Tuesday, November 29, 2011
One of the things weavers new to selling their work don't understand at first is the aspect of marketing/selling and how much time winds up in the details of getting their textiles ready for sale and then actually offering them for sale to the public.
It is legally required in Canada and the US (and I assume other countries) that textiles be labelled with fibre content and care. In Canada, household textiles and fashion accessories can be labelled with a simple hang tag. Garments must have 'permanent' labels (with permanent defined as 10 cleanings or launderings).
It is one reason why I don't make garments - I don't want to have to deal with the issue of permanent labels. To buy commerically made labels generally means an order of at least 100, more usually more than that in order to get a decent price and since I often change the yarns I use, I'd be constantly running into the problem of changing fibre content.
Getting the textiles labelled takes time. The system I now use is that of a paper hang tag with my name, logo, a little marketing promotion on the front with a small hote drilled in the top of the tag. On the back I apply a label with general washing instructions and then hand write in the fibre content as required. Once the labels are ready I use a stem gun with 1 inch stems to attach the labels to the textile. Sometimes I price them at the same time, sometimes I leave the pricing for later.
This is just one of the unseen - and largely unpaid - jobs that newbies to selling don't take into consideration in their pricing formula.
Most new sellers come up with a price that will cover the cost of their materials with maybe a little extra for their time to make the cloth but they don't cover things like overhead (all the expenses that continue regardless of whether or not one is actually making something), and the myriad expenses involved in marketing.
The problem with marketing is that largely it is more expenditure of time rather than money, although money can also be spent - the aforementioned tags/labels, booth fees, travelling to and from shows, website fees when selling on line, banking fees (including Paypal, Art Fire, etsy, eBay fees) and so on and so forth. It is these expenses that get covered in the retail mark up portion of one's price calculation.
If the weaver does not have a retail mark up in their formula, then they will be working for nothing, or else working at a loss as those expenses are not covered except for coming out of the weaver's pocket.
From time to time people ask me to submit articles for guild newsletters on the business of selling. From time to time I give seminars - usually discussing pricing issues. I'm wondering if people would be interested in a small publication geared toward business issues of selling weaving......?
(Yes, that's a handwoven tablecloth on my table - Swedish Snowflake, woven double width in order to get a cloth wide enough to cover my table properly. And yes, it was a once in a lifetime project, never to be repeated!)