If you're going to get bad news and good news on the same day, it's probably good that they come at the same time.
I don't like to focus on bad news, so I'll post the good news first. My Yellow Windowleaf beadwoven cuff made it to Etsy's front page today! See?
I've been busy and hadn't even seen the treasury before I saw it on the front page (and thanks to a couple of Etsy friends for pointing it out to me). The treasury's title is CHAZ (a cross between cheese and jazz and has nothing to do with the treasury), and it was curated by aslibinal. Be sure to check out her shop for some cool Blythe stuff and some even cooler stuffed critters (ya gotta love a stuffed critter called Mr. Toofy).
Okay, now the bad news. I was literally in the middle of capturing that screen print of the front page when the phone rang. A few weeks ago, I was approached by a jewelry representative who told me she really loved my beadweaving and wanted to market it to high end gift shops and boutiques. Now I'm normally a bit skeptical about things like that, but I knew how she found me and did some research to determine her legitimacy, so I went for it. I packaged up some pieces for her to take to her clients, made up a price list for her; and I've just been waiting for word. I was a bit nervous, actually, that I'd wind up with orders and would have to race to finish a bunch of bracelets. I needn't have worried.
She told me that everyone who saw my work really loved it, but they all thought the prices were too high. Their expectation was that a beadwoven cuff should cost them somewhere in the range of $15 to $20!!! Eegads! These are the cuffs you see me writing about here on my blog, all designed by me, all handmade by me, and all made from the best materials I can find. The rep told me that the shop owners said they could purchase Fair Trade items much more cheaply than they could purchase mine, and they didn't think they should have to pay so much.
Even when I manage to purchase the materials for my cuffs on sale, there are a few dollars tied up in the cost of each piece. That doesn't even take into consideration the amount of time it takes to craft one of these pieces. It takes a long time to weave all those little beads together, and I'm pretty quick. I really do enjoy every aspect of making these pieces, from working on the designs, to choosing the colors, to weaving all the beads and watching them turn into "fabric." That being said, I'm not willing to sell my artistry, my skill, and my time for what would amount to less than minimum wage.
I don't think anyone should expect that. I'm dismayed when I see someone selling their beadweaving (or anything, for that matter!) on Etsy for what I know to be a ridiculously low price. It doesn't help any of us to sell at bargain basement prices. What happens when someone wants wholesale pricing? There's no room to provide that unless you actually LOSE money on your craft. Yes, there are those out there who say they're just selling their work to make money to pay for materials. I kind of started out on Etsy with that thought, but I eventually abandoned it. Some of the reason for abandoning that is that it's not fair to the people who are selling their work at the higher prices they deserve if I'm undercutting them. I've made a lot of cyber friends on Etsy, and a lot of them are beadweavers. I would feel absolutely horrible if I sold my work at prices substantially lower than theirs just to garner extra sales.
We really need to educate people about handcrafts. I think all of us who create do so because we love it, and we'd probably make things whether there were an Etsy (or eBay or DaWanda or eCrater, or wherever you sell) or not. Our friends and relatives would just receive lots of handmade gifts. But if you ARE selling your handcrafts, don't undersell yourself. Don't undercut your fellow sellers. Place a value on yourself and your art/craft, and stop trying to sell at prices charged by those third world countries. Use the best materials you can, do the best work you can do, and take pride in your art.
I will now step DOWN from the soapbox. I just had to vent some of the frustration I experienced when I received that phone call today. My beadweaving is on its way back to me, and I'm fine with that. Discerning buyers will understand that they're purchasing something special when they purchase my beadweaving.