I have no project to share with you today.
I just need to vent.
I posted a project I was really proud of on Facebook the other day, along with it's asking price. I always hesitate to post the asking price to everyone, but, let's face it - I'm trying to sell furniture and don't want to waste anyone's time making them ask for a price and then wait for a reply. But posting the price really opens me up to scrutiny, as does posting my work on social media in the first place. It's a risk that is almost always worth it, because the majority of people I encounter are so encouraging and appreciate what I do and really love to support small businesses like mine.
I worked really hard restoring an antique table that had a lot of damage to it. Included in my $525 asking price of the dining room set came two gorgeous and 70+ year old primitive style chairs, that I milk painted, with the exception of the seats which I sanded, stained and sealed. I also added a bench that I recovered the top of and painted the legs of, so the set could seat 4 people.
I actually struggled with the $525 asking price for this dining room set. I really want to keep my prices low - so that anyone - single Moms like myself, college girls, small families starting out, etc - can afford my restored items. But I also have to value MY time, pay my bills and put food on the table, so there's a balance.
So when a woman commented "Cute, but holy crap! My husband could make that whole set for $50" it stung. I tried to let it roll of my back, I swear I did. But I felt insulted. For goodness sakes, I worked really hard on it, and I had much more than $50 into the pieces themselves, before I even started working on them or even bought the materials to work with.
So to this woman, and all the others who turn their nose up at handmade items that have a higher price tag than oh, idk... some piece of poop you can buy at Wal-Mart or IKEA, I would like to give a breakdown of what artists and artisans like me actually take home, using this set as an example.
First, the store I sell out of allows customers to request a 10% discount on any item over $50. This happens the vast majority of the time that I sell a piece of furniture. I actually loathe this concept, because I would like to simply price my things fairly and have people pay that price. (right? lol) I also think it stinks for the person who doesn't ask for a discount and pays a semi-artificially inflated price, but, nice guys finish last in this scenario. So I now have to account for this price break, knowing it will happen nearly every time. I didn't make the rules, but I'm forced to play by them.
$525.00 - 10% ($52.50 Discount to the Customer) = $472.50 Purchase Price
Then I pay a 10% Commission to the store.
$472.50 - $47.25 = $425.25
Then I pay rent. I'm not going to disclose what I pay, but it averages out to 20% of my gross monthly sales. So for the sake of easy math, let's subtract another 20%.
$425.25 - $85.00 = $345.25
Out of what's left, let's now subtract how much I paid for the furniture pieces and materials.
Table - $15.00
Chairs - $30.00
Bench - $8.00
Drop Cloth to recover bench. - $12.00
It can be hard to calculate the cost of all the other miscellaneous items that I keep on hand and use on nearly every one of my projects. Every few months, I spend a small fortune restocking these things, so I have to try to break it down per project so that as a business owner, I have an idea what I'm making and if everything is even profitable. Here's how I calculated all of that.
Milk Paint - $8 (I used a little more than 1/3 of a quart, at $22/qt.)
Latex Paint - $2.00 worth
Patch & Paint - $1.00 worth
Stain - $6.00
Gas to deliver the set to the store - $8.00 estimated
Gas to pick up all the items - $11.00 estimated
Wax - $4.00 estimated
Sandpaper - $1.00 estimated
(Do I even count things like my tackcloths, cheesecloths, paint/wax brushes? I did not here. Sigh.)
Total of items purchased and materials: $106.00.
$345.25 - $106.00 = $239.25.
Lest we forget Uncle Sam. Let's say that's another 15%. $239.25 - $36 = $203.25.
NOPE - We're still not done...now let's talk about the amount of work I put into the set.
Restoring this table and chairs took me about 12 hours. Then I photographed it, which it took me about 2 hours to set up, photograph, then edit the pictures, watermark them to prepare them for the upcoming blog post, and then post them on social media. Then I delivered the set to the store and set it up. Another 2 hours. So, when all is said and done, I have 16 hours into this project, for the "profit" of $203.25. (Oh, and I'm blogging about it the set later, so we can realistically add another two hours, but I won't actually count that in the cost of this because it will just get too depressing.)
Divide the $203.25 by the 16 hours of work, and you'll see I made a whopping $12.70 an hour working on this project.
So, anonymous critical woman, I realize that at times it might seem like my prices are high. If you are a DIY'er, you can certainly go out and find yourself a set for the same $106 (or less. More power to you.) and redo it yourself if that's your cup of tea. But if and when you are a business, at some point, you will have to turn a profit, as ugly as that might sound to you. I am not independently wealthy and I don't just do this simply for the joy of selling my projects at cost. I work really, really hard. Every single day. I am in my garage, sweating and painting. When my husband lived at home, I sold things for close to what I had in them, because it was my "me time" and I loved doing it. I still love doing it. But I do have to support myself now. So, please, woman. Think before you speak.
To those of you who "get it" - PLEASE don't think I am complaining... I love what I do. There is nowhere else I would rather be than in my garage, sweating and painting. I just really needed to vent and share the numbers so that those who don't get it might come a little closer to understanding that it's not about the money. Thank you to all of you who support and encourage me on days like today. Thank you to those of you who remind me that my work is valued and loved. Thank you to those of who you tell me my stuff is art and how much you love having it in your homes. Thank you to my customers, my friends and fellow artists... the ones who "get it." I love you!