(Please take one moment to think of a dollar amount you would pay for the pencil case pictured above. Ok, you may now continue reading!)I have had this blog title in my head for months. Handmade is really catching on. I can't remember people valuing handmade more than now. I think the whole Local movement has helped tremendously and I have to say I have browsed the Local Etsy feature more than once to see what people are creating in my neck of the woods.
I have a question for you. If you are currently creating handmade items, what was the reason you started? My reason is simple. I am cheap and I like the challenge of learning new skills. But I really dislike to label myself and my handmade items as cheap. Maybe I should use the term "frugal" or"thrifty".
Take this pencil case for example. The linen had a previous life as a garment. The cotton print was free to me. The zipper, well, I found this one locally for $.10. Not much in the way of material investment right? But how long did it take me to make? How much is my time worth? And if I had to recreate this and had to buy new linen and cotton can I charge a different price per handmade pouch? Should I figure all my material expenses at new material costs?
I timed how long this took me from start to finish. I started this pouch at 12:45 pm on a Saturday afternoon. I cut all the fabric. I pieced the front and back exterior panels. All seams were top-stitched. I even changed the color of the thread once to add a bit of contrast stitching on the linen. I took the extra time to add fabric bits to the ends of the zipper so the pouch had near 90 degree corners. There are a few lost minutes in there when I tried to find my little crochet needle that I use to turn corners, but when it was all said and done the clock on the wall said 1:35pm. Ladies and gentlemen that is 50 minutes. ((pause)) Is that too long? Is it fast?
I was reviewing the time investment with my husband and I expressed frustration is how slow I was. If sewing pouches was my full time job, how could I ever make a living? (Not that I am looking to make sewing a full time job or anything. I just wanted to clarify that.) He responded that making a zipper pouch in under an hour should be a very satisfied crafty project. Hmmm. Maybe so.
Fast or slow, I just used 50 minutes of my life to sew this little pencil case. How much is that worth to you? Should I figure out my hourly wage for my salary job since I have B.S. degree? I proposed this question to the hubby and he said I couldn't use my degree salary as a basis to determine the value of my time since I didn't use my degree education to make this purse. Hurumph! Does anyone have any comments on this statement? I sure did, but I eventually decided to use minimum wage for purposes of this Handmade Experiement. (Even though the local gas station is hiring at over $10/hr.)
Minimum wage for PA as of July 2009 is proposed to be $7.25/hr. 50 min equates to $6.01.
The cost of the raw thrifted materials is a very modest $.45. My time is apparently worth $6.01 at minimum wage. Total cost is $6.46.
Now consider if I had to pay "new" prices for the materials.
Comprable zippers cost $1.69 at JoAnns.
Cotton fabric (designer) is usually around $8.95 (includes shipping).
Linen costs vary greatly but a 40% coupon at JoAnns will get your 100% linen for around $10/yd.
You'll have to excuse me for not showing my work, but if I have used new materials my cost would be around $2.74. (Keep in mind that I did not interface this case since the linen was already interfaced from the garment construction and the cotton was a deco weight fabric.)
And then the business books say to add on markup, which is your profit. I've seen books that say you should raise your prices 50-100% per item. But it all depends on how much profit you need.
So how much would you pay for the zipper pouch above? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you have any advise to share when it comes to pricing your handmade items?