Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Perception of Value

I was going to brighten this photo, but this is about the shade of dark magenta I'm using so decided to just let it be. :)

For those people interested in selling their work - or even giving it away - there is something called 'perception of value'.

The marketing industry has done a very good job over the past 50 or so years advertising the attractions of various textiles.

For instance we all know that silk is more precious than cotton. Therefore anything made with silk we expect to be more expensive than something made from cotton.

But there is also the perception of the value of some textiles over others. People are often much more inclined to pay a higher price for something beautiful (decorative) over something useful - no matter how decorative that useful thing might be.

For example - 100% linen dishtowel woven on a drawloom with a lovely design. The price on it might be for example $100. Probably worth twice that given how expensive linen is to purchase and how long it takes to set up a drawloom and weave such a piece.

Unfortunately there are many people who will look at that price and think to themselves that they would never in their lifetime use a dishtowel that cost them $100!

That same person might, however, actually consider purchasing exactly the same textile - if it is labelled and displayed as though it were a lovely table centrepiece.

Perception of value.

There is also the issue of underpricing something that people would expect to pay more for. If you put too low a price on something handcrafted people will wonder what is wrong with it. After all 'cheap' is equated with poor quality.

Perception of value.

Many people just starting out trying to sell their handwovens are nervous about asking what they think is a high price. When I first started weaving the accepted wisdom was that you doubled the cost of your materials.

I knew that wasn't right and that if I did that I would starve! Since I wasn't willing to starve I calculated my time as being worth something in terms of pricing structure.

And then I stuck to my guns, politely but firmly not making 'deals' with people for lower prices. Lo and behold, there were sufficient numbers of people who were willing to pay my prices. And tell their friends, encouraging them to go ahead and invest in my work.

Perception of value.

This month I've been cleaning up my Art Fire store and looking at some of the new options they have. If I can get myself organized I hope to be posting some of the new work I've been doing this summer. However fall sales begin soon so whatever I post to Art Fire will have to be set aside in case they sell.


Anne-Marie said...

Last spring I wove something that was made with fairly expensive materials (hand dyed silk mixed with commercially dyed bamboo). I knew that it was not marketable for what it was worth, it just didn't turn out looking "expensive". I was blown away when I sent around photos with a description and asked people to simply tell me what they thought it would cost if seen in a store. Some told me they would pay $40 for it. SILK! Only one person really understood that it was in the $200 range and that was because she works in design and production for a major clothing label. The moral of the story, it didn't look expensive to the average person! I so agree with your post. The scarf I made was a great lesson. My time and creative effort will be worth more than some of my expensive materials! I'll stick to cheaper stuff for now and focus on making something beautiful and finding customers who will pay for what it is worth. :-)

Hrist said...

I'm pretty sure you can put your Artfire store on "Vacation Mode" when you go to a sale, then if things that are listed on it sell you can just take them off before activating it again.

Laura said...

Yes there is a vacation option but I've found that even while on 'vacation' Art Fire has accepted/recorded sales. :) Not that I'm complaining, but it is embarassing if something sells that I've sold elsewhere.

Better to just not have them listed if I'm taking them to in in-person sale.


Peg Cherre said...

I love the magenta scarf, and have two more DPW questions...
My loom only has a single back beam, not double. Does that mean I won't be able to do DPW? That is, does the fine yarn have to be beamed separately for tension reasons?

Also, where did you find 2/16 bamboo?

And yes, it is hard to price handwovens reasonably. I surely started out too low, and have recently raised all my prices. Probably still not enough, but I felt like I needed to do 1 step at a time.

Laura said...

For short warps you can get away with beaming them together. If some of the ends start to go slack, insert a rod under them and weight the rod separately. :)

Halcyon sells the 16/2 bamboo in the US. I got it from Brassard in Quebec (Canada)