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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*

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Many moons ago, when I was incubating babies, I had a hobby.  I used to fiddle around with silver and make jewellery.  I got quite good, well good enough to make our wedding rings, and I loved everything about it.  The big, scary, noisy equipment in the workshop, visiting gold merchants in Hatton Gardens to ask for three ounces of something obscure, working with hand tools that have been used since Egyptian times, and taking my rings to the gloriously antiquated Assay Office to have them hallmarked.  Skill, tradition and history all wrapped up in one lovely shiny package.

So when I finally gave it up because I was eight and a half months pregnant and the ground floor loo/third floor workshop/no lift combo, became a little challenging, I was sure that I’d start right back up again.  Just as soon as the impending baby was a few months old.

Well of course not only are you clueless about what it’s like to have children before the event, you’re also clueless about the fact that you’re clueless.

So, ten years later, I booked myself back into the workshop.  And it’s been going well.  I still love it, and I’ve not forgotten the skills I learnt.  I’ve even learnt a few new ones in the months that I’ve been silversmithing again.  My regular Tuesday slot in the workshop is the highlight of my week.

When I picked up the reins again, I had a vague idea that some time in the future I might set up a business and sell a few pieces.  Quite unexpectedly that’s happened sooner rather than later.  I proudly showed off what I was making on Instagram, and people asked me if they could buy it.  People, plural.

So this is me, saying that I’m a silversmith.  If you would like a nosy at my Etsy shop, pop over.  I’ll make you a cup of tea and we can have a chat about nubbins.

When I was little, I loved a series of books about a boy called Jack who owned a dog called Zero.  Jack and Zero were the only members of their family who didn’t have multiple talents, or as Jack’s mother called them ‘strings to your bow’.  The rest of Jack’s family was frankly insufferable, with their constant boasting and showing off, but the phrase ‘strings to your bow’ has stayed with me.

I used to have a regular job.  The kind where you are mostly in the office between the hours of nine and five and get paid once a month for turning up and doing what you are told.  I was quite good at it, I enjoyed it on the whole, and it kept me out of trouble.

Then I had children and ‘stopped working’.  Please accompany this sentence with a  hollow laugh.

Now my children are all at school for a number of hours a day, and I want there to be more to my life than mopping floors and sorting washing.  I’d like some sort of gainful employment, but I’d also like to do the school run and mop up sick when they’re ill.  OK so like is a strong word for the latter, but you know what I mean.

So I’ve started writing for other people.  I’ve been doing it for a while, a little bit here and there.  Now I’m not sunning myself on a far-flung beach, I’m trying to do a bit more.  But I’ve been thinking.  The writing thing is likely to be rather feast and famine, so I need other things to keep me busy in the quiet times.  I need more strings to my bow.  So I thought about things I’m good at that could possibly be turned into a career of sorts.  I’ve started by signing up for a jewellery course.  I used to be quite good at silversmithing, but haven’t done it for ten years, the course will hopefully de-rust me and lead to something.

So that’s two strings, jewellery and writing, three if you count my mastery of Twitter.  But in this modern world I think it would be useful to have a couple more.  I’m pretty whizzy at sudoku and pub quizzes.  Any suggestions for where they could take me?