Ever have one of those moments, where you question everything? You question why you’re doing something, and whether what you do has value and what if no one is willing to pay it… and… and… and… These are the questions that everybody starting a new business faces. It’s tough. Add to that, starting a business in an industry of craft and the questions are even harder to answer. I think this is because, in large part, we’re creating a “want” item, not a “need” item.
There has been a lot of discussion out there lately on “Fair Fiber Wage” and what are we worth. I thought I’d weigh into the conversation as well.
My mom and I are business partners here at Crafty JAK’s. I bring to the table a slight obsession with fiber, a life long love of creating and 20 years experience running my own business as a professional photographer. My mom brings to the table a huge array of skills (sewing, knitting, crochet to name a few!) and over 35 years experience running a business with my dad. We both know that in order to make a living at something, you need to value your time and be sure of your costs.
This summer, we were discussing where we wanted to take our business. An opportunity came up to purchase a drum carder at a significantly reduced cost, so we decided to go for it and add batts to our list of things we make. We’ve spent a lot of time in the last month creating batts and getting ready to have some of them for sale at Knit City, where my friend, Keryn, who’s the incredible dyer behind Farm Fairy Fiber has a booth. I’m grateful for her support of this project and being willing to put some of our batts up for sale for us.
Here are a few of my favourites.
But the big stress has come in pricing the batts. What are they worth?
When I started my photography business, I made a lot of mistakes. I offered huge discounts, because I was “building” my portfolio. I did a lot of work for free in exchange for people “promoting” my business for me. I had specials run for all the holidays. In short, I really didn’t value my talent. Here’s what I learned from those experiences.
1 – If I don’t value my time and talent – no one else will.
2 – If I continually provide specials, eventually no one will be willing to pay full price, as they’ll just wait for the next special.
3 – The BEST word of mouth marketing comes from happy clients…so having AWESOME customer service is the best way to build your business.
I think, all too often, we fail to see our value. We fail to see our worth. And this, to me anyway, is the single most important thing to consider in an industry of craft. It’s so important, especially when you’re starting out, to be wary of people promising you the moon, in exchange for a big discount (or free) products from you. Yes, there are ways to do successful cross promotions. There are ways to work with other people to get your name out there… but it shouldn’t come solely at your expense. Our time and talent as fiber artists is just as valuable as anyone else’s, we just have to believe it.
After much consideration, I feel comfortable with the pricing we’ve chosen. Each batt is being priced by weight, making sure that we also include something for the time we spent making it! I’m excited to see what the public thinks when we launch them this weekend. To say I’m a mix of excited and nervous is an understatement, but that’s all part of the adventure. Will I see you at Knit City this weekend?