Wednesday, 29 April 2009
I suspect that your answer is “yes” or that if it isn’t, you are sufficiently socially aware to not voice those thoughts unless you know you are amongst people who agree with you.
Any deviation from this line of thought is just not acceptable in today’s society. Any company grading pay by skincolour would, rightly, be hauled up in front of a tribunal.
So – do you believe that any person doing equal work with any other person should be paid an equal amount? Yes? And that pay should not be dependent on colour, gender or sexual preference?
And do you think we have, as a society, made great progress since women had to give up work upon marriage, women were barred from universities and that the prescribed role of women in society was to be wife and mother?
Tell me then why UK womens pay is 12% lower than mens and that last year the gap actually widened?
Now, I am a socialist. A good oldfashioned one that takes Marx’s strictures “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” not as a call for greater control over individuals behaviour but a moral comment on the variable capacity for work between individuals and the mutual support necessary in society. I don’t object to capitalism as such, but I abhor the extremes and feel that any society that claims the name must, by definition, provide adequately for those who cannot support themselves. Tax the rich, feed the poor, but if you can work, then get on with it. It may be somewhat basic as a political ideology but it’s lasted me 30+ years without any major revisions!
However, browsing around yesterday trying to crystalise some thoughts I came across this site: http://www.theprometheusinstitute.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=127:the-feminist-manifesto-how-and-why-to-rescue-feminism-from-the-left&catid=46:freedom&Itemid=35 that feels feminism has been ill-served by socialism and that fighting through the free market is the best way to female emancipation. I have many disagreements with that idea, not least that it does rather exclude all women whose chosen career is not subject to free market forces but…“Who is the enlightened woman of modern society? She is an entrepreneur who discards the victim mentality, along with her Che Guevara poster. She accelerates the upward mobility of her career through merit, instead of loafing around on the Affirmative Action couch. She relishes the contrasting shades of masculine and feminine sides of men and women, respectively, and refuses to blame men for all societal wrongs in this world.
She rejects the notion that capitalism is a modern form of patriarchal oppression, because she realizes that the market is amoral and a mere reflection of societal wants and needs. She opposes legislation and policy that is inherently discriminative of any sex.”
So – where is this going and what does it have to do with pricing hand-made articles?
She is an entrepreneur who discards the victim mentality, along with her Che Guevara poster. She accelerates the upward mobility of her career through merit, instead of loafing around on the Affirmative Action couch.
Well, after years of doing craft fairs I have noticed that men making jewellery tend to have no problem whatsoever charging good price for their work and getting it. I have seen one woman welder trying to explain that yes, she did indeed make the metalwork she was selling, no, her husband wasn’t the creator and despite demonstrating her skill, some of her audience simply could not comprehend!
She relishes the contrasting shades of masculine and feminine sides of men and women, respectively, and refuses to blame men for all societal wrongs in this world.
I used to sell quilts and throws. I stopped, not because they didn’t sell, because they did, and at 3 figures too, but because I gave up my studio space. One occasion though a woman passed by my stand at a craft fair, looked at the prices and demanded an explanation because “she’d made a quilt and it didn’t cost anything near that much. My ex-husband, rising to the occasion, demanded to know how long it had taken her!
She flounced off. Sometimes, the idea of universal sisterhood seems a very, very long way off…
She rejects the notion that capitalism is a modern form of patriarchal oppression, because she realizes that the market is amoral and a mere reflection of societal wants and needs.
Again and again I see, not overtly, but in myriad subtle ways, the idea that women, doing women’s crafts (knitting, sewing etc) should not charge for their time.
Women are consistently paid less in the workplace. You know those salary ranges “dependant on experience”? Experience or gender? Remember we agreed at the start of this on “equal pay for equal work?”
It has been calculated that the unpaid work women do in the home would cost £30-45, 000 to replace with hired help.
Many times on the forum I have seen women with growing, successful businesses complain that their husbands “don’t understand, aren’t supportive, think they are wasting their time”. Wasting time away from that £30-45K worth of unpaid labour, perhaps. Being charitable, I doubt these men are setting out to undermine, but the perception that a woman's work and financial value is inherently less than a man's seems so deeply ingrained that they may not realise what they are saying or doing.
Even my own generally enlightened man had a fit of growling, chestbeating and chucking the bones around the cave entrance when I pointed out he was not solely responsible for the family finances!
She opposes legislation and policy that is inherently discriminative of any sex.
Even my most argumentative self can't pick holes in that one!
The Etsy forum is filled with uncertainty. Am I good enough? How should I price this? What should I do……? And of course the fabulous trainwrecks where someone attacks classy handmade (it must be a reseller!), less good handmade (it lowers the tone), vintage, supplies, unprofessionalism, professionalism, high prices, low prices etc etc etc. Where did we put our spines? Why do so many women still believe that their time and skills are not worth paying for?
Now, I’m not suggesting issuing your SO with a weekly bill for housework and childcare (but do please share with me the reaction if you do!) but – think on this…
In western recorded history, our so-called equality is just a tiny blip on the timeline. In many ways we are still 2nd class – we work harder, for longer hours, for less pay.
Are you a SAHM (and dear god how I loathe both epithet and stereotype) or do you have a home-based artisan business? Why does your reproductive status have to come into it?
Do you make and sell as a hobby? If you are selling in the UK then you should be declaring your income anyway – so why not consider yourself to be what you are – a self-employed artisan?
It is less than a century ago that we got to vote and only 10 years since a married woman’s earnings and property were no longer taxed as her husbands.
Despite all the legitimate grumbles, we have it so easy compared to the rest of the world. I know that, you know that. We have it easy compared to women in the past.
So, when the uncertainty kicks in and you reckon your time and skills aren’t worth anything, just pause a minute, listen to all those silenced voices, past and present, and see if you can hear them telling you what they think your time is worth.
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Part of the problem, I think, is that many sellers are already pricing their handmade items at wholesale prices. As well as selling commercially made items, I do actually sell handmades. Sometimes. I see a lot of people get confused about pricing, but really, it is easy.
Cost of materials + your hourly wage/overheads x time taken + % profit = wholesale
Wholesale price x N = retail, N being the markup. I double it, but everyone has their own preference. For those making small, repeatable items, you can scale up depending on order size.
Really. Not that hard.
The point about selling wholesale is that the person buying large quantities is going to be doing a lot of the work for you. They're not trying to get rich off the fruits of your labour. Really. They will have a shop to maintain, or a website to host. They need to promote, store, package and post your items. They will need to advertise. Not on free PW blogs that have a handful of readers, but targetted advertising that will bring in lots of customers. And, with all of this, they still need to have their business profitable in order to support the artisans who supply the store, increase product range and pay the bills.
Granted, not everyone is trying to run a business. For some it is a hobby, a fun pastime that brings in a bit of money. Fine. But wouldn't it be nice to actually make a bit of money?
Try pricing for retail. You might even end up selling more.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
However, despite delays, setbacks, mishaps and near-disasters, the first few of the clay buttons are done.
This is not the best photograph in the world! They are still on their backing paper (baking parchment - brilliant stuff!) and are still in need of a second coat of varnish. But, we are getting there.
And also on the theme of getting there... http://www.boutonnerie.com/ is now live and working. There is still a great deal of work to be done on the commercial stock, but very soon the first artisan-made buttons will be here to be listed!
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Anyway, having been dissuaded from getting kiln (bah! what d'ye mean, we've nowhere to put it?) I reckoned I've give some airdry clays a go. Supposedly they dry rock-hard. Hmm. Am I too cynical when I immediately spot this phrase as a potential for disaster?
So, I squished and squeezed, pummelled and rolled, moulded and pressed, drew out designs and left a whole heap of button-shaped objects to dry. I got a bit distracted by the process (think: plasticine for grown-ups) and even more distracted by the fact that my brand of choice smells of marzipan but I was good and restrained myself from using up the entire kilo. Life here being as it is I only got a chance to check them this morning. And guess what?
Sanding, painting and varnishing come next - this is not a highspeed process. But I am absolutely chuffed to bits that they worked!