July 17, 2008

Buzz buzz buzz

this is where I've been for the past week - the Angel Court booth at the Gift Show!

My head is buzz buzz buzzing with information. I just returned from the Atlanta International Gift Show to see if I am ready to take the leap to a major wholesale show. If you've never been to a wholesale trade show, it's pretty insane. The Atlanta Mart is a gigantic multi-building, multi-level space where retailers come to buy merchandise to fill their store for the next several months. In short, they are basically on a shopping binge. They spend thousands and thousands without blinking an eye. All in an effort to please you, their dear customer.

The benefit of this is that you take your product to one show and take thousands of dollars in orders from multiple stores over a few days and then you're basically slammed for the next few months. (especially if you're like me and you make it all yourself) It's a sizable investment to do it - not only do you have to pay the booth fee (over $3000), you also have to have samples of everything you're going to sell and have a pretty fabulous display (more money).

I must say I got pretty pumped up to do it - not only were my friends for whom I was helping in their booth (Angel Court) super supportive, many other surrounding exhibitors were very encouraging as well. I met the fabulous faces behind Ollie Sang, Starr Luna, Shalla Wista, Jane Marvel, Papaya, and too many more to name! Whether their product was hand-made or manufactured, they were so very creative and we bounced ideas off of each other all weekend - it was great! It's another reason my head is buzzzing with info - I have so many new jewelry & display ideas I feel like my head's going to explode.

Lauren (of Ollie Sang) and Starr (of Starr Luna) try to decide which Jane Marvel bags to buy.

What I heard over and over again from all of the retailers that I consulted with was something I had known all along but had kind of been looking the other way - my prices are way too low. I don't know why I have been in denial of this. The price of silver has basically doubled since I set my prices (not to mention gas prices!) and I've raised a few pieces a few dollars, but that's really not enough and it isn't really good business sense. I was told by these retailers that I have adopted the craft show/etsy mentality where the trend is to kind of price as low as you can go... which I have to admit I am guilty of. I feel like I am constantly throwing money at shows and supplies and I am making money but I'm not really getting ahead.

Angela chats with Deb from Curious Sofa - she has been a sounding board for retailers since starting her blog, and this was a great night of networking and brainstorming!

So after much mental debate, I decided to raise my prices somewhat significantly. I didn't raise them as high as some retailers suggested (about $20+ dollars retail a piece!) but I am raising them fairly in relation to the time involved (it's not just the creation of the piece; it's the website editing, photographing, bookkeeping, etc) and the cost of my raw materials. Some of my gold filled pieces are actually going down a little in price, since I felt that some of them were a little too high.

As I raised the prices on my price sheet, I kept having mini break downs because it was so painful!! I guess my fear is that no one would pay that much for it, but I'm not sure why I feel that way, since my jewelry is handmade from the best materials I can find and it's not like I'm asking for hundreds of dollars. I had to keep taking computer breaks because I was getting heartburn. Seriously. Such a wuss... It's going to take me forever to update all of my website prices, so don't worry - if there is a piece you've been considering buying - now is the time to get it before I start staying up all night to edit my website! I know this will all be worth it when it is over and I won't be undervaluing myself or my product any more. Hooray!

Courtney, the designer behind Angel Court was also told her prices were way too low. So she tripled her prices and tripled her sales!

So if you're cruising around my website or see me at a show and your favorite piece seems slightly more expensive than you remember it, that's because it is. And if you're guilty like I was of underpricing yourself (80% of etsy sellers, he-hem), stop it right now! Charge what you think you're worth, not what you think someone would pay for it. One thing that happens to me over and over again is that I'll see something on etsy and think it's cute; then I'll check the price and think "there's no way - that's too low!" and in my mind, I immediately devalue the item and I don't buy it because I assume it is junk, or I assume that the creator does not value their creation or time. Knitters seem especially guilty of this. Just something to think about all of you buzzing entrepreneurs...

More resources to get your brain buzzing too:
Atlanta Gift Marts
American Craft Council
Philadelphia Buyer's Market of American Craft
Crafts and Craft Shows by Phil Kadubec (my all-time favorite craft fair book)
500 Tips for Marketing your Crafts by A.B. Petrow (this is on my reading list)
The Basic Guide to Pricing your Craftwork by James Dillehay
Making a Living in Crafts by Donald Clark


Ivey Handcrafted said...

isn't Gift Mart crazy - I shopped there for my store I used to own - the first time I went I was SOOO overwhelmed...but it is so inspiring. I hope to do it one day. And also - you are right on prices...I look at prices of things similar to mine on etsy and think HOW IN THE WORLD DO THEY SELL THINGS SO CHEAP? Good luck getting all your prices in order - you are so doing the right thing! xoxo

Angel Court Jewels... said...

i was luv'n this post until i got to the picture of myself. kind of scary...maybe i need to get a little more rest on these trips. thanks for all your help. i had a great time hanging out.

imwithsully said...

Great blog! Happy to have stumbled upon you.

Christina Lee said...

This was food for thought for me b/c I have been accused (by family mostly) of not charging enough. I have admired your jewlery from afar and hope it's ok to link to you on my jewelry blog. Thanks for sharing all of that!

amy tavern said...

what a great post! i just did my first wholesale show (buyers market in philly). it was an amazing experience for me and i learned a lot. i have tons to think about now.
it seems you are in a similar place.

also, i raised my prices significantly back in march. it was difficult, stressful, i cried. i, too, was afraid people wouldn't go for it. things seem to be fine, though. it's important to get the correct price for your work, good for you and good for the market in general.