail is just but a 10 minute walk for me. I used to stand in line at the post office when a package requires registered mail service. Sometimes it can take more than half and hour before it's my turn. That would also include a 20 minutes bus ride (to and fro) and bus fares. Or if I decide to drive, parking fee is no less than S$2. I shall use 10 minutes as time taken for mail since many choose to go by standard mail.

***Adding up on the above highlighted time spent on one creation, it is a modest grand total of 255 minutes (slightly more than 4 hours) to complete and send out a piece of jewelry.***


As I may have mentioned, it is difficult for me to charge for work time. So, I've chosen to incorporate a fix amount to cover for each type of jewelry, which should also be enough to cover for my workmanship.


If I may represent the voices of every crafter, we seek buyers' understanding that like every other human being, we have only a pair of hands. We do not mass produce and we cannot quote a "bulk price" discount because we don't churn things out with a snap of our fingers. Many of us believe in creating one-of-a-kind pieces that is not offered at retail stores, nor at a flea market. And the difference is that we care about the quality, details in our handmade pieces and we care about customer service - that is you!

I really hope I've made things clearer for those who have been wondering why you have to pay a little more for handmade items. (Though I'll have to say mine is pretty darn reasonable already!) We hope you'll be more appreciative of the things you buy from your favorite handmade artists when you next shop for one.


**This post is dedicated to my undying supporters of my creations at Adeline's Loft. Kudos to you for believing in my work!**

Since we're in the topic of handmade artists, how about visiting and supporting a few of my favorite ones?

Jeanstitch (Singapore)
Scrappin' Love (Singapore)
Sigaliot (Israel)

 
Till the next post, have a blessed week!

11 comments:

  1. Love your works! And I've friends who complimented non stop too! woohoooo!! (looks like what i ordered will be kept for me-self!)

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    1. Thank you Jiahui! For the opportunity to create for you. :)

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  2. Handmade is always more expensive for a reason, they are uniquely yours to keep and it's a one a million piece! People should feel honored buying and wearing handmade items as much as you are honored to make for each individual! Which reminds me, gee I have yet to collect my beautiful pieces done by you my dear!

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    1. Yes you are right! But there is a minority that won't think so, no matter how. :p Your pieces still with Jennifer, and I'm paiseh that she's still keeping it for you! Please collect sooooonest!

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  3. i love your handmade items, Adeline! because of them, i'm like accumulating more accessories than i ever had in all 26 years of my life! and... i'm never quite satisfied with most that i see out in the stores, but you have made me fall instantly in love with a couple of pieces, JUST LIKE THAT. haha.

    keep it up! :D

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    1. Thank you thank you, Mabel! It's a dream come true for people to see and straightaway fall in love with my works ley! hehe! What a compliment!

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  4. Handmades are made with love and the prices are certainly justified. I too am in love with your pieces and am intending to order more :)

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  5. This is so true Adeline and thank you ever so much for being patient with my orders. :) I also love that with handmades, each piece is unique and that you do not replicate the pieces!

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    1. Thank you every so much too, Alicia! For putting your trust in my work and recommendations. It means so much more than you know. :)))

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  6. Adeline, you've nailed it and these are very important points! I keep telling this to people about my workshops as well :-))

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    1. Hey Agy! It's good to know that you are able to relate to what I've shared on this post! I guess until you are your own crafter dealing with this, you would probably not realize what goes on behind the scenes. :)

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