Monday, January 11, 2010

the cost of the cozy/cuff, part 2

I'm going to do my best to keep this from becoming a rant, but no promises.

Today, Etsy included a link to the cozy/cuff on their facebook page. For the most part, this was amazing. My page views blew up, and several people purchased cozy/cuffs of their very own.

But the link also sparked an interesting discussion about the price. More than a few people thought that $32 was an exorbitant amount of money to pay for the cozy/cuff. There were some people who jumped in to defend the price, but there were a lot of people that seemed to think I am making some ridiculous profit on the cozy/cuffs.

I am here to tell you that is just not true.

Here is just a small sampling of the cost factors that go into the cozy/cuff:

1. The Etsy costs are retail costs. When I wholesale the cozy/cuff, I have to cut the price in half. Which means I still need to build in profit for a wholesale price. And let me tell you, the profit margin on my wholesale price is pretty slim.

2. The cozy/cuff is made in small batches in the US. (If you read my original post - the cost of the cozy/cuff - you already know this.) And when you are buying materials and making products in small batches, the price is always going to be higher.

3. Not only do I not make the cozy/cuff in China - but I don't live in China either. And you have to factor cost of living (not to mention cost of working) into the price of the objects. (Or the workers wages.) And while I don't live in the most expensive part of the US, I certainly don't live in the one of the cheapest places in the world. And I think its only fair that I pay myself a living wage. (And if you don't believe that workers should be paid a living wage, please stop reading my blog. We cannot be friends.)

4. You also need to take into consideration the fact that the cozy/cuff is a bracelet. Here's a little math for you: today I had a cozy/cuff on my person for approximately 9 hours. For 8 of those hours, it was on my wrist. It was on my coffee cup for about an hour. (Probably a little less than that, but its easier to round.) So given those numbers, 89% of the time, the cozy/cuff functioned as a bracelet. And $32 is a pretty reasonable price for a cuff bracelet. (Its actually fairly consistent with the pricing of other cuff bracelets.)

After all this, its pretty clear to me that I should do a better job marketing it as a bracelet first - one with the added bonus of being a coffee cup cozy. Hopefully that will help justify the cost in some people's minds.

I should also probably stop reading internet discussions of my work.


tricia mckellar said...

I wish you were making scads of money on every cuff!

I think you may have a good point-- I think folks will spend much more on bracelets than coffee cuffs, so the edgy, designer bracelet that is so much more might be a good angle.

Art Wall Katie said...

Very interesting. I agree that $32 seems much more reasonable and in fact downright inexpensive for a cute piece of jewelry. Great marketing shift!

Rachael, Pistachio Press said...

Some of those comments are total crap. Good for you for getting some nice sales today. A living wage is incredibly important and I can't believe that some people can't figure this out, or the importance of consistent retail pricing!

Noel Giger said...

I'm clapping right now :) I'm all in favor of a living wage for all of us!

Valerie A. Heck said...

I liked your rant. I think your price is right on.

kait said...

Point #3 is the key. Bravo! Your price is totally reasonable. Don't sweat the cheapskates.

Robin Marie said...

I'm actually happy for you! Your recent posts have been regarding marketing and presentation of the cozy/cuff. It sounds to me like you made a breakthrough!

People buy them, so you know you're right in your pricing.

megan said...

Thanks everyone! Its great to get such positive support.

Robin Marie - I think you're totally right. It can be frustrating to read peoples' stupid comments, but it is helping me clarify my marketing strategy, which in the end is a good thing!

Rebecca Dortzbach said...

I just have to say you are awesome.

Fiona Cartolina said...

Thanks for writing about this. I love your products and have been wanting to tell you this for a while. If I had listened to all the negative feedback we got on our line 3 years ago I would never have continued. I respect that your product is made in small batches in the US and I love that it can also be a bracelet. Be brave and power through the negative stuff.

Sarah said...

Good for you for turning a negative into a positive learning experience.

Sometimes I feel like I have to price my items so low just to stay competitive in my market. But posts like yours help me remember I can't undervalue myself.

Wolf and Willow said...

Hi! I found this post via your very interesting article on the "Culture of Cheap". I think your prices are perfectly reasonable. I love your cuffs. Stand by them! I recently had a panic moment over slow January sales and started making quicker, cheaper items, but then the quality and uniqueness was lost... I like kait's comment "don't sweat the cheapskates".

Kat said...

Great blog Megan - the people leaving those comments didn't even take into account the time spent *making* an item, let alone marketing, packaging etc. But I bet they'd spend £300 on a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes just for the name, then justify it by telling you about the "workmanship" or that they're and "investment buy".

AmyE said...

Love your work! Just read the comments and it proves people are totally unaware how a business is run.

However, I think for some people the issue may be the product, a cup cozy, and they just cannot imagine spending that sort of money on one. This is no reflection on the quality etc of your design. Therefore, I think you are totally right to market it more as a cuff. You open up a new market, and one where people, buying a piece of jewellery, will be more willing to spend that sort of money. Good luck!

Heather said...

We DO need to be recognized and compensated for our time and creativity designing and making quality and local goods for people to enjoy. I think deep down most people love buying unique hand-made items - and ones that double as bracelets, no less!

Brooke Medlin said...

Great post, great points.

I think a lot of negative comments posted in response to etsy featuring something (a note: I didn't see this particular post or comments) have little to do with the actaul item and more to do with a dose - even if small - of resentment and even jealousy. You're getting featured, and they're not, and suddenly logic goes out the window. People assume you're rolling around in a hundred dollar bils from all of your etsy sales, keeping every cent of the $32 for yourself, and not realizing that we actually see little of the amount that we charge for our work.

I've mentioned this before, other places, but I honestly think that some people grumble at the idea of 'giving' another REAL LIVE person (who they 'know' from their shop, blog, etc.) their hard earned money. Some people love buying handmade, and others seem to find it really difficult to hand out money to a company with a face.

Amy Kelly said...

I think your cozy/cuff is incredibly unique and your price is well worth the product. I couldn't agree more with your first point. Many buyers will never understand that for many Etsy sellers, prices have to take into consideration the cut that brick & mortar stores take through consignment or wholesale. It's difficult finding a price that works well for venues such as Etsy but still allows us to make a profit from wholesale/consignment. It's frustrating when you hear over and over from boutique owners that your prices are too low, but then Etsy and craft show customers comment that the prices are too high. I will never understand why a customer is willing to pay more for the same item if they see it in their favorite boutique than they would if they bought it directly from the artist.

tara said...

I think your new marketing angle will help. I wouldn't pay $32 for a coffee cosy (largely because I carry a reusable mug to coffee shops), but when you made me think of it as a piece of jewellry, it was much more appealing. Just my two cents.

Anita Hamilton said...

Oh yes i saw those facebook postings too and i was shocked my mouth was just wide open the whole time reading it.

But i completely agree with you and fully support you one estyan to another.

Perhaps you should title them Bracelet cozy's. I think they're fantastic and worth exactly as they are priced. I wouldn't charge any less for them at all.

They're beautiful and such a great multifunction. You can wear a great piece of jewelry to work and use it as a cozy when you get your morning coffee which you may sip on for 30 minutes and then put the cuff back on anyway, right ? :)

megan said...

thanks to everyone who commented! your support means a lot to me!

amy kelly - i think people have this mistaken assumption that if they buy directly from an artist, they will be able to get some kind of deal (whether its through Etsy or at a craft show) I have no idea where this comes from

PK Studios said...

I agree wholeheartedly with everyone that a living wage is important. Artists and designers should be able to make a living for making our world a more beautiful (and productive) place! I think we can all agree that a throw-away/"fast food" society is not beautiful or sustainable either!

Heather said...

I would certainly pay $32 for a bracelet or a cozy cuff. I'm proud of you for not lowering the price of your cuff. Some people think that artists should not get paid because it is a 'hobby' or it is 'fun.' They fail to realize that it is also a job for many. With that said THANK YOU for sticking up for all of us!

Wots her name again? said...

Sorry to hear that hun.
at the end of the day if some one wants somthing they will buy it and if they dont they will gripe about the price. I think the cozy cuffs are innovative in idea and timeless and classic in design. I would live to purchase some to feature in my upcoming shoots and prehaps sell.
Please contact me at

Aroo Studio said...

We have had the same issue and only sell our discounted/discontinued collars via etsy. Our regularly priced items don't sell. There are so many other collar makers that sell for much cheaper on etsy, we can't compete and make a profit; some people sell their collars on etsy for less than our cost for supplies (we use higher quality supplies)!

I think it's tough for people who do sell wholesale to use etsy at retail pricing. Our collars are $36 and sell like crazy in dog boutiques. But etsy is full of people who don't sell wholesale and in turn sell at wholesale prices.

I think it's ridiculous that people expect to go on etsy and expect handmade items to be cheap! I buy all my supplies in the US, support my local fabric store, sewing machine store, etc. It simply costs more to make something in the US. Our collars are a lot higher quality too-better hardware, organic webbing, etc.In addition, we have a business license, pay taxes, etc-costs that some etsy shops do not have.

Quality cost more, US made costs more, and no sweatshops costs more. Is the extra expense worth supporting our economy, supporting local businesses and decreasing child labor and sweatshops?

That is the question the consumer should be answering.

JafaBrit's Art said...

Personally I think it's pricey, but then I wouldn't pay $3 for a cup of coffee. I might pay $35 for a bracelet :)

As I mentioned elsewhere what we value and what we think something is worth is VERY subjective. If people enjoy it, and think its worth it to them, who are others to decide what their worth and price should be.

ps. I think it being a cuff AND a bracelet is really cool.

willson said...

The popular comment layout is common, so it is easily recognized scanning to post a comment. If the comment section is in a different format, then I am going to spend more time trying to decipher what everything means.
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AmyMayDesign said...

Awe:) I agree with your very last sentence, I think its kind of like famous people reading the tabloid press about themselves. IT DOESNT HELP!

Thank you so much for writting this article, I hope that the more people in our industry, or even possibly buyers read this type of thing they will realize what real time talent and hard work we put into making our products!
And I also think that selling online may have a "buy cheap" stigma which hopefully with time can change. I mean I go into small boutiques all the time and they have $80 cuff bracelets in there!

marnie said...

I think your cuffs look fantastic and I would definitely pay the price if I needed one.

I've recently opened my etsy store and was worried about pricing. I sell doorstops and matching magnet sets and found that many door stops are about $15 where as mine are $21.99 but I think they are alot nicer and better finished so I'm sticking to my guns.

Thank you for your post as it makes me feel better about my decision to charge for the time and detail put into my products.

Excellent change in strategy too by the way.

Heather said...

A little late - but I just saw this and must comment. To think that most of those comments likely came from other crafters and artists! That's gross and sad.

Recently, there was a comment on Design Sponge that criticized the price of some beautifully designed and screen printed tea towels. Grace, of course, defended the pricing, pointing out that it was actually on the "cheap" side. Then the commenter came back to say, "I am a big fan of handmade, don’t get me wrong. I exclusively purchase gifts from Etsy!" - but maybe just didn't value tea towels enough.

People in the etsy community often like to say that they "support handmade." But buying handmade is not the same as supporting handmade. Supporting handmade encompasses economic and moral support, showing in words and wallet that you believe handmade has a value that exceeds the cost of supplies and an hourly wage. Simply buying on etsy because you realize that you can actually save money by buying handmade, and get better quality to boot, is not supporting handmade. It's just buying handmade.

So much of the defense of pricing talks about quality materials and the amount of work, but that assumes that you are just a worker, when in fact you're an artist.

You are charging for the time it takes to design an item, both it's visual look and the production process. You are charging for your knowledge and talent. You are charging for the time that it took to develop the skills and techniques in the first place. Nevermind the obvious: marketing, photographing, electricity, rent, etc.

I don't think the petty members withing the etsy community deserves the time and effort of a defense, but it is nice to see others call them out!

AmyMayDesign said...

Amen Heather!!!
Yeah what she said, exactly:)

Kathleen Fasanella said...

I'm sorry you felt the need to defend yourself (not a criticism).

The point is, the whiners are not your customer so why would you care?

There are people who will always try to count your money meaning one can be reduced to justifying their pricing. *Your* customer isn't going to count your money so why should you? Money counters really annoy me.

Chrissy Foreman C said...

Hi Megan,

I've come in pretty late to the conversation, but I just wanted to say that I think your work is TOTALLY WORTH every cent you're charging.

I feel sad about people having said those things about your work, and all I can say is that I hope it has helped you grow stronger and know there are WAY more people supporting your work than not

C xx

Deborah Chapin said...

I am late to the comments, I know, I just found your articles via Etsy... you know you don't actually have to defend your prices don't you? The only person you have to please is a client, and your personal work ethic. You have buyers enough said.

The fact is that women ARE entitled to make a decent living without being criticized for doing it. Where is it written that women entrepeneur can not make a profit? Why should it be a problem for you to make something for your time? God forbid a women business person could be treated with courtesy and respect for making a living and looked up to for trying to make their lives better.

Never mind the critics. They aren't worth your time. Anyone who can sell their product at a profit has made a significant accomplishment in this day and age.