Friday, May 27, 2011

Undervaluing, Underselling, and Underestimating...

Taboo subject? Maybe, but I'm going to go there because so many handmade goddesses are guilty of it. I'm by no means an expert on any of this, everything written here is my personal opinion as a customer of handmade businesses, and a seller of handmade products, but I believe there is a definite problem and the only people that can address it is you, the seller.

As a fellow WAHM, customer, and supporter of so many wonderful small businesses it saddens me when I see hard working small business owners undervaluing their work and charging pittance for items they have slaved lovingly away on, often in the wee hours of the night for hours on end. So many times I've been shocked at the measly prices handmade businesses are charging for products which quite obviously have had a lot of time, love and detail put into them. I have been so blunt as to tell a couple of these LOVELY ladies in the past that they really should think about charging more because I actually felt guilty for paying so few dollars for them, and I've been asked "Oh do you really think they are worth more?"... short answer, YES!

Take a step back for a minute and have a look at your business from a fresh perspective... I've outlined what I believe the 3 biggest problems are, "Undervaluing, Underselling,and Underestimating"

Firstly, undervaluing. Pricing your products is hard... I know. You have this idea in your head of what you'd like to charge and I bet 9 times out of 10 your asking price falls well short of this figure because you are scared that you're asking too much. Well it's time you start adopting a different way of thinking about pricing, and start to properly value your products and time!

Are you comparing your products to mass produced items in shops? Stop now. Just because you know you can pick up a simple summer dress in Big W for $20 doesn't mean that's what your product is worth. It's a mass produced item, those big companies would pay a tenth of what you do for fabrics, materials or put anywhere near as much time into the production of them.

You need to take into consideration what you are offering which is not only the end result, but a pattern perfected by you perhaps? a crafted product you've poured your heart and soul into to bring joy to someone else? your experience? your unique combinations of fabrics, materials, components? and last but not least, a product your customers cannot walk into Myer, Target, Big W etc.. and buy. That is without taking into account your administration time, yes the time we spend running our businesses, replying to emails, enquiries, this time we spend away from our families.... doesn't it all have to be worth it? Yes, we love what we do and the satisfaction of a happy customer is just as important as monetary rewards, but if you are undervaluing your work you are saying your work is only worth "this" much, when really, isn't it worth a lot more than that?

On a personal note, I am guilty of undervaluing one of my clutches... it is one of my most popular, and most expensive, but it costs me significantly more than any others to make and I'm not making the profit on them I should be. When pricing them I really thought they should be more, but was too scared to charge the price I really should have for fear of scaring customers off. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately once you put a price on something, it is perceived to be worth that amount and is hard to change it from there.


Secondly, underselling your competition and colleagues. If you do not correctly price your products, not only are you doing yourself a disservice, but you are doing your colleagues and competition a disservice as you are undervaluing comparable products across the market. Think about it this way, if your direct competition that also makes "xyz" in a similar quality and style undervalues their work, doesn't that put pressure on you to "meet the market" and their price? Do your customers not think "Oh it's lovely, but "xyz" sells the same sort of thing cheaper?" The businesses that fall victim to this sort of customer perception are usually the ones that have done the right thing by correctly valuing their products.

Finally, underestimating your customers and how they value you and your products. As customers, we know that we can go to Target and pick up a pretty toddlers dress for $20, but we know by buying handmade we are getting something different, something that is not mass produced, something that our friends and quite often complete strangers will stop us in the street to compliment us on and ask us where we got it! Your customers cannot get lovingly handmade, unique items in the big shops. As an example, I saw a cute "Sooki Baby" jacket for Emily in Myer which was $50 and even though I adored it, instead I paid $65 for a gorgeous jacket from a small business Whimzi because it was different, couldn't be found in the shops and I just know when Emily gets to wear it she's going to look amazing and people will comment on it, they already have and it's just sitting on my kitchen table!

I've seen businesses on facebook ask their customers how much they would pay for this or that, and the honest ones will tell them truthfully, but lets face it, a lot will tell you less because they want to get it at a cheaper price. Will you miss out on a couple of sales if you properly value your work instead of making it an absolute steal? Most probably. But wouldn't you rather make one or 2 less products a week and earn the same amount you would have selling more at a lesser price? Ask your friends and family what they think something is worth, this is what I do now. The last time I made a new clutch I sent a pic to my sister Alicia and said "How much would you pay for this?" She asked me how much is cost me to make and I said to her that it doesn't matter what it cost me to make, what would YOU pay for it. She replied with a figure that was more than the figure I had in my head, so I found a happy medium and that is how I worked out the price for my new style.

Anyway I'm rambling now, just for something different... all I'm trying to do by bringing this up is hopefully make you take a step back for a minute and look at your pricing objectively. Next time you proudly put a picture of a new product up for your customer to see, make sure the price you have with it is a reflection of the hard work, time, and quality materials that went into it. There is a blog post over at "Ohmyhandmade" which can be found HERE, that has more great advice on this topic and inspired me to put my own opinion on it into words to share with the lovely businesses I chat to daily, many of which I know are undervaluing their beautiful work!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Or more specifically, babies that sleep. Something I had without ever REALLY appreciating it... until now. My first baby Emily was born into this world and spent her first 6 weeks waking once through the night, I thought it was torture! Who gets up at 4am, ever????? 6 weeks in she started sleeping 12 hours a night, ahhhh much better! She continues to sleep those great lengths until recently when I've noticed she's started getting up just that little bit earlier in the mornings than usual... hmm, well I have bought a gro-clock, let's see if it lives up to the hype.

Anyway I've gotten off track,back to the sleeping babies.... I fell pregnant with my 2nd baby and my Mum was trying to prepare me for sleepless nights, she'd say "You know that Emily is an exception and most babies do not sleep that well", yes Mum I know, I'm in for a devil sleeper to make up for it. Well Parker was born 4 months ago and is (was!) even better than Emily. Up once a night the same as his sister and then at 6 weeks he too started doing 12-14 hour "hibernations" overnight AND he self-settled to sleep. He would cry when he was tired and as soon as he was popped in his basinette he'd be quiet and silently suck on his fist to go to sleep. BLISS! My mum and friends would tell me "You're so lucky to have babies that sleep well" and I'd say "Oh yes it's great" without actually realising HOW great it was.

Well I now know. About 4 days ago (really, only 4 days? Feels like about 2 weeks!) Parker decided that he doesn't want to sleep anymore, not even a little bit, not even at all. He has changed from a perfectly happy, placid baby to one CRANKY baby that cries day and night and will. not. sleep. The first day I thought "I can do this, he'll have to crash sooner or later" but 4 days and nights on I am still waiting. He and I have only managed about 11 hours sleep all up, over the last 4 days and 4 nights. To all you mums out there who have or had babies that are up 24/7 and constantly deprive you of sleep, you're probably rolling your eyes at me whinging after just 4 days, and I take my hat off to you... 4 days of this is more than enough for me!

My eyeballs are hanging out of my head and I've never been as grateful to the person who discovered coffee as I am now... whoever you are, I LOVE YOU.It would be more bearable if my husband were home to give me a reprieve, but unfortunately he's away at work until Thursday earning money to buy more coffee :)

I've been able to manage only a minimal amount of time for Little Wildrose which will mean the May Collection may not be as big as I had hoped, but I hope you will love the ones I have managed to complete anyway :)

Anyway this fractured, rambling blog post is probably a good indication of how tired I am, but I have a question for you instant coffee drinkers out there, what is the hands-down best instant coffee ever? If you are lucky enough to own a coffee machine don't tell me, I may just die of jealousy.

My babies, Parker (left) & Emily (right)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A important note on Custom Orders...

To my wonderful (and understanding) LW customers... After a lot of thought and consideration I have come to the decision that I will no longer be taking custom orders following each release for the foreseeable future. This does not apply to orders I have already scheduled in, yours will be completed as discussed :)

I understand that some of you may be disappointed, however this allows me to spend more time putting together a gorgeous collection for you each month and will result in more clutches being available. I work much better, efficiently and creatively in a no-stress or deadline environment, and it will also allow me to take a day/night off without feeling guilty because I know I have customers waiting on orders.

I will still be taking on special occasion orders for weddings and other social events you may have, but these will be strictly limited and with 3 months advance notice only. I have bookings for weddings as far as October 2012 with some months already fully booked, so if this is something you have been thinking about doing please consider booking your dates in now.

Also on the subject of special occasion orders, if you request a specific colour or style that needs to be ordered in especially for you there may be a surcharge for delivery. About 90% of my supplies come from overseas and until now I've been ordering in special silks or other fabrics for custom orders and just copping the international delivery rates because I've been too afraid to ask for the extra to cover them. This is something I do need to change as it would not be a profitable business if I continue to try to absorb these extra delivery costs for special orders. If I have planned a supplies order already and you are happy to wait until my next order is placed then there will be no extra cost.

I don't consider this change to be a negative thing, I actually feel quite relieved to have put this down into words as I've been very stressed trying to keep up with demand and deadlines and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders knowing that I will have a bit more time to get the creative juices flowing and actually create some of the many new designs and styles I have in my sketch book to bring to my customers.

Thanks so much for your continued support and encouragement, I'm so blessed to have such wonderful customers :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

An insight into our May Collection

We're halfway through May already, where has the time gone?

I've spent the last couple of weeks catching up on the backlog of orders and custom listings from the April Collection. If you are wondering why I'm so behind from last month please see this blog post, it's something I'm hoping will not be repeated!

Anyhoo, this meant that until now I've been a busy little bee catching up and haven't gotten stuck into the May Collection as yet. HOWEVER, this doesn't mean that I haven't been sourcing supplies, planning and designing the collection!

Because I haven't had anything to show you as yet, I thought I'd give you a little insight into the collection. The May Collection will feature several of our popular clutches such as Lisa Lou, Madison, Tatiana, Sienna and more. For those of you desperately trying to get hold of the "Amelie" clutches, rest assured there will be a couple available on the night, perhaps with a different colour in the mix!? :)

In addition to these favourites, this collection will have an injection of ruffles, rhinestones and other pretty things, and as I'm a little obsessed with different textures at the moment, expect to see an assortment of textures as well including snakeskin, faux fur and lace... here is a sneak peek of a work in progress featuring this STUNNING violet ruffle fabric.

With the last of the custom orders leaving tomorrow for their new homes, you will be seeing the May Collection previewed on our Facebook page and website in the coming days as they are made so keep your eyes peeled and start picking your faves!

Have a lovely week!

Janine xx

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Things that make me smile :)

These are some of the things that make me smile...

* My family
* Shoes (as discovered in last weeks blog)
* Chocolate
* Good coffee
* Food – one of life’s greatest pleasures
* Postpacks of new supplies in the mail
* Stunning photography
* Seeing 11:11 on a clock
* Freshly washed sheets
* My daughters face when she watches me blow up a balloon (it’s the most amazing thing ever to a toddler)
* Spending cold, rainy days in bed watching movies – a real luxury these days!
* Beautifully wrapped gifts
* Sunsets at the beach
* Finding the ‘perfect’ outfit
* Em&femme’s blog (although I’m often in tears reading it too!) -
* Being creative
* Making plans
* Champagne bubbles
* hot chips & aioli
* French martinis
* Sparklers
* Every second Thursday when I wake up knowing my husband flies home from work that afternoon/night
* That one particular song that makes me want to go out and dance..
* My 4 month old attempting to laugh
* Watching my kids sleep
* The movie "A night at the Roxbury"
* making lists and checking them off

It's the simple things in life :)

"Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available." ~ Jim Beggs

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My next addiction…. Shoes!

I’m currently on the hunt for the ultimate pair of ankle boots for winter, and reviving my addiction to shoes! I don’t get to wear a lot of heels these days, having my 2 cherubs isn’t exactly conducive to tottering around in 13cm-plus stilettos!

There are some gorgeous styles around this winter and I thought I would share some of my favourites that I spotted in the shops over the weekend, and where my online hunt has taken me…

My sister Alicia had these on at Zu yesterday, so lovely but so so high!

I adore these by Wayne Cooper… nearly bought them in black yesterday but the thought of trying to justify my $190 purchase to my husband had me put them sadly back on the shelf.

The riding boot style seems to be very popular this winter… the idea of comfort and style works for me!! These ones are from Tony Bianco.

Again from Tony Bianco is Chalina, perfect heel to go from the office to after work drinks and out at the weekend! My sister Alicia has these in 4 different colours/fabrics and swears by them as a staple heel (she’s even more shoe obsessed than I am!)

The ultimate indulgence heel from Zu… I don’t know where I would wear these, but I would love to see them sparkling at me from my wardrobe!

These divine creatures are from Asos ( I love the contrast of the suede and faux snake skin.

Thank goodness Asos are in the UK, or I’d be broke… I love these.

Swoon!!! This is a Miss Sixty pair, again from Asos (are you seeing a pattern? lol)

And to finish of my Asos-obsession are these… coming in at a measly £530… or $955 Australian!!

I am still on the hunt for the perfect balance of style and comfort with a bit of height (mainly style and height :p), so if you’ve found the perfect winter ankle boots PLEASE share!