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Selling Products

12 Dec

I’ve been reading online how to price handmade items and each time I finish an article, I am floored, if not more defeated than before I started.
I fully agree with taking in all cost of the product when considering a final price, and as such, adding a few bucks extra as an incentive, but all this doubling to wholesale, then doubling to retail stuff can be one heck of a struggle! Maybe this would work if you expect to sell things full time and are an accomplished crafter; your name is out there, it’s your only paycheck, Ellen Is raving about it and calling you up. When it comes to reality, however, this information can ruin a promising business, on small talk terms.

Take for example, my lightbulb ornaments I have seemed to make into a tradition around this time of year. Following the rules of the things I’ve found online, I’d have to sell each ornament for $50-70 to make a profit. WHAT?!!? No, no, no. Even someone not in this business can purely see that is not the case here. I am in no ways an accomplished artist, and even if I was, if I had to spend that much money on a simple lightbulb with some paint slapped on it to make a cheery looking snowman, I’d turn right around and walk out without a purchase.
True, hard work does go into it, but it’s a given with any handmade gift. Even simple little earrings, or a small doodle shouldn’t go for more than someone is willing to pay for it.
When I started selling my knitted hand warmers in a consignment shop, I decided on a price of $25. It’s a modest price for an item that only cost me less than $10 to make, and from that single skein of yarn, I could make 2 and a half pairs of them. Using the foundations I have come across, that price would be too low. Let me explain:
The yarn I was using cost roughly $8. I could make two sets of gloves, so it would come out to $4.00/pair. $2 for a new set of knitting needles would bring it up to $6.00. Now they’re telling me that I should make my labor costs around $10/hour. It takes approximately 4 hours to make a pair, so that would be $40 in labor. Total cost so far is $46. Now I would have to double that to come to my wholesale price…$92. Now I’d have to double that again to come to my retail price…$182.00.

One pair of handmade knitted warmers would cost you, as my buyer, $182.00 if you were buying from me.

That’s quite absurd. Even using the formula I found on another site, the retail price of a pair of my gloves should be $101.00.

If that’s the case, I better have made my gloves out of the hair of a unicorn from the mountains of Tibet!

As such, I just wanted to share my way of pricing items that I hope would give others in this romp of decisions a way to ease their mind. Using my lightbulb ornaments, I shall explain to you my pricing scale.
I utilize the dollar store. It’s a crafters best friend. I can buy a 3 pack of lightbulbs for $1. That’s .33 cents each, and what I will base my price off of. A packet of ornament hooks for a dollar, we’ll say about 10 to a pack. .10 cents each. We’re up to .43 cents. Glue sticks are a pack of 20, .05 cents each, and I can make about 5 ornaments with one stick: .44 cents.
Each ornament takes about 4 hours to make. With labor charges, I’d already be pushing $40 here, so I’m going to drop it down to $3/hour. Total cost so far? $4.44. Paint I already have on hand, but all of the product I bought together cost about $15. I’ll just say I use about .05 cents of paint for each ornament: $4.49. Paintbrushes I already have, so that’s free for me. New ones for this kind of project can be found at a dollar store: $5.49.

That’s all I have to consider for my material/labor cost. $5.49. Now to get my wholesale cost, I’ll double that to a nice even $12.00. For a little extra profit, I’m rounding it up to $15.00/ornament. That’s doubling my price for one ornament! Because of the product, I’ll still have enough paint and other supplies to last for dozens of ornaments more. If I sell all 3 lightbulbs, I’d have made $45.00. Minus $3 to replenish my lightbulbs, that’s $42.00. That’s a hefty $36 profit.

Now, this is only taking the lightbulbs into consideration. I do use this way of pricing for everything else I do as well, and guess what? My items always sell. The consignment shop I sold at had asked me if I wanted to stick with my price and not raise it. I’m sure I could try a game of roulette and raise my prices until no one buys anymore, but why do that when the price I have is already reasonable and brings in a few extra dollars in pocket cash?

My advice is to add up your products, do the tedious math on figuring out how much is used on one item, and raise it from there using your gut instinct. Don’t undersell yourself, but don’t oversell yourself either. Take your product to family and friends and ask them to honestly tell you what they’d feel comfortable paying for it. Use your own judgement on your work; you know that wonky, splotchy painting would never sell for $100, but maybe for $20 someone would buy it. That scarf has holes, dropped stitches and a few wrong color additions, it definitely isn’t worth $30, so maybe add it to a clearance special and sell it for $5.

It’s a bit of a struggle to get it right, but you’ll never know unless you just throw it out there for the world to decide.

Merry Christmas!



Those Warm Fuzzies

4 Feb

Well I did it. I finished Cubano’s gifts! I keep fretting that the scarf is too girly, then I look at it again, and think differently. It’s soft and warm, and made from Yarn Bee fleece yarn, and Lion Brand Homespun. The Yarn Bee is much thicker than the Homespun, which should have effected the ending look by making it look chunky, but by some miracle, it flows nicely and not noticeable-except for feel.


The hat, I’ve made once before for James when he visited a few months ago. Every time I get to the decrease rows, I freak out. It decreases from 80 stitches down to 10 stitches in a matter of 13 rows, which isn’t much, but by the time I get the suggested 8 inches finished for the hat, I freak out that it’s too big! However, it turned out fine both times. For James’s cap, I folded the brim up in the front and stitched it so it stayed up. I didn’t do that for this cap, as I’m not sure how big Cubano’s head is. It runs down into the eyes a little bit, but it isn’t bothersome, so it should be fine.


The wrist warmers are the same as I’ve posted before. Both the hat and the warmers were made in I Love This Yarn, yarn, in the color black.


I folded it up and packaged it together with a black ribbon. I’m excited to give it to him! The snow is still falling, over knee deep here in Lakewood, Colorado. Though the temperature is oddly warm, for me, I imagine he’s colder than a snowman. We had a power outage earlier that lasted for about an hour, which was fun for me and was a little sad the power came back on when I was ready to hit my needles. I was looking forward to knitting in candlelight. I’m hoping all of you are staying warm, wherever you are!



Cuban Snowman

2 Feb

“When is it going to snow?” The janitor at work always asks, every day I see him. We call him Cubano, as he is a Cuban Refugee and we cannot pronounce his name…no matter how many times we ask him or others to repeat, the syllables turn to mush when we try to repeat. He recently moved to Colorado right before our winter season started, fresh out of Cuba, and never forgets to remind us that his family lives in Sunny Florida; he’s the only one in Colorado.
Our temperatures, often times, drop down into the negatives. Working nights, and when snow is included, this can be quite a daunting task. Only the brave succeed through a whole season.
“Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” I tell him. “We’re supposed to get six inches.” Normally, our snow always falls a few inches short of what’s expected, something Cubano has yet to fully conceive. Yet, just the word of snow had him bowing his head in defeat. He glanced up through his long eyelashes a me, mumbled a few phrases that I couldn’t make out through his heavy accent, and ended with “six inches?!, aye, aye, aye!”
We haven’t had our yearly blizzard yet, and just as the sun set today, the weather had dropped about fifteen degrees with a slight, brisk wind that made us question wearing our hats; something Cubano needed immediately, and I guessed from the fact that I didn’t see him throughout the the rest of my shift, he had barricaded himself into a warm building to take his time cleaning, anything to stay out of the-for me-almost chilly air.
I gave him his keys that he had signed for, his head still hung low. He was contemplating. I could tell that the thought of snow had hung heavy on his mind. I couldn’t blame him. I have never had the opportunity to live somewhere, in a climate colder than the one I am accustomed to, let alone away from family. Just thinking of being thousands of miles away from them makes a simple snowfall seem colder than it really is.
Cubano is skinny. Rail thin. No matter how much he eats, the weight doesn’t want to cling to him. I’d gladly give him an extra twenty pounds of mine to know he’d be just that much warmer. I can tell that though he has ample winter clothes for getting through, he still gets cold. Much colder than I could ever fathom. No matter how hard he works, especially when one can build up enough body heat while shoveling to keep up with an accumulating snowfall and end up sweating and praying for air conditioning, our dear Cubano would waste more energy trying to keep that heat than successfully using it to keep himself warm.

Tonight, during my lunch hour, I forewent my mean and ran to Hobby Lobby, picking up a few skeins of thick, fleecy yarn. Though my nana’s birthday is coming up and I still have quite a few granny squares to make for the blanket I plan on giving her, I can’t get his sodden face and slumped shoulders out of my mind. The onset of his tears broke my heart and I decided right then and there that I will, in the next three nights, work with all the power I can muster, with all the speed my fingers can give me, to make him a set of a scarf, hat and gloves to help keep him warm. I may not finish in time for this snow storm, but I am determined to hopefully let him know that no matter how cold it may get, he has the warmth of my friendship to help him through this.