Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Crafter Conversations

Hello all! Whew, what a week! I had a show Saturday before last, Mamamade event in Franklin then this past Saturday at the Lockland School of Design and Sunday CRAFT a creative community. So I have been a busy girl :) Thanks to all who came out to support local crafters and artist we wouldn't/couldn't do it without you. Which brings me to the title topic.....

Honestly it was sloooow and not the gang buster business any of us crafters/artist expected/wanted so "why do we do it"? Usually we are all busy with patrons or straighting our booths but the past 2 weekends it seemed like more down time to visit and chat with one another.
The conversations were something like this..."no one wants to pay the prices", "no one has extra money to spend", "I'm making below minimum wage doing this", "the event wasn't promoted", "other artist are marking items too low to compete, and the big one "why do I do this"?

I admit I'm not a perfect person and can be drawn into the "drama". But I really did have to think about it, you know there's some good points to consider. A lot of these issues go hand in hand like "no one wants to pay the price" and "no one has extra money to spend".
I believe a lot of us are in the same boat with the rising cost of gas, food, etc. and feel the money crunch. But consider your product? Is it priced fairly? Have you as an crafter/artist created the value in the piece? I can only speak of my experience, but I know I value my goods and hope I convey the passion and quality of my goods. I like the shows and the interaction with the customer, it is actually what I like best. Is your product something that may be used in a practical way? For example I think people are buying things that may be used everyday, they seem to be able to justify a handbag that they carry everyday or a boo boo bag that they use.

"The event wasn't promoted", well what did you do? As creators and sole proprietors it's up to us! Did you post on your sites? Do you carry handouts to give as people notice and comment on your goods? Do you promote the next event at the event you're at? Do you hang posters in your community? We can make a difference if we all pitch in.

"Other crafters/artist are pricing too low to compete". That's a hard one, we really don't know for sure the price of the materials and the time involved in a piece. I do think a lot of crafters/artist cut themselves short and we are our own worst enemy/critic. Remember we are creators and my items are created one at a time all handmade. I put a lot of thought and let the fabric speak to me and sometimes just the time spent on creating the pattern and layout is very time consuming. I remind myself that my items are usually one of a kind that cannot be bought anywhere else. It goes back to creating the value again.

I saved the big ones for last "I'm not even making minimum wage" and "why do I do this?"
That's a personal one, for me I do it because I LOVE IT! I am fortunate and am grateful that I am able to create. I enjoy the company of the other crafters/artist, setting up shop, meeting people that read my blog and creating something someone will appreciate. Although I do okay, if I added the gas, mileage, cost of materials, booth fee and then time creating the product, time in the car buying materials, time loading the car, time setting up the booth and time at the event....I don't want to think about my hourly wage!

Here's the good news...I can work in my comfortable clothes at home, I can take a break or day off whenever, no one is criticizing my work (except me), the only deadlines are self imposed, I can be as creative as I want and I'm doing what I want. I have met some wonderful people and have friendships that never would have happened. I would pay to have a job like that!

The pictures are of mine and Jodi's booth set up. Another post will be forthcoming about set up, I need options. The woman is Jodi's new endeavor of shemics, like comics for women (get it?). They are wonderful, I actually bought one myself this weekend. Go check out her site for more!

If you have read this far thank you. I truly appreciate you and your comments, I wouldn't be here without you. This is a different type of post for me and I promise not to whine too often.
So smile, give yourself a pat on the back...better yet give yourself a big hug :)


The Creative JAR said...

Amen Sista... I believe your blogged word comes from the heart and you have expressed things that are true and needed to be said! I hope not only us as creators take all of this into consideration, but that patrons realize all of this when they purchase or feel that the price is too high on a pieces of our handcrafted goodness

though I may get burnt - I would rather do this any day of the week then go to my real job of 13 years, because this has given me so much.

Nancy said...

Amen and Hallelujah! This was so important for me as I am about to set up my very first booth! Promotion is something I have done very little about, and still have a few weeks to put up some flyers, send e-mails, get out the megaphone... okay, no megaphone.
Pricing- next to impossible. I find I really have to look at market value of comparable items, because my time and spin on things doesn't fetch what I really think I should be getting. ($$Thousands!$$) But underpricing just does everyone disservice.
Lastly. why we do it? I have been listening to the Oprah interviews with Eckhart Tolle (Power of Now, Through the Open Door), and he said something that really resonated with me. When we are doing what we love, quilting, crafting sewing cooking, etc., and with passion, is when we are truly living in the moment and truly ourselves. I know that when I'm really "in the zone" I barely even edit myself or wonder, "who's gonna like it this way?" It's when I do my best. It's also energizing for me. You've got to give energy to get it. I'm always amazed at the bloggers who have so much going on in there lives and wonder how they do it. Because we must!

Louise (Miffy) said...

Over here in Brisbane Australia - we just don't have many small craft community markets. Markets tend to be big, for the tourists, and loads of crappy made in china stuff. I would love the chance to exhibit and sell in a supportive small craft community market! You make some great points here. And yes what other job offers such freedom! We went to a 4 year old party yesterday - she got loads of cabbage patch and assorted stuff, but she squealed when she opened the skirt and appliqued t shirt I made for her! You can't buy that can you?!