I’ve spent the last few weeks in a quandary. About money.
I’ve been making and selling jewellery for a few months now. I make to commission, rather than in bulk, and I generally have about one sale a week. This suits me nicely, I could up it to three or four sales a week, but not much more. Everything I make takes time and I want to make sure my customers are happy. What with nativity costumes, sorting out the dodgy drainage in the kitchen sink, dog walking and writing work, I’m pretty busy.
I think my pieces are quite expensive. £50 for rings and necklaces feels like a lot to me; I don’t often spend that kind of money on myself. It’s certainly a lot more than you can buy pretty things for from a shop like White Stuff, but then I work in precious metals, so my base costs are quite high.
When I look around me on the internet to see what other people are charging, it seems like I’m quite expensive. There are a gazillion jewellers on Etsy, all charging prices that I don’t understand. Sterling silver rings for a price that must just about cover the silver and nothing else. No taking account of the time, effort and design skills that must have gone into it. I’ve never been able to bring myself to charge prices like that, but it’s also constrained me. How can I justify charging more than twice what other people are charging?
I also have a niggling feeling that I’m not worth it. Why would people spend £70, £80, £100 on something that I’ve made? I’m competent, but I’m just me. I think undervaluing yourself is a female thing. But it’s also a stay-at-home-for-ten-years-mother thing. It’s really hard starting a business selling something you’ve made, you’re basically asking people for approval in a slightly needy way. Do you love me? If I charge you too much then maybe you won’t.
Then my tutor got involved. She’s been saying for weeks that I need to think about prices. Whenever I make something for sale, she asks me how much for then sucks her teeth a bit. Well, she doesn’t actually suck her teeth, but you know what I mean. I mumble a bit and carry on with what I’m doing without changing a thing.
This week she got strict. She sat down next to me and picked up a ring. £50 isn’t enough for that, she said. You should be charging £80. A lot of work and care has gone into it. I know but it’s just me. Look, she said, if you were a really experienced jeweller, you’d be charging £120 for it. £80 is not a lot. If you don’t charge enough for it people won’t value your skills.
And she’s right you know. I may be working at my kitchen table but I have skills, and it’s only fair that I’m paid accordingly. I don’t shop in Primark because I don’t agree with people being paid peanuts. Yet I’m doing exactly the same thing with my own business.
So, I’m putting my prices up. Because I’m worth it.
*runs and hides*