I’m not about to wax philosophical about hair dye (but thanks, L’Oréal, we are TOTALLY worth it).
Most artists who sell their work would tell you that their least favorite part of the process is pricing their work. Yes, ME ME ME, I hate pricing too. It makes me feel uncomfortable in a whole rainbow of ways. There are many complex reasons why it’s such a challenge. Not valuing your work is one of the things that every creative person fights. The ‘I’m not good enough’, the ‘will people really pay money for this?’. You want people to be able to afford your work if they love it. Maybe it even feels like you get so much joy out of what you do it seems kind of ridiculous to charge money for it. But if you want to keep a roof over your head and food on your table, the money part is something that you can’t ignore.
Of course, you look at what else is out there that’s similar to what you do and you compare your prices to what other people are charging. There will always be people out there charging more and less than you do. It’s kinda sad when you see someone who clearly undervalues and undercharges for their work. Other artists often complain that this makes it hard for people who are ‘serious’ about selling their work to charge a fair price.
There is one thing that kind of gets my goat about pricing lampwork beads. Charm bracelets. Pandora, Troll, etc. First, let me tell you that I got one for my birthday, and I will fully admit that I’m into it. I hardly ever wear jewelry when I’m just doing my thing during the day, but I do wear this. It’s really sturdy, really comfortable, and I don’t even have to take it off to shower.
Although I make my own ‘big hole beads’ to wear on my bracelet, I also buy the ‘real thing’ too… once in a while. What I find amazing is that people do not even BLINK when it comes to paying $30 – $50 for a single glass bead made by one of the big charm bracelet companies. A bead that is produced thousands and thousands of times over.
I bought this one yesterday:
It’s an ‘authentic’ Trollbead, and it cost me $35 including tax.
This bead is $45. It’s nice and everything. But look how plain it is! Did I mention that it’s $45?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking the commercial bracelet brands – after all, I buy their stuff too, and I love it.
But here’s the thing – I’ve yet to see a lampworker charge more than $30 for a bead that’s made for these bracelets. Why is that? They’re made very lovingly, and usually they’re one of a kind, or made in very small series – so they’re much more unique than the ones you can buy in a store.
Why the price difference?
I think it’s really about perceived value. If you walk into a jewelry store to buy something, you just expect to pay more.
When you compare the price of one of these beads to other types of lampwork beads, this is where it starts to get interesting.
I decided to charge $35 for it, and to be perfectly honest, I feel pretty guilty about it. That seems like a lot of money for a bead. But it’s complex – it has many layers, it has two kinds of silver in it, and I used a color of glass that costs $80 a pound. And it took time – and skill – to make.
But you know, I read something really smart a while ago, and the gist was that you can either put your work in the ‘worth it’ category, or… the other one.
I’d rather be worth it. If I don’t value my work, why should anyone else?
I resolve to stop feeling guilty about charging fair prices for my work. My beads are special, they’re made with love, they’re often one-of-a-kind, and they’re TOTALLY worth it.