October 8, 2009

Pricing Jewelry

A few weeks ago I decided that I'd like to offer a line of jewelry along with my beads. While making jewelry is fun and it's where I started with my business 17 years ago, I have to say that it's been a struggle to give myself permission to ask a fair price.

Everyone has different reasons and systems for the way they price their jewelry, so I'm not saying one way is good or bad. I'm just offering my thoughts here. If you have overcome this struggle in your journey as an artist, please share your story with me!

So these are the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head:

1. I have to charge for more than materials. I need to support my family. This isn't a hobby for me, this is my livelihood. If I'm going to spend my time making jewelry it has to be worth the investment that it will take out of my day. Along with the physical making of the beads and jewelry, there is photography and design work, marketing, advertising, selling costs, packaging, shipping and paperwork that goes along with each piece of jewelry.

2. I don't have to afford my jewelry. So my price needs to reflect what my work is worth, not what I think is affordable. I'm a bargain hunter by nature. It's just a hold-over from my survival skills as a young 20's something mother with a husband who worked manual labor. Thankfully now I can afford all sorts of luxuries but it's hard for me to pay certain price points for things and I just need to let that go.

3. My time is valuable and there are intangible qualities to my work. There are my design skills, my craftsmanship and my ideas. These are harder to quantify into a dollar amount and make it harder to pinpoint a formula.

So I do have a basic formula for the price as a guideline and I have a general idea of the fair market value for work that is comparable to mine. But I still struggle to ask that higher dollar amount. I know a gallery or boutique could ask for more for my work than I'm charging, so why can't I give myself the okay to charge more? It may just take time. I might find that the demand for my work is growing too much and then I'll have to charge more. (Okay that was weird to write, like I might as well of asked for a pocket full of pixie dust.)

I feel like I need to look in a mirror and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it people will buy my jewelry." (Nod to Mr. Stewart Smiley.)

Share with me - if you know of a good link or have a jewelry designer that you admire I'd love to see it!


Stefeny Stanyer said...

So very true... pricing is hard! Here are my thoughts... your work is beautiful! Your beads are well known and loved, so you already have a solid "brand" reputation! You deserve $$$! But the toughest battles are fought in your mind, because you totally have to believe in your price. That's hard to do if you're selling in a super competitive, super saturated marketplace like Etsy.

Anyways, you might find Dr. David Weiman helpful. Maybe you know of him already, I think he writes for the Lapidary Journal. He specializes in helping handmade jewelry artists with pricing, strategies, etc.

His blog is http://www.marketingjewelry.blogspot.com/

And he has a very helpful newletter that I read also...


Good Luck!!!

Metallo Bianco Jewelry said...

What an awesome recommendation Stefeny! I will definitely be reading more of his blog and newsletter. We all struggle with pricing our jewelry. I actually met with a potential wholesale customer this afternoon and I kept looking at my line sheet thinking...oh my God...is this too high?? Should I lower it!? I don't know why we doubt ourselves like that! Heather, you make awesome beads and beautiful jewelry! DO NOT sell yourself short...hmmm..maybe I should listen to my own advice huh? :)

Unknown said...

pricing is tough...it's like a vicious cycle...price to sell to buy more stuff...and so on. But you are right, your have to take everything into account and still make a little $$ for yourself. This market is especially tough, my sales are down at shows but my sales at local galleries and boutiques are pretty much the same as last year. Good Luck!

Unknown said...

Heather, I completely agree with you! I also always face a struggle with pricing my jewellery, because not only do I need to include the cost of materials, I also have to think about all the effort that was put into it. And there will always be that self-doubting question "will people buy it at this price?"

But the positive thing is, people do appreciate the work you put into it, so I believe that as long as you have faith in what you do, and you're happy with yourself and your designs, you should price it as you see fit, and go from there :)

LDWatkins said...

Your work is beautiful and worth any price you see fit! I think we all struggle with the same issue. I've just started with bead and wire works, but I'm a polymer clay sculptor and face the same issue pricing my sculptures. Difficult to say the least! I plan to link to your post. Lynda

Kelly said...

Heather, I remember seeing you on "Crafters Coast to Coast", thinking this isn't a crafter...thinking we're going to see a lot more of her around in the artist circle...I agree with the comments above. You have arrived...don't doubt yourself...no time for that.

TesoriTrovati said...

See? My thoughts exactly. :-)

Here is a quote I have been looking at...
"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."
~ Bill Cosby

And another by the Cos...

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
~ Bill Cosby

Don't sell yourself short.
Do gather up your courage and hit those boutiques.
Don't forget to pay yourself for your time and talent (often that is the highest price in my pieces).
Do stand by your pricing.
Don't forget that there are so many rooting for you.
Do work smarter, not harder (there is a good story about pricing to go with that one...I will have to tell you sometime.)

Enjoy the day!

Alice said...

Pricing is difficult. I find I can't charge more than what I would pay for a piece. Most people disagree with my pricing, but I'd rather sell my jewelry than sit on it for months. Since I live in small rural 'bedroom' community, selling things at a big city price will not cut it here. I'm no help on the subject, but I know how frustrating it can be to come up with a fair formula for both you and your customer.

Alice said...

By the way, your pieces shown in this post are beautiful, and I really think your photography skills are great!

SummersStudio said...

As a 'bead' maker, I understand your struggle with pricing jewelry. When you are working with your own components it is easy to think of selling your design based on the 'cost' of your components. But I think you are on the right track here with the thoughts you have about pricing. I personally, love your jewelry design. I'm pretty darned sure there is a definite market for that intangible talent quotient that you obviously have. So definitely let go of the lets get a bargain and price according to your talent. You've got that in spades!

Mike said...

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critchey75076 said...

An irate person asked me how I could possibly sell a tutorial for $19.95. And that I just must be in business for the money. That tutorial is 48 pages long, with over 150 detailed photos. It took hours to write, edit and photograph. Then there's the fact that it's an original design. And, actually, yes, I AM in business for the money! lol

I'm so glad you're making jewelry now, along with the beads! You have a wonderful eye for putting together beautiful pieces! WOW!

Here are my thoughts:
Decide what you would pay an employee to make the things that you make. Then pay yourself an hourly wage just as you would a talented employee. You wouldn't want him/her to quit, would you?

Figure a total overhead amount that represents everything that goes into making a bead or piece of jewelry. Shipping, postage, heat, A/C, electric, base price of components, marketing, etc. Since you're the boss of your business, you have to pay for all these things.

Only Heather Powers can make a Heather Powers-designed bead or necklace! Each is an original work of art that only YOU can make! Despite the name of your business, don't make the mistake of being too humble. You are an established, well-known, published artist who deserves to be paid for your effort!

Add up these costs and you should arrive at a fair price - fair not only to your customers, but also to yourself.

Goooooo Heather! You ROCK!

sandi said...

Yes, pricing is a challenge. I, too, am told what great work I do, yet I think "will someone pay the price?" All the factors you mentioned must be taken into consideration. Adding 'profit' is the most difficult.

You ARE the designer/maker of your beads - that in itself makes your pieces special.

You may want to check out Vicki Lareau's marketing book - she had a chapter about pricing. Also Lyn Foley had an excellent blog entry a few months ago about how/why her prices are what they are.