Know your worth!
Hello fellow beaders, in this newsletter I want to talk a bit today about knowing your worth when it comes to your craft. I started beading as a passion project of finding something to do during the night while my nephew (who lives with me) slept. It began by making simple earrings and to be honest, it was bumpy/loose and I did not use the best materials, like floss for string cause that was all I could find at times. My first few pairs were given away to friends and family and I would always proudly showcase them on Facebook to break up the daily selfie posts of my nephew and I. People would start to ask “Are these for sale?”, “Beautiful, Can I have them?”, and “Where can I buy these?”. These comments gave me a boost in my ego, making me feel like I was certainly on the right path in 2014. I started to get brave and answer the customer interest with “I’ll sell them for $5” then slowly started taking orders. I was a hit as you can’t get a better price for 3 hours of beadwork!
Then a mentor stepped in, and told me “Mariah, you gotta know what you’re worth. Your earrings are selling too cheap, you need to charge more money. You’re going to bring down all the beader’s prices because people will believe that all that work is only worth $5. That barely covers your beads or the tea you drink while making it.”
It was an eye opening moment for me. I realized that I wasn’t thinking of anything like that. I know I wouldn’t work at McDonald’s for 3 hours for $5 then why would I expect my time to be any less because I was doing something I loved. At first I upped my prices to $5 an hour, as I would worry what people would say that it “cost too much” or “it’s not worth that much” and so forth. Why people say such thoughtless words to artisans is another discussion entirely that I hope to one day address, but for today I would remind you that these people are not your ideal customers and should be ignored as there is a diversity of thought on values and money in society.
I felt that pain and sting of poorly chosen words when I vended at powwows, craft fairs and other events. I know it hurts your ego to hear that. Please do not let them set your craft's or beadwork's worth. You need to know, that your work- is entirely unique to you, we all have unique gifts and talents. Your time here on earth is valuable. Anything you choose to do is meaningful and worthy of payment. I know many of you will hear that negative voice that is inside all of our heads saying something along the lines of when you’re not good enough to charge more or you are not experienced enough. Do not listen to that voice.
Sell with pride, and sell a little higher than you think it is worth, cause I can tell you now it probably is worth all the time you put in to it. Just know that I am rooting for you, fellow beader, and will be cheering you along your beadwork journey! Yes, maybe you are not making a living out of this hobby, maybe you do not see yourself as an artist, and yes maybe it’s for your own happiness but everything you create is worth it to the right customer.
My right customers found me by chance, I went to an Indigenous Law event where I set up a table to bead and put out items that were for sale. Not a place I would normally vend on purpose but I had some time to kill and thought why not. I started selling to customers and marked my prices a little lower than usual as I didn’t pay a fee to be there. I kept getting EMT that were higher than my prices. I hunted down a few of my customers and told them, you over paid on the earring you bought, I said $35 and I received $50. She said “no I paid you what they are worth! Your prices were too low.” I was grateful for the lesson and thanked her for the tip. I knew then that people will gladly pay more for quality. These women were evaluating my work higher than I even thought they were worth. It took the universe many times to teach me this lesson. I suggest to start with charging minimum wage for your time plus materials, cause your craft is worth that and much more!
I wanted to share these stories with you so that you can learn from my mistakes. I know the area in which you sell can also affect your prices, as in any market. What you need to know is that the market for any product is huge as you allow it to be. If no one in your community will pay more than $20 for a pair of earrings than widen your search. You can use social media, such as Instagram to widen your community. You can use Etsy to sell your beadwork to people around the world. Just be aware that they take a cut of your profits and price accordingly. You can create your own website, and find ways to direct traffic to your site. It is all on you to decide how you want to grow your business. I hope this lesson helps you build the confidence to create the business that allows you to live out your passions. Doing work that makes you happy, is still worthy of charging top dollar.
Let me know in the comments below, did this help you build up the confidence to charge more or did this give you any new perspectives on pricing? Want more content about detailed pricing formula's for beadwork... let me know how I can help you in the comments below.