My oh my - so much has been happening in the last couple days I can barely wrap my head around it. The primary catalyst has been EtsyRain, which is the Etsy Street Team I'm involved in. We just celebrated our 1st Birthday as a group. (I can't believe it's been a whole year with them crafty folks!) I could (and should) do a whole separate post on the fabulousness of EtsyRain but that will have to wait a bit. For now I just want to give a hip-hip-hooray to our team for making the Teams feature on the Storque!
And in that Storque article my "Spring Forward Jean Vest" was one of the featured items along several other awesome EtsyRain artists. And then the next day, this AM, we all made the front page of Etsy. Wow! Such great exposure for all of us. And through that exposure I've been thrown into a business analyzing head spin --- I was contacted by a brick and mortar boutique for a wholesale inquiry. And I hadn't a clue how to respond.
First thing I did was to contact Betsy for advice - knowing that she has had several wholesale accounts in the past. She was super helpful and made me a little less freaked out about saying the wrong thing or messing everything up. I also went and read as much as I could from this forum thread on Etsy about wholesaling from the perspective of a shop owner. I basically came to realize that right now, my prices are pretty much already set at wholesale which means to pursue boutiques and galleries for wholesale accounts - which I already really wanted to do (it's on my to-do list in my journal - today's situation just gave me a nudge) I would have to take a loss. So I was faced with the decision of telling them no, sorry I can't at this time OR being upfront with them about just starting out and hoping they would be willing to work with me.
Pricing is something I know that tons of us struggle with. There are a ton of forum threads and discussions on Etsy about it every day. As individual artists we all want our work to be affordable. I hate the idea of making an item to sell at a price that I myself couldn't afford. It's especially tricky when other artists and other 20-somethings ARE your target audience. How do you price your pieces appropriately and still be fair to yourself?
I've just learned the hard way that I really have been selling myself short. I have been working with the mentality that if you buy direct from me I want to cut you a deal. Nice as that is, it isn't realistic for a real business and in the end I'm only hurting myself AND other artists. Too many of us on Etsy are doing that and it makes it that much harder for any of us to break out and actually make a living doing what we love.
It's hard to sit at craft show and watch your items sit with you with people over and over saying "Oh I LOVE this and ugh - it's how much?" It isn't fair to constantly be compared to Target just because I happen to be an artist who works on clothing. Just because it's clothing shouldn't necessarily equal cheap.
But it's also just as much of a stomach drop to read up on wholesale pricing and find out that stores expect to pay 50% less than what you charge. Seriously? That is common practice? There is no way. No way at all I can do that. So finding that out that my prices are pretty much already at wholesale. Which kinda puts me in trouble for this current wholesale inquiry. What to do? Is it necessarily fair to raise all my prices on Etsy 50% just so I can offer the standard discount to shops? Is it worth it? And since all my stuff is pretty much one of a kind can I even realistically sustain wholesale accounts? I probably couldn't produce much more than I already am without either a) changing HOW I make my art or b) quiting my day job.
These are all things my head is spinning with this morning which had me really distracted at said day job. I definitely don't have the answers yet, but this all is a good start regardless of the direction I chose to go in.
Anyone have any advice for this predicament??? (And here is where I get sneaky) In an effort to get as much advice as possible AND as a way to celebrate that I now have over 100 hearts in my shop due to all this commotion I want to offer a giveaway. Leave a comment with some advice and on Sunday I will pull a name out of a hat. The winner will be gifted with this print:
When Pens Fly
Because after all - all this hub-bub certainly is worth celebrating!