Showing posts with label Etsy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Etsy. Show all posts

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Gifts!

Hi everyone! My brain is getting altogether scrambled with alternating deadlines every week at work, which is leaving little time or desire for blogging, but I wanted to pop in with a couple of announcements.

First of all, the USPS has released the holiday shipping deadlines!

Given this, I've updated the information for my Etsy shop.


Need it by Christmas? The USPS shipping deadline for Christmas delivery is December 20. My made to order items (most of the knitted things!) have a 2 week lead time, so the order deadline for MADE TO ORDER is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6. If you are ordering "READY TO SHIP" items (this will be noted in the item title), the deadline is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. Thanks so much for your understanding!

I'm busily knitting away on a couple of current orders, and I'm getting down to just a few things that are ready to ship! So no pressure or anything, but if you were planning to place an order for Christmas, the deadline is fast approaching!

And on that same note, I've been featured in a holiday gift guide! How cool! Thanks Suzanne!

Anyway, I'm hoping my brain recovers from all this work soon, but I don't really expect much before the new year!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some thoughts on pricing on Etsy

Crochet Booties

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and for handmakers, now is the heart of the busy season. As soon as the calendar clicked over to fall, I could see my Etsy shop views and favorites start to double....and even triple. I've been making enough sales to keep me rather busy, but I'm not overwhelmed just yet. However, making products, listings, re-listings, shipping things's all got me to thinking a lot about the way I run my shop and the way I've set my prices.

Want to know a secret? When I opened up my shop, I had no method to pricing. None. I simply threw out a number that felt sort of ok and went with it. I sold quite a few kids hats in the early days, and I priced them all pretty much the same. I thought, well, a kid's hat should be about.....this much, and I held that price despite differences in quality of material, varying complexities in pattern or color changes, and just went with it. I did price enough to cover the cost of materials and a little bit of pocket money to, most likely, buy more materials. But for my time? I pretty much didn't get anything for my time.
Slipper Socks
Don't get me wrong, I love making things. But when you are taking time from your family, your leisure time and your own sort of want something to show for it in return. I don't think that's greedy, I just think that's fair. Ironically, the more complex and time intensive a project is, I'm more likely to give it as a gift than for something for sale. I recently had someone inquire about the Nova sweater dress I'd knit to see if I'd ever consider making them for sale (by the way, thank you SO much for your interest! That was so sweet!) My first instinct was, good lord, how would you even price a whole sweater?! I mean, I can't just say $40 because that's what you might pay somewhere like baby Gap, because what if it takes me a month? But I also can't just say $300, because that's astronomical.

So I decided to actually work it out. What WOULD it cost to make that dress? In the past, I simply searched for similar items on Etsy and priced myself sort of in the low end of the middle of the pack. But after doing a bunch of research, and an incredibly enlightening conversation with the lovely and talented Elizabeth Ivie of Ivie Baby, I came to the conclusion that it makes MUCH more sense to look at my actual process and workflow to set my prices. I made myself a little spreadsheet, and it really opened my eyes. Even for the few existing items in my shop, I was paying myself a really wide and nonsensical variety of rates....some as low as $2/hr. Wow. What's minimum wage these days? Somewhere around $7? I've definitely done those jobs, as cashiering and filing work bought my first car and got me through the early years of college. Knitting and sewing certainly feel like more skilled labor than swiping canned food through the scanner. And yet I was only paying myself a fraction of that rate. And why? I'm certainly much more proud of anything I make in my shop than I was of those neatly alphabetized files.

I'm still working through it, but I think I've come to a couple of conclusions. First, an hourly rate doesn't make sense for knitting. For example, it takes me about 3 hours (roughly - I rarely have that much time in a single block in order to measure this!) to make one mitten. Double that, because most people order two mittens, and we're up to 6 hours. Conservatively, another hour or two for finishing work (it ALWAYS takes longer than you think it will!) and the we're up to 8 hours. 8 hours x $7/hour = $56. FIFTY-six dollars. FOR BASIC KID'S MITTENS. They're cute. But I'm not certain they are $56 cute.

Toddler Mittens

So....hourly rates for knitting sort of don't make sense. However, an option commonly used by commission knitters is a rate per YARD of knitting. This can range from $0.15-0.25 per yard of yarn depending on the difficulty of the pattern. I can easily do some mathematical wizardry (ahem multiplication and division) and figure out how many yards of yarn I'm using based on the total yards in the skein of yarn and the weight of the finished object. It's been pretty enlightening for me to work those numbers on the current (and super long list of potential future) items in my shop.

Hourly rates DO make sense for sewing though. Yardage doesn't, because yards go by in a snap when you're talking fabric! Plus there are all kinds of other details from cutting, actual sewing, finishing, and details like buttons, snaps or zippers to consider. Elizabeth said that she looked around at what professional seamstresses charge, and set her rates accordingly. When you are selling independently, you are not only the designer and maker, but you are also responsible for all of the back of house accounting, billing, shipping and marketing - those overhead costs really should be factored into your rates.

Even if you are selling as a hobby, it's important to price your work fairly. Some people are doing this as a full time gig, and it would be wicked tough to survive at $3 an hour. I've been working on a pair of socks (off and on) since June. So given the time investment, and the fact that good, solid quality sock yarn can cost $10 on its own, it's sort of heartbreaking to see people selling a pair of handknit socks for $12. I don't think you can even get Smartwool socks for less than $20 without some sort of monster sale! Obviously everyone should do what feels right for them, but the implication to buyers might be that ALL handknit socks should be worth $12, and I just don't believe that's true.

Snap Scarf
 I realized one more thing that I think is key for me to keep in mind. I - and other crafters and makers like me - might not be my ideal client base. Let's face it, I learned to knit and crochet and sew and who knows what else because I want nice things for just the cost of materials. I'm WILLING to invest my time and energy into learning these skills and into the time it takes to make them. I am not willing to pay for someone else to do this (mostly - I do still buy handmade from other people when I just don't have the time to pull something off or the desire to do it as well as they do!). It's important for me to realize that other people would much rather make the trade off to pay someone else to do the hard work and for them to buy the finished object. After years and years of mass production, there are plenty of people out there who actually want to seek out artisans to make them beautiful handmade things. And THOSE people are my actual client base. They understand that the cost of handmade goes beyond the wholesale price of paper and ink, or yarn, or fabric. It's much more than that. It's time. It's talent. It's hard work. And it's care.

So those are my thoughts on pricing these days. How do other people do it? What is handmade worth to you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New scarves in the shop!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been working on a new product line for my shop....and they're finally up for sale!

I was starting to think these things were nothing but trouble...but then I got a rhythm going and got a couple done, and I've changed my mind! I've worn both the prototypes out and about, and have gotten a bunch of compliments, so I'm excited to see how they'll do on Etsy. (I should really get a dressmakers dummy for photography....I was hoping to wait for a really good hair day to take these shots, but it just wasn't happening. Had to settle for a so-so day!)

I struggled quite a bit with pricing these. I asked for a few suggestions and got about a $40 range! I know I've been pricing my handknits pretty low for the amount of work they entail, so I'm planning to start bumping those up bit by bit. I don't want to scare people off, but I really should charge what they are worth. Yes, handmade does cost more than picking something up at Target, but there's good reason for that. An actual person is sourcing materials, perfecting techniques, and personally, I'm happy to take requests so that people get the exact thing they are looking for. A friend asked on facebook just today if I'd consider making a scarf in a gray with gold snaps - the answer is sure! I can work on that!

In the end, I priced them pretty much right in the middle of the range of what people thought they were worth, and we'll go from there. I guess that's a good reason to get one now if you like what you see - stock is going to change, and pricing might as well! If you want more details, please take a look at my shop, I just have these 4 listed for now, so get em while they last!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New product line...soon

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you already know I've been working on something new.

My sister had a double edged idea...she wanted to make these scarves that snap, sort of like the yoga ones from lululemon, and she wanted to learn to sew.

The sewing lessons went well.

The scarves themselves....well, it's been a lot of trial, and a LOT of error.

Let me just go ahead and say a couple of things about snaps. #1. It totally doesn't work to use lightweight snaps on either leather or faux leather. #2. It also totally doesn't work to try to punch the holes through on a hardwood floor. It worked MUCH better the following day when I did it outside on the concrete patio. It would probably work much better than that if I had use of a snap press, but I don't like to invest in a lot of equipment if I'm not sure if a product is going to sell or not. #3. Leather and my sewing machine hate me right now.

In the end, I really liked the results of the test scarves pictured above, but they were too long. I was so focused on getting the leather and snaps attached, that I made a rookie mistake and didn't test out the length! They definitely work, but need to wrap around 3 times which is just uncomfortable. I tried making a couple of scarves with a real leather trim, but it's thicker than the faux stuff (which actually looks surprisingly good!) and my sewing machine seems to hate. it. so. much. I spent a few hours on Sunday afternoon having my new, ingenious method of attaching the trim just not work SO hard...and then a lot more hours Sunday evening having my bobbin skip and thread break and just general horrible things happen to me, which I solved with wine and aimless internet surfing, throwing things and avoiding the sewing room since then. Healthy coping skills!

As soon as I can face it, I'm going to try my easier method of attaching the trim with the faux leather to see if it's in fact easier. I managed to improve the snap attachment method, so surely I can do the same with the sewing...right? And if not, well.....hey, one of a kinds pictured above!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pattern Release: The Howard Hoodie!

It's official, I've released my first pattern! I did a sneak peek a couple of weeks ago, sent it off to a couple of test knitters (thanks so much for offering ladies!!), tweaked some of the language, and here it is - the Howard Hoodie!

Here's the "official" blurb about the pattern:

The Howard Hoodie is a hat and scarf all put together into one cute little package. The attached cowl keeps little necks warm, and lays nicely under a coat without adding extra bulk, and can't be easily lost like a separate neckwarmer! The hood is fastened with a button closure, so there are no ties or strings to get tangled. A rolled brim frames cute little faces, and the hat comes to an adorable elfin point.

Pattern is written for sizes 6 months, 1 year, 2-3 years, 4-5 years. Smaller sizes can be knit up in just one skein of worsted weight yarn (about 200 yards), while the 4-5 year old size will either need an additional skein or the addition of a contrasting color. Hat is worked flat and seamed with a 3-needle bind off, and the bottom scarf/cowl is picked up and knit down. Uses US size 8 circular needles (length not critical as hat is not done in the round, 16" is comfortable minimum) with additional US size 8 straight or double point for 3-needle bind off.
 I know it's terrible to think about...but it's officially September now. For those of us in the north, that's back to school time, and the official - unofficial start of fall. And for those of us in the far north, it means (snow) (....that's a whisper, not a suggestion nature!!) could theoretically fall pretty much any second now. Luckily this is a pretty fast knit. It could realistically be done in a week or so, even a weekend if one were so inclined. And IF one WERE so inclined, well, one could find this pattern in my Etsy or Ravelry shops (those with eagle eyes may have noticed that it actually went live yesterday)! Just click on one of those links, and you'll be taken to a page where you can purchase the digital download. I'd love to hear from any of you who decide to knit this what you think of it!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Burlap tote bags

I started making these tote bags at the end of last year, and I thought they were awesome. I really love those vintage printed flour and burlap sacks, and was thrilled to find a local source of burlap sacks that I could upcycle into whatever my heart desired. I started out with these super durable tote bags. I made about 8....and they just didn't sell. And, well, it wasn't really hard to figure out why. These photos man....they're SO. BAD!!

Good lord, that is embarrassing. I'm so happy that someone saw through the desperate-for-space-backdrop and the hasn't-figured-out-white-balance photography and, while I hate the word "styling"....seriously. This needs styling.

My POINT was to show that the front is funky and different and decorative. The back is a soft but sturdy flannel, reinforced with interfacing, and the interior is a contrasting fun fabric. There are interior pockets that can hold cell phones, laptop chargers and mice, pens, notions, etc. The bag is closed with a magnetic snap so that your stuff is secure, but still easy to access. The canvas straps are tough and rugged, and a great length for slinging over your shoulder. Do these photos express any of that? No. So much no. It's no surprise that these moved MUCH better at craft shows and in real life. My mom and sister both requested them, and carry them every day. While the studio and photography space chug along (I'm making baby steps! I ordered a tripod and lighting today!), I took to the outdoors to get some better "lifestyle" type shots of my sister and her bag.

Hi there. YES. Now THIS is the image I wanted to project! I've got two bags left from the original batch, and plans for new burlap projects like bags of this same style, along with another type of true "laptop" bag, baskets for the home, and cross-body totes (like this sneak peek at one I did a while back!):

Interested in having one of your own? Check out the listings in my shop here and here! (I still haven't improved my listing photos to the degree I'd like, but this is better than before I think. Plus I added the "lifestyle" shots for scale and a sense of the bag in use. I hope that's not too confusing for shoppers!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Etsy shop update!

My goodness, it's been ages since I updated my poor, neglected Etsy shop. The largest part of this is due to the fact that I really want to completely overhaul it. Once I get my basement studio completed, I plan to set up a few areas where I can easily take product photos. I can't wait to get good lighting, a tripod, and some consistent props and backdrops. We (ok fine, mostly my husband lately) are making pretty solid progress on the space, but we have busy jobs and other responsibilities that make it hard to just dedicate a few solid days to getting a lot done down there. Despite these setbacks that make it easy for me to make excuses, I got myself together to show off a new product line!

About six months ago, I was contacted by a friend on Facebook to make a pair of baby booties for her sweet baby girl who was born this summer. I loved them so much, I always planned to list them in the shop...but I couldn't hold on to them long enough to actually get them up there! I think in all I've sold four pairs so far, which is pretty good considering they weren't technically something I was offering!

Aside from the fact that these are tiny (I can do sizes 0-6 month and 6-12 month) which automatically make them adorable, the yarn is a real star. It's a long repeating gradient yarn from Knitpicks called Chroma, and it's gorgeous. It's 100% wool, which means handwash and lay flat to dry, and it's one of the softest things I've ever felt. There's just a slight fuzzy halo around the fabric which makes them perfect for sensitive little baby feet, and a total bear to rip back if someone makes silly mistakes while crocheting them....don't ask me how I know.

Because of the gently transitioning colors, I couldn't take the "make to order" approach that I do with a lot of my other listings, because this makes each pair totally unique depending on where in the color repeat I begin and end. I didn't exactly want to start out a new line by stocking every color line, so I started with one color that lent itself to boys, and another to girls. I'm not a stickler though for strict gender lines around colors though, so to each their own.

As of Tuesday, I've got one of each colorway listed in the shop - you can find the PINK here and the BLUE here. Check back on the shop (you can always find a shortcut at the top of my blog) for new versions of these colors, and new ones in the future! I'm excited to see how these will be received, and thanks so much to the lovely ladies who have already purchased for giving me the push to make these cutie booties!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maybe I have a plan!

I initially opened my Etsy shop in November of 2012 because I had started making some knit hats for a few people, and it seemed like an easier way to transfer money on their end than to just go through straight paypal. I went ahead and made a few listings, both those hats that I'd made for them and one or two things that I'd made for myself and loved. My idea was that I enjoyed knitting, and this would be a fun way to support my doing my hobby! My "business model" was not to kill myself by making a bunch of stock that I'd have to front money for and keep on hand, but that I could just knit a sample for photographing and listing, and then make subsequent items as people ordered them. I considered the fact that I had any sales at all before Christmas - and from outside that initial group of people! - to be a huge success.

Life happened a few months later, and I took an extended hiatus from the shop. At the end of last summer, I just had this urge to be creative again. I started small, by writing and doing some personal projects. It didn't take long, but I ended up re-opening my shop just a few weeks later. Same idea, no real stock, just make orders as they come. Surprising me again, some orders did come! Throughout the holidays last year, my busy season, I enjoyed what I was doing, but didn't really have a plan. I've never really had one for either the shop or this blog. But gradually, I felt like I could get a lot more done if I just thought a little ahead, put it down on paper.

I was listening to one of my new very favorite podcasts (Elise Gets Crafty) and they were talking about the importance of being consistent if you want people to tune in. Well, duh. You'll obviously get a lot more people reading if you both a) show up on some sort of reliable schedule and b) build up a backlog of posts that people might start finding you through search engines. I thought, well, that sounds like something I could do, blog more consistently. I'm definitely not going to set myself up for failure by making a grand declaration of blogging, but maybe a routine might make sense.

Then, despite how fan-girly this is starting to sound, I read one of Elise's recent posts and she highlighted one of the ways she likes to stay organized. This reminded me of the sketchbooks I used to have during college, and the meticulously organized daily planners I'd toted around in high school and beyond. Despite how I love my iPhone and use technology daily to stay organized....there's just something about physically writing things down that makes them so much clearer for me, more memorable.

So, I started writing. And because sometimes the blank pages of a fresh notebook make me feel a bit uncertain, like I'm going to mess it up if I don't plan out what I want to say, I told myself to just start. It doesn't really matter, just start.

I've done a little blog organization. I thought about the things I've written about most, and went back through old posts to properly tag them. If you're on my home page, these links, along with the search box, are at the bottom of the page. I've even managed to finally write something in my "about me" page. I had a really hard time with that! I've chosen to be somewhat anonymous online, so I didn't want to go all out with my life story, but at the same time I wanted to give enough detail to describe the person behind the blog. I started about a dozen times, and fully rewrote it about half that many, so hopefully I've struck a decent balance.

I laid out a plan and a calendar to prepare for next year's (hopefully) busy season. This way I can track my efforts to pre-make some of my more popular items over the summer to take some of the pressure off of next holiday season. I've also started jotting down the to-do lists and ideas that keep my mind racing during wee morning hours. Top of the list, oh I can't wait to do that one! Since I do most of my shop work in the night time hours, I just don't have the lovely light that most Etsy-ers seem to have for their product listings. Once the basement is finished, I still won't have sunlight, but I'll have a space to set up some lights and hopefully take some halfway decent product photos! It's also highly probable that I simply don't have the skills that many other Etsy artisans do, but hopefully I can take what I've learned in the couple photography classes I've taken and not completely embarrass myself.

Finally, I've laid out a loose blogging schedule for myself. Yet again, in a rather timely, sort of getting weird kind of way, last week Elise blogged about, well, blogging. The gist of her post is that it's important to write things you feel passionate about. You really can't fake authenticity, and if you're writing just to get a post up, it's going to show. Just like it's boring to read something that feels forced, it's boring to write. Part of the reason I post somewhat infrequently is because I only want to write when I have something to say. I've found though, that just by outlining a schedule for myself, I think that I might have enough to say to check in twice a week. So tentatively, I think Tuesdays and Thursdays sound like decently achievable days to commit to. I hope that I can keep it interesting by varying topics by those categories I identified.

So I definitely don't have any sort of plan to quit my job and knit or blog for a living, but I feel good giving myself a bit of direction.