I thought it would be interesting to look back through my camera roll and count up how many pasties I've made since I started making them. In my mind I thought it would be at the most 300 pairs.
Looking back at past progress is always interesting, and a bit cringy at times. I think about how excited I was to share some of the designs and am slightly mortified about some of them. But it has certainly been a learning experience.
After breaking down my maker-stats I was surprised to see that I have now created over 486 pairs of pasties! (Relax, Mr. Tax-man, that's how many I have made, not how many I have sold. We are all square, tax-wise.)
Every single pair I have created has taught me something about design, construction, hardware, efficiency, technology or materials. Over the years I have refined my skills, technique and learned a whole lot of what does not work. In fact, I keep a humble-box of disastrous, dorky, or just plain fugly pasties, so I I can reflect on these lessons at times.
It's still one of my favourite things to create a custom design for a client with a specific vision, as you babes are super-creative! And you push me in all kinds of weird and wonderful directions I might not ordinarily think to go in, which teaches me a lot.
I continue to work my craft, I invest in learning as much as possible, I test new products and technology, and spend as much time as I can refining and perfecting my pastie-making. And every now and then, I realize that something that used to work or make sense, just doesn't work or make sense any more.
Like a lot of makers, I have a really hard time with pricing. Setting a value on handmade goods is not easy. Especially when making things because we love doing it, and when we are making things for people we love!
I adore supporting my local burlesque community, and the fact that what I do is connected with my favourite community warms my heart. I love working with performers, going to shows, supporting their art, seeing my work onstage or on social media, having passionate discussions about our shared art form and different ways to express ourselves. It really lights me up.
Every time I sit down and consider increasing my pricing, I get stuck on a lot of internalized fear messaging, like, what if people think I'm valuing myself too highly? What if they can't afford it and go elsewhere? What if they just all make their own stuff instead? What if I'm not worth it? What if what I do doesn't have the value I need it to have in order to make a profit? I'm just gluing shit to other shit, anyone can do that, it's not rocket science, and lots of other people make pasties, I mean maybe I should be making the cheapest pasties possible because then I will always have lots of people who want to buy from me, right? Who cares that it isn't sustainable? Who needs to buy materials and pay for groceries and make some kind of living? Isn't that what day jobs are for?
I reject this fear-based thinking.
When I really think about this logically (me and a lot of the other maker-babes I know) very few of us are making a sustainable living solely on our fierce maker-talents. Most of us have a 9-5 job, and are makers on the side, and honestly, we are subsidizing the cost of the goods we produce with other income.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and what an actual disservice this does to us all. Why are we supporting the idea that in order to make art, you have to have "real" job, usually one that is not creative, engaging, or particularly rewarding.
This isn't necessarily a function of low-maker-self-esteem, I don't think. It's a side-effect of the messaging of capitalism. We are taught that we must compete with one another in this unsustainable race-to-the-lowest-price, that whoever screws over the other guy the most wins, that we have to trick people in order to extract as much of their money from them, that the only factor in making a decision is the lowest price.
I reject this philosophy, especially when it comes to handmade goods. I find value in buying handmade things from people I love, who are doing cool things, who I want to support.
Etsy has recently changed some policies that mean that it's no longer beneficial for me to run my site exclusively through Etsy, so although I will maintain a basic Etsy presence, I am shifting the bulk of my website business over to Shopify.
I have stubbornly not looked at increasing prices in a long time, that means for a scary (but long overdue) pricing increase.
So all this to say that, yes, my prices have gone up. And it has not been an easy decision, but one that I have reflected on very carefully. I have determined that the value of my work has gone up as I have learned and perfected my craft, and I as I continue to invest in my craft and my learning, it will continue to increase in value. I know in my heart that I still provide an excellent value, and that the level of artistry and detail I am able to offer is much better now, after 486 pairs of pasties, than it was when I was starting out. Similarly, I am much better at embellishing costumes than I was when I first started doing it.
I have recently refined my pastie super-spinner technology to improve the the hardware; it's now even more discreet, with the tassel attached with a tiny spring-clip claw, so that the hardware bears the spin-friction instead of the fabric, meaning the tassels are even more durable, and plus they are interchangeable with other maker's designs for more versatility. Plus I can add beads to the tassel tops, which makes the tassels even fancier than before! And they spin like a dream!
I appreciate every one of my clients for trusting me with your orders, and hope that you have found, and will continue to find, great value in my work.
There are lots of other cool maker babes you can buy from, and I love that! They are rad, also, and I hope that if you don't find what you want from me, that you find it from one of them. I will not undercut their pricing, or use their designs. If you see a design you love from another maker, you should definitely order it from them.
I price my work based on the value that I put into it, based on what I need to make a modest profit and to continue learning and growing and doing what I do. And I hope to continue doing it for many years to come!
Thanks for reading, babes; stay sparkly!