How Do You See the Value in Your Work?

by Amanda.
(Ontario Canada)

I’ve just started the idea of selling my macrame jewelry, the problem is the time it takes!

Rainbow moonstone with a lovely caribbean blue cord wrapping.

Rainbow moonstone with a lovely caribbean blue cord wrapping.

I’m as fast as I’m going to get, and I try to be as time-effective as possible. The problem is with my speed, even something simple like a pendant takes about 3 hours.

I’m thinking of only charging minimum wage for my time in order to keep the final price reasonable.  Some of my friends are very supportive, and say charge what my time is worth, others say it’s too expensive.

My problem is seeing the value in my own work. How do you look at something and decide it’s value?

To me they’re all special, and they mean a lot to me, but with value I’m a little stumped (It’s cord and stones!). I will not sell patterns, it’d be like selling a part of my soul and I can’t do it.

Tangled Gems Jewelry

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  • Sarah S. says:

    Rena has a wonderful article on just this subject –

    I am a firm believer in charging a fair wage for your time… not only the time making the item, but the time you spent designing it as well (especially for one of a kind items!).

  • Thanks for remembering and posting that link, Sarah!

    Amanda, you may also want to see my post, Profiting from Jewelry That’s Time Consuming to Make.

    One idea for you might be to brainstorm ways you can use your artistry to create items for some niche of upscale customers.

    Or some sort of personalized gift items. People expect to spend more on personalized items, and they often are willing to spend much more on a gift than they’d spend on themselves.

    Just as an example, you could create personalized mementoes – like macrame family trees with birthstone-colored beads for each family member. That type of item makes a lovely gift. It could be jewelry size or wall-hanging size – with the price commensurate with size and time involved.

    That may not be exactly what you want to make, but sometimes to sell your art at higher prices, it helps to think in directions like that.

  • zoraida says:

    Pricing my own jewelry is definitely not my area of expertise so I would recommend Rena’s approach. I couldn’t price my pieces by the length of time it takes to create them or they would be so expensive, no one would buy it, not even me! I sometimes even put piece aside for a day or two before I decide where to go with it. The design has to evolve with me. When I finally think a project is finished, I show it to people whose opinion I value and ask what they would pay. Most of the time, it’s much higher than I had in mind. I take the materials, uniqueness of the design and the precision of the work and go online to find similar items to compare pricing. I usually find a price I am comfortable with even though it’s probably a little lower than it should be. Obviously, this is not the easiest way to do this but it works for me. I definitely would not recommend pricing your work too low. It really does undervalue the whole handmade marketplace.

  • Amanda says:

    Rena: I love the idea of mementos, and will be implementing this as well into all my designs (pick your favorite stone to heal or represent you etc, pick your favorite colored cord). As well as creating new designs based solely for this purpose (I actually enjoy it just as much!)
    They’re still all one of a kind, as handmade is great with “recreations” that still aren’t exactly the same as before.
    Sarah: Thank you for that article link! I don’t want to price low, I guess I just agree that when I look at it I see it’s base (string and stones) instead of it’s art form!

  • Sarah,

    I started on my craft-making journey with macrame, too! I remember how time consuming it can be. Your design is very beautiful! You SHOULD be paid for your talent and creativity!

    When thinking along the lines of a personalized gift that is entirely unique, why not offer to frame a photo of the person in resin with your beautiful macrame design, (or perhaps a saying like, “Free Spirit”).

    Perceived value is dependent on the viewer. I would proudly price the piece in accordance with your design creativity, expertise and time. You might try selling at higher-end venues like “Ruby Lane,” Artful Home” or “Fine Art America” to get a higher, well-deserved price.

  • Amanda says:

    Virginia: The resin is a fantastic idea, one I’ve pondered before in other crafts, and never thought to use in my macrame!! I own some pets, so I know the sentimental value of pet hair (or images!) in a wearable form!
    Thank you truly for that idea!
    I am aiming for higher end shows for sure, to garner a more realistic price point for my time!

  • Coral says:

    Pricing is always difficult I think. Amanda, it may just be cord and stones, but it’s your skill and time consuming work that translate those two things into beautiful pieces of jewellery!
    I was always advised not to price too low, it’s very hard to raise prices, and also what everyone’s saying about valuing your work is quite right, and if it’s priced too low, then folk assume that it’s mass made stuff, not handmade and original. I’ve often read comments here and elsewhere about how higher priced work can sell as buyers value it more.
    Good luck with working it all out, your jewellery is lovely!

  • Sarah S. says:

    Another thing I wanted to share, if you are making a piece that is going to be higher priced anyway due to the time involved, make sure you splurge on the findings. If you buy them wholesale, silver and gold findings are not too big an investment on your part, but they REALLY add to the perceived value of the piece. The price difference between a necklace with a sterling clasp and a necklace with a base metal clasp may only be a couple of dollars, but the customer will see it as a huge jump in quality and value.

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