because you’re worth it

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:

Trollbeads Scirocco bead


It’s an ‘authentic’ Trollbead, and it cost me $35 including tax.

Trollbeads Summer Meadow

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 listed this bead on Etsy today:Galaxy Focal bead by Uglibeads

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.



8 thoughts on “because you’re worth it

  1. You should not feel guilty for that price. If anything, it seems a little low!!
    Probably unsurprisingly, there’s a similar issue in the quilting community. This is my favorite piece written about it:
    Although there’s quite a lot of other posts (we are $ew worth it, get it? ha ha.) around the blog-o-verse.
    Anyway, point being is you should figure out material costs. Not what you paid for them but what it would cost if you had to buy the glass for the bead. Then figure out how long it takes. Figure out a labor cost that feels fair. Don’t forget to charge a design fee because that is what makes it distinctly YOURS. Add it all together and see what the price is. I’d be really interested to know!

    • That was a great post, Anne. When I look at the beautiful things YOU make, I cannot even FATHOM how you could ever sell them for what they’re actually worth. Just so so so much work.

      I always look at those pricing ‘formulas’ and they hurt my brain so much. It’s not that I don’t see the sense in it, I totally do. I just can’t see myself letting go of my ‘intuitive’ pricing strategy. I have seen over and over again that beadmakers like the $1 a minute formula. Amazingly, it usually feels just about right. Although a few months ago I was solidly sticking to the $0.50 a minute side of things. Sloooowly inching my way up there.

      The thing about glass is that the cost of the materials is so small peanuts compared to the labor cost. I guess you have to factor in the tools, O2 concentrator, that sort of thing… but you get so much use of them over time.

      I really do like the idea of the ‘design fee’ though. That is a smart thing.

  2. One of a kind has always been, will always be, forever and ever, one of a kind. Unique is worth a lot! Have you ever been to a party where someone was wearing the same dress? Buy one of a kind when you can. Those of you who can make one of a kind for us should be rewarded financially for your work.

  3. Totally agree with you about the prices. It’s the same with jewellery, especially when you use handmade beads. I know that the majority of my jewellery, I could *never* afford to have in a shop – not at my current prices. It is a constant challenge, and one I (sort of) reconcile myself with in that I mainly sell my jewellery directly, with smaller overheads than if a shop were to carry them. The couple of shops I do supply, I am careful with what I offer them. On a side note, I was appalled to ind out from my BIL’s girlfriend who has a much-loved Pandora bracelet that Pandora invalidates the guarantee that comes with the bracelets if the wearer puts a non-Pandora bead or charm on them!!! How outrageous is that? I was trying to persuade my BIL to look for big-hole beads on etsy from individual artists, saying how much more special (I think) they are, but was told that no, Katy ONLY wears Pandora.

    • Oh that made me laugh…. seriously…. Mr. Uglibeads and I are always talking about ‘Pandora people’ 🙂 I’ve stopped wearing my Trollbeads bracelet now… I got bored with it. I just started to feel that it wasn’t an expression of who I am. I think that sometimes happens with commercial jewelry. I’d never feel that way about a handmade piece. The guarantee thing…. I am not the least surprised. Pandora is like some kind of expensive cult 😉 As for pricing your jewelry with an eye to direct sales…. RIGHT? People say you should price so you could cut it in half for wholesale and still make money, but….. yikes. I can’t imagine doing that either. xo

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