Monday, October 19, 2015

Pricing shit is hard...

For those of you who would rather watch a video than read, here's a video.

This post, and the video, comes about because of a few different conversations that I have had with people over the past few months. One is, "why is your stuff so much more expensive" or more accurately "you charge how much?!?" and two, "what do you think I should sell (insert product) for?"

We can answer both conversations with the same blog (or video if you have now stopped reading and gone off to youtube). There is a method to how I price my items. It's something that has taken me a few years to hone in on, but this is what works for me.

Now there are some standard methods, like materials x 2 or materials x 3. I've also seen: materials + labor = cost x 2 = whole sale x 2= retail. Let me tell you, if I did that, my corsets would retail for $500 for the cheap ones. These methods did give me a place to start, but to get into my final groove, there is a little more math involved.

To start, I like to build a spreadsheet in Excel. You can do this by hand, or with any other program, I just find an Excel spreadsheet to be the easiest. 

Now we have to figure expenses. Materials are pretty easy to sort out. I use a column for each material and put in the cost. Example I have a column for fabric type, next would be "price per yard" followed by "yardage used" and then "total fabric cost." I break down each material this way until I have all of my materials. Then total material. 

Next section is labor. This is the amount that you will pay yourself when each item is sold. (material funds go back to restock those materials). Price your labor at a fair rate. You wouldn't work for some one else for less than min wage, don't work for yourself for less. For most art types, $11.50-$15/hour is the going rate. So in this section you will have "labor $", "labor time", and "labor total"

So now we have our material cost and our labor cost, and you can stop here, but if you want to build your business, you need to also add in profit. There are several ways to do this, but I start at 1.5 x (material cost + labor cost). From there I can decide if I need to charge more or less. 

Let's put that math to work. Let's say we've done all of the math and our item costs $5 in materials and takes us 1 hour to make. For this example we are going to use $11.50 as our labor rate. Just in materials and labor we are at $16.50. Now multiply that by 1.5 and we have $24.75. Now we will look at our item and decide if we think that is too much, or too little and adjust accordingly. When our item is sold, we use $5 to restock, $11.50 goes in our pocket, and $8.25 is used to build the business. This could me doing other art shows, paying for advertising, buying different materials, etc. 

Short hand: restock materials + pay yourself + build the business = sell price

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Inside the Mind of Adult Dress-up

Sugar Plum, Ginger LeSnapps, and Sassy Frass as The Sanderson Sisters.
Costumes by Mlady's Coutorier

Yesterday I had a different friend help me at an event. This was her first time with me out in my world. A couple of hours in, she commented that I really knew how to "work the people" and get them interested. I told her, "I really don't. It's all The Sewing Wench."
You see, as my friends will tell you, I'm naturally a very shy person. Almost afraid of my own shadow shy. My mom made my doctor appointments until I was 28, shy. But The Sewing Wench, she's not the least bit shy, after all she makes all of her money on you buying her wares.

When I go to events, I always dress as The Sewing Wench, whether it is a full costume, a pair of wrap pants, or a corset with jeans, if I'm going to a place where I know there is potential for people to be interested in what I do, I will dress as The Sewing Wench dresses. And it is the simple act of dressing the part that makes me so out going and feel safe to talk to people. People make me nervous, crowds are draining, and when an event is over and I get undressed and into regular clothes, I feel as if the life force has been sucked out of me.

Sophie the Washer Wench with The Sewing Wench at Ohio  Renaissance Festival
Becoming The Sewing Wench allows me to forget my fears. I don't fear rejection, I don't fear strangers, I don't even fear people thinking I look stupid, or I'm making an ass of myself. She can do and say things that I would normally have that little voice in my head going, "what if some one laughs at you?" or "what if they say no?" The Sewing Wench doesn't even have these thoughts pop into her head. Dress as a sheep at a dog and cat rescue event and walk up to people saying "baaaa"? Doesn't even bat an eye. And you know what? I had so much fun doing it. 

This is one of the things with all of these adults you see playing dress up. A lot of them are socially awkward, have some sort of social phobia/anxiety, and/or have been social outcasts in their lives. Pretending to be some one else for a while allows them to do things that that little voice in their head would normally scare them out of doing. When people interact with their character, they get to experience the world in a way that they may not normally get to do, for one reason or another. 

It really is no different than how you feel with you go from everyday clothes to work clothes, or party clothes, or dressy clothes. What you wear can change your whole attitude for the day/evening. You may say, "oh I'm always the same person," but your language changes, your posture changes or in some cases your attitude may even change based on where you are going, what you are doing and in turn what you are wearing. 

This is also why I love getting women in to proper fitting corsets. You can see their personality change right before your eyes. The corset forces them to stand taller, it forces your back to be straighter, this in turn causes you to keep your head elevated. You look more confident, so people treat you as if you are more confident, and this in turn gives you confidence. It really is a beautiful thing. 

All of this is my experience only. I'm not even sure if there have been scientific studies on the relationship between how one dresses and how one's confidence/attitude changes. It would be an interesting study to conduct. Most of this is stuff that goes on in my own head when I get dressed up, or what I've personally witnessed. So while I can't claim scientific fact, my hunch is I'm on to something with this, and I hope it helps you to understand a bit better why I may have flirted with you at the burlesque show for 20 minutes, but I have no idea who you are when you see me at the grocery store 3 weeks later.