Pricing

Before actually starting Atelier Oursonne, I was thinking and researching a lot about the pricing of hand made items. There seems to be an agreement in the online world that 2 or 3 times the price of the material is appropriate and I have to say that I find that calculation a bit odd and does not value at all the amount of work that goes into a knitted item. I came across this blog post http://ittakesballstoknit.com/?p=2457 from a guy who is even suggesting that people should not buy any hand knitted items sold at ridiculously low prices.

And on Portobello Road Market I once saw a stand with lots of hand knitted sweaters in children sizes for about 8 to 10£. They were only made of very cheap acrylic yarn but still, this is ridiculous. It barely covers the costs of material. So where did they get the yarn from and who has been knitting? Certainly no one in London, or the UK, or Europe… I still regret that I didn’t ask the lady when I passed. I was clearly under shock.

Obviously, if I would calculate the price of a very simple sweater for a baby by adding the costs of the material to the labour costs (even if I just used the minimum wages for my calculation), then I would have to price it somewhere in between 100 and 150£. Some might find that a tiny bit too much for any garment for a baby…. And I have to say that I personally would not pay that kind of money for a knitted sweater for one of my children even if it is made of 100% pure merino wool. I would just knit it myself 🙂

I know that some people are actually prepared to pay even more for a special piece of their toddler’s wardrobe but I also think that every child should have the right to wear a good quality woolen sweater during the cold winter months rather than the statically charged and sweaty acrylic version. Well, “every child” is probably a bit ambitious considering that already the material costs easily 10 – 30£ depending of the size of the sweater.

So I have finally decided to take many things into account when calculating my prices: the amount and quality of the used yarn, the complexity of the actual work (sometimes it is simple and you can do it whilst doing other things too, sometimes you really need to focus), labour time to a certain extend and the “intended purpose” to name just a few.

Intended purpose  means that the price of the necessary woolen sweater for a child will not depend much on the labour time whilst the price for the pretty cushion or for the delicate lace shawl knitted from a silk-merino blend will reflect those hours of work much more.

So, having high and low prices in the same shop might look odd at first but I hope I could make my choice clear with this post.

6 responses to “Pricing

  1. Excellent post … I especially like your category of “intended use”. I agree that most children should have a hand knitted woolen sweater, and even though it is ambitious, I think you could make one out of superwash wool, as not every child is going to care for that sweater. This also reduces the cost of materials, and eliminates allergy problems – although I find it quite suspect that we have only recently developed allergies to wool. Yes, I know wool has a reputation of being itchy, but us knitters know that is a matter of how well it is processed and the quality of the wool to begin with.
    I would lastly like to clear up a misconception … I don’t say you shouldn’t buy things priced ridiculously low (I will but I will always talk to the seller and inform them of the error of their ways IMHO), what I tried to express is that the sellers shouldn’t sell at these prices in an open market situation. This gives the general public the wrong idea of the value of the time spent working on the piece.
    If you are able to find the right market, you could sell a large percentage of your pieces at their real value, and then be able to offer others at a discounted rate – to allow more people the opportunity to have a hand knitted item. I think it’s important to put a tag on the discounted items showing the amount of the discount though, so people realize the value of the item and the deal they’re getting.
    Hugzzz 😎

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    • Thanks for your comment. And sorry if I misunderstood your idea on not even buying ridiculously low priced things. (I do like it though and it actually matches my recent turn away from big online companies back to the local book shop,…)
      I agree, there would probably be a market for expensive “real value” prices but I am not sure if I would want to only serve customers who can afford it.
      I have only just started my business (so far only one lonely item is listed 🙂 ) but ideally I am only producing what I would buy myself. Which means children cloths are not meant to be precious but rather practical, easy to care and wear. It is a totally different story when it comes to adult accessories or gifts like cushions or bags though where I am willing to pay much more. Those things also last a bit longer than the average child clothing I guess.

      And the tip with the discount is really good, I will definitely consider it as not everyone is going to read my post about pricing.

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      • You’re welcome and no problem about the misunderstanding. Communication is a tough thing in person, let alone online. As I said though, I will buy low priced goods if they are good, but I will advise the seller they could get much more for it.
        You’re absolutely correct about finding your target market – and I have just chosen to go high end as I don’t have the time to make lots of pieces, so each needs to be sold fairly close to their real value.
        Recently though, I re-engineered a scarf from the TV show Elementary. I sell the pattern on my website, and found that I had 2 scarves that I didn’t need and wouldn’t wear myself. I am giving one to the model who wore it in the photo hoot for the pattern, and the other one I was able to sell for much less than the value as I make money from every pattern sold. This may be another option for you if you’re able to write out the patterns for the pieces you make! 🙂

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      • Yes, pattern writing will definitely be part of my business. I have in fact lots of pieces of paper with hand written notes and it is fairly on top of my list to get those notes into a readable format. I am also considering teaching as an option. After all I am a qualified teacher.
        Time at the moment is very limited, the children are still little. But I thought it is better to start now rather than sit and wait. This way, I can do all my beginners mistakes now and both, the business and me, can grow into it 🙂

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  2. I like your blog. You are making such lovely things for children. I looked on your etsy page. I would like to be able to get back to your blog from there, but can’t. Could that be improved? thanks. k

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    • Thanks for pointing that out, Karolina. When I opened the shop, there was no blog yet. And then I forgot, I guess as there isn’t much going on in the shop yet. But that should change over the weekend.

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